Wednesday, 28 November 2012

School Finishing Day



Department of Education Media Release

28 November 2012






Mark Watson
Department of Education, Manager (Employee Relations)



The situation for this year is that for schools in isolated areas, teachers and students will finish on Thursday 20 December 2012. This is one day earlier than urban schools for teachers and the same day as urban schools for students. In urban schools, teachers finish Friday 21 December and students finish Thursday 20 December 2012.

This is consistent with the conditions in the Teachers Award and is also consistent with advice provided to all schools over 12 months ago.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

School Attendance



Department of Education Media Release

21 November 2012






Liz Banks
Deputy Secretary Department of Education
 



Tasmania performs very well in relation to student attendance compared to other jurisdictions, particularly in relation to the early years.

The 2012 Report on Government Services shows that Tasmania has recorded either top or equal top for all year levels (year 1 to year 10) across other states and territories, apart from year 9 (Tasmania recorded equal second) and year 10 (Tasmania recorded equal third).

Ensuring children attend school is a shared responsibility. Parents have an important role in prioritising school attendance, and schools support with appropriate curriculum and supportive school environments.

The department continues to work on this important issue and has a range of strategies for following up unexplained absences and attendance issues.

At a school-level, there are various strategies for following up unexplained absences and attendance issues including phoning home, using SMS and social workers.

Prosecution of parents is a last resort.

There is always room for improvement and a more systematic approach to school attendance will benefit all students including students at risk.

The department has reviewed the legal issues and options around unexplained absenteeism in order to work with parents to increase their accountability in this area.

It is parents’ legal responsibility to ensure their children attend school.

Children deserve an education – it is through education that children can have a positive future.

Schools record attendance data regularly and the Department also monitors attendance data throughout the year.

TasTAFE Information Sessions



Department of Education Media Release

19 November 2012





Malcolm Wells
Deputy Secretary Department of Education
 



Education Department Deputy Secretary Malcolm Wells said today that the second round of staff information sessions are being held across the state over the next few days and next week.

“The aim of the sessions is to give Polytechnic and Tasmanian Skills Institute staff an opportunity to obtain information and engage in discussion about the implementation process and creation of the new entity, TasTAFE.

“Feedback from the sessions will be collated and will be used to inform the work of the relevant working groups,” he said.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

iPads


Department of Education Media Release

20 November 2012

 
 
 
Liz Banks
Deputy Secretary Department of Education




Education Department Deputy Secretary Liz Banks said today that schools purchase a range of information communication technology devices that meet their students’ learning needs.

 “In some schools, students own devices are also used as learning tools.

 “Tasmanian Government schools have purchased a wide range of technology including iPads to use in their teaching and learning programs.

 Ms Banks said that government school students are not expected to purchase their own iPads for use in the classroom.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Gambling Support


Department of Education Media Release

15 November 2012

  
Liz Banks
Deputy Secretary Department of Education



Education Department Deputy Secretary Liz Banks said today that schools have structures in place to support students and their families if gambling is an issue.

“Schools are provided with resource materials including the National Safe and Supportive Schools Framework and the Tasmanian Curriculum’s Health and Wellbeing syllabus.

“These assist teachers and school staff to identify and respond where there is a risk of gambling related harm,” she said.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

School Levies


Department of Education Media Release

13 November 2012

 
 
 
ANDREW FINCH
Deputy Secretary Department of Education


Levies are set by individual schools in consultation with their school communities, Education Department Deputy Secretary Andrew Finch said today.

“School communities set their own levies according to the specific education programs being undertaken.

“Levies contribute to the costs of a student’s education program including learning materials and stationery, school excursions, visiting performances and school camps.

“How schools set levies and collect them is determined in conjunction with their school community,” he said.

Mr Finch said that low income families are able to apply for exemption from levies through the Student Assistance Scheme (STAS).

