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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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Parents of children at private WA schools should brace for fee rises up to four times the inflation rate next year, with new figures showing education costs leapt 37.5 per cent in the past five years.

Elite colleges said it was too early to set next year’s fees but they predicted rises between 5 and 8 per cent.

Principals said big pay rises to State schoolteachers last year in a three-year agreement were driving up fees at private schools because they competed for staff.

Scotch College principal Andrew Syme said fees at private schools had to go up at least 6 per cent to keep pace with teachers’ pay rises before any improvements in service.

Anglican Schools Commission chief executive Peter Laurence said fee rises at low-fee church schools would be similar to last year’s increases of between 6 and 9 per cent.

“Teachers’ pay is the number one driver that’s going to keep increases higher than they used to be a few years ago,” he said.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show education costs in Perth, comprising school fees and other miscellaneous costs, have jumped 37.5 per cent since 2004 – the biggest increase registered by any capital city. Canberra had the second biggest leap, with 29.4 per cent.

The rise was driven by a 55.9 per cent lift in fees associated with pre-schools and primary schools. By contrast, pre-school and primary school education costs in Sydney rose almost 23 per cent.

Pre-school and primary school fees have grown faster than the average wage of West Australians which, between 2004 and today, jumped 44 per cent – the biggest rise of any capital city.

The State Government has held down public primary school fees so the increase is mainly for private schools.

A private education in WA costs between $3000 a year for Year 12 tuition at low-fee Catholic schools and $17,000 a year at high-fee independent schools. Many private schools in Sydney and Melbourne charge more than $20,000 a year.

Association of Independent Schools of WA executive director Valerie Gould said the recent teacher pay rises and rising construction costs in the building boom two years ago may have been the big contributors to increased education costs.

WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief economist John Nicolaou said the fact fees were going up so much in the private sector reflected poorly on the public school sector.

He said people were voting with their feet and going to the private sector even while fees were rising, which said something about what parents thought of Government schools.

WA Secondary School Executives Association president Rob Nairn said students in Years 8 to 10 could get an education at a State school for a voluntary contribution of $235 a year. Costs were higher in Years 11 and 12 but much less than in private schools.

Source  :   www.thewest.com.au

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WA police believe the body of a man found washed up on a beach near Bunbury is that of German backpacker Jan-Christian Bielenberg who had been missing for more than two weeks.

South West police Detective Senior Sergeant Kylie Whiteley said this afternoon that although the body had not yet been formally identified, it was likely that of 20-year-old Mr Bielenberg.

“At this point we are still attempting to formally identify the male,” Senior Sergeant Whiteley said.

How sad, the rest of this article is on  www.watoday.com.au

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The parents of missing German backpacker Jan-Christian Bielenberg arrived from Germany yesterday.

They delivered a heart felt plea to their son at a press conference in Bunbury yesterday morning.

They both were hopeful their son would be found alive and well.

“He is alive … until there is proof of the opposite,” Mr Bielenberg said.

Jan-Christian constantly kept contact with them during his time in Australia.

The last time they spoke to their son was two days before his disappearance.

Senior Sergeant Gardiner said police were still hopeful the young tourist would be found alive and well.

Police ask anyone who may have sighted him or with information to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

 

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Migration Agents – Migrant numbers need to increase to support infrastructure projects

The Migration Institute of Australia (MIA) has warned the government that work on infrastructure projects will be difficult to accomplish following the decision to put australian-immigration-construction-workers restrictions on the skilled migration program.

While the MIA welcomed the Australian immigration ministers decision to increase the number of humanitarian and family reunion Australian visas for the 2009/10 Migration Program, they were less than impressed with the decision to remove a number of trade-level occupations from the skilled occupation list.

“The MIA awaits with great interest to see how the Government proposes to administer the new job-readiness criteria for trade occupations. It’s hard to imagine a one-size-fits-all assessment system of employability,” said Maurene Horder, CEO of the Migration Institute of Australia.

The Government reduced the Australian skilled migration program at the turn of 2009, when the recession was starting to take effect. The planning level for the remainder of the 2008-09 financial year was reduced from 133,500 to 115,000 skilled migration visas and the Critical Skills List (CSL) and priority processing order were both introduced so that the Government could target the skills it needed most.

