Monthly Archives: August 2019

Teaching students to face personality assessments

The Board of Studies’ move to institute personality tests at all universities comes after a crackdown on teacher training by the NSW government in September. Photo: Lyn OsbornNSW teaching students will face personality assessments from next year, the NSW Board of Studies has confirmed.
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The President of the NSW Council of Deans of Education, Chris Davison, said the assessments will draw from tests similar to those undertaken for the army and will weed out candidates unsuited to teaching before they begin their degrees.

“The challenge is to have one that works for teaching. You probably need a much higher degree of empathy than you do in the army,” she said.

Professor Davison said that the national program was necessary despite tough new regulations on literacy and numeracy imposed by the NSW government.

She said the personality assessments were being implemented because students with poor communication or behavioral issues were still undertaking teaching degrees.

“At one stage it emerged that someone in our own program at UNSW had major psychological problems,” she said.

“They already had a degree in another field so had passed the academic requirements but they couldn’t maintain eye contact, they couldn’t maintain conversation. We found out they had recently been released from psychiatric ward and had problems interacting with people.

“Their counsellor suggested they take up a teaching degree. I counselled them to withdraw.”

The Board of Studies’ move to implement personality tests at all universities comes after a crackdown on teacher training by the NSW government in September.

For the first time this year, teachers had to achieve three band 5s to be accepted into university and pass literacy and numeracy tests, as thousands of school students prepare to return to school from January 28.

Less than 10 per cent of universities are impacted by the band 5 regulation, said Professor Davison. It does not apply to double teaching degrees such as a Bachelor of Science and Education.

The second degree is assumed to take the place of the three band 5 standard at most major universities.

Professor Davison said the tougher academic regulations announced by NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli at UNSW in September were “ironic, because we are not affected by them”.

While the regulations may not have prevented students from enrolling at most major universities, the publicity has made a dent in teaching applications throughout the state.

“Across the sector there has been a drop in applications for teaching this year,” said Western Sydney University’s Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Denise Kirkpatrick.

Professor Kirkpatrick said she welcomed the government’s tightening of teaching standards, saying it would lead to more well-prepared teachers in the state’s classrooms.

Despite the crackdown, second chances have been extended to teachers who have not met the three band 5 standard through alternative entry schemes or scored a double degree position.

At the University of Notre Dame Australia, students who failed to get the required marks will be able to take a bridging course that will equate to the threeband 5 qualification.

The course will focus on HSC English and the seven key competencies outlined in the Australian Curriculum: literacy, numeracy, ICT capability, critical and creative thinking, personal and social capability, ethical understanding and intercultural understanding.

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Tennis: Players were warned of match-fixing allegations

Match-fixing scandal forms a cloud over the Australian Open. Photo: Cameron SpencerTennis Australia was tipped off about the match-fixing allegations more than a month before the tournament started, with the ATP warning players of the bombshell that was about to be dropped.
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Fairfax Media has been told the ATP informed all players at a compulsory meeting at a Melbourne CBD hotel on Saturday. It is understood Tennis Australia also spoke to the management teams of several Australian players  leading into the tournament, to familiarise them with what was subsequently released by BBC and Buzzfeed on Monday.

It is understood several players have been approached in the past month by several media organisations in regards to suspicious betting and match-fixing in the  sport.

It is understood Tennis Australia was aware of the players  the BBC and Buzzfeed believed had allegedly been involved in matches with suspicious betting fluctuations.

The BBC/Buzzfeed did not release the players’ names, referring to them by code.

On Thursday, another website, Show Legend, claimed to have decoded the Buzzfeed algorithm and released a list of names on social media, including Lleyton Hewitt, that it alleged was the focus of the Buzzfeed report.

While the third-party report strongly rejected any suggestion Hewitt was involved in any dubious activity, the ATP and Tennis Australia are hellbent on ensuring the Australian legend’s reputation is not tarnished by the whole episode.

It is understood ATP and Tennis Australia solicitors are ready to launch a legal attack on any organisation that implies the two-time grand slam champion is involved or connected to match-fixing.

Fairfax Media contacted Hewitt’s agent David Drysdale, who backed his client’s stand in the press conference following his exit from the Australian Open on Thursday night.

“It is absolutely ludicrous that anyone would think Lleyton Hewitt would be involved in anything like this,” Drysdale said.

“Everyone in this country knows his character and there’s no questioning his integrity.”

Using an algorithm from information provided in the Buzzfeed report, decoders identified 15 players and a series of matches that raised flags because of betting irregularities.

Fifteen Hewitt matches were flagged, including at least one in the Davis Cup, outraging tennis purists and a country that widely recognises the 34-year-old as one of the most competitive athletes Australia has produced.