Friday, 9 November 2012

School Capacity


 Department of Education Media Release

9 November 2012

 
 
 
ANDREW FINCH
Deputy Secretary Department of Education



Education Department Deputy Secretary Andrew Finch said today under the department’s School Enrolment Policy, a principal must ensure that all school-aged children are able to enrol in their home area school.

“The department monitors the capacity of all schools and keeps track of enrolment trends over time to ensure that any problems with capacity can be addressed before it impacts on the families wishing to enrol in their local school,” he said.

Weather Warning


 Department of Education Media Release

9 November 2012

 
 
 
ANDREW FINCH
Deputy Secretary Department of Education



Education Department Deputy Secretary Andrew Finch said today following discussions with the State Emergency Service, schools, colleges, child care centres, LINC’s and the Tasmania Polytechnic were advised to continue business as usual following the storm warnings that were issued by the Bureau of Meteorology.

“Staff and students were not required to vacate any of our buildings and were advised to monitor the weather warnings if a storm broke out in their area and keep students indoors in break periods,” he said.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Demolition of former Rocherlea Primary School


  Department of Education Media Release

6 November 2012

 
 
 
ANDREW FINCH
Deputy Secretary Department of Education



Education Department Deputy Secretary Andrew Finch said today that the recommendation to offer Vic State Demolition the tender to demolish the former Rocherlea Primary School followed the Government’s Procurement Policy and offered the best value for money.

Mr Finch said the Evaluation Panel assessed all submissions against the Tender Evaluation Criteria and the company met all the criteria to the highest standard.

“A key aspect of the demolition works will be the capacity to recycle building materials and minimisation of waste to landfill.

“Vic State Demolition has a history of undertaking demolition works in the Tasmania and have confirmed that a local civil company is being used for concrete crushing and local labour is being employed on the project,” he said.

Mr Finch said that Vic State Demolition has also confirmed its intention to use other local resources where possible.

“In the meantime, the property has been removed from the market while the demolition occurs and will be readvertised by the Department of Treasury and Finance on completion of the project.

“It is expected that the demolition works will be completed by the end of December 2012,” Mr Finch said.

Principals Agreement


   Department of Education Media Release

6 November 2012

 
 
 
ANDREW FINCH
Deputy Secretary Department of Education



Education Department Deputy Secretary Andrew Finch said today that the Department of Education is in negotiations with the Australian Education Union and the Tasmanian Principals Association on a new Principals Agreement.

“The new agreement incorporates the inclusion in salary of the longstanding Principals Leadership Allowance resulting in no overall increase in remuneration for principals.

“It is anticipated that the new agreement will be in place by 1 January 2013,” Mr Finch said.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Swimming and Water Safety



Department of Education Media Release

23 October 2012


LAURIE ANDREWS
General Manager, Learning Services (North)



I am told primary students are eligible for 4 weeks of lessons across primary school (equalling 20 lessons). Is that right?
The program is directed towards years 3, 4 and 5 children who will participate in thirty lessons that are usually organised over ten consecutive days per year. The extension of the program to other years is desirable where circumstances permit.

Is that enough to teach the necessary water survival skills, or is more needed?
 In the vast majority of cases this is adequate time to teach the necessary skills.


The website statement said: Ms Travers said that all students in Years 3, 4 and 5 are aiming to achieve the year 6 National Benchmark for swimming and water safety skills. What is the target date for meeting the benchmark?

The aim is for all primary students to achieve the benchmark by the time they leave primary school.




Annual Report


Department of Education Media Release

23 October 2012

 
 
 
ANDREW FINCH
Deputy Secretary Department of Education





Education Department Deputy Secretary Andrew Finch said today that a reduction in teacher numbers as reported in the Department of Education’s Annual Report 2011-12 was due mostly to a change in Government staff reporting requirements.

“The reason for this has been a change in reporting rules which means only paid staff are now included in statistics.

“Staff on unpaid leave are no longer being included,” he said.

Mr Finch said that the remaining reduction in teacher numbers is broadly attributable to a reduction in student numbers in the K-12 sector requiring fewer teachers and also as a result of staff departures under the Workforce Renewal Incentive Program.

