Welcome to EdSmart’s monthly education news round-up, your curated view of what’s happening in education & EdTech each month across Australia, New Zealand & the UK.
Gillard’s royal commission recommends universal preschool for 3-year-olds in South Australia
A royal commission led by Julia Gillard has recommended the roll-out of universal preschool for all 3-year-olds in South Australia. The move follows worrying statistics that 1 in 5 SA children start primary school “developmentally vulnerable”.
Forty-three recommendations were made by the commission each aiming to address these gaps. Research supports the high importance of investing in a child’s development within the first five years of life, with evidence showing that 90% of brain development happens in this time period.
WA public school funding campaign launches with four simple demands
The Australian Education Union has launched its For Every Child campaign in WA, focusing on “significantly increasing funding” to public schools in the state over the next five years. Federal President Correna Haythorpe states that WA public schools are currently funded below the Schooling Resource Standard.
This lack of funding is believed to have caused a myriad of issues including unsustainable teacher workloads, unmanageable teacher work hours, as well as ongoing issues with staff retention and staff shortages.
NSW teachers to receive largest pay rise in decades
All 95,000 NSW teachers will receive a large pay increase following an agreement between the NSW Government and Teachers Federation Council. The move aims to help tackle the teacher shortage crisis, with all new teachers in the state starting on a salary of $85,000.
The pay increase means that NSW teachers will go from the worst paid in Australia to the best paid. The deal is part of the state Labour government’s focus on funding essential services and workers, following years of reduced investment in areas such as education.
Crumbling concrete: why the UK is so concerned about schools and public buildings
An England-wide emergency alert has been issued following serious concerns about the safety of hundreds of schools and public buildings that were built using Raac (aerated concrete). More than 150 schools have been identified as unsafe and have been closed to students, with even more thought to be at risk, resulting in many classes being held remotely or in temporary cabins.
Popularised between the 1950s and 1980s as a budget alternative to normal concrete, the impeding issue of Raac safety and the material’s 30-year life span has been steadily ignored by successive governments.
‘Children are holding a mirror up to us’: why are England’s kids refusing to go to school?
Persistent absence from school has more than doubled since pre-COVID for children in both primary and secondary schools in England. Rachel de Souza, England’s Children’s Commissioner, has also revealed that more than half of students regularly missing school were absent due to reasons “other than the usual childhood illnesses”.
The rate of children experiencing anxiety has risen significantly post-pandemic. With all schools in the country closed during the pandemic period, it’s believed that many students are struggling to adapt to full-time schooling and in-person learning compared to remote schooling.
NZ Government to legislate consistent maths, reading and writing teaching in schools
The New Zealand government has announced it will be amending the law so that all schools will teach a cohesive and consistent curriculum in maths, reading and writing. NZ schools have until 2026 to implement the requirements, titled the Common Practice Model.
Currently, NZ schools do not have set core curriculum requirements, resulting in many school leavers not being equipped with the maths, reading and writing skills that are often required for employment or further education.
Aussie teachers optimistic about the benefits of AI in the classroom
A new report from Capgemini has found that nearly half of Australian teachers are ‘optimistic’ about the benefits of incorporating AI in the classroom to enhance learning. The report also found that the vast majority of Australian teachers already emphasise the importance of digital literacy in general and regularly incorporate digital skills into their teaching activities.
With the rise of AI and ongoing debate about its use and suitability in the classroom, more Australian teachers are acknowledging the importance of its incorporation and using AI tools for students’ benefit. Many teachers believe that proficiency in AI will be a necessary skill for school-leavers in the future.
6 things that teachers can do that AI just can’t
While utilising AI in the classroom can enhance a student’s learning experience, the importance of the teaching profession is by no means under threat. Education Week spoke with numerous educators, AI researchers and AI professionals to explore the ways in which AI would be unable to replace teachers.
Six distinct skills were identified and explained, including teaching critical thinking, building meaningful relationships with students, motivating & supporting students, creating a positive learning environment, and providing high-quality feedback on student performance and attending to students’ basic needs.
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