IN BRIEF

Poor reading skills 'not a barrier' to employment

Australian teenagers with poor reading skills are often no worse off than medium-skilled schoolmates in gaining employment, a study by the University of Melbourne’s Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research says. The research examined more than 12,000 students, analysing individual information on numeracy and literacy proficiency from the 2003 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) and post-school development from the 2003 Longitudinal Survey of Australian Youth. Low reading proficiency was defined in PISA as below level three, which assesses the student as being "unable to perform the kind of moderately difficult reading tasks required to meet real-life challenges".

Additional data showed that those with low reading ability – including those who dropped out of high school – invested more heavily and more wisely in VET compared with their schoolmates. Around 58 per cent undertook VET study, 15 per cent higher education study and 14 per cent both. In contrast, those from the medium group focused more on higher education — 42 per cent, 36 per cent VET and 15 per cent both. Importantly, among those who went down the VET pathway, on average, the low-proficiency group chose courses with better graduate prospects. “It seems that having a lower academic performance by 15 sends a signal to them that they have to prepare early,” co-author Dr Cain Polidano said.

Plan now for National Close the Gap Day 2017

National Close the Gap Day 2017 will be on March 16, so start planning for the event. Oxfam Australia, which organises the event, asks schools to ponder the fact that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are dying 10–17 years younger than other Australians. “Think about that ? a non-Indigenous child who started school this year may outlive an Indigenous student completing Year 12. Your school can do something to help change this,” Oxfam says, and the intention is that Indigenous health equality become a reality by 2030. Click here to see how your school can take part, what activity can be planned for Term 1 next year to support National Close the Gap Day and how to find curriculum-linked resources.

Cybersmart Hero shows bystanders how to stop bullying

The Children’s e-Safety Commissioner’s revamped interactive resource for middle primary school students, Cybersmart Hero, is now available for teachers to use in the classroom. The activity addresses the issue of cyberbullying and the power of those in the best position to disrupt it—the bystander. Cybersmart Hero follows the successful launch of another activity in the suite, Cybersmart Detectives, which focuses on personal safety and dealing with strangers online.Both activities form part of the Cybersmart Challenge suite, and are available to use together with supporting lesson plans to enhance the learning experience.