“These vacancies are firstly filled by staff already employed within the department, for example substantive staff in roles no longer required, reducing the requirement to engage fixed-term staff,” he said.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Swimming and Water Safety Programs



Department of Education Media Release

22 October 2012





JUDY TRAVERS
General Manager, Learning Services (South)



The General Manager Learning Services South, Judy Travers said today that Tasmania is the only jurisdiction in Australia that has a comprehensive mandatory approach to swimming and water safety.

Ms Travers said that this approach ensures the provision of an equitable and quality-assured program for students in years 3 to 5 across the State.

“The Department of Education ensures every child in government schools has an equal opportunity to participate in quality swimming and water safety instruction.

“All primary school students have an opportunity to participate in swimming and water safety lessons annually, part funded by the Department.

“Students currently take part in a program at Government-owned, council and private swimming pools, taught by qualified swim instructors,” she said.

Ms Travers said that the levy for the Swimming and Water Safety program covers transport, pool entrance fees and additional staffing. The cost is around $2.25 per lesson in 2012.  Students who are eligible for the Student Assistance Scheme receive a free service.

“Many schools supplement these programs for other year groups, including infant classes and at-risk year 6 students. School resources are used for these programs.

“As well as teaching students to swim, the program also develops an understanding of water safety, survival and swimming practices to ensure that water-based activities are enjoyable, rewarding and safe,” she said.

Ms Travers said that all students in Years 3, 4 and 5 are aiming to achieve the year 6 National Benchmark for swimming and water safety skills.

 


Thursday, 18 October 2012

Safe Schools



Department of Education Media Release

18 October 2012


ANDREW FINCH

Deputy Secretary Department of Education




Education Department Deputy Secretary Andrew Finch said today that the Department of Education is committed to establishing safe schools and colleges.

“There are guidelines in place that relate to duty of care by school staff for their students and its employees and all staff should be aware of these guidelines.

“They provide clear advice to all adult members of schools and colleges to ensure that there are positive, caring and respectful relationships with children and young people.

“It is important to safeguard the emotional and physical wellbeing of children, young people and employees by promoting an enhanced understanding of appropriate relationship boundaries,” he said.

All Government schools have strong processes in place to protect the safety of students and staff,” he said.

Mr Finch said that the Department cannot comment on individual cases that are subject of investigation,” he said.

Enrolment Policy



Department of Education Media Release

16 October 2012





JUDY TRAVERS
General Manager, Learning Services (South)



What are the current criteria for being enrolled in an out-of-area school? I was told there were about five different circumstances?
 Most schools have a transparent list supported by the parent body.  For example, if they have a sibling, there was a specific reason (medical / identified need) or children of parents who went to the school.

Some parents have been asked in for an “interview” to attend an out-of-area school. What would this be for?
Most schools have an interview with every student in their feeder primary school as a courtesy and to build a relationship with the student before they arrive.   Large high schools, for example Taroona High School, interview all students with a parent/guardian but other schools might just leave an interview for only an out of area application.  This process varies across schools, particularly those with many feeder schools as it encourages a personal connection.

Is there any way to stop parents putting a different address to have their child enrolled in a school of their preference? I know of cases where parents write down their relatives’ address, even though the relatives won’t be involved. Is this common? Is it frowned upon?
Confirmation of address is required for all enrolments. 
Do some schools get too crowded because they reach maximum and then find a large number of new families move into the area?
Students who are in area have an entitlement to enrol at their local school and schools must manage student numbers carefully.  Principals know what the capacity of their school is and ensure that wherever possible this capacity is not exceeded.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Unpaid Levies | Student Assistance Scheme



Department of Education Media Release

27 September 2012



 
ANDREW FINCH

Deputy Secretary Department of Education


What do government schools do to recover unpaid levies by parents?

Levies are an important component of educational programs and are allocated towards the costs of learning materials, stationery and school services such as schools excursions, visiting performances and school camps.

Individual students are not disadvantaged educationally as a result of unpaid levies.

