Learning Schools Priorities For Supporting Them

Learning Schools Priorities For Supporting Them

Many students, teachers, and families have been left struggling to cope with remote learning since the COVID-19 pandemic. Students who learn English as an additional language (EAL/D) can find remote learning challenging.

We wanted to learn about the experiences of schools in supporting and teaching these students during the lockdowns in Victoria for 2020 and 2021. Ten teachers from urban and rural schools were interviewed as well as EAL/D curriculum directors. Three key areas of concern were identified by these teachers. Well-being language barriers and isolation can compound their feelings of disconnection and isolation. Access to digital devices, the internet, and learning materials

Loss Of Structural Support In-School

These issues impact large numbers of students. One in four secondary and primary school students in Victoria come from a language other than English. Similar numbers are found in NSW.

A variety of studies have shown that remote learning can often have a negative effect on student learning and well-being, even when it is in the best of circumstances. While there is increasing information on online teaching, EAL/D-specific information remains lacking.

Our research has shown that many EAL/D teachers face complex social, emotional and geographical challenges when engaging learners via remote learning. These three points are examples of how educators have adapted to these difficulties.

Prioritizing Well-Being Learning

These educators considered student well-being to be the most important consideration. It is a prerequisite to real engagement with remote learning.

For newcomers, schools are often a place of belonging and identity validation. Many students felt isolated and disengaged from their remote learning experience. Sometimes, students felt isolated and disconnected due to language barriers or low digital literacy.

These issues were overcome by teachers being able to support families through connecting with social services and mothers’ groups, foodbanks, and other areas. This trend was more evident in rural and regional areas, where schools often served as the main point of support for EAL/D students.

EAL/D teachers and multicultural education assistants (MEAs) also had to consider well-being. It was difficult to support students and their families in navigating the new online learning platforms and procedures when time and resources were limited. Many EAL/D teachers work part-time, or at more than one school. One participant stated:

We did more remote learning than any other job I have ever done in my life. Cannot fix the world. We must take care of ourselves.

Access To Learning Resources

Initially, remote learning was difficult because of the limited internet and device access. As resources were distribute to families, this became less of an issue. Participants stressed the importance of education interpreters and education aides in helping students and teachers use these devices effectively.

They struggle especially at secondary school. These students struggle because secondary schools do not use the same platforms as they do. It takes a lot of time to train these students in lockdown.

Teachers and aides spent a lot of time developing resources that could be use for remote learning in the students’ first language. Due to a smaller number of EAL/D students, this task of creating resources proved more difficult.

Recovering From The Loss Of In-School Support

Many challenges face in integrating EAL/D students into mainstream classes. These students might receive support from their peers or education aides in class such as mathematics, science, and humanities. This support can be difficult to provide online.

Teachers of other subjects might not be aware of strategies that can support EAL/D students in classes. This could leave students feeling isolated, alone, and overwhelmed. There are many strategies that can be use to support EAL/D students. These could include creating learning sequences that meet learner’s specific needs or providing structured opportunities for them use their language skills.

Participants also shared their thoughts on how EAL/D learners can benefit from mainstream classes that include teaching strategies. It was possible to create inclusive environments by equipping all teachers with the strategies and knowledge to support EAL/D learners in face-to-face or remote classes. One participant stated:

So, they have to understand the teachers have to. Instead of looking at content after content and trying to figure out how I can get it all done in five weeks, let us rethink this and look again. What can we do to make it easier for them to access this curriculum? They students can contribute something to it.

Learning From Students Strengths

The last key message is to view EAL/D learners as an asset, not a deficit lens. Students often frame by a deficit lens as lacking in English proficiency. This overlooks their rich cultural and linguistic repertoires.

Plurilingual competencies is a new addition to the EAL curriculum for Victoria. This allows students to make use of all their language knowledge in order to learn. All teachers are require to be aware of the plurilingual resources available to students and to encourage them to use these resources to enrich their learning. The school leadership can play an important role in this area by supporting inclusive EAL/D practices across the entire school.

International Students Destination Of Choice Australia Rebound

International Students Destination Of Choice Australia Rebound

International higher education is being transform by the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to falling international student enrollments, the sector that was once dominated by the US and UK is now in decline. Our research shows that Australia has a great opportunity to be a top international destination for study. However, this depends on a proactive and urgent response to the pandemic’s challenges.

Josh Frydenberg, Federal Treasurer, stated this week that Australia’s 70% and 80% vaccination targets would provide a real chance to allow borders to be reopened to international students. He said, It’s a big deal for our economy and it’s a big deal for our universities. It was worth approximately A$40 billion to Australia, with about $10 billion in revenue from university fees. However, it has declined during the pandemic.

Students want to continue their education abroad. Countries that are able to respond quickly to the pandemic will have a competitive advantage and can capture large swathes of this lucrative global market. Understanding COVID-19’s effect on international students, their changing needs and how to respond to them is key to grabbing this opportunity.

We recently published research on COVID-19’s effect on international students. This research done in the second half of 2020, with international students at Charles Darwin University’s Asia Pacific College of Business and Law. CDU is the only university that has allowed international students to Australia since the outbreak of the pandemic.

What Was The Result Of The International Study?

Online surveys revealed that both the Australian government and university received positive ratings for their pandemic response. Both CDU as well as the government did a good job in supporting student well being, encouraging hygiene, social distancing and effective communication.

International students need more financial support. Many people lost their jobs and the financial support they received from their countries. This led to stress and mental health problems.

