The Australian Government is encouraging Australian families to keep their receipts from education related expenses so they can take advantage of the Education Tax Refund (ETR). Figures from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) have revealed that only half of all eligible Australian families have lodged a claim, leaving more than $500 million in unclaimed benefits.
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Isabelle Archer writes in the latest edition of Marie-Clairethat there are some children whose disabilities are so severe that without shared-care arrangements families simply fall apart. The article refers to the impending closure of Kingsdene Special School in Sydney and includes a link to a petition to keep the school open.
The Australian Parents Council (APC) has released an important on-line resource for parents: How to get the best out of the My School website. APC executive director, Ian Dalton, said that with the amount of ‘experts’ promulgating conflicting opinions about My School, APC felt it was important that a readily accessible resource be made available to parents that provided simple, unbiased but accurate information about My School so that parents can use the website effectively, but with a sense of proportion.
A new survey released today (16 February) found that almost 70% of Australians agree that independent school students should receive government funding support for their education, up from 51% in a similar survey conducted in 2001. The survey also showed that for those parents who have children at government schools, four out of every ten would prefer to send them to an independent school, if fees were not an issue. The survey, conducted by UMR Research and commissioned by the Associations of Independent Schools of New South Wales and South Australia and Independent Schools Queensland, involved a nationwide telephone survey of 1000 respondents and focus groups in several states.
Kevin Donnelly argues in the Courier Mail on 17 February that the Rudd Government's failure to guarantee funding to Catholic and independent schools is evidence of the government's anti non-government school agenda.
On Monday 1 March the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA)released the draft K-10 Australian Curriculum in English, Mathematics, Science and History for a period of national consultation. The consultation period closes on 23 May. Click here to proceed to a link to the draft curriculum and the resources required to provide feedback.
The Courier Mail on 12 March reported that that schools have been disadvantaged on the My School website if they allowed students with learning disabilities to sit the national tests. The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority also revealed a new national curriculum could soon be set for special education students.
During the Senate Estimates hearings in February, Senator Fielding raised the issue of inadequate funding and resourcing for students with disabilities.
On 18 March a delegation of parents of students with disabilities visited Canberra to raise the desperate plight of their children with disabilities and the special schools they attend. Consequent upon the visit, the Liberal Member for Mitchell, Mr Alex Hawke, raised a question without notice directed to the Minister for Education. Click on Read More to read the relevant extract from Hansard.
On 20 March Farrah Tomazin reported in The Age that ACARA is considering changes to ICSEA (Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage) data. She also says that ACARA is looking at ways to protect school performance data on the My School website from being used inappropriately.