Early Learning Support Expanded For Children In Need


VIC Premier

The Victorian Government is helping vulnerable three-year-old children to fully participate in kindergarten by expanding a successful early intervention program that supports families, educators and services.

Minister for Early Childhood Ingrid Stitt today announced providers in 16 local government areas will deliver the Access to Early Learning program (AEL) with more than $15.1 million from the Victorian Government.

The expansion will allow the program to be set up at sites in Maroondah, Mitchell, Greater Shepparton, Latrobe, Frankston, Swan Hill, Greater Bendigo, Greater Geelong, Horsham, Melton, the Mornington Peninsula, East Gippsland, Yarra, Central Goldfields, Whittlesea and Colac-Otway.

The evidence-based program has already proven effective in nine local government areas including Ballarat, Wodonga, Hume, Melbourne, Knox, Yarra Ranges, Casey, Dandenong, and Mildura.

The program has contributed to a significant increase in the number of vulnerable three-year-old children attending kindergarten with 1,954 three-year-old children known to Child Protection participating in 2020 compared to only 433 participating in 2014.

The core of the program is its outreach service which involves experienced and degree-qualified facilitators visiting families on a weekly basis to encourage and support in-home learning with tailored, practical activities as well as addressing any barriers to help strengthen the home learning environment.

Research has shown the program is effective in sustaining high levels of early learning participation in children with significant levels of vulnerability and disadvantage.

The AEL program received $3.8 million in the Victorian Budget 2020/21 and a further $11.36 million across four years in this year’s Budget.

Making Victoria the Education State starts with the early years. That’s why, in an Australian-first, the Government is investing almost $5 billion this decade to provide three-year-old children with access to 15 hours of a funded kindergarten program.

As stated by Minister for Early Childhood Ingrid Stitt

“We are ensuring all children across Victoria – no matter where they live or what their circumstance – have the support and access to fully participate in early education.”

“We know that a great early childhood education can set children up to be happy, healthy and resilient for life, which is why we’re providing high quality programs for vulnerable children because no child should be left behind.”

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Plea to reopen Melbourne special schools amid ‘devastating’ loss of learning in COVID shutdown


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Remote learning is “having devastating consequences” for many students with disabilities and with autism, advocates say. Two organisations – the Association for Children with a Disability and Amaze, Victoria’s peak body for people with autism – are pleading for an immediate return to on-site schooling for students at special schools.

“Over the last week, we are hearing of children becoming destructive and damaging things; children who are regressing, parents who cannot work, shop or care for others because of their child’s very high supervision needs; and families – often with multiple children or parents with disability – that are not coping,” Amaze chief executive Fiona Sharkie and Association for Children with a Disability chief executive Karen Dimmock said in a joint statement.

The associations also called for a “vaccine blitz” for teachers and staff in specialist schools, echoing a call last week from the Principals’ Association of Specialist Schools.

But the association’s president, Colac Specialist School principal Cameron Peverett, said it was important for specialist schools to stay closed in line with public health authorities’ directives.

“Nobody on staff in special schools would want to be the one to bring coronavirus into that school; we are talking about vulnerable students, sometimes medically vulnerable,” he said.

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Acting Premier and Education Minister James Merlino acknowledged specialist schools had been given greater priority for reopening during some previous lockdowns, but said during some lockdowns they had remained shut.

“There was a period where our special schools were open fully and in previous circuit-breaker lockdowns we’ve had the settings that we have right now,” he said. “I want to get all students back as quickly as possible, that’s my focus as Education Minister and that’s going to be based on public health advice.”

There are about 29,000 students with disabilities in Victorian schools, including 12,600 in special schools, Department of Education data shows.

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Former cattleman trades land in for city living, three years after learning to walk again


Michael Ingram keeps defying the odds.

The former cattleman took his first steps in almost two decades when he walked into the Droughtmaster ring at Beef Australia 2018 to enthusiastic applause.

Three years later, the 50-year-old lives independently in an apartment in Rockhampton with the support of carers.

Mr Ingram’s life was turned upside down in 2000 when he fell off a horse, and suffered a brain injury that left half his body paralysed.

He was told by doctors he would never walk again.

Mr Ingram is the first to admit he never expected his life to look as it does now.

After spending most of his life on the land, relocating into town from Duaringa was not an easy decision.

“I had five years out there, I came in to be close to the hospital,” Mr Ingram said.

But with the increased access to disability support, Mr Ingram said the move had well and truly paid off.

“I wish I had done it two years ago, but I wasn’t ready then.”

Like clockwork, Mr Ingram’s day begins with a knock on the door from his NDIS-registered carer.

“They turn up from half past eight. I get breakfast cooked for me – but I’m pretty easy to cook for, I just have toast and coffee,” Mr Ingram said.

“Then I do my stretching exercises and I do exercises along the bench.

“Living on my own is a big thing, but I have really good carers.”

Carer Cody McCormack visits Mr Ingram four to five times a week.

He said Mr Ingram had a cheeky and independent nature, but he knew his client was always grateful for his service.