While Hewitt’s farewell was somewhat overshadowed by the speculation, the veteran did not shy away from the drama, describing it as “absurd” that his name had been thrown into the controversy.

“I think it’s a joke to deal with it,” Hewitt said of the saga after his career-ending straight-sets loss to David Ferrer.

“You know, obviously, yeah, there’s no possible way. I know my name’s now been thrown into it. I don’t think anyone here would think that I’ve done anything corruption or match-fixing. It’s just absurd.

“For anyone that tries to go any further with it, then good luck. Take me on with it. Yeah, it’s disappointing. I think throwing my name out there with it makes the whole thing an absolute farce.”

Hewitt is not the only high-profile tennis player to have his name publicly linked to suspicious betting activity.

A report in Italian newspaper Tuttosport linked Novak Djokovic to betting irregularities in a match he lost in 2007 to Frenchman Fabrice Santoro.

The world No.1 strongly denied the accusations, also describing it as absurd.

“It’s not true,” Djokovic said.

“What it is to say? I’ve lost that match. I don’t know if you’re trying to create a story about that match or for that matter any of the matches of the top players losing in the early rounds, I think it’s just absurd. Anybody can create a story about any match. That’s my point.

“There hasn’t been too many matches where top players lost in last decade or so in early rounds. You can pick any match that you like that the top player lost and just create a story out of it. I think it’s not supported by any kind of proof, any evidence, any facts. It’s just speculation. So I don’t think there is a story about it.”

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Nick Olive’s Fox Tales off to prepare for Black Opal Stakes

Canberra trainer Nick Olive is aiming Fox Tales at Canberra’s group 3 Black Opal Stakes. Photo: Elesa KurtzCanberra trainer Nick Olive is hoping Fox Tales can go one better than stable star Single Gaze in the $275,000 Black Opal Stakes (1200 metres) after the son of Foxwedge saluted on debut at Thoroughbred Park on Friday.
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Fox Tales jumped well and sat on the pace before taking the lead in the home straight, winning by ¾ length from Can’t Find Snippy, with No When To Hold Em third in the two-year-old handicap (1000m).

The final four races on Friday’s program were abandoned due to poor visibility. There were no issues with the track.

The two-year-old colt will go to the paddock for a brief spell to freshen up for next month’s Lightning Ridge Plate (1000m) as a stepping stone into the Black Opal Stakes on March 6.

“That’s where he’ll head. I’m thinking now of giving him five days in the paddock and missing the next two-year-old race and then heading to the preview, and then hopefully on to the Black Opal from there,” Olive said.

Olive said he thought Fox Tales would turn into a good horse, but he had a long way to go to show if he could be as good as Single Gaze, which is “the best horse I’ve ever had”.

Single Gaze finished second to Takedown in last year’s Black Opal after finishing third to Le Chef in the $2 million Magic Millions Two-year-old Classic (1200m).

“I really like this horse … he’s just improved [with] everything he’s done. He’s given me the feel of a good horse and he’s nowhere near his top yet,” Olive said.

“He’s got a lot to learn and a lot more to come down the track.

“[Single Gaze is] the best horse I’ve ever had so he’s got a long way to get to her.”

Single Gaze spent 10 days in the paddock and was back in work, getting ready for the group 2 Surround Stakes (1400m).

Then the plan is for the group 3 Kembla Grange Classic (1600m) on March 11, before the group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) two weeks later.

Potentially the $1 million Australian Oaks (2400m) would be after that.

“She’ll be nominated for the Oaks, but I don’t know whether she’ll run that trip,” Olive said.

Olive has Rose Of Falvelon running in the benchmark 78 handicap (1000m) at Randwick on Saturday, where she’ll probably run even though she doesn’t handle the wet.

Norm Gardner’s Atom Eve will jump in the Highway Handicap (1200m), where the unbeaten three-year-old filly is going for her third straight win.

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$24b high speed rail project into the heart of Newcastlepoll

A COMPANYbacked by China’s state railways companywants to spend $24 billion ona high-speed rail network that would make it possible to travel fromNewcastle to Sydney in less than an hour.
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Centurion Group, a developer and China Rail’s local partner, says a privately funded rail system running from Campbelltown, in Sydney’s south west, to Newcastle, is financially viable and could go ahead if the state government supports the project.

The 150-kilometre line, as envisioned by the company’s chief executive Patrick Yu,would run from Campbelltown, to Central, Chatswood, Wyong, and then to Newcastle after turning at Cameron Park.

“It would take less than an hour from Central to Newcastle,” Mr Yu said. “We are being cautious and saying 50 [minutes] at this stage.”

