Dec 2023/Jan 2024 – What we’re learning from smart people

Dec 2023/Jan 2024 – What we’re learning from smart people


Dec 2023/Jan 2024 – What we’re learning from smart people

Welcome to EdSmart’s education news round-up, your curated view of what’s happening in education & EdTech  across Australia, New Zealand & the UK.

Latest PISA performance a mixed bag of results for Australia, New Zealand and UK students

On 5th December, the OECD released its latest Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) data. The report showed that Australian students’ performance in maths, reading and science remained stable compared to 2018. Aotearoa New Zealand saw a decline in maths, while reading and science results were similar to the last round of exams; and the United Kingdom saw falls in mathematics and reading test scores, while science scores remained steady.

Press reaction in all three countries, however, focused on the OECD’s findings of a long-term decline in all three disciplines.

Read more about latest OECD PISA results report, plus Australian PISA reaction and Aotearoa New Zealand PISA reaction

PISA UK: Welsh students falling further behind their UK peers

The latest PISA results indicate that students in Wales are falling further behind their UK counterparts. As well as being outperformed by their English, Scottish and Northern Ireland peers, students in Cymru Wales are now behind the global OECD average in maths, reading and science.

Statistia’s Anna Fleck calculates that students in Wales “performed, on average, as if they were a full year behind in maths, just under a year behind in English and three-quarters of a year behind in science.”


Luxon Government planning back-to-basics reforms for NZ Education

Newly-minted New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has wasted no time in honouring his conservative government’s pre-election plans to overhaul education in Aotearoa New Zealand. The Prime Minister, along with Education Minister Erica Stanford, announced the scrapping of gender and sexuality education — known as RSE — from the national curriculum as part of their plans to, in the PM’s words, “refocus the curriculum on academic achievement, and not ideology.”

Education experts and youth charities have expressed their concerns about the decision, with New Zealand’s Educational Institute President stating, “The one thing our children don’t need is less education in the area of relationships and health.”

Read more at 1 News and Women’s Agenda

Sustaining digital transformation at your school

Digital transformation is, not surprisingly, a subject close to our hearts at EdSmart. This article from Cole School Experts explains the importance of taking into account a long-term perspective when embarking on a digital transformation strategy, and simple ways to ensure your digital strategy evolves as it needs to evolve.

Read more at Cole School Experts

AI in the classroom – could it be a matter of consent?

The possibilities — and concerns — around the use of artificial intelligence in education are numerous. So much so, there are growing calls for the introduction of parent permission slips to allow students to use AI in U.S classrooms.

This Education Week article explores the concerns of privacy experts who believe AI training models — known as Large Language Models (LLMs) and Natural Language Processors (NLPs) – pose significant privacy concerns for users, and that the use of AI programs like Chat GPT, Copilot and OPenAI without informed consent from the parents of students may mean schools are violating an important federal privacy law.

Read more at Education Week

Australian Government announces first AI in schools framework

Still on the subject of student privacy and AI, and Australia’s Federal Department of Education has just released its latest guidelines for the use of AI in Australian schools. Titled The Australian Framework for Generative Artificial Intelligence in Schools, this framework has been designed to help schools safely navigate the use of generative AI, and is set to be implemented in Australian schools from Term 1, 2024.

Read more at Education Matters magazine

Adapting AI to enrich the classroom experience

In this 30-minute listen, Nina Alonso and the team at BOLD tackle the question: How can teachers take a human-centred approach to AI? Featuring a range of global perspectives, the podcast looks at how artificial intelligence can be used to adjust learning materials and feedback to the needs of individual students, and how teachers can ensure that a human element still remains.

Listen to the podcast

UK Students saying ‘non’, ‘nein’ and ‘¡No’ to languages

Students in the UK are shying away from taking on language learning at GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) level. Released in December, a British Council survey of just over 2,000 students across 36 schools, found that only 20 percent of pupils planned on studying a language in their final year, despite 46 percent of respondents saying they liked learning languages. The numbers confirm a downward trend, first seen in 2015.

Read the BBC News story

Coughs, colds and COVID combine to keep Kiwi kids out of classrooms

School attendance rates in Aotearoa New Zealand recorded a stark drop-off between terms one and two in 2023. The national attendance rate fell close to 13 percent from 59.5 percent in term one, to 47 percent in term two. Although it’s still an increase on term two’s 39.8 percent in 2022, the figures remain lower than the pre-COVID term two attendance figure of 57.7 percent.

The Ministry of Education in New Zealand attributed the decline to COVID and seasonal illnesses.

Read more at The New Zealand Herald

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