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Sunday Mail, Brisbane, Queensland, 11 September 2005
Schools fail the 3Rs test
QUEENSLAND'S education system is facing a crisis of confidence among the public.
While Premier Peter Beattie says the legacy of his leadership will be the establishment of a Smart State, an overwhelming majority of survey respondents believe schools are failing the basics.
Only 17 per cent said they thought the Queensland school curriculum adequately taught the "3Rs" of reading, writing and arithmetic.
Fewer than one in five (19 per cent) believe the curriculum adequately prepares school-leavers for work.
Education Minister Rod Welford defended the system, saying the state's students consistently achieved above national benchmarks in the 3Rs at Years 3, 5 and 7.
But small-business leader Ian Baldock shares readers' frustrations.
"We see far too many young people who simply cannot add up," said Mr Baldock, executive director of the Queensland Retail Traders and Shopkeepers Association.
"Our members find young people often have no idea of basic arithmetic . . . some of these kids cannot string a sentence together."
Les Gomes, owner of Professional Tutoring Service, said maths and English tuition were in high demand: "I think it's the class sizes that's made it very difficult for students to get that individual attention."
Comments on the survey forms suggest many readers believe teachers face a struggle to teach effectively while battling misbehaviour.
More than half (55 per cent) of respondents would like to see corporal punishment, banned in 1992, reintroduced.
Mr Welford said The Sunday Mail survey directly contrasted with a 2004 survey of more than 33,000 parents in state schools: "The School Opinion Survey indicated that 77 per cent of parents were satisfied that their child was receiving a good education . . . 84 per cent were satisfied that their child's school is a good school."
© Queensland Newspapers
The Age, Melbourne, Victoria, 16 September 2005
Strap to be banned in all Victorian schools
Be Chee Chee Leung and David Rood
ALL Victorian schools will be banned from using the strap to discipline students under the first rewrite of the state's education laws in more than 130 years. The new legislation will also introduce minimum standards for home schooling to regulate Victorians who educate their children at home.
These changes were part of the State Government's white paper released yesterday following a six-month review of education and training legislation.
The proposed legislation will be introduced into Parliament this year, with changes expected to come into effect from 2007.
Premier Steve Bracks said the new education framework would help Victoria remain competitive internationally as the nation faced a skills shortage and an ageing workforce. "We can't compete (against some countries) in relation to wage and labour cost, but we can compete on our intelligence, our abilities and our skills," he said.
While there is no explicit reference to corporal punishment, Education Minister Lynne Kosky said she expected it would be banned under minimum student welfare standards to be set by the new regulatory authority. The practice is already banned in government schools.
"This is modern legislation which actually reflects what is now the accepted norm within education, and corporal punishment is not part of the way we teach children."
Frank Dando, who heads an eponymous Ashwood sports academy that acknowledges the use of corporal punishment, said "we don't care one way or the other" about the likely ban, and declined to comment further.
Home schooling advocates said they were opposed to any regulation of home education. Susan Wight, of the Home Education Network -- which estimates 15,000 Victorian students are being taught at home -- also said home-educated students "generally exceed the standards and expectations of schools".
Copyright © 2005. The Age Company Ltd.
Herald-Sun, Melbourne, Victoria, 16 September 2005
State hails class act
School leaving age up, strap banned
By Paula Beauchamp
ALL Victorian students will be forced to stay at school a year longer after the Bracks Government yesterday lifted the minimum leaving age for the first time in 130 years.
Young Victorians will now be required to study until they are 16.
Under the Government's long-awaited overhaul of the Education Act, corporal punishment is also set to be banned in Victorian schools.
The prohibition on physical punishment imposed at government schools will now be extended to the independent and Catholic sectors.
Education Minister Lynne Kosky yesterday also said an extra $4 million in funding would guarantee early school-leavers a place at a government school or TAFE until they turned 20.
The new Victorian Qualifications and Regulation Authority to be set up under the Act, will license private and government schools and set up the minimum standards for home schooling.
She said corporal punishment was not part of the way children should be taught now.
"We focus much more on positively working with students rather than punitive measures," she said.
Asked whether there was any chance corporal punishment would still be allowed in Victoria by 2007, Ms Kosky said. "I don't think so, no."
But Association of Independent Schools chief executive, Michelle Green, said individual schools and communities should be allowed to determine their discipline policy and whether that includes corporal punishment.
It is widely known corporal punishment is still used at some private schools.
The legislation is expected before Parliament this year.
© Herald and Weekly Times
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