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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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Joondalup Mayor Troy Pickard has welcomed the announcement in Parliament that the Joondalup City will be granted tourism precinct status later this year.hillarys

The announcement was a fantastic result for the City of Joondalup.  Becoming a tourism precinct will allow trading hours similar to those in Fremantle and Perth for local Joondalup businesses.

As a tourism precinct it will allow the City to improve on existing attractions like the award winning Joondalup resort and Hillarys Marina the second most visited tourism venue in WA.

It will create a more exciting City and will encourage and attract a variety of businesses and visitors to the North West region of Perth.

Becoming a tourism precinct will complement the large number of events, concerts and festivals held in Joondalup City and will help assist Joondalup to become an even more vibrant and bustling place to visit.

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wa small firmsSigns are emerging that the worst of the global financial crisis is over, according to a new survey, and the State’s small businesses are leading the way.
  
The Commonwealth Bank-Chamber of Commerce and Industry quarterly survey of business expectations, released yesterday, shows that economic conditions in WA appear to be stabilising after six months of decline.
  
CCI chief economist John Nicolaou said that the community could “take heart” from the results and that an economic recovery within the next 12 months was on the horizon.
  
“This survey is an important lead indicator of future economic activity,” he said.
  
“While just over half of all businesses remain pessimistic about the next 12 months, that’s come back from around 75 per cent of businesses that were pessimistic last quarter, and at the same time businesses that think conditions will improve (over the same time) has doubled.”
  
Mr Nicolaou said small businesses in service industries were the most optimistic, with 17 per cent of the firms surveyed believing conditions would improve over the next 12 months.
  
Beaumonde Catering owner Mark Dimmitt said he felt small business was better prepared for the slowdown than in other downturns because it had taken time to flow to Australia from the US.
  
He said that though his trade had been affected and was patchy, February was a record month for his 20-year-old business and he expected an upturn over the next year.
  
Woolworths regional manager Brad Bolin criticised “illogical barriers to doing business”, referring to trading hours in WA.
  
Mr Bolin said “conservative estimates” showed the group would need to employ another 300 staff in WA if trading hours were extended to 9pm.
  
“During this time of economic uncertainty there are still companies (looking) to hire more people — these efforts shouldn’t be undone by illogical barriers to doing business,” he said.
  
Coles and Kmart have said they expected to employ another 350 workers if 9pm trading was approved.

Source www.thewest.com.au

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George Calombaris has been awarded more accolades for his work than most receive in a lifetime, and this exuberant chef is still just 30 years of age.  george

George’s molecular gastronomy has seen him become a much talked about chef in the international cooking circuit.

In 2004, the Global Food and Wine Magazine voted George one of the Top 40 Chefs of Influence in the World. An internationally successful restaurateur, George owns three restaurants in Melbourne and one in Mykonos, Greece. His flagship Melbourne restaurant, The Press Club, was recently awarded The Age Good Food Guide ‘Best New Restaurant 2008’ with George named ‘Chef of the Year 2008’.

Fiery, passionate and outspoken, George does not mince his words and will push the contestants to grow, improve and strive for excellence in their cooking.

“MasterChef Australia is the first reality prime-time cooking show that not only depicts the highs and lows of the hospitality industry, but the passion that each person on the show has for food. It is real. Real food and real people. I am a living example for all the cooks on MasterChef Australia and I hope I can give them the full reality of what this hard but beautiful industry is all about. I am fair and understanding, but I will not accept rubbish.” – George Calombaris

www.masterchef.com.au

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