Many Australian school students feel they ‘don’t belong’ in school: new research

Australian students, on average, reported a poorer sense of belonging at school compared to students across the OECD. A lower proportion of Australian students than the OECD average said they 'feel like they belong at school'.

Why does this matter?

For some students, a sense of belonging is indicative of educational success and long-term health and wellbeing. It has also been found to promote positive attitudes towards students’ learning.

What’s more, students who feel part of, and accepted by, their school community are not only more likely to participate in school activities, both academic and non-academic, but will be actively engaged in these activities.

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Highlights from Victoria's Preliminary Results in NAPLAN 2018

Best results ever achieved. All Victorian students and parents should be congratulated for the very hard work that has produced these results. Every Victorian family should feel proud of the results achieved by Victorian students.


2018 was the first year in which some schools did the NAPLAN tests online. In Victoria, about 120 schools did the tests using desktop or laptop computers or tablets. The results this year combine the results from the paper and the online tests.

Career Advice in Schools: Final Report

VPC was amongst many organisations making a submission (18 March 2018) to the Victorian Parliament’s Economic, Education, Jobs and Skills Committee into career advice activities in Victorian schools.  Please see the Victorian Parliament’s Economic, Education, Jobs and Skills Committee’s final report into career advice activities in Victorian schools, which was tabled on 22 August 2018. The Victorian Government is required to respond to the Committee’s recommendations within 6 months.

The report targets better career advice for students

Career development in Victorian schools is not meeting the needs of students according to the Committee. Among its 46 recommendations, the Committee advocated a ratio of one school career practitioner for every 450 students enrolled at secondary school, mandatory professional registration of school career practitioners and the placement of a coordinator at each Local Learning and Employment Network to provide add-on support to schools and independent advice to student and recent school leavers.

Supporting Schools to Deliver Healthy Food Education

In this new initiative, thousands of children from Victorian schools are developing life-long healthy eating habits, setting up kitchen gardens and boosting food education in schools across the state.

Kitchen gardens encourage kids to get involved with growing, harvesting, preparing and sharing fresh, seasonal, delicious food and improve the overall health and wellbeing of the school community.

Creating More Jobs to Better Protect Kids and Families

Free TAFE Initiative will be the latest arsenal in the bid to transform Victoria’s child and family services sector by delivering the next generation of child protection, youth and community care workers.

“Protecting our kids shouldn’t just be a priority when they need a crisis response – that’s why we’re making an unprecedented investment in prevention and early intervention.”

“We will make sure Victorian families and children receive the help they need much earlier, so kids can lead safe and happy lives.”

“Skilled workers with the right qualifications are in demand right across Victoria and free TAFE courses across our growth industries will help us fill those gaps and get more Victorians into work.”

VPC Parent, School and Community Engagement in Student Learning Workshop-Seminar, 23 August 2018 at Brighton Grammar School

Co-hosted with the Australian Parents Council


The VPC -APC Parent School Community Engagement Day Seminar-workshop was opened by Ross Featherson, headmaster of BGS and Jacqui Van de Velde made the Acknowledgement of Country' 

VPC President, Eveline Jona welcomed all guests, mentioning a special welcome to Professor Debbie Pushor International speaker from Saskatchewan University, Canada; Gorill Vedeler from the Artic University of Norway; Helen Souteris from Monash University; Catherine Meynell-James, Victorian Department of Education; Aynur Simsirel, Principal Advisor, Independent Schools Victoria ; Caz Batson- Bosch, MAPS; Jacqui Van de Velde, Consultant; Rachel Saliba, Victorian Catholic School Parents; and all the guests, parents and professionals from NSW, SA, WA, TAS, ACT and Victoria.

Parents present from various sectors: Independent Schools, Catholic Schools, Government Schools, Special Schools, Parent Lead Schools, Parents Victoria, INLLEN, inner northern local learning and employment network and the Australian Parents Council. 

We were thrilled that Professor Debbie Pushor of the University of Saskatchewan, Canada was our lead speaker and facilitator at Parent School Community workshop day. Debbie a high profile international academic, author and speaker who has a keen interest in the positioning of parents in relation to the school landscapes.

In recent years, Dr Pushor has presented at a range of Australian conferences, forums and master classes including ARACY’s Parent Engagement Conference in Melbourne last year.