The State Government has a number of strategies to lower school costs for low income families, including assistance in the purchase of spectacles and uniforms.

Low income families can apply for assistance under the Student Assistance Scheme (STAS). If eligible, students are exempt from paying levies.

Schools are responsible for the management of levies and a register of unpaid levies is not kept by the Department.

Levies are set by individual schools, each school community has in place its own strategies to collect outstanding levies including implementing more flexible payment options.

Parents are now advised of a lump sum at the start of the year and are not constantly being asked to pay extra costs throughout the school year.

Parents are now able to pay their levies in instalments and many parents have taken up this option to spread the payment out over a longer period.

The use of debt collection services to collect unpaid school levies is always a last resort.

Schools work cooperatively with parents to find a means of finalising the debt and it is only when a negotiated solution can’t be found that debt collection may be considered.

Reminders are sent to parents via school newsletters and individual letters may also be sent to parents.

If schools decide to use debt collection services, it is done so on the basis that it will not influence the debtor’s credit rating.

It is up to individual schools to decide whether to use debt collection services, and figures on this are not kept centrally by the Department.


How many students are recipients of the Student Assistance Scheme in government and non-government schools and what are the costs of this service?

The total number of current approvals for the 2012 Student Assistance Scheme is 28,284.
The number of Student Assistance Scheme approvals that apply to government schools is 25,482.
The number of Student Assistance Scheme approvals that apply to non-government schools is 2,802.
The total cost of the Student Assistance Scheme for 2012-13 is $4.695 million.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

School attendance



Department of Education Media Release

12 September 2012








Monday 10 September 2012

The following response can be attributed to Education Department Secretary Colin Pettit:

Tasmania performs very well in relation to student attendance compared to other jurisdictions, particularly in relation to the early years.

The 2012 Report on Government Services shows that Tasmania has recorded either top or equal top for all year levels (year 1 to year 10) across other states and territories, apart from year 9 (Tasmania recorded equal second) and year 10 (Tasmania recorded equal third).

Ensuring children attend school is a shared responsibility. Parents have an important role in prioritising school attendance, and schools support with appropriate curriculum and supportive school environments.

The department continues to work on this important issue and has a range of strategies for following up unexplained absences and attendance issues.

At a school-level, there are various strategies for following up unexplained absences and attendance issues including phoning home, using SMS and social workers.

Adult Learners’ Week Celebrated



Department of Education Media Release

12 September 2012








Digital literacy – connecting and learning through technology is the national theme of this year’s Adult Learners Week.

LINC Tasmania is celebrating Adult Learners’ Week (1-8 September) with a program of free events, displays and activities for learners of all abilities.

Director, LINC Tasmania, Jenny Rayner said that Adult Learners’ Week is a great opportunity for Tasmanians to celebrate learning in many different ways.

“Engaging learners in a diverse range of lifelong learning opportunities is an important focus of LINC Tasmania.

“Developing new skills, supporting learning and celebrating the value and diversity of lifelong learners is vital to maintaining interest in and re-engaging adults in learning.

“LINC Tasmania is offering a range of short courses to help adult learners of all ages and skill levels to develop their computing and online experiences.

“These opportunities include how to use eBooks, basic computing skills, on-line games, internet job searching and researching family history online.

“Courses are also available in resume writing and financial literacy and a range of LearnXpress program courses will also be on offer.

“UTAS and the Tasmanian Polytechnic are offering a number of state-wide information sessions to support people re-engaging in adult learning opportunities.

For more information about Adult Learners’ Week events and other services contact your local LINC or visit www.linc.tas.gov.au

Leap into Spring Learning with LearnXpress



Department of Education Media Release

12 September 2012








Women’s sailing and boatbuilding techniques are among the exciting new courses on offer through LINC Tasmania’s LearnXpress program this Spring.

The Spring LearnXpress guides, which include a variety of courses across leisure and lifestyle activities, and work & life skills will be available in newspapers tomorrow.

