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Weekly roundup: ‘bad’ anti-bullying campaigns, drones in the classrooms and housing subsidy cuts

[This story was published on 24 May]

Hi, I’m Wade Zaglas, education editor at Education Review. Welcome to our second roundup of the issues and stories we were talking about this week. You can either read the summary or listen to the podcast below.

A story in The Conversation highlighted the fact that some anti-bullying campaigns aren’t helpful.

In fact, they can make the issue worse.

According to Karyn Healy, a researcher at the University of Queensland, most anti-bullying campaigns rely on a theoretical approach to support them but do evaluate the specific program itself.

For instance, campaigns involving a bystander standing up to a bully are common and are based on a 2001 observational study that found this type of intervention stopped bullying 57 per cent of the time.

At the same time, however, a 2010 meta-analysis of such campaigns concluded that they made bullying worse.

The lesson here is that theoretical approaches may work better in isolation than they do in full and complex anti-bullying campaigns.

“Schools should stick with what they know works and only adopt new programs that have been adequately evaluated," Healy said.

Another story that piqued our interest this week was an environmental scientist’s call to introduce more drones into classrooms.

Dr Catherine Ball told a state forum that drone technology is becoming more accessible and user-friendly and its application in schools extends beyond STEM subjects.

“You can introduce real humanitarian and environmental projects as classroom case studies to allow kids to see how these robotics are going to be used and are being used in the real world,” she said in the ISQ podcast The School Bell.

“They can stretch across all parts of the curriculum, from the arts, to PE, to talking about legal and ethical issues, to working out the mathematics of flight, to creating and mapping geospatial data."

Through her World of Drones Education initiative, Dr Ball has created a suite of free resources for schools and teachers.

Finally, the Norther Territory teachers’ union has warned that the town of Katherine could face extreme teaching shortages if proposed cuts to teacher housing subsidies go ahead.

The issue was raised during the Australian Education Union NT’s annual conference, which attracted 100 members this month. Members believe a cut to housing subsidies would further reduce an already small pool of teachers in the region.

A 25 per cent subsidy reduction would make this problem much worse, branch president of the AEU NT Jarvis Ryan told Education Review.

The proposal is part of the Northern Territory Government’s plan to bring the budget back into the black, a difficult task given recent cuts to GST revenue.

The AEU NT branch is calling for a review.

And that is our weekly roundup for Education Review.

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