Debbie spoke about the work she is doing in Saskatchewan, the importance of developing authentic relationships between parents and schools. Of great interest were the case studies and video vignettes Debbie used to guide us through discussion.

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“What parents need to know about mental health”

VPC-BGS co-hosted parent seminar at BGS 28 July 2018

“What parents need to know about mental health”

Presenter: Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, Child and Adolescent Psychologist


Dr Carr-Gregg’s main points

1.      First, parents should know that there is NO PERFECT PARENT thing in the world. Every child is different. Every parent has their uncertainty about parenting.

2.      Parents should pay close attention to CYBER-BULLYING. The internet has transformed the journey from childhood to young adulthood. Cyber-bullying on the rise- Schools report big rise of cyber-bullying and police cyber expert warn parents of social media predators.

3.      Research shows the rise of number of children and adolescent with mental health issues.

4.      When parents should be concerned about their children’s health, here are some signs or indicators:

-          Pro-social peer relationship

-          Do they have a spark?

-          Do they value/ enjoy school?

-          Have they emancipated (appropriately) from adult carers?

5.      Symptoms that flag depression……

-          Withdrawn to their room

-          Withdrawn from friends

-          Prolonged sadness, cranky, moody, increase in anger

-          Loss of appetite, loss of weight, increase in appetite (comfort eating)

-          Hard to concentrate

-          Drop off in school marks

-          Poor self-esteem

-          Guilty thoughts

-          Suicidal thoughts, self-harm

-          Can’t see things getting better in the future

6.      Recommend an App called ReachOut WorryTime to help people with stress or other mental health issues in a way that let people think they can control their thoughts rather than let the thoughts control them.

7.      One essential and most practical way to conquer mental health issues it to  

KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON                                  In another word, TO BE RESILIENT   

Research shows that people with resilience are highly likely to have the following characteristics:

-          Charismatic adult

-          Social/ emotional competencies

-          Self talk

-          Have spark

-          Spirituality 

8.      A book named GOOD THINKING- A TEENAGERS’ GUIDE TO MANAGING STRESS AND EMOTIONS USING CBT, written by Sarah Edelman and Louise Remond was highly recommended by Michael.      

Thank you Spice Wang for taking the notes!


Is your school a recognised Epilepsy Smart School?

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1 in 200 students are living with epilepsy.

This means almost every Victorian school has or will have a student living with epilepsy enrolled at their school. Epilepsy is still one of the most misunderstood conditions in our community, beyond seizures, students can experience memory loss and poor concentration which can impact educational outcomes. In addition, students can feel isolated due the stigma of this condition.

The Epilepsy Foundation of Australia is the peak organisation in Victoria and NSW and is proud to announce the Epilepsy Smart Schools program

This evidence-based program was developed to support schools to provide a safe and inclusive educational environment for students living with epilepsy.

“We think every school should be a recognised as “Epilepsy Smart” and be able to provide a supportive and inclusive environment for all enrolled students” Graeme Shears CEO of Epilepsy Foundation of Australia.

To become a recognised Epilepsy Smart School, schools must complete three important steps:

1. Demonstrate that the school supports any known student living with epilepsy.

2. Ensure all teachers with a duty of care have received epilepsy specific training.

3. Educate students about epilepsy.

The Epilepsy Smart Schools program will have a positive impact on everyone in school communities and seeks to create generational change through better understanding of epilepsy.

Parents want to know that their child is in safe hands, getting the best education they can and able to participate in all school and community activities. Teachers want to know that they can support all students within their class to participate fully to their ability. Training provided as part of the Epilepsy Smart Schools program allows these wants to be achieved.

A recognised Epilepsy Smart School is one that understands epilepsy and puts in place inclusive practices to support all students living with epilepsy achieve their academic potential and develop positive social relationships.

The Epilepsy Foundation has been working with the Victorian Department of Education to update their ‘Epilepsy and Seizure Policy’. The policy sets out the requirement that all government school staff with a duty of care for a student living with epilepsy MUST complete epilepsy specific training, which the Epilepsy Foundation provides.

All pre-schools, primary schools and secondary schools are eligible to become recognised as an Epilepsy Smart School.

If you would like to learn more how your school can become a recognised Epilepsy Smart School, please visit the Epilepsy Smart Schools website

Sunday 21 October 2018, The Walk for Epilepsy

The Walk For Epilepsy (Princes Park, Carlton, Victoria) is a fun, family-friendly day with lots of activities to keep the whole family entertained. Join us in the Walk as No one with epilepsy should go it alone.

