Feedback Sought About Changes To The Australian Curriculum

 

PROPOSED revisions to the Australian Curriculum for Foundation to Year 10 have been released for public comment.

The Chair of the Australian Curriculum Assessment And Reporting Authority (ACARA), Belinda Robinson, said, “In revising this curriculum, our focus has been our students and preparing them for the world they will inherit, for the jobs, challenges and opportunities of the future.”

The review includes revisions to all eight learning areas (English, Mathematics, Science, Humanities and Social Sciences, The Arts, Technologies, Health and Physical Education, and Languages), as well as the three cross-curriculum priorities (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures, Asia and Australia’s Engagement with Asia, and Sustainability) and the general capabilities, such as Critical and Creative Thinking.

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Broadly, the changes include simplifying the core curriculum that teachers use to plan, teach and assess learning, reducing content across the primary school curriculum, having clearer illustrations and examples of ways to teach the content and making it clear what teachers need to teach in the Foundation year and ensuring that it builds on the Early Years.

To arrive at its recommendations, ACARA conducted eighteen reference groups of around 360 practising teachers and curriculum specialists from across Australia ran informal listening tours of primary schools to talk to teachers and principals and engaged with national teacher and principal professional associations and other subject matter experts
It also benchmarked the Australian Curriculum against the curricula of Singapore, Finland, British Columbia and New Zealand, sought feedback from states and territories on the effectiveness of the Australian Curriculum and reviewed the latest national and international developments and research in each learning area.

However, some sections of the mainstream media have zeroed in on what they say is undue emphasis on First Nations perspectives.

Even the Federal Education Minister, Alan Tudge, has expressed concern that this might reduce focus on Australia’s western heritage.

Misinformation has been such that the CEO of ACARA, David de Carvalho, has labelled assertions from some commentators that changes included the encouragement of activism and ‘direct action’ as “simply not true”.

However, regardless of what changes are eventually approved, how they impact NSW schools is unclear.

When contacted by News Of The Area, the NSW Minister for Education, Sarah Mitchell said, “In NSW we set our own curriculum.

“When Education ministers met last week, I made it clear that the NSW curriculum reforms are based on evidence to improve student outcomes.

“The Australian curriculum should do the same, we want students to master the basics as they build a strong foundation to learn,” Ms Mitchell said.

Michael Trist, representing the New South Wales Primary Principals Association, told News Of The Area that he welcomed ACARA trying to reduce content and focus on the most important aspects of literacy, numeracy and key learning areas.

He said that his only concern was that teacher and principal groups needed to have input on timeframes, so that implementing any changes would not increase workloads.

Mr Trist said, “It won’t be a bad thing if we are reducing overcrowding the curriculum without reducing the quality.”

In reference to the issue of First Nations history and culture, he said, “It is important to have a balance of perspectives taught.”

Public feedback can be given at http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/consultation until 8 July 2021.

 

By Andrew VIVIAN

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