“I just help him with some of the stuff he can’t do – as hard as it is for him to let me do some of the things, he’s starting to realise now it’s helping him,” Mr McCormack said.

“He’s gotten a lot better now.”

Mr McCormack works with clients across the region, including Emu Park, Gracemere and Mount Morgan.

“It’s a very rewarding job to help other people, and they respect you too,” he said.

His role varied from doing housework to simply providing company for those who lived alone, like Mr Ingram.

“It will be the simple stuff like some of the cooking, some of the cleaning, the mopping that he’ll have a bit of trouble with,” Mr McCormack said.

“Then we’ll sit down, have a chat and talk about how things are going, and make sure everything’s done around the house – and it normally is, Michael is pretty good.”

About 2.7 million Australians with a disability own their own home, according to the People with Disability in Australia report released last year.

Mr Ingram said he would not have been able to join the ranks without his intensive physical rehabilitation routine.

“I have got a new personal trainer, Aaron Sullivan, and he’s very good,” Mr Ingram said.

“I was on a wheely walker, and I was getting stooped over, but he’s got me standing up straight.

“I go to the pool every Wednesday, and to the gym every Friday.”

Aaron Sullivan has been working with Mr Ingram since he began his quest to walk again three years ago.

Despite encouragement from both his carers and trainers, Mr Ingram shrugged off the strides he had made in his physical recovery.

“I live with myself, so I don’t see much improvement. But I didn’t realise I would get so independent and be able to look after myself so well,” Mr Ingram said.

“I’ve got a button I wear around my neck and I can press for ambulance, but I haven’t had to press it yet, so that’s really good.

“I have a couple of falls, so I pick myself up again.

“I’ve opened a new chapter of my life.”

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Tag: Learning – What's On



ArtPlay

A creative arts centre for children to share unique experiences with professional artists.

City Library

Victoria’s busiest public lending library, located in Flinders Lane.

Koorie Heritage Trust

A centre dedicated to promoting Aboriginal culture, with an exhibition space and retail shop.

The Music Gym

Learn to play a musical instrument or get back into music with lessons in guitar, piano and voice.

State Library Victoria

Australia’s oldest public library and one of the first free public libraries in the world.

Chunky Move

Chunky Move nurtures contemporary dance by hosting an in-house program of dance classes.

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Horseback riding a new learning space for children with disabilities




Children with disabilities are learning to read and write on horseback. Parents say the program has seen their kids progress in leaps and bounds. Tamara Glumac reports.

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Machine learning helps some of the best microscopes to see better, work faster, and process more data — ScienceDaily


To observe the swift neuronal signals in a fish brain, scientists have started to use a technique called light-field microscopy, which makes it possible to image such fast biological processes in 3D. But the images are often lacking in quality, and it takes hours or days for massive amounts of data to be converted into 3D volumes and movies.

Now, EMBL scientists have combined artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms with two cutting-edge microscopy techniques — an advance that shortens the time for image processing from days to mere seconds, while ensuring that the resulting images are crisp and accurate. The findings are published in Nature Methods.

“Ultimately, we were able to take ‘the best of both worlds’ in this approach,” says Nils Wagner, one of the paper’s two lead authors and now a PhD student at the Technical University of Munich. “AI enabled us to combine different microscopy techniques, so that we could image as fast as light-field microscopy allows and get close to the image resolution of light-sheet microscopy.”

Although light-sheet microscopy and light-field microscopy sound similar, these techniques have different advantages and challenges. Light-field microscopy captures large 3D images that allow researchers to track and measure remarkably fine movements, such as a fish larva’s beating heart, at very high speeds. But this technique produces massive amounts of data, which can take days to process, and the final images usually lack resolution.

Light-sheet microscopy homes in on a single 2D plane of a given sample at one time, so researchers can image samples at higher resolution. Compared with light-field microscopy, light-sheet microscopy produces images that are quicker to process, but the data are not as comprehensive, since they only capture information from a single 2D plane at a time.

To take advantage of the benefits of each technique, EMBL researchers developed an approach that uses light-field microscopy to image large 3D samples and light-sheet microscopy to train the AI algorithms, which then create an accurate 3D picture of the sample.

“If you build algorithms that produce an image, you need to check that these algorithms are constructing the right image,” explains Anna Kreshuk, the EMBL group leader whose team brought machine learning expertise to the project. In the new study, the researchers used light-sheet microscopy to make sure the AI algorithms were working, Anna says. “This makes our research stand out from what has been done in the past.”

Robert Prevedel, the EMBL group leader whose group contributed the novel hybrid microscopy platform, notes that the real bottleneck in building better microscopes often isn’t optics technology, but computation. That’s why, back in 2018, he and Anna decided to join forces. “Our method will be really key for people who want to study how brains compute. Our method can image an entire brain of a fish larva, in real time,” Robert says.

He and Anna say this approach could potentially be modified to work with different types of microscopes too, eventually allowing biologists to look at dozens of different specimens and see much more, much faster. For example, it could help to find genes that are involved in heart development, or could measure the activity of thousands of neurons at the same time.

Next, the researchers plan to explore whether the method can be applied to larger species, including mammals.

