Keep It Up Australia

Sifting through the ‘education’ news lately, and there seems to be an influx of NAPLAN or Gonksi reform stories. It appears to be nearly impossible to find an education story that isn’t on these two issues. The Sydney Morning Herald however, was my savior: as a scrolled down I saw “Australian unis excel in education and psychology rankings.”

Melbourne University shone in the latest QS World University Rankings, receiving third for its’ education course, seventh for psychology, and among the global top ten for linguistics, medicine, accounting and law.

The article gave a short and sweet run-down of which Australian universities placed in the rankings, and for which courses. Melbourne University’s dean of education also had a few words to say about the high honor:

Melbourne University’s dean of the graduate school of education, Field Rickards, said the ranking was an “endorsement” of the teaching and research carried out by his faculty’s staff.

“This also reflects on our innovative graduate programs, which are attracting very high quality candidates,” he said.

The article gave an insight into Australia’s high quality of education on a global scale, with a sneaky little final sentence which could be an attack at the recent Gonski reforms exclusion of Universities and tertiary students: “governments of all persuasions needed to protect and grow those opportunities.”

Then again, it could just be coincidental…

– Dillyn ✑

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Boycott the Naplan

“Teacher Faction Joins Campaign Against NAPLAN“. The title speaks for itself. More and more people seem to be joining the fight against NAPLAN, and this article published yesterday in the Sydney Morning Herald just reiterates that fact. Now not only are students and parents dissing the National tests, teachers and even principals are.

A handful of Victorian educators including a principal have joined the “boycott NAPLAN coalition” ( campaign, discouraging students from participating in the tests.

Unsurprisingly, the article is less to do with education and more to do with politics, which seems to be the standard when it comes to education news, but there was this one sentence which had a slight glimmer of the education of children:

“[Lucy Honan, a year 7 teacher] said schools were obsessed with test preparation, leading to stressed students and a narrowing of the curriculum.”

Then, that glimmer was brutally squashed by more politics:

“A spokeswoman for Federal School Education Minister Peter Garrett said parents valued the information NAPLAN provided, which was reflected in the consistently high participation rates of about 90 per cent.”

The article itself, although seemingly adhering to the standard ‘non-education’ frame, was undeniably well-written and had well-researched facts and sources.

– Dillyn ¶

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It’s Only a Pipe Dream, Japan

The newest education scoop I have here for you is an international article. Coming all the way from Japan (from my seat here on my bed in Australia) is an article which was published in The New York Times on the 5th of May.

The article “Scholarships to Encourage More Japanese Students to Study Overseas” explains of a new idea from Japan’s education minister Hakubun Shimomura, in which scholarships would be offered to Japanese students to continue their studies abroad. The plans come from a series of education initiatives in Japan which intend to make the country more internationally competitive.

“The number of Japanese students studying overseas peaked at 82,945 in 2004 and fell to 58,060 in 2010”

The scholarships would not be available until early 2017 however, and will only be given to students enrolled at Japanese Universities who decide to switch their studies to start in the Autumn rather than Spring, which would match other international countries.

The article (mostly good and informative) is also quite annoying. As discovered in the last paragraph “there is no serious discussion taking place” so, I guess the article was more of a pipe-dream than news?

– Dillyn Ұ

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Finally, Some Education

It seems reading any kind of education news recently has focused solely on the political side of educating , like the funding coming from the Gonski reforms, or the public arguments over the effectiveness of the NAPLAN testing.  It leaves me wondering where the news on the actual quality of education students in our country are receiving is. There’s countless news on policy but hardly any on the actual education of children.

Which is why I was pleased when found this story, which featured in the Sydney Morning Herald.

The article “More State Schools May Cater for Gifted Students” actually focused on levels of education and what certain states and Governments are doing to cater to individual needs of children. This specific article explains the newest plans to ensure accelerated or gifted children have their needs met so they are able to advance through their studies.

