STEM - We know what it stands for, but what does it mean?

Jun 24 2017
From Education HQ, June 2017 Yes, we all...

Big shoes to fill: the challenges and rewards of modern principalship

Jun 23 2017
By: Lisa Rodgers, AITSL CEO
Recently, I had...

MINISTER'S TWEAKS FAIL TO ADDRESS CONCERNS OF CATHOLIC SCHOOLS

Jun 22 2017
National Catholic Education Commission executiv...

Former Principal of CaSPA School in latest Honours List

Jun 21 2017
Above: Presentation Sister Elvera Sesta has bee...

Coming soon - a new-look Australian Curriculum website

Jun 20 2017
Dear colleagues

Soon we will be releasing a ...

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Jun 19 2017
We thank the following colleagues for sharing t...

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CaSPA Data Project - Experience Prior to Appointment

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Birmingham Funding Proposal - Worrying Facts for Catholic Education

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The following message was distributed by the...

CaSPA Case Study: Overseas Experience - Br Steve Hogan

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John Sexton on being appointed President of New...

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Transcript of CaSPA presentation to Senate Inquiry on School Funding

Jun 08 2017
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CaSPA News

 

STEM - We know what it stands for, but what does it mean?

Posted on 24 June 2017
STEM - We know what it stands for, but what does it mean?

From Education HQ, June 2017

Yes, we all know that STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, but there is a lack of consensus as to what STEM means in terms of practical implementation for teachers and schools within the framework of the curriculum.

In Victoria for example, state research shows that 90 per cent of schools believe STEM is important and a priority, but no one is providing a guiding voice on what this should look like, or providing an integrated package to tackle it.

When thinking about STEM in a secondary school context, what we are really talking about is more tightly integrating these subject areas, because they are intrinsically linked and build on each other in the real world.

At Stile, we find it easier to conceptualise STEM in a different acronym order: Maths ->   Science ->   Engineering  -> Technology.

Though it doesn't quite have the same ring to it, 'MSET' makes sense because it illustrates how these subjects build on each other:

-   Mathematics is the language of science, it's a core tool for essentially all scientific endeavours

-   Science is the basic research we do to critically evaluate the world around us, and by doing so, generate new ideas

-   Engineering is the development of those novel ideas into something useful, and in doing so, creates the technology that improves our lives.

Often, what is missed in the classroom is the relationship between these subject areas, making maths and science in particular seem irrelevant to students.

For example, one would assume there is more interest among students in global warming than vectors, or more interest in being healthy, or the plight of developing countries, than statistics.

In reality though, wind turbines (a technology) are being developed by engineers to reduce our use of fossil fuels.

And the engineering behind these turbines relies on the physics of forces and electricity, all of which are explained by the language of mathematics.

Vaccinations (a technology) are made on an industrial scale by engineers after research and invention by scientists.

That science relies on the mathematics of statistics to ensure efficacy (and at a deeper level, the maths behind protein folding).

How many students understand and appreciate these relationships though?

Most of the time, to evolve something novel into something useful, one needs a broad understanding of MSET, even if you specialise in one particular area of it.

For instance, you don't need to be able to write computer software, but you do need to understand what types of problems computers can solve effectively.

You don't need to be able to write machine learning algorithms, but an understanding of their theoretical limits helps.

MSET education gives us this critical context. How much more interesting would learning maths and technology be if it was in the context of solving a real-world problem?

This is not new thinking, yet for the most part, schools are still failing to integrate these studies effectively.

While a number of schools (particularly private) have compelling design and technology courses, they are far less likely to directly integrate with science and math curricula.

While integrating these subjects in schools won't happen overnight, we need to stop talking about STEM as an elusive futuristic way forward, and start creating ways to teach math, science, engineering and technology in more a relevant, practical and holistic way in our schools.

 

By Byron Scaf
COMMUNITY
Byron Scaf is the CEO of Stile Education. Byron has a Bachelor of Science from Melbourne University, where he was also a PhD candidate in Neuroscience.

Posted in: STEM   0 Comments

Big shoes to fill: the challenges and rewards of modern principalship

Posted on 23 June 2017
Big shoes to fill: the challenges and rewards of modern principalship
By: Lisa Rodgers, AITSL CEO

Recently, I had a chance to reflect on what it means to be a school principal in Australia.

