New national curriculum changes endorsed
After all states agreed to recommendations by the National Curriculum Review, significant changes to the national curriculum were endorsed by the federal government’s Education Council.
The most significant of the changes can be summarised as follows:
- The subjects of history, geography, civics and citizenship and economics and business have been combined into a single subject (referred to as “un-crowding” the curriculum)
- A domestic violence strategy has been added to the curriculum
- Plans have been put in place to increase accessibility for students with a disability, and;
- The English curriculum includes an increased emphasis on phonics
The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) and the Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham have maintained that schools and teachers will retain the flexibility to make decisions about how the curriculum is taught in their schools. State and territory curriculum authorities will also continue to set requirements for their jurisdictions.
ACARA and the previous Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne indicated that the changes introduced on 18 September were designed to reduce content (particularly in the primary years), simplify presentation and strengthen the focus on literacy. These changes were the result of a 2014 review conducted by Professor Ken Wiltshire and Dr Kevin Donnelly, who delivered more than 30 recommendations for changes to the curriculum.
In response to uncertainty around changes to the curriculum arising from the Wiltshire-Donnelly review, the Queensland Teachers’ Union (QTU) placed a ban on implementation of any new curriculum area in state schools throughout 2015.
IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said our union did not take similar action because non-government schools have shown extraordinary diversity in the manner in which they have implemented the new curriculum.
“Under the circumstances, there were no grounds for sector-wide industrial action,” Mr Burke said.
“Our union’s focus has instead been on working toward greater recognition that implementing changes in curriculum requires substantial preparation and planning by both teachers and school administrators.
“Our position is that a national curriculum itself is not objectionable, but what is problematic is the extent of change demanded within a limited timeframe without adequate support, time and resources.”
The process of determining how the national curriculum will be translated into practice in Queensland schools is a topic currently under review by the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA).
Under the previous state government, representatives of both the QTU and the IEUA-QNT were removed from the board of the QCAA.
“Overall union participation in decision-making processes was reduced to joint representation on a smaller number of committees,” Mr Burke said.
“This is clearly problematic and our union and the QTU have written to the State Minister for Education, Kate Jones, and requested that union observers be permitted to attend meetings until fully legislated representation is restored.”
In the interim, both QTU and IEUA-QNT members are participating in the QCAA’s P-10 Australian Curriculum Working Groups.
The Working Groups have been set the task of:
- Providing feedback on the current Queensland implementation strategy
- Reviewing the impact of ACARA’s recent changes on Queensland’s implementation strategy
- Reviewing the implementation plans of other Australian jurisdictions to identify common approaches and differences
- Exploring solutions and making recommendations for a future Queensland implementation plan
- Considering the place of Year 10 in Australian Curriculum implementation in Queensland
- Considering current resources provided by the QCAA and providing feedback on the types of resources and materials required to support implementation
Members wishing to raise issues for discussion at these meetings are encouraged to contact our Research Officer, Adele Schmidt at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about the changes to the National Curriculum, visit http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/