“the education system was failing the state’s brightest children… not meeting the needs of gifted children could lead to them under-achieving either because they were not stimulated or to fit in with peers.

The program, known as SEAL  or Select Entry Accelerated Learning program, is already in place in various schools across Victoria.

“The program is a powerful marketing tool for schools, attracting students who may have otherwise gone to private schools and increasing enrolments overall.”

– Dillyn ✔

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It’s OK, Tertiary Students Aren’t Important…

To me, ABC News is a forerunner in providing an excellent insight into the most common news and current affairs, and in the case of education news there is no exception.

On Sunday the 14th there was an article published on the ABC’s online site titled “Educators, MP’s Furious Over University Funding Cuts”. The title pretty much captures the story at its crux: there is a lot of anger over the planned funding cuts which are in place to help te Government pay for the Gonski school reforms.

The story gives great detail into how much funding will be taken out from our Universities and why, for example:

“A 10 per cent discount on the upfront payments of HECS loans will be dumped at a value of $230 million and Student Start-Up Scholarships would need to be repaid once the student begins working.”

They also provide tables which neatly explain how much moeny will be saved from these cuts and where the cuts will occur:

University cuts

Efficiency dividend $900m
Scholarships repaid $1.2b
HECS discount abolished $230m
Tax concession cap $500m
Total savings $2.8b
The news story gives opinions from various politicians and University executives, and the general reaction to the funding is pretty clear: “[It’s] a kick in the teeth” (Victoria’s Education Minister Martin Dixon). There is also a ‘long term effects’ segment to the story, which effectively provides readers with an understanding  of what to expect when it comes to the future of University functioning in the wake of the funding cuts.
There is one strange thing about the story however, and that is what seems to be tagged on at the end. There is a sort of mini story or introduction into the Gonski reform and how positive it is for primary and secondary students, which seemed odd to me, as it started off explaining the negatives of the reform on tertiary students.
Overall though, the story is a brilliant source for information on the Gonski reform, providing clear details of the plans and their effects. Which, in relation to the previous standard of politically fueled Gonski stories, I think is quite refreshing.
– Dillyn ✍

Experience Pays!

In a bold new move, Education experts, business leaders and politicians involved in the Gonski Reform are calling for teacher salaries to be increased upwards of $100,000.

That’s the latest to come from education news in Australia, in an article which appeared in on the 6th of April. The story which is titled “Education Experts, Gonski Architect Lead Push for Six Figure Teaching Salaries”, suggests that teachers (particularly the more experienced) should be earning a much higher pay. Gonski review Panelist Carmen Lawrence agrees:

“Teacher pay isn’t bad at entry level, but it deteriorates markedly over time”

The article effectively explains the reasons behind the push, stating that there isn’t much of an advance to teacher pay unless they step out of the classroom into administrative of executive roles. Geoff Chambers, CEO of the Australian Council of Academic Research states:

“We need to find out ways of keeping outstanding teachers in classrooms and remunerating them in a way that encourages them to stay and get better at what they do”

The article, like most education news, seems to focus more on politics than the educatoin of children, although the politics in this story is well worth the while, as greater teacher pay would see improved teaching standars, and encourage the best teachers with the most experience to remain in the classrooms to continue their outstanding work.

– Dillyn✎

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My Dog Got Me an A+!

Yet another thrilling education article from the UK’s Telegraph, this time however, the news comes from Scotland!

This story revealed the secret to exam success. It’s puppies! Studies straight from Aberdeen University in Scotland show that students who spent time with a dog or puppy were significantly less stressed. The University held a trial earlier this year in February allowing students to pat and play with Labradors and Golden Retrievers before studying or undertaking an exam. The students and staff of the Uni experienced great success with the pooches.

“It really chilled them out… it would help push up grades”

The article also showed pets in the workplace had a significant effect on work morale and relationships among members of staff.

“Studies have shown that interaction with pets can reduce levels of cortisol – a hormone associated with stress – and releases endorphins”

Exam Success!