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Amy Shark learning to tread the fine line between playing pop hit-maker and being real




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Two more Louis Riel Division schools move to remote learning as superintendent shows concern


The superintendent of Louis Riel School Division worries in-class learning may be unsustainable as the third wave of COVID-19 continues to push more schools into remote learning.

College Jeanne-Sauve and Lavallee School will go remote starting Monday, making it three schools in the division now learning from home.

Ecole Marie-Anne Gaboury moved to remote learning on April 26.

“I have concern for the impact the third wave is having on our education system,” LRSD superintendent Christian Michalik said in a letter sent to families.

“The growing proportion of students learning from home due to self-isolation requirements while still having students learning in brick-and-mortar classrooms may become unsustainable.”

Michalik says the decision to move the two additional schools to remote learning is not only because of growing case numbers, but the number of families opting to keep their kids home and the growing inability to fill the increasing number of staff absences.

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READ MORE: Winnipeg school moving to remote learning for two weeks

He said on Friday, there were 428 staff absences across the division with 111 of those unfilled.

The Manitoba Teachers’ Society (MTS) put out a call Thursday for all schools to be moved to the red, or critical, level on the province’s Pandemic Response System.

Premier Brian Pallister says the province is doing everything it can to keep kids in school.

“For many people, they need the structure of a classroom and they need direct contact with an educator or a teacher,” said Pallister Thursday. “When we talk about a circuit-breaker, I can’t help but think that break might be the break in the relationship between a teacher and a student, and we don’t want that to happen.”

The latest numbers on the province’s dashboard shows there have been 416 cases in Manitoba schools in the last two weeks, with 171 of those being variant of concern cases.


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St. Vital school outbreak


St. Vital school outbreak

 






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NSW Education Minister orders review after students at Lindfield Learning Village wrote BLM posters


The posters, written by children at the Lindfield Learning Village in Sydney’s Upper North Shore, included slogans including “Stop Killer Cops”, “Black Lives Matter” and “I can’t breathe”.

The posters have since been removed from the school with the department now considering “disciplinary action”.

Review launched into the Lindfield Learning Centre after primary school students created BLM posters. (Google Maps)

“The comments on the poster are in no way endorsed by the department or represent the department’s view of police, who do an indispensable job of keeping the community safe and secure,” a NSW Education spokesperson said.

“The school has been reminded of the controversial issues in schools policy.”

Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliot this morning said the posters are pushing “left-wing ideologies”.

“Guess what, what’s going on in America overseas is not our war,” Mr Elliot told Today.

David Elliot today he was concerned the actions of the school would undermine children’s faith in NSW police. (Nine/Today)

“We have a higher level of respect for police because they are independent and they do have civilian oversight so when they do do the wrong thing there is a process … that doesn’t happen in the United States which is why I’m concerned teachers are using what is happening in the United States to muddy the waters here.

“This is not the way it would need to educate our children … They don’t need the police built up as some sort of bogey man which is what we’re seeing with this indoctrination.”

Nine.com.au contacted the school for a response, however it requested any comment come from NSW Department of Education.

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Lifelong learning at this Victorian community university gets stuff done


In the absence of a formal university this far from Melbourne,  the residents of Lake Tyers are sharing their expertise and skills through a “Communiversity.”

Lake Tyers, East Gippsland is 327 kilometres from Melbourne and the locals started their Communiversity after conversations were held around a table at a pub, a breakfast cart and at local festivals.

“We’ve just made it up ourselves,” co-founder Andrea Lane said.

“It came about because of an arts project — we started gathering around a very long table at the local pub and it just kept evolving and growing.

“It became apparent there are experts among us and that this knowledge could be shared and could become a forum for learning.”

Communiversity was loosely structured and used the whole of the Lake Tyers Beach township and wider East Gippsland network.

Different groups with different interests have worked on projects at the community garden, the town hall, walking tracks, the pub and around the Lake Tyers estuary and beach.

“We are all developing new skills and reclaiming the buildings of the Lake Tyers town.”

So far the Communiversity has had workshops, discussions, exhibitions and festivals about the environment, weather, fine arts, dancing, first aid, bird watching, big ideas, food, literature, philosophy, astronomy, citizen science and more.

The Communiversity has supported the development of FLOAT, a floating art space that gives residency to artists, both local and from far and wide.

The people in residency at FLOAT, as well as getting time to work on their practice, have given back to the community and shared their skills with the town. FLOAT brought to Lake Tyers musicians, artists, writers, scientists and thinkers.

“Communiversity is an ephemeral concept that’s a work in process,” says Andrea Lane.

“It’s not a formal thing, it’s not a built thing, it responds to what we know and what we contribute.”

Caroline Crunden was part of Communiversity and said listening to locals was a key part.

“There’s plenty of culture here already, we just really have to find it and allow it to bubble up to the surface,” Ms Crunden said.

“Culture is everywhere, it’s not in museums only, it’s not in big populations only, it’s everywhere.

“We all bring something and it’s not until you sit with people from your community and listen you realise you all have something to share”.

“Lots of young people come along. Every community should have a Communiversity I think,” said a participant Karen Murdoch.

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