We have more than 9,000 active principals Australia-wide. Our principals are quiet achievers, flying under the radar while performing great feats, often under difficult circumstances. Most principals share a unity of purpose that drives them, paired with a conviction and an emotional bond to their purpose.

They are the leaders who make the call others are afraid to make, who get in earlier and home later than most, and who care a lot about other people's children and their future.

Given the extraordinary demands of the school principal role, it's not surprising that less than 10% of principals intended to be principals when they start teaching! But, 90% of principals report that they are happy in their role and report significantly higher job satisfaction than the general population. And, they tend to stay in the job once they become principals. Over half have either Honours, Masters or Doctoral degrees.

The role has changed over the past 20 years. It has shifted from a managerial job to a profession that has a sharper focus on student outcomes, heightened community expectations and a significant role in the implementation of education policy reform.

Principals make a difference to students and their learning; the role of the principal in influencing student outcomes is acknowledged as being second only to teaching.

How are we improving?

Australia has laid the foundations for a truly world-class approach to improving teaching and school leadership.  We have implemented reforms aimed at improving what teachers do and how leaders support the teaching process and build a culture of learning.

These reforms complement work that is ongoing across states and territories, but achieving national agreement on many matters related to teaching and principalship, has been a significant breakthrough. Including the development of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers and the Australian Professional Standard for Principals, that provide clear, detailed, nationally agreed definitions of what it means to be an effective teacher or leader, and a road map in each case for getting there.

But we are not done yet!

With many competing demands, it is vital that our principals are supported so that leadership that places student learning front and centre is prioritised.

Great principals have the courage to stop what isn't working and to focus efforts on what can make the biggest difference to student learning.

So, what's next? We need to build on the great work so far. The next wave of national reform must focus on leadership development; for those currently leading in our schools and for those that aspire to do so. It must support every principal to maximise impact on student outcomes through the development of a culture of professional collaboration to build the collective efficacy of teachers.

To this end we should:
  • support the development of a national, coherent strategic approach to school leadership development in Australia
  • recognise and promote expertise in high quality school leadership in Australian schools
  • put in place a nationally consistent standards-based professional learning experience for aspiring and experienced leaders
  • assure potential candidates have adequate exposure to a range of preparation experiences and are suitably equipped for the principal role
  • develop opportunities for experienced principals to understand, experience, reflect on and develop their leadership practice
  • build on the collective efficacy of the profession and grow it collaborative expertise.

In my role I have met Ministers of Education across Australia. What strikes me is that while they might differ on some issues, they all want the very best teachers and leaders in schools.

The identification, nurturing and development of school leadership talent must be a part of the reform agenda, alongside supporting our current school leaders to work together nationally.

We must help strengthen collaborative leadership in Australian schooling by developing R & D partnerships with school networks and leadership institutes, sharing knowledge across systems and sectors.

And, we must support them in making the hard calls, to lead learning and impact in their schools and to take some time off to enjoy their lives outside of school.

I look forward to working with our key stakeholders to continue this work and build on what is already in place.

Posted in: AITSL   0 Comments

MINISTER'S TWEAKS FAIL TO ADDRESS CONCERNS OF CATHOLIC SCHOOLS

Posted on 22 June 2017
MINISTER'S TWEAKS FAIL TO ADDRESS CONCERNS OF CATHOLIC SCHOOLS
National Catholic Education Commission executive director Christian Zahra says after two days of media speculation about possible changes to the Government's school funding reforms, a meeting with Education Minister Simon Birmingham has failed to satisfy Catholic education leaders that minor tweaks to the legislation will provide certainty for Catholic schools and their students and families.
"This evening, representatives of the NCEC met briefly with Minister Birmingham, who set out the minor changes he is proposing to make to his legislation in response to the very serious concerns that the Catholic school sector has expressed over the past several months," Mr Zahra said.
"Having heard those changes, the NCEC's position has not moved. We continue to feel that the Minister's Bill has not been properly thought through and it still poses an unacceptable risk to the 1,737 Catholic schools across the country."
Mr Zahra said the independent Parliamentary Budget Office analysis of a $3.1 billion cut to Catholic schools over the next decade is an obvious cause of deep concern.
"The Minister did not allay our fears this evening," he said.
"Nor did he allay our fears, expressed by the Grattan Institute in The Australian today, that Catholic schools are 'the big loser' under the Minister's model because of the redirection of $4.6 billion of funding away from Catholic schools over the next 10 years, as revealed by the Minister's own department.
"The Minister has followed a very poor policy process and is making poor education policy as a result. He remains focused on a political process, rather than a process of consultation and collaboration to support Australian schools and students."
Mr Zahra said Catholic education's view is unchanged: The Senate should not pass this legislation.
"There is still time for members of the Coalition, as well as cross-bench Senators, to see this flawed legislation voted down. We call on those who support Catholic education to do all they can to see this Bill defeated," Mr Zahra concluded.
Posted in: Government NCEC Funding   0 Comments

