Thursday, June 05, 2014

Student teachers to be tested on literacy, numeracy in final year of university study

They should be tested BEFORE they enter tertiary study

Education students at New South Wales universities will need to pass a literacy and numeracy test before they will be approved to start their final-year practicum.

Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said the program would be trialled in August and rolled out from mid-2015 across the state.

Mr Piccoli said it was part of a push to improve the level of teaching in NSW schools, amid concerns some new teachers struggle to explain maths and grammar concepts to their students.

"We have great teachers in NSW and now we are taking further steps to improve the quality of teaching for the next generation of teachers," he said in a statement on Wednesday.

The Minister said it was a recommendation that came out of a review into the sector last year.

The test will be quite difficult and complex, but students would be able to sit it as many times as necessary, he said.

"Other professions set their own standards externally from what the university does," he told the ABC.

"Lawyers do it, accountants do it, doctors do it, and we're doing a similar thing in education.

"To be registered and accredited to teach in NSW, you'll need to have passed this literacy and numeracy test."

The online tests, which may include a writing exercise along with fundamental literacy and numeracy skills, are being developed by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER).

NSW will be be the first state to trial the test.


Business groups step up campaign to cut Sunday penalties

Australia's biggest companies are stepping up their campaign against weekend penalty rates.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry says scaling back penalty rates would encourage more businesses to open on weekends and help stimulate the economy.

The rise of the 24/7 economy has seen an increase in so-called flexibility among employees: whichever way you look at it, there's no doubt that how and when Australians work has been changing rapidly over the past few decades.

That means that practically every industry in Australia pays penalty rates to people who do not work nine-to-five hours.

Nurses are a prime example of an occupation where non-standard hours are the norm.

Megan has asked us not to use her surname, because the Melbourne hospital she works for did not approve her interview with The World Today.

"If I wasn't offered penalty rates, I would certainly have reconsidered the job I'm doing now," she said.

Whether people should be paid more to work late nights, early mornings or weekends is back on the agenda.

So far, the attention of the debate has been on hospitality, retail and other service industries, but Megan says any talk of changes to penalties makes her nervous.

"I would certainly look at re-requesting hours based on that, because why should I sacrifice my life, my time with my family or my friends to get the same pay as someone working Monday to Friday?" she argued.

That is the key question raised by today's call from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) for a reduction in Sunday penalty rates: does working so-called "unsociable hours" still constitute a sacrifice?

"The ultimate goal is to have Sunday penalty rates similar to those on Saturdays," explained Kate Carnell, ACCI's chief executive.

"Different awards are different, but fundamentally we need to free up the predominantly family businesses in Australia - the small to medium businesses that are opening their shops, their restaurants, their retail outlets on Sundays - to be able to employ people."

Ms Carnell says many business owners currently give up their Sundays because they cannot afford to employ staff on those shifts, and expectations have changed around the working week.

"We are expecting businesses to be open and who runs those businesses? Mum and dad. They're required to be at work because we want them to be, because we want those establishments to be open," she argued.

"I think we have to accept that the train's left the station on this. We don't look at Sundays the way we used to."

Penalty rate test cases

Last month a hospitality industry group successfully argued before the Fair Work Commission that some of its casual employees should earn lower penalty rates on Sundays.

Now David Quilty from the Pharmacy Guild is preparing for Fair Work's review of the pharmacy industry award.

"Pharmacies are employing professional pharmacists - they get paid probably more and significantly more than your normal hospitality worker," he observed.

"So a 200 per cent penalty rate requirement is quite expensive for a pharmacy and, in many cases, pharmacies already pay most of their pharmacist staff well above the awards."

Mr Quilty says he is confident that pharmacies can find people to work Sunday shifts even if the penalty rates for doing so are lowered.

"We understand that there should be some financial recognition of the fact that people are working what are called unsociable hours, but the world has changed significantly since penalty rates were introduced," he responded.

"We all live in a 24/7 world and, for many workers, they'd actually prefer to work hours that are outside normal nine-to-five Monday-to-Friday business hours for various reasons - for family reasons, or because they're students and these hours suit them better."

However, David O'Byrne from the hospitality union United Voice says an appeal of last month's Fair Work decision is possible.