Conversations About Parent Engagement

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In this interview we hear from Debbie Pushor PhD. Professor, Department of Curriculum Studies, University of Saskatchewan, Canada. Debbie has engaged in narrative inquiries into parent engagement and leadership, a curriculum of parents, and parent knowledge. In her undergraduate and graduate teaching, Debbie makes central an often absent or underrepresented conversation about the positioning of parents in relation to school landscapes. Debbie, in collaboration with the Parent Engagement Collaboratives I and II, published, Portals of Promise: Transforming Beliefs and Practices through a Curriculum of Parents (Sense Publishers, 2013) and Living as Mapmakers: Charting a Course with Children Guided by Parent Knowledge (Sense Publishers, 2015).

Debbie will be the keynote presenter at the VPC Parent, School and Community Engagement in Student Learning Seminar-Workshops on 23 August 2018 at Brighton Grammar School for more details and ticket bookings go to our booking page here.

Stress and Anxiety: What can parents do?

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In this interview we hear from Glenn Melvin.  Glenn is an Associate Professor and clinical psychologist at the Monash University Centre for Developmental Psychiatry & Psychology and an honorary Associate Professor at the University of Warwick, UK. Glenn completed his PhD in the treatment of adolescent depressive disorder and has since conducted research into novel treatments for youth depression. His research interests include anxiety, school refusal, depression and suicide prevention. He is currently working on a program to support parents who have a child with anxiety or depression. He works clinically with young people, and teaches medical students about human development across the lifespan.


NAPLAN Online roll-out proceeds smoothly

NAPLAN Online roll-out proceeds smoothly

In May this year, over one million students took NAPLAN, and of those, almost 20 per cent of students across six states and territories sat NAPLAN in the new online format.

ACARA CEO, Robert Randall, said: “This first year of the move to NAPLAN Online overall went smoothly. The participation of schools, students, teachers and education authorities in readiness and preparation activities over the last few years has been key to this smooth transition and we appreciate that effort. I would like to thank all those involved in this achievement”.

By the end of the NAPLAN Online testing window, just over 190,000 students in 1,285 schools completed almost 670,000 online assessments.

Preparation activities undertaken to support the readiness of schools, students and teachers included extensive testing of the assessment platform. Schools that undertook NAPLAN Online this year also completed a successful coordinated practice test in March and April. In addition, there were detailed procedures in place and help desk support to ensure that any incidents that arose could be managed so impacts on students would be minimal.

Education ministers agreed that NAPLAN should move online from 2018 to provide a more engaging assessment, more precise results through tailored testing and faster turnaround of information, with the goal for all students to be online by 2020. The move online will enable NAPLAN to further evolve and improve, to ensure that it continues to provide valuable information about student learning in the important areas of literacy and numeracy.

Parents will receive their child’s individual report in August – around the same time it was issued in previous years. Because a student report shows how a child is doing compared to the national average, the results of all students – including those who did the pencil and paper assessment – need to be returned, collated and analysed. From 2020, when all students sit NAPLAN online, the turnaround time for individual student reports to be returned to parents will greatly reduce, from months to weeks.  (6 June, 2018 ACARA)

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Victorian Institute of Teaching

Victorian teachers see the benefit of Special Needs professional development.

Research indicates that most teachers will be teaching learners with disabilities. A recent study by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission found that 62% of classroom teachers reported they were inadequately trained to teach learners with disabilities.

To support the Victorian Government’s Special Needs Plan to improve access to and participation in learning for children with special needs, VIT set up a Special Needs Framework in 2015. As part of this framework VIT asked all teachers renewing their registration to undertake Special Needs professional development by the end of 2017.

In this video, we hear from a group of teachers about the benefits they experienced as a result of undertaking Special Needs PD.

Every learner has a right to the knowledge and skills that will help shape productive and positive lives, regardless of their physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics.

Undertaking Special Needs PD will help teachers build professional knowledge and expertise to address this need. It will also support the development of an inclusive culture in schools and early childhood settings.

Hyperlink below:


Victorian Parents Council Podcast Series - Join us and Listen wherever you are!


VPC is excited to introduce the ‘VPC Parents Podcast Series’.

