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For most of us the problem isn’t that we aim too high and fail - it’s just the opposite - we aim too low and succeed. Ken Robinson

Welcome to the latest version of the site, version 6.2. As with the most recent changes this is an ongoing evolution rather than a revolution. Minor improvements and changes are the name of the game. The major efforts have been in working to have a smaller footprint, as well as cater better for different viewing options. Hopefully this has been achieved to a greater degree than previously.

Re-directs and removal of page notifications have now been removed. Minor modifications have been made to some areas of the page. One has been a slight increase in the base font size. We have also carried out a range of testing on different screen sizes. A listing of all changes is found on the Version History page.

Vocational education is, in many ways, the poor cousin of education. It sometimes hits the news, but usually for the wrong reasons. It is essential, but more often swamped or simply bypassed by attention provided to other areas. Perhaps though, we have reached a turning point.

At the recent federation reform forum held by COAG, it may just have received an invitation to the main party of sensible government control and support. Linked with an earlier call by Jay Weatherill and others, and an increasing realisation of the need for a vibrant, effective sector, there may yet be hope.

As Greg Craven indicates in a recent article, it is ‘a policy area of vital national importance that is an objective shambles’ and ‘is the sort of policy disaster that makes the Charge of the Light Brigade seem well organised’. Wish he’d speak his mind a little more clearly there !

Peter Noonan also wrote on this in the Financial Review. He begins one section with - ‘is a somewhat messy, shared responsibility between the Commonwealth and the states’ and gives details of why this is so. More importantly he goes on to look at the history of attempts to have it repaired, especially through a process of commonwealth control of the area. He is not misty-eyed though, being only too aware of the potential mistrust between states and commonwealth should this occur. Taking all factors into account though, the emphasis seems to be on the logicality of such a move.

Something certainly needs to be done. At the moment it is not effectively fulfilling its function, nor is it being allowed to do so. In many ways it has become a political football for governments and other bodies. Items such as those noted by Campus Morning Mail recently [For-profits big loss and The lady’s not for turning] indicate just some of the existing difficulties.

As Peter Noonan indicates - ‘there does seem to be increasing recognition at both levels of government that the arguments for VET to be treated as a national endeavour are even more compelling now than they were 25 years ago’. One can only hope his read of the tea leaves has been accurate and that the move actually occurs.

‘Soon, but not real, real soon’ is the heading of a section in a recent Campus Morning Mail. It is interesting for two points. The first is a third attempt at getting a deregulation package through parliament and this is certainly reflected in the title.

The second is concerned with the eventuality of some level of deregulation. His reference to an earlier quote by Kwong Lee Dow is particularly relevant and comes from someone who has been in the cut and thrust of university life and change for quite some time. As the final point indicates though, ‘Just not in the next 12 months’.

In a period when we always seem to align large amounts of money with solutions for nominated problems, it is interesting to note a recent report from the Grattan Institute. Targeted teaching : how better use of data can improve student learning is not exactly the catchiest title but it does cover a very important topic and how to handle it.

Instead of suggesting squillions be spent on a nominated program, it looks for something which works and extrapolates its cost if used in the best possible manner. As it indicates - ‘One highly-regarded NSW program could be rolled out to the bottom 20 per cent of primary schools nationally at a cost of about $300 million a year. This would improve both literacy and numeracy in the vital early years. The educational and social rewards would more than repay the cost’. Certainly more detail is provided in the report which is freely available.

A different approach. Financially within the present economic climate. Potentially high pay-off in terms of children’s learning both at the early level and later. What’s more likely to be a worthwhile program ?

Other Areas of Interest

A ‘research team at Monash University and the University of Melbourne has recently developed a new online parenting program aimed at helping parents raise resilient teenagers’. This an online program designed to provide practical strategies to help with mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, in teenagers. If you and your teenager are willing to take part in a free trial of the program, you can find details by visiting the Parenting Strategies site.

A different, though similar, option is also available through Autism Spectrum Australia [Aspect]. ‘Aspect would like to invite families across Australia who are providing home education for their child/ren with autism, the opportunity to take part in a world- first research project. The purpose of this project is to explore the experiences of families that provide home education for their children with autism and to understand why parents choose this educational option for their child/ren’. If you are interested and willing to be involved in this research, use the following link.

Name changes for universities seem to be in the air. Possibly the best known might be the University of Western Sydney which has raised the ire of many. University of Western Sydney to get new name and logo details the story, and swamps the news that it will unveil plans for new campus in Liverpool. Maybe the response from many such as comments at B&T and Reddit as well as the Petition at this site might suggest a better process at the least.

Others considering name changes might take note. This would certainly include CQU.

Site Changes

The following pages have been completely updated : links, descriptors, exclusions, additions : Vocational and Special Education pages. They can be accessed via the Education link in the menu.

Updates have been added to the following pages : Calendar, Conferences, Journals.

12 August 2015.

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