He believes businesses want workplace changes beyond Sunday penalties.

"Weekend rates have been supported by Australians over many generations. It's about fair and decent wages and to have the big business community come out and attack low-paid workers is obscene, particularly in industries that the kind of profits that are being made," he said.

"We believe that it won't just stop at hospitality workers or workers in marginalised industries, it will continue to other workers that receive weekend rates, such as fire fighters, police officers and nurses."


Leftist ACT government goes on a borrowing and spending  spree

They never learn.  They like the praise thery get in the present and damn the furure

The ACT Government is borrowing money, selling assets and embarking on a massive spending spree in a bid to grow Canberra's economy and offset Commonwealth cuts.

In handing down his third budget, Treasurer Andrew Barr unveiled a record infrastructure fund of $2.5 billion to be partly funded through borrowing an extra $1.27 billion over the forward estimates.

But general household rates will rise 10 per cent, traffic and parking fines will jump 6 per cent, and ACTION bus fares for concession holders will increase.

The Government will also look to sell surplus land and office buildings as well as streetlights.

Mr Barr says the budget takes a confident and bold approach to growing the economy and supporting jobs.

"We are not choosing the austerity path taken by conservative governments around Australia who cut services and harm their community," he said.

"We will not add to pain caused by the Commonwealth. We will not sacrifice essential services for the sake of the budget bottom line."

Mr Barr says cuts outlined in the federal budget last month will cost the ACT bottom line $375 million over four years.

He says the loss of about 6,500 Commonwealth public service jobs over four years will also impact on the local economy.

The budget is now set to finish $265.3 million in the red this financial year, with a deficit of $332.8 million in 2014-2015 and a deficit of $117.8 million in 2015-2016.

The debt is forecast to drop to $26.3 million in 2016-2017 returning to a predicted surplus of $77.5 million the following year.

The ACT's economic outlook is weak, with Gross State Product forecast to grow just 1.75 per cent next financial year, and employment predicted to rise a mere 0.5 per cent.

Mr Barr says before the federal budget was handed down, he had been set to deliver only a modest deficit this year, a balanced budget next year and surpluses thereafter.

Now the ACT will delve deeper into debt to east the pain of the Commonwealth cuts.

"It's not a two-fingered salute to the Federal Government but it is a recognition of the importance of new infrastructure to this community and this economy. It's jobs, jobs jobs," he said.

Mr Barr says the ACT can afford the extra borrowing and he does not believe it will impact the Territory's AAA credit rating.

The Government is spending a record $2.5 billion on infrastructure over the next four years.  To do so, the Government will borrow an extra $1.27 billion over the forward estimates.


Qld budget 2014: Treasurer Tim Nicholls announces 'cautious' budget with billions in asset sales

The Queensland Government has announced billions of dollars in asset sales, a new infrastructure fund, and cuts to seniors' concessions, as part of its 2014-15 budget.

The budget shows a $2.27 billion deficit and state debt rising to almost $80 billion.

Treasurer Tim Nicholls says it is a cautious budget that will stabilise the state's debt.

"We know the decisions we made are not going to be popular but Queenslanders can be assured that we do have a plan," Mr Nicholls said.  "We know what we're doing and there is funding assured to deliver that plan and that's the plan that's going to deliver a brighter future for Queensland."

The State Government has confirmed plans to privatise $33.6 billion worth of assets, with $25 billion of that to be used to pay down debt.

The Government has stressed it will not proceed with asset sales until it goes to the state election in March.

The State Government will issue long-term leases on Gladstone Port, Townsville Port and the Mount Isa rail line.

It will also sell power generating companies Stanwell and CS Energy along with water distribution company SunWater Industrial Pipelines.

Private investors will also be sought to fund electricity distribution and transmission businesses Powerlink, Energex and Ergon, in return for a share of revenue.

Mr Nicholls says the alternatives were to double state taxes or cut 30,000 public service jobs and reduce services.

"We are very excited by this budget, we are delivering on our promises, we are continuing to fund services," he said.

"There are no new taxes, no increases in taxes and we are providing a pathway to the future by outlining our strong plan."


1 comment:

Paul said...

I'll support the abolition of penalty rates the day the AFL Grand Final is held on Tuesday morning.