The first 3 episodes in the ‘VPC Parents Podcast Series’ is all about NAPLAN which is approaching us very quickly.

First Episode is NAPLAN and Managing Anxiety with Ruth Fordyce

Is your child feeling anxious about NAPLAN? In this VPC Podcast Series we are looking at all things NAPLAN. Tune in for practical, down to earth advice and tips for students and parents alike.

Please share the podcasts in your networks.  (duration 46 min)


The second episode in the ‘VPC Parents Podcast Series’ - join us & listen wherever you are, is also all about NAPLAN which is approaching us very quickly.

NAPLAN: what can parents do to help prepare their Year 3 and Year 5 children

NAPLAN is on in May. Need a recap on what it is all about from a parent perspective? In this VPC Podcast Series we are looking at all things NAPLAN. Tune in for practical and down to earth advice and tips for students and parents alike. Please share the podcasts in your networks. (duration 12 min)


The third episode in the ‘VPC Parents Podcast Series’ - join us & listen wherever you are, is once more all about NAPLAN which is approaching us very quickly.

NAPLAN: adjustments for students with learning support needs.

Can children with Learning Support needs participate in NAPLAN? YES they can!

In this VPC Podcast Series we are looking at all things NAPLAN. Tune in for practical and down to earth advice and tips for students and parents alike. Please share the podcasts in your networks. (duration 9 min)

Victorian Parent Council Parent Seminars 2018 series - Dr Michael Carr-Gregg

"What parents need to know about Mental Health issues for Young People"

The Victoria Parent Council would like to invite you to hear Dr Michael Carr-Gregg present at the first VPC Parent Seminar 2018.  We will be co-hosting this event with Brighton Grammar School on Saturday afternoon 28 July 2018, 3.00 p.m.
Please connect to VPC Facebook page to receive updates on date, time and bookings details.

'Mental Health issues for Young People'
The latest research tells us that rates of depression, anxiety and self harm in young people are at an all time high.

This presentation will summarise the latest research on the mental health of young people, share tips on what parents should look for and the key components that every parent needs to know to build happy and resilient young people.

Dr Michael Carr-Gregg is one of Australia's highest profile child and adolescent psychologists. He wrote his PhD at the University of NSW on Adolescents with Cancer and named and founded CanTeen more than 30 years ago with a group of young cancer patients. He has worked as an academic, researcher, and political lobbyist. He is also the author of 13 books and is working on his 14th. Michael is an Ambassador for Smiling Mind, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Playgroup Victoria. He sits on the Board of the Family Peace Foundation and the National Centre Against Bullying.

Michael is the resident parenting expert on Channel 7's Sunrise and Channel 9's Today Extra,as well as psychologist for the Morning Show with Neil Mitchell on Radio 3AW. Michael is married with 2 boys and is a special Patron of the Hawthorn Football Club.


Read More

NAPLAN - Review of minimum standards of senior secondary literacy and numeracy

The VCAA has been asked by the Minister for Education, the Hon James Merlino MP, to consider whether there should be an explicit requirement for students to meet minimum standards of literacy and numeracy in order to be awarded the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) or the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL).

The Minister has asked the VCAA to consult widely and to provide a report by the end of August 2018.

In responding to this request, the VCAA has developed the Consultation paper to which interested parties may respond.  Download the Consultation paper Word (docx - 82.54kb)PDF (pdf - 49.94kb)

How to have your say!

You may submit feedback to  or complete an online survey at Engage Victoria.

Alternately, submissions can be mailed to:

Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority
Literacy and Numeracy consultation
Level 7, 2 Lonsdale Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

Responses must be received no later than Friday 18 May 2018. 

Metropolitan and regional consultation events

We will be holding various community consultation events in regional and metropolitan locations. Please register for the consultation event you wish to attend using this registration form.

