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WA’s peak parent group has slammed a plan to test pre-primary students next year as a waste of money, saying it’s “ridiculous” to assess children as young as four.

As part of its strategy to improve literacy and numeracy across WA, the Education Department will start to roll out the 30-minute assessments in the first term in public schools. The Sunday Times can reveal some of the sample questions likely to be used in the so-called “on entry assessments”, which are aimed at picking up early problems.

Pre-primary students in public schools will be asked to: Speak about a certain topic, such as friends or favourite games, for two to three minutes. Estimate how many teddy bears are in a cup. Put objects, from smallest to tallest, in order. Count backwards. Match dots with a number on a page.

WA Council of State School Organisations president Rob Fry attacked the $2 million plan, saying he expected parents to be angered by the “ineffective” results.

“I just find this truly remarkable when you’re dealing with children of such a young age,” he said.

“If you get an exceptionally shy child, you’re asking a four-year-old to talk on a subject for two minutes and some of them won’t want to say anything at that age. Does that mean they’ve got a literacy problem? No, they might be shy.

“It’s ineffective and you are going to get such diverse responses between a child coming from an indigenous community to a child living in a Perth suburb with a highly socially active family.”

School Support Programs executive director David Axworthy said the Education Department based its tests on the Victorian model because it was the “best tool to meet the needs of WA children”. It would also enable shared resources between the states.

“It will leave WA well placed for the introduction of the national curriculum when it is produced in 2011,” he said.

WA Primary Principals Association president Steve Breen supported the plan because it would allow teachers to set benchmarks and adapt their programs to suit children’s needs.

Education Minister Liz Constable said children at risk of falling behind would be identified earlier, allowing urgent action to be taken.

Under the plan, students in 50 schools will be tested in term one before all public schools will have access to the assessments in the final term. From 2011, each pre-primary student will be tested at the start of the year.

Source  :  www.news.com.au

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THE design of the new display village for Honeywood Estate at Wandi is a noticeable departure from a more traditional approach to planning.

Focus is centred on making the village as pedestrian friendly as possible.

The display village will feature about 30 homes, all of which are within easy walking distance of the central sales office and a car park.

“The pedestrian-friendly village will ensure people do not have to drive from one side of the estate to the other to see the wide range of builders’ products displayed on different lot configurations,” Satterley Property Group’s manager of urban and built form, Max Pirone, said.

Mr Pirone said the Honeywood village would contain a diverse range of housing types and lot sizes.

Visitors can expect to find 400sqm cottage lots with 12.5m frontages, as well as super lots measuring more than 1000sqm with 25m frontages at the display village.

In a move to differentiate the Honeywood village from other display centres, cafe facilities will be provided to make the visit more enjoyable for prospective purchasers.

Many of the State’s best builders are already lined up to participate in the $850 million project at Honeywood.

Satterley Property Group chief executive Nigel Satterley said plans were made for 1700 lots and a total population of more than 5000.

In addition, areas have been allocated on the master plans for a school, first-class community and family amenities, retail and commercial services, and park and ride facilities at the proposed Wandi rail station.

About 25 per cent of the estate has been set aside for public open space, with at least 17 pocket parks.

Source  :  www.inmycommunity.com.au

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