Title

Notre Dame academics awarded funding to support maths teachers in rural and remote Western Australia

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Fall 4-12-2006

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame, Fremantle

Publication Place

Fremantle

Abstract

School of Education lecturers, Dr Carol Steketee and Mr Keith Mc Naught from The University of Notre Dame Australia have been awarded a $66,000 grant as part of the federal government’s $33.7 million Australian School Innovation in Science, Technology and Mathematics (ASISTM) initiative.

The initiative is part of the Government’s commitment to ensuring Australia can build upon its scientific and technological capabilities, bringing about real and permanent improvements to the ways in which science, technology and mathematics are taught in schools.

The grant will be used to implement their project entitled Using Emerging Technologies to Mentor Graduate Mathematics Teachers Working in Rural and Remote Primary Schools .

Mr McNaught and Dr Steketee said the project was a result of a number of discussions about the needs of ‘hard to staff’ rural schools where staff turnover rates can be extremely high. They were keen to identify ways in which to better support these schools and their students.

Through the project teachers will be assisted by trainee mathematics specialists to administer diagnostic assessments and build detailed profiles of their students’ mathematics needs. These profiles will form the basis of rich programs that teachers will design and implement with regular support from project leaders via fortnightly video conferencing.

“Due to the high turnover of staff many children are taught by a new graduate every year of their primary school life. There are well recognised disadvantages to this. Our project is innovative because it is designed to train and support teachers in the use of video-conferencing tools which we believe will assist in breaking down their sense of isolation,” said Keith.

The project will begin in targeted schools in May and will run for 12 – 18 months.

“Apart from all the curriculum innovation, we also hope to build close links with these schools, and to generate strategies that will go on, well past the funded project. We hope that our UNDA students who travel to these locations will have a real calling to work in regional Western Australia, and that direct employment options might exist in 2007.

“The principals in our target schools have already indicated that they are interested in employing students who are involved in the project. For the schools, we hope a positive professional development experience might be a catalyst to them wanting to stay another year, perhaps in some small way breaking the significant staff turnover,” he said.

Media Contact:
Michelle Ebbs
08 9433 0610, 0408 959 138