Date & Location

Melbourne - Thursday 19 April Theatrette, Level 5

5.00pm-6.30pm 121 Exhibition Street, Melbourne

Frankston - Monday 23 April Frankston Arts Centre

5.00pm-6.30pm 27–37 Davey Street, Frankston

Glen Waverley - Tuesday 24 April Department of Education and Training Glen Waverley

5.00pm-6.30pm 295 Springvale Road, Glen Waverley

Geelong - Thursday 26 April Deakin University Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus

5.00pm-6.30pm 75 Pigdons Road, Waurn Ponds

Bendigo - Monday 30 April Department of Education and Training Bendigo

5.00pm-6.30pm 7–15 McLaren Street, Bendigo

Sunshine - Wednesday 2 May Sunshine Library

5.00pm-6.30pm 301 Hampshire Road, Sunshine

Ballarat - Federation University
Thursday 3 May Ballarat Technology Park - Central

5.00pm-6.30pm 106-110 Lydiard Street South, Ballarat

Broadmeadows - Monday 7 May Broadmeadows Sporting Club

5.00pm-6.30pm 111 Sunset Boulevard, Jacana

Wodonga - Tuesday 8 May Best Western Hovell Tree,

5.00pm-6.30pm 614 Hovell Street, Albury

Bairnsdale - Tuesday 8 May Bairnsdale Sporting and Convention Centre

5.00pm-6.30pm 117 Great Alpine Road, Lucknow

Shepparton - Wednesday 9 May Goulburn Valley Hotel

5.00pm-6.30pm 223 High Street, Shepparton

Traralgon - Wednesday - 9 May 5.00pm-6.30pm TBC

Warrnambool - Monday 14 May 5.00pm-6.30pm TBC

Horsham - Tuesday 15 May 5.00pm-6.30pm TBC

Mildura - Wednesday 16 May 5.00pm-6.30pm TBC



Do your school parent group meetings consist of the same four people each month?  Does your child’s classroom need a volunteer to take on a special project? Are you trying to recruit volunteers to help with the school fete? These tips will help you attract school volunteers and keep them coming back to help.

What volunteers love :

“We’re so glad you’re here.” A warm and inviting welcome can win your volunteer’s heart. Introduce them to others. Include them in conversations. If the work environment is pleasant, your volunteer is much more likely to participate again.

“We’re doing this because…”  Help your volunteer understand how their role relates to your overall goals and what you hope to achieve. Sometimes having a specific outcome or project will attract more people.

“Thank you so much.” Let your volunteer know you appreciate their help, whether they donated an hour or a week, whether they did the most difficult task or the easiest. Acknowledging what a person does is very important.

“Whatever works best for you.” People have different styles and abilities. Whenever possible, let volunteers take ownership of the process. Give them the goals of the project or the desired outcome, and let them choose their own way to get there. Don’t say “we do things this way,” especially if there’s no compelling reason to stick with the status quo.

What volunteers do not like:

“We don’t need you after all.” Your volunteer shows up on time and ready to help. But when they get there, they discover there’s no work to do. Maybe you have enough help already. Maybe the task changed and you’re going to do it a different way at a different time. The reason doesn’t matter. The message to the volunteer is: “Not only don’t we need you, we also didn’t care enough about you or your time to tell you before you drove over here.”

"Good night, and good luck.” Being given a job to do without proper instruction or the tools to do the job properly can be very frustrating — especially if you leave your volunteer on their own to figure things out for themselves. Most people won’t submit to that kind of experience twice.

“Just another hour-or so.” You ask the volunteer to donate an hour of their time. But it turns out to be the great elastic hour — it stretches and stretches until the job is done. They might stick around to see things through, but they’ll think twice before committing to help out again.

“You’re doing it all wrong!” It’s OK to tell a volunteer when they are doing the wrong thing, but presentation matters. Be helpful rather than confrontational. It could cost you a volunteer — and maybe more if they tell their friends.

Things that keep volunteers motivated

“That’s a great idea.” Nothing is more motivating than making your own idea a reality. An atmosphere that encourages new ideas not only energizes volunteers; it keeps your group fresh and injects excitement, too.

“We’re all in it together.” If your volunteers feel like part of a team, they’ll be more motivated to do their part. A team atmosphere means making sure everybody feels wanted and participates. And it’s crucial to break up cliques.

“You’re really good at that.” Use people’s talents, not just their time. Not many people will get excited about constantly being on the clean-up committee. But if you let the person who loves carpentry build your fete stalls or the one who’s interested in graphic design create your newsletter, they’re much more likely to do a great job and want to continue.

“How did that go for you?” Check in with volunteers occasionally. Make sure their needs are being met and they haven’t become disgruntled. Personal contact lets them know you care about them individually, and it catches potential problems before they become significant. Never underestimate the power of building relationships.