The line would run all the way into the city of Newcastle, but still allow the city to connect to the harbour, Mr Yu said.

“We would go underground,” he explained.

The plan would be for the line to run toitstruncation point–presumablythe proposed Wickham Interchange –and then entera tunnel which would leadall the way to the site of the former Newcastle railway station.The company has been pursuing the idea for some years, and has the support of NSW upper houseChristian Democrat Fred Nile, butthere’s one big challenge stopping the plan at its first hurdle.

Centurion says the line could be funded by “value capturing” –that is developing in areas around new stations –but firstwantsthe state government to redesign it’s $7 billion Sydney harbour tunnel crossing to accommodate a high-speed rail line.It says it would onlycost $250 million extrato make the tunnel large enough to fit the line.

“Otherwise you would have to legislate for a third tunnel through the harbour,” he said. “It’s a narrow harbour as it is, it could take 10 years before that happens.”

But Transport for NSW has been quick to knock the idea on the head, saying that designing the tunnels for high speed rail would mean making new stations in Sydney almost three times deeper.

“The new twin metro railway tunnels … are being designed to be as shallow as possible on either end of the harbourto make it easy for customers to get into and out of stations as quickly as possible,” Transport said in a statement.“The whole point of Sydney Metro is to deliver fast, frequent, convenient services.”

Don’t put the cart before the corridor

IT WAS four years ago that Todd Williams, the chief executive ofRegional Development Australia in the Hunter, helped cobbletogether a coalition of business leaders, government officials and politicians to lobby for work on a high speed rail network to begin in this region.

At the time, the thenLabor government wasworkingon the second partof amajor study into the feasibility of a Brisbane-to-Melbourne fastrailnetwork.

When the report came out in 2013it put theoverall cost of the project at $114 billionand estimated that the stretch between Newcastle and Sydney would be the most complicated and expensive –attaching a price tag of$141 million per kilometre.

Despite the cost, Regional Development Australiahaven’given up. Next month the general manager of Central Japan Railway, Shohei Yoshia, will deliver a key note address for the group.

Mr Williams said the issue was still “so important”, but had to be dealt with “one thing at a time”.

“What we found out back then was that there is currently no corridor preserved, there’s no land available, that needs to be dealt with as a priority,” he said.

The chief executive of the Hunter Business Chamber Kristen Keegan, agreed, saying that while she wasn’t familiar with the Centurion Group proposal, preserving a rail corridor was the first step.“It is important that if high speed rail in Australia is to become a reality that the appropriate rail corridor is identified and preserved,” she said.

Since the landmark 2013 study the government has changed and the issue has dropped off the agenda.

However a spokesman for the federal government’s infrastructure minister Warren Truss said the government was working with states “to identify priority sections of the preferred alignment for protection”.

“Jurisdictional consultations have focused on corridor issues relating to the preferred alignment,” the spokesman said.

Garry Glazebrook, an adjunct professor ofurban planningat theUniversity of Technology Sydney, did work mapping out routes for high speed rail for the previous government. He isskeptical of when it might happen, but thinks Australia would benefit.

“I think we’ll be just ahead of Antarctica in getting it,” he said.

He said that having a far closer link with a “global city” would make it easier for businesses to justify moving to Newcastle, as well as make it an attractive place to live.

“From a business point of view, you could argue firms will think well it’s cheaper, the lifestyle is better, but you have Sydney less than an hour a way,” he said.“I think certainly it would have that impact for housing, you would see development around railstations.”

The cost of not building high speed railZAC Zavos says he would “definitely” still be in Newcastle if high-speed raillinkedthe city to Sydney.

The co-founder and managing directorof Conversant Media –the publisher of culture site Lost At E Minor and sports opinion site The Roar –ran the company inNewcastle from the end of 2007 until last year,when the toll of travelling back and forth to Sydney caught up with him.

“I think a lot of businesses want to be in Newcastle but are forced to operate out of Sydney because that’s where they need to be,” he said.“But we only moved because of the distance, if you eliminated that then all of sudden businesses have the option of staying, or coming, to Newcastle.”

Mr Zavos employs 16 people in his Surry Hills office. Most were already based in Sydney, but, he says, if he could have, his Newcastle office would have been larger.

“We wouldn’t have left if there was any viable option to stay,” he said.“The economic benefit to me is simple; you’re decentralising Sydney and bringing businesses into regional areas like Newcastle.”

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Golden Guitar Awards 2016photos

Golden Guitar Awards 2016 | photos Photo: Gareth Gardner
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TweetFacebookMore photos? Click awayThe red carpet | The cavalcade | Toyota Star Maker 2016 grand final + Concert for Rural Australia

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