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Headlines for March 1-10, 2022

New Zealand Universities Advocate for an Independent National Research Council

Universities New Zealand, which represents the country’s eight universities, called for the government to create a national research council to set research priorities and provide strategic oversight of research initiatives. The proposal was made as part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment’s multi-year review of the country’s research, science, and innovation (RSI) system. The proposed council would be made up of leading experts and thought leaders in a range of disciplines who understand New Zealand’s unique context. It would work with key stakeholders including the government, researchers, businesses, and Māori and Pasifika communities. The proposed council is similar to Research Councils UK, which brings together seven disciplinary research councils to establish and oversee the UK’s national research agenda.


Singapore Ending Mid-Year Exams for All Students

Singapore Education Minister Chan Chun Sing
Singapore Education Minister Chan Chun Sing

Singapore’s Education Minister Chan Chun Sing announced this week that schools will remove mid-year examinations for all primary and secondary students by next year. This follows earlier moves that did away with mid-year exams at some but not all grade levels. The Ministry found that these changes made a “positive impact, as schools and teachers can better pace and deepen students’ learning” and shifted the focus from academic grades and tests. Teachers will continue to use a range of assessments and activities to evaluate student understanding and mastery of competencies, just not through formal exams which cut into instructional time. Read more in The Straits Times.

Ontario Updates Science and Technology Curriculum

Ontario will implement a new first through ninth grade science and technology curriculum to focus on the province’s economic needs, with a focus on “critical life and job skills” in the 2022-23 school year. Students will learn how to code, about the implications of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), and about careers in skills trades. The ninth grade course will also be “de-streamed” to give all students a common foundation for high school science courses. Minister of Education Stephen Lecce said: “Ontario’s new science and technology curriculum is focused on giving young people the skills to think critically, dream boldly and chart new pathways forward for our economy.” For more, see Ministry of Education News.

Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce
Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce

Replacement of Scotland’s Education Agencies Takes Shape

Children with face mask

Scotland will have three new agencies overseeing education by 2024. It was announced last year that the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) would be dismantled after it was decided that there was too much focus on exams in schools. A new agency, tentatively named Qualifications Scotland, has been proposed. Alongside that agency will be a new education ministry to replace Education Scotland, the current ministry. School inspections will be done independently from the ministry, and a new agency will be created to oversee them. Read more from the BBC.

Australia Concludes Review of Initial Teacher Education Quality

Australia’s Quality Initial Teacher Education (ITE) Review has released its final report. Recommendations are grouped into three areas: teacher recruitment and selection, ITE program quality, and early years of teaching. Implemented together, these recommendations aim to elevate the status of teaching, better prepare teaching candidates to support students in the classroom, and provide more support as teachers transition into the classroom. The review was launched in April 2021 by Alan Tudge, Minister for Education and Youth, and is part of the mMinister’s ambitious plan to have Australia rank among the top-performing countries on PISA by 2030. Read more about the review at the Australian Department of Education, Skills, and Employment website. 

Alan Tudge, Australia's Minister for Education and Youth
Alan Tudge, Australia's Minister for Education and Youth