“We did it!” When things go right, share your successes with your volunteers. A shared sense of accomplishment can be a powerful motivator.

Five good ways to find new volunteers

“Position available.” Write help-wanted ads. Create a flyer or section of your newsletter with descriptions of the jobs you need help for. Include the duties of the position, likely time commitment, and other pertinent information. You’re more likely to find a good match for your position if you publicize it well.

“There’s a lot you can do.” You already know that one of the biggest fears of volunteers is that they’ll be sucked into a black hole of never-ending time commitment. One way to address this fear is to create a list of all of the things that volunteers can do in one hour to help your group.

“Would you help?” The No. 1 reason people say they don’t volunteer is because “no one asked.” Asking doesn’t mean a newsletter ad that says “new officers needed.” It requires a personal approach, and it works best if you have a specific task in mind. “Jim, we need ticket-takers for the carnival. Can you spare an hour to help?”

“Bring your friends!” People are much more likely to participate in a group if they know someone who participates already. You can use this to your advantage by asking existing members to issue personal invitations to people they know.

“Thanks for your interest.” Don’t let volunteer surveys sit around for weeks before you respond, even to people who expressed interest in an event that is months away. People are much more likely to follow through later if you make a connection now. Also, this is an opening to ask for more involvement: “I know you said you’d help with the spring carnival, but I wonder if you could spare an hour to help children pick out books at the book fair in October?”

For those of you who have stepped up to your P&F at your AGM, you may find this information pertaining to volunteers interesting and useful. Don’t forget if you have any great ideas for recruiting and retaining volunteers, please let us know so that we can share them.

Article from the Parents and Friends Federation WA (PFFWA)


Television viewing and young children – How to “work with” the medium and not fight against it.


Studies of how children spend their time at home reveal that preschoolers (children aged between 2-5 years) spend the majority of their time in play and watching television, with the exception of sleeping. The average preschooler watches 2-3 hours of television (including DVDs) per day.  Although research on children’s television viewing has been reported for over 30 years, it was not until more recently that such investigations were integrated into the field of developmental psychology.  Some of the many topics that have been investigated include television and the educational benefits, television and language production, television and prosocial outcomes, television and aggression or violence, television and its’ contribution to stereotyping, and television and multicultural awareness.

Interest in early childhood television viewing is based on the premise that cognitive and social development during this life stage is probably more malleable than it is in later childhood and adolescence.  Given that a television set is present in most children’s lives right from birth, it is argued that the preschool years are ideal for examining socialization of television viewing habits and that patterns of viewing acquired during early childhood have long-term implications for children’s development. Research evidence supports this argument.  The findings of one longitudinal study showed that viewing educational programs, such as Sesame Street, at ages 2 and 3 years predicted higher scores at age 5 on measures of language, math and school readiness.  These findings prevailed even after parental education and income level and children’s vocabulary test scores at the beginning of the study were statistically controlled. In another longitudinal study, researchers revealed that early viewing of educational and prosocial television programs was associated with higher high school grades in Science, English and Mathematics. In contrast, early viewing of violent cartoons and general audience programs was associated with lower high school grades in the subjects noted above.

Contemporary researchers argue that television viewing should not be treated as a one-dimensional construct, and that the medium of television is not homogeneous in its impact on children’s development. Hence, to claim that ALL television is bad and that young children should never be exposed to television is alarmist and unrealistic. When children want to watch television, we must ensure that the content is age appropriate with educational and prosocial messages. If the television does not supply this type of content, encourage children to watch a DVD that does provide this content. Of course, just watching television or DVDs and not taking part in other activities, is not what is being advocated here. We must encourage our children to partake in many different activities such as reading books, general playing indoors and outdoors, taking part in sporting activities, drawing, singing, dancing and so on. Television watching should be one activity for children in a day filled with other fun activities!

As adults and parents, we need to spend time watching television with our children; and whilst this article focuses on preschool children, the same rules apply for primary school-aged children.  Viewing together with your child is important for several reasons; you can:

1.  Monitor what television your child is watching;

2.  Help your child understand the content of the program; and

3.  Reject to violent images and advance nonviolent and prosocial values.

There is more scope for learning from television if you are there with your child to discuss, explain, and share the experience with him/her. There is also more scope to engage in play with your child, sing along to songs or to dance with your child as reflected in the television program or DVD. Children love to share these experiences with their parents. If you were watching “Frozen” with your child for instance, you could act out a scene by taking on characters. Encouraging your child to engage in pretend play is the best way to strengthen a wide variety of mental abilities, such as language skills, imagination, creativity, cooperation, sharing, divergent thinking, sustained attention, memory, and the ability to take on another person’s perspective and to understand the difference between self from other.