Exam success here I come!!

The article had a substantial amount of research to back up the claims, with information coming from studies at universities such as Harvard and Yale – which have dogs on site that students can borrow like books to help relax!

Education suddenly sounds a lot better!

– Dillyn ღ

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Groundbreaking Stuff UK…

This morning I was watching yet another of those video formatted news stories (on education of course), which was published by UK online newspaper The Telegraph. The video was named “Smaller  class sizes lead to better educational outcomes”. May I start by saying, thanks for stating the obvious UK… really earth shattering news!

As I approached the video’s main content with sarcasm levels at a high, I thought; of course! We already know that smaller classes have better educational outcomes, more one to one time with student and teacher, which is essential to learning and greater education. So what was the purpose of the news story, if not to tell the audience something they already know?

Well the news itself may not have been very new or exciting, but the man in the video (John Bangs) described as an education expert, gives a detailed explanation into why it is more effective and how each subject would benefit from varying class sizes. He also explains that no matter how qualified the teacher may be, if put against class sizes of 30-40+, there is simply not enough time for ‘dialogic learning’ (or one teacher to one student) as the ratio is just too large.

“It’s just not possible”

So sarcasm aside, the story was actually quite an effective and informative piece on education!

– Dillyn ¶

Check out the video here:

Gonski With The Politics

The latest product of my adventure into professional news writing on education is a little more local than Kenya or America. The article which featured in the ABC news earlier this week focused on the Australian Government’s new education reform: the Gonski.

For those who are not aware, the Gonski is a review and funding system for education in Australia. It aims to “equalize” the amount of funding each level of schooling – such as more money to public schools.

Some however, are not convinced. The article explains how none of the Australian states have yet signed up to the plan, with Western Australia for example, stating:

“(we) have an excellent education system… the funding model will not be determined by Canberra”

The other states following with similar opinions.

Clearly the article was not entirely focused on education, as the title “Gillard Pressures State Over Gonski Reform” suggests; its also political.

In standard Australian politician form, some kind of argumentative comment was bound to be made, this time by NSW education minister Adrian Piccoli.

“I’m disappointed that the Prime Minister would choose to conduct her negotiations around Gonski through the media and not through a proper policy process.”

In fact, after reading through the article, I discovered (a little too late) that it may not have much to do with education at all…

– Dillyn ¨

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Single Class Education

Recently I read an article that caught my eye. Although it wasn’t your average article exploring current issues in a conventional text manner. No, instead, the news topic is explored via a video. The contents of which are quite alarming; yet all too often ignored or forgotten. Education and funding for education is an issue in every corner of the globe, affecting every country individually, no matter its level of development. As a result, it’s hard to keep in mind that there are other places around the world that are experiencing the problem of education at a severely worse degree than our own. In particular, Kenya.

This news video, which featured in the UK newspaper the Guardian on the 26th of February, is proof of the Kenyan people’s struggle to receive equal and affordable education.

The story is developed using a one sided interview with a Kenyan teacher Said Makwa, and really captures the effect the failing education system is having on Kenya and its students. There is little funding into education by the Kenyan Government.

“Education has become something that is very very expensive in Kenya”, Mr Makwa says, “I don’t know why the government is not taking control… We are only going to have a certain class of people in education”

The Guardian gives the story a short written introduction, however the content of the story is explained in video form by Makwa which gives the story a personal touch; readers really feel and understand the struggles of a Kenyan student or teacher.

Education in Kenya is an extremely worrying issue, literacy and numeracy skills are ranked significantly lower compared to other countries. The Guardian’s story only covers one side of the issue however, gaining insight into only one teacher’s opinion. There is little to no statistics or outside viewpoint. The story is still extremely effective though, definitely worth a read (or watch!), it sure made me think a little into Kenya’s lacking education system. Come on Kenyan Government, take control, fund education!

– Dillyn ◊