As of the 01 July 2009, the Australian skilled migration planning levels will be further reduced to 108,100 visas, and the CSL and priority processing order will remain as guidelines for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s visa processing officers. This means that sponsored visas and independent visas with skills nominated in the health, engineering and IT sectors will constitute a major part of Australian visa approvals during the start of the next financial year.

Fortunately, the Australian skilled migration program remains flexible to the needs of the Australian economy. While states/territories and employers have been given greater power to target the skills they need, the Immigration Minister Chris Evans also has the ability to extend the planning levels for the Australian skilled migration program and amend the CSL so that certain nominated trades can have priority for processing, if the economy needs a boost in skilled workers.

Senator Evans said in a recent statement that the Government is committing itself to “a long-term planning framework for migration as a key component of the current reform agenda” and that their extension of the family migration scheme is testament to its perception of the importance of family.

“We are recognising the importance of family through this boost which will benefit Australians who seek to have their parents, partners or children join them to live here permanently,” Senator Evans added.

The family stream of the Australian migration program has had 2,500 places added to the Spouse and Fiancée Visa program, 1,000 places to the Parent Visa program, and 300 to the Child Visa program.

Source www.gettingdownunder.com

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The Education Tax Refund (ETR) is a new government initiative to help with the cost of educating primary and secondary school children. It means eligible parents,tax refund carers, legal guardians and independent students could get 50% back on some education expenses. This includes items like computers, educational software, textbooks and stationery.

Most people are eligible for the ETR because they receive Family Tax Benefit (FTB) Part A. However, there are some payments that prevent you from receiving FTB Part A, but which still entitle you to receive the refund. You can also claim the refund if you are an independent student.

You can claim the ETR each financial year for children in primary and/or secondary school, or if you are an independent student. You will be able to claim the refund from 1 July 2009 for the 2008/09 financial year. This means you can claim for items purchased from 1 July 2008. Remember to keep your receipts as they will help you calculate your entitlement and you may be required to produce them as proof of purchase.

You can claim the ETR even if you are not required to lodge a tax return.

For more information, see  http://www.educationtaxrefund.gov.au/about-the-ETR/

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066What is Kids in Perth – The Parents’ Paper?                                          

Targeted at parents with children aged up to 14 years, Kids in Perth – The Parents’ Paper is a FREE monthly newspaper that can be found all over the metro area and in some regional centres. The largest, longest running and most popular parenting publication in Western Australia is distributed at the beginning of every month. Kids in Perth – The Parents’ Paper has been published since 1995.

Where can I find a copy of Kids in Perth – The Parents’ Paper?
We are available at over 600 outlets in the metropolitan area – north to Yanchep, east to Mundaring Weir and south to Mandurah and through selected regional outlets.

What will I find in Kids in Perth – The Parents’ Paper?
Each month you will find news for and about families in Perth including:

 Education and Literacy
 Health and Nutrition
 Competitions
 Entertainment and Events Diary
 Sport and Recreation
 Birthday Party Page
 Just for Mums
 Performing Arts
 The Nursery
 School Holidays Features

How many people can you reach?

The print run is 75,000 copies per month, with a CAB audited circulation of 71,251
Web exposure at www.kidsinperth.com 
Readership is estimated to be around 130,000 and is broken down into:
90% mothers
10% fathers and grandparents

How do we keep Kids in Perth – The Parents’ Paper in households for a month?

The Events Diary, which is in the centre feature of every issue, provides a list of things happening in Perth that are of interest to families. This spans the first to the last day of the month and ensures the longevity of the paper.
Find us in:
 Supermarkets (Woolworths, Coles, IGA)
 Bounty Bags given to new mums
 All metro MacDonalds Family Restaurants
 All Guardian Pharmacies (including regional)
 Shopping Centres (at the information desk or in stands)
 Public Libraries
 Selected childcare centres, pre-primary and primary schools
 Places of family interest (Scitech, WA Museum, Adventure World and Kings Park)

For more information please contact the Sales Office on (08) 9388 1600

 

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