Of course, time is of the essence and it is not possible to sit down with your child every time he/she watches something on television, nor is that necessary if you are familiar with the content of the television your child is watching. However, it is important to make the time to share this experience as much as possible and that any new television programs and DVDs should first be watched together. This will enable you to judge the appropriateness of the content and discuss with your child the educational components to “work with” rather than against the medium of television.

Yu, M., & Baxter, J. (2015). Australian children’s screen time and participation in extracurricular activities. Longitudinal Study of Australian Children Annual Statistical Report 2015, Chapter 5, p. 99 -125.

Skouteris, H., & McHardy, K. (2009). Television viewing habits and time use in Australian preschool children: An exploratory study. Journal of Children and Media, 3, 80–89.

Prof Helen Skouteris is a developmental psychologist and the Monash Warwick Alliance Joint Professor of Healthcare Improvement and Implementation Science at Monash University. She has a strong track record in longitudinal multi-factorial research, randomised controlled trials, and implementation research in the area of maternal and child health and wellbeing.


Assessing global competence

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PISA will assess global competence for the first time ever in 2018. 

In 2015, 193 countries committed to achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations – a shared vision of humanity that provides the missing piece of the globalisation puzzle.

The extent to which that vision becomes a reality will in no small way depend on what is happening in today’s classrooms.  Indeed, it is educators who hold the key to ensuring that the SDGs become a real social contract with citizens.

Goal 4, which commits to quality education for all, is intentionally not limited to foundation knowledge and skills, such as literacy, mathematics and science, but emphasises learning to live together sustainably.  This has inspired the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) to include global competence in its metrics for quality, equity and effectiveness in education.  PISA will assess global competence for the first time ever in 2018. PISA conceives of global competence as a multidimensional, lifelong learning goal.  Globally competent individuals can examine local, global and intercultural issues, understand and appreciate different perspectives and world views, interact successfully and respectfully with others, and take responsible action toward sustainability and collective wellbeing.

Many teachers will have mixed feelings about this: is this just one more demand placed on their shoulders that will further dilute what students learn and contribute to making curricula a mile-wide but an inch-deep?  And when the results from PISA will come out, will teachers be blamed for things they had no real opportunity to teach in any depth?  Before judging this, it is worth having a look at what global competence as measured by PISA actually entails.

First, PISA expects that students can examine issues of local, global and cultural significance.  This refers to the ability to combine knowledge about the world with critical reasoning whenever people form their own opinions about a global issue.  Globally competent students can draw on and combine the disciplinary knowledge and modes of thinking acquired in school to ask questions, analyse data and arguments, explain phenomena, and develop a position regarding a local, global or cultural issue.  They can also access, analyse and critically evaluate messages delivered through the media, and can create new media content.

Second, PISA looks at whether students understand and appreciate the perspectives and world views of others.  This highlights a willingness and capacity to consider global problems from multiple viewpoints. As individuals acquire knowledge about other cultures’ histories, values, communication styles, beliefs and practices, they begin to recognise that their perspectives and behaviours are shaped by many influences, that they are not always fully aware of these influences, and that others have views of the world that are profoundly different from their own.  Engaging with different perspectives and world views requires individuals to examine the origins and implications of others’ and their own assumptions. This, in turn, implies a respect for and interest in the people who acknowledge and appreciate the qualities that distinguish individuals from one another are less likely to tolerate acts of injustice in their daily interactions.  On the other hand, people who fail to develop this competence are considerably more likely to internalise stereotypes, prejudices and false heuristics about those who are ‘different’.

Third, PISA looks at the extent to which students are able to engage appropriately and effectively across cultures.  Globally competent people can adapt their behaviour and communication to interact with individuals from different cultures.  They engage in respectful dialogue, want to understand others, and try to include marginalised groups.  This dimension emphasises individuals' capacity to bridge differences with others by communicating in ways that are open, appropriate and effective.  ‘Open’ interactions mean relationships in which all participants demonstrate sensitivity towards, curiosity about, and a willingness to engage with others and their perspectives.  ‘Appropriate’ refers to interactions that respect the cultural norms of both parties.  In ‘effective’ communication, all participants can make themselves understood and understand the other.