Former Principal of CaSPA School in latest Honours List

Posted on 21 June 2017
Former Principal of CaSPA School in latest Honours List
Above: Presentation Sister Elvera Sesta has been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for her service to education for over 50 years. Photo: Emilie Ng.

MOST students would race out the door when they finish Year 12, but Presentation Sister Elvera Sesta decided to make the classroom her home.

Sr Sesta has spent the majority of her adult life teaching at the same school she attended as a child, St Rita's College, Clayfield.

Her legacy at St Rita's College began in 1947 when she was an 8-year-old boarding school student.

"My dad had died in the beginning of 1947, and then my mother shortly after that remarried," Sr Sesta said.

"Initially I'm of Greek decent and when she remarried she married an Italian they thought it would be better if I was in boarding school so I was sent here in 1947."

In 1960 she entered the convent for the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary something her parent's initially "weren't fussed on" and began teaching chemistry and biology at her alma mater.

She was appointed principal of the College for 20 years between 1989 and 2008, making her the longest serving principal at the school.

After a short time away from teaching she returned to the classroom in 2010 as a religion teacher, a job she is still doing now.

"I always wanted to be a teacher," Sr Sesta said.

"I've given my whole life to education, really.

"I think the good thing about teaching is being able to impart knowledge, because that's the fabric you work with, and then once they get the knowledge, being able to do something with it and seeing the light go on in the head.

"And that I think is encouraging."

Though she hasn't been looking for accolades, Sr Sesta's hard work in educating thousands of young women has not been gone unnoticed.

Today Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove announced Sr Sesta as one of 891 Australians and over 30 Catholics in the Queen's Birthday 2017 Honours List.

"It's a great honour but then I feel everyone in Sr Rita's works together," Sr Sesta said.

"We all work together to achieve our result; it's not just me."

Each year the Queen's Birthday Honours List recognises a diverse range of contributions and service across all fields, including professional endeavours, community work, Australia's Defence Force and Emergency Services.

Around 33 people who have contributed to the Church community have been included in the 2017 list, including at least four from Queensland and two religious Sisters.

Joining Sr Elvera on the list is Mercy Sister Betty Schonfeldt of South Australia, who was awarded for her service to social welfare in Adelaide.

From: Catholic Leader June 12, 2017
Posted in: Catholic Secondary Principals Australia   0 Comments

Coming soon - a new-look Australian Curriculum website

Posted on 20 June 2017
Coming soon - a new-look Australian Curriculum website
Dear colleagues

Soon we will be releasing a new-look Australian Curriculum website! We have listened to feedback and hope you will enjoy the enhancements to the site. These improvements include a fresh look and feel, and a new 'filter' option on the home page that will make content easier to find.

The homepage will retain the current website address of www.australiancurriculum.edu.au and the top-level pages will redirect from the old site to the new site automatically, once it goes live. However, regular users may need to update their bookmarks as many links deeper within the site will no longer work once the new site goes live (those from the second level down of navigation).

If you currently have links to content deeper in the site, we will shortly be able to provide you with the new links before the website is released. Please advise us of what pages you currently link to, by emailing craig.phelps@acara.edu.au, and we will provide you with new links.

Kind regards

Cassandra Provost (on behalf of)
Dr Fiona Mueller
Director
Curriculum

Posted in: ACARA   0 Comments
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