Interviews with international students revealed that the criteria they used to choose their destination for study were constantly changing. The new priorities in pandemics include vaccination rates and country infections, as well border closures, diplomatic relations and support interventions. These interventions are intend to assist students in continuing their education and dealing with the effects of COVID-19.

CDU, for example, has switched from traditional classroom teaching to online learning when necessary due to lockdowns. This is similar to other Australian universities. It has provided, among other things:

  • Financial assistance grants up to $2,000 are available for people in financial distress.
  • Students who have lost their jobs can get groceries and meals
  • Assistance with fees
  • payment instalment options.
  • Students thought Australia did COVID-19 better than other countries. CDU was also recommend to friends whose studies were disrupt in the UK and US.

Remaining Hopeful International For A Return Put On Hold

A CDU charter flight took international students to Australia in November 2020, the first and only time this had happened since the pandemic. They arrived at Howard Springs, also known locally as Corona Springs, safely and without any COVID-19-related incidents. These students were very happy that they could continue their education in Australia, despite COVID-19. One student stated. This historic success gives international students complete confidence.

The COVID-19 response from Australia and international student arrivals in November last year gave hope for the entire Australian higher education sector. The promising initial response to the crisis has stall for 2021. The government has stopped international students from coming to Australia. The reason was to prioritize the return of Australians who have been strand overseas. Howard Springs is being underutilize, which means that it has miss an opportunity to deport international student arrivals.

Competitors Will Profit

Australia’s higher education sector will at a disadvantage in 2021 compare to other countries like the UK which open. Higher education in Australia is at grave risk. As international students complete their degrees, the sector will be facing increasing losses in 2022. China and other Asian countries are also looking to capitalize on this situation. They are working quickly to attract international students who were originally going to Australia but are now looking for other destinations.

Australia is still the best choice for international education. However, this outcome is dependent on a proactive COVID-19 strategy. This strategy includes the careful reopening and optimization of the use of established quarantine facilities. Australia could be relegate to the lower leagues of international higher education markets without a clear strategy. It would also lose billions of dollars annually in foreign income that Australia enjoyed before the pandemic. It would also be a waste of the decades of investment and effort that have built Australia’s international reputation for excellence in education.

Education News Is Negative And Demoralising

Education News Is Negative And Demoralising

Teachers find that news coverage about education is often negative. This is especially evident in the reporting of results from standardised tests like NAPLAN or the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment, (PISA), where teachers feel that they are most responsible for the perceived problems.

For years, Australian students are report to have fallen behind other countries in numeracy and literacy in the PISA exams. Although the results can be nuanced, the reporting is often not. PISA 2015 showed that Australia scored 510 in science, which is significantly higher than the OECD average score of 493. However, the reports tend not to highlight areas where Australia has done well but are more focused on what we have lost than others.

Our education system is in constant decline and requires urgent improvement. Most Australian schoolteachers who I interviewed agreed that standardised testing was necessary. They were oppose to NAPLAN testing results being publish due to inevitable comparisons between student progress and schools covered in related news coverage.

Research from Australia and abroad suggests that teachers have a valid perception of education news. Education news is focus on teacher quality, student discipline, and comparisons of test results and standards. These subjects are often view negatively. Although individual successes of teachers, students and schools are often celebrate, they are generally portray as an exception.

Education Teachers’ Thoughts

In 2017, I conducted a survey with 25 teachers across Australia to find out their opinions on news reporting about education. 88% of the participants thought it was predominantly negative. A Queensland teacher admitted that there were occasionally positive news stories about schools, but stated that most of the coverage was negative. Look at the horror and shock of all these terrible things happening in schools.

According to teachers, the majority of negative portrayals in major metropolitan news outlets were inaccurate and unfair. The positive aspects tend to be ignore. One used the reporting results of tests as an example. Our federal minister publish a lot of information about how we were falling down the league tables when the NAPLAN data were publish. But, when our 15-year-olds were rated fifth in all categories [in the PISA test] it barely got a squeak.

Participants referred to the widespread portrayal of teachers as low achievers in news coverage. Low entry scores for teaching positions are a constant theme. It is common to hear about teacher underperformance. Interviewees believed that teachers were treat differently than other journalists and subject to more scrutiny and pressure. One teacher state, What I do every day is question on every level.

One of the biggest frustrations was news coverage that failed to capture contemporary teaching. Principals argued that the media failed to recognize the complexity of teacher work. She stated. Teachers don’t go to school; they work, and it is highly complex and technological. Another Australian study found that teachers cite misleading and negative reporting about education as one of the reasons they quit teaching.

Parents Feel Education The Exact Same Way

New research shows that many Australian parents agree with teachers’ views. The survey included 268 teachers and 206 parents. 85% of teachers and 74% parents viewed news coverage about the Australian education system as generally negative

Parents surveyed felt demoralized by the reports. Half of them said so. Teachers saw this increase to 81%. We also found that positive news can be very inspiring. Teachers and parents report feeling inspired by positive news stories about schools, teachers, or the education system. All this highlights the need for fair, balanced and contextualised news coverage about schools and teachers.

Although it is not the job of journalists to please teachers, evidence of the negative nature of education news should be considered. Teachers’ concerns about inaccurate and superficial coverage and the lack of depth of reporting should also be considered. It doesn’t have to be difficult to change the angle.

Negative News Can Turn Off Readers

Rethinking how education is reported can also be profitable. News editors aim to reach parents when covering education. Research suggests that parents are interested education news. However, they might be less inclined to engage with education news that is more negative. Other research has shown that news can have a negative effect on mood, which is why people often avoid it. If editors are looking to draw readers to education news, they should include more positive elements.