Many new courses are on offer including outdoor activities to help dust off winter cobwebs and popular favourites such as Art and Craft, Computing, Fitness and Wellbeing, Sport, Languages, Home, Lifestyle, DIY and more.

Discover Women’s Sailing Experience, Croquet for Beginners and Scan & Restore Old Photographs are just a few of the courses available in the south. A range of boatbuilding courses including Steam-Bending Wood for Construction & Decorative Purposes and Finishing & Protecting Your Boat are also on offer.

Courses in the North include theatrical options such as Demystifying Shakespeare – An Introduction to the Plays of the Bard and Screenwriting 101. An Introduction to Chinese Culture and Japanese Poetry & Art – Haiku, Collage & Kakejiku also offer some cultural learning.

Courses are also available in the North West including Dressmaking for Yourself and French for Travellers.

Jenny Rayner, Director of LINC Tasmania said that learning new things can bring a lot of experiences to Tasmanians.

“Taking a LearnXpress course is not only about discovering new skills and enjoying lifelong learning but a great way to meet new people and have fun. Spring is a great time of year to explore new directions and engage in new experiences.”

The LearnXpress website has recently undergone a makeover making it very simple to navigate and enrol in a course.

The LearnXpress course guide is available in the Mercury and Examiner newspapers on Saturday, 18 August.

For more information about LearnXpress courses, and to enrol online, visit www.learnxpress.linc.tas.gov.au.

Australian Curriculum - School reports



Department of Education Media Release

12 September 2012








School reports are designed to be a description of how well the student is achieving in the Australian Curriculum for the year group and is based on a wide range of evidence the teacher collects, Deputy Secretary Early Years and Schools, Liz Banks, said today.

“Schools have already communicated with parents to help them better understand the content of the reports that they will be receiving over the next few weeks,” Ms Banks said.

“The new Australian Curriculum sets challenging but achievable assessment standards as this is an important part in lifting student outcomes.”

Ms Banks said that the new assessment scale involves A-E letter ratings and descriptors.

“If your child is in Prep, Year 1 or Year 2 you will only see the descriptors on the report. If your child is in Year 3 to 10 you will see both the letter rating and the descriptor,” she said.

An example of one component of a school report:


For further information visit www.education.tas.gov.au/curriculum

Monday, 3 September 2012

West Coast training



Department of Education Media Release

3 September 2012








To be attributed to Nick McKim, MP, Minister for Education and Skills

“The Department of Education has had some preliminary discussions with schools and local businesses on the West Coast to determine the training needs of the area.

“The West Coast Education Advisory Committee (WCEAC) has been developing and implementing strategies targeted towards the access, participation and retention of young people in education and training on the West Coast.

“The recent appointment of Elizabeth Parsons as the new Education and Industry Partnership Officer on the West Coast was one of the initiatives of WCEAC.

“The West Coast community services hub in Queenstown also provides courses.”

PISA Testing



Department of Education Media Release

3 September 2012





Liz Banks
Deputy Secretary, Early Years and Schools
 


 
  • Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an international assessment conducted every three years.
  • The majority of participating students are 15 years old.
  • 47 Tasmanian Government schools were included in the 2012 sample.
  • Schools are selected randomly to participate in the PISA sample. Sample size across the jurisdictions is determined by the need to capture data from schools representative of all socio-economic and geolocational categories.
  • The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) is conducting the assessments nationally and was responsible for determining the sample frame.
  • 25 students from each school will be sampled to complete a two-hour paper-based assessment consisting of mathematics, science, financial literacy and reading questions.  These students will also be asked to complete a questionnaire. 
  • After the paper-based assessment and questionnaire, a sub-sample of 20 students who participated in the paper-based assessment will also participate in a computer-based assessment of problem solving, mathematical literacy and reading literacy.  

Teacher accommodation in regional areas



Department of Education Media Release

3 September 2012








To be attributed to Andrew Finch, Deputy Director (Corporate Services)

Q:  For the housing provided for teachers and police to be upgraded.