Last but not least,  PISA looks at young people's role as active and responsible members of society, and refers to individuals’ readiness to respond to a given local, global or intercultural issue or situation. Globally competent people create opportunities to take informed, reflective action and have their voices heard.  Taking action might imply standing up for a schoolmate whose human dignity is in jeopardy, initiating a global media campaign at school, or disseminating a personal opinion about the refugee crisis through social media.  Globally competent people are engaged to improve living conditions in their own communities and also to build a more just, peaceful, inclusive and environmentally sustainable world.

It seems hard to deny the critical importance of these competences, particularly in a country that is as outward-looking and globally interconnected as Australia.  But that alone does not answer the question of how teaching global competence can be reconciled with the myriad other responsibilities schools already have.  However, for many children, school is the first place where they encounter the full diversity of society, so schools need to play a crucial role in this regard.  Schools can provide opportunities for young people to critically examine developments that are significant to both the world at large and to their own lives.  They can teach students how to use digital information and social media platforms critically and responsibly.  Schools can also encourage intercultural sensitivity and respect by encouraging students to engage in experiences that nurture an appreciation for diverse peoples, languages and cultures.

It certainly does not mean adding new school subjects, but rather how we integrate aspects of global competence into disciplinary contexts.  Imagine Elizabeth.  In her history course, she learns about industrialisation and economic growth in developing countries, and how these have been influenced by foreign investments.  She learns that many girls of her age work in poor conditions in factories for up to 10 hours a day, instead of going to school.  Her teacher encourages each student to bring one item of clothing to class, and look at the label to see where it was manufactured.  She is surprised to notice that most of her clothes were made in Bangladesh.  She wonders under what conditions her clothes were made.  She looks at the websites of various high-street branding shops to see if the websites can tell her about their manufacturing standards and policies.  She discovers that some clothing brands are more concerned with human rights in their factories than others, and she also discovers that some clothing brands have a long history of poor conditions in their factories.  She reads different journalistic articles about the issue, and watches a short documentary on YouTube. Based on what she discovers she starts to buy fair-trade clothing, and becomes an advocate for ethically responsible manufacturing.

That leaves the question for how PISA actually assesses global competence.  In 2018, PISA will make a first start with a two-part assessment consisting of a cognitive test and a background questionnaire.  The cognitive assessment elicits students’ capacities to critically examine news articles about global issues; recognise outside influences on perspectives and world views; understand how to communicate with others in intercultural contexts; and identify and compare different courses of action to address global and intercultural issues. In the background questionnaire, students will be asked to report how familiar they are with global issues; how developed their linguistic and communication skills are; to what extent they hold certain attitudes, such as respect for people from different cultural backgrounds; and what opportunities they have at school to develop global competence.  Answers to the school and teacher questionnaires will provide a comparative picture of how education systems are integrating international and intercultural perspectives throughout the curriculum and in classroom activities.  If you would like to try some of this out in your own classroom, PISA will be happy to share the questionnaires with you.

At the OECD, we believe that this assessment offers a tangible opportunity to provide the global community with the data it needs to build more peaceful, equitable and sustainable societies through education.  It will provide a comprehensive overview of education systems’ efforts to create learning environments that encourage young people to understand one another and the world beyond their immediate environment, and to take action towards building cohesive and sustainable communities. It will help the many teachers who work every day to combat ignorance, prejudice and hatred, which are at the root of disengagement, discrimination and violence.

Some have already raised concerns about the feasibility of measuring students' readiness to engage with the world through an international test. International comparisons are never easy, and they are not perfect, particularly when it comes to measuring such complex competences.  But without quality data, it will be difficult to initiate a fruitful, global dialogue about what works in education.


NAPLAN: adjustments for students with learning support needs


In this interview we speak with Mary Kerba. Mary is an experienced educator, combining special needs education and school leadership. Mary is the founder of the Hills Learning Centre, a current professional member of SPELD NSW and Learning Difficulties Australia (LDA); a committee member of the Learning Difficulties Coalition (LDC) and an associate member of the Independent Primary School Heads of Australia (IPSHA).




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Music: "Sunny"