“The provision of teacher accommodation in regional areas is considered an important incentive for attracting and retaining teaching staff in schools in regional areas.

“Under the North West Teacher Residence Program, the Department of Education has recently undertaken plumbing, heating and electrical works to improve the quality of teacher residences on the West Coast.

“A major capital upgrade of the Wilson Street unit complex of 13 units located in Queenstown has recently been undertaken.  Further work to improve the quality of teacher residences on the West Coast is planned.

“In November 2010, the Department of Education commissioned Cat Conatus Consultants to complete a review of teacher accommodation in North West Tasmania.

“The final report showed that the majority of residents are generally satisfied with current housing arrangements.  It makes 13 key recommendations.  To improve the quality of teacher residences, the department has progressed a number of the recommendations in consultation with schools, Learning Services North-West and the Australian Education Union (AEU). The initial focus has been on the more remote areas of the west coast. Implementation of recommendations in consultation with key stakeholders continues.

“The department is currently developing a strategy to adopt the agreed recommendations across the State which includes a state-wide Teacher Residence Management policy.

“The final report is available to all interested parties on www.education.tas.gov.au

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Information provided about the new Port Sorell School



Department of Education Media Release

30 Aug 2012








The Department of Education has provided regular updates about the new $13 million primary school at Port Sorell, General Manager Learning Services (North-West), Bruce Cameron, said today.

Mr Cameron said that the Future Directions Group, which included representatives from Moriarty and Wesley Vale primary schools, had met for 18 months to discuss long-term strategies for the educational needs of all students in the Moriarty, Wesley Vale and Port Sorell areas.

“In addition, late last year parents responded to a survey about where they intended to enrol their children for the 2013 school year,” Mr Cameron said.

Parents will be asked early in Term 3 to confirm their intentions for the 2013 school year.

“Throughout this year, regular updates about the new Port Sorell School have been provided through school newsletters at the surrounding schools to keep school communities up to date,” Mr Cameron.

Mr Cameron said that a community forum at the Wesley Vale Primary School Hall tonight would be another opportunity for community members to ask questions about the new school and to further discuss future educational provision within the area.

“Following recent information sessions, there will be an Open Day on the Port Sorell School site on 13 October where community members can find out further information about the new school,” Mr Cameron said.

Participation in physical activities



Department of Education Media Release

30 Aug 2012








To be attributed to Liz Banks, Deputy Secretary Early Years and Schools

The Department of Education believes that children should be encouraged to participate in physical activities that help develop their fitness and that allow them to be adventurous.

It is very natural for children to want to try out physical activities. Many students would have watched the recent coverage of the Olympics where they saw role models to emulate.

Schools actively encourage creativity and free play within a supervised and safe environment.

In all physical activity there is a possible risk of injury and that risk is associated with many things that we do in life. 

It is not reasonable to prevent children from taking part in physical activities because there is some chance of injury. 

Schools’ duty of care towards students includes assessing risk and intervening when it is believed that an activity poses a danger to children’s safety.

Teaching children the skills of particular games and sports also assists in minimising risks.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Rocherlea site not neglected



Department of Education Media Release

27 Aug 2012









To be attributed to Andrew Finch, Education Department Deputy Secretary

23 August 2012


The Department of Education has put in additional security measures at the site, including the boarding up of windows and additional security patrols in a bid to reduce vandalism which is a community issue.

It is normal practice for the Department of Education to employ additional security services for vacant departmental property as they are major sites in local communities which may attract vandalism. Since September 2009, around $50,000 has been spent on security.

The process of disposal of a departmental site takes time. The process includes the creation of titles and statutory approvals. The length of time this takes depends on each individual site and the various processes that are required to dispose of the site correctly.

In the case of the former Rocherlea Primary school site, the process was extended by the accommodation of various community projects, such as the Rocherlea Football Club which had a number of months to remove covered walkways and a gymnasium and the granting of land for a community garden.

The former students of Rocherlea are now benefiting from a brand new State of the Art school and the intention remains to dispose of the old school as quickly as possible.