Review calls for shake-up of Australian Curriculum

Boy studying at deskReleased over the weekend, the Review of the Australian Curriculum is pushing for a ˜back to basics' approach to what has been described as an overcrowded curriculum. According to the review, the curriculum should be rebalanced to ensure content is appropriate and that there are no gaps across key subject areas.

Key recommendations include:

  • reconsidering the curriculum framework, including core content and time allocations for each subject, ensuring depth of knowledge over breadth of subject matter
  • stripping back content, particularly in the early years of schooling, with literacy and numeracy to be the main focus in Prep to Year 2
  • developing further work samples to clearly demonstrate A to E achievement standards
  • ensuring the four general capabilities critical and creative thinking, personal and social capability, ethical understanding and intercultural understanding are only adopted in subjects where they are necessary
  • removing cross-curriculum themes (Indigenous, Asian and sustainable perspectives), instead teaching these as separate subjects
  • putting greater emphasis on the role of Western civilisation in contributing to society and the influence of the British system of government, as well as morals, education and spirituality (in particular, Australia's Judeo-Christian heritage)
  • making a parent-friendly curriculum that clearly communicates what students should be learning each year, highlighting mandatory and optional content
  • better addressing the needs of students with disability
  • researching teaching methods used by high-performing countries to influence teaching in Australian schools
  • calling for members of the education community and the public to help define the values and goals that should underpin the curriculum
  • restructuring the Australian Curriculum and Assessment Reporting Authority (ACARA) and introducing an independent school performance authority.

The federal government has released its response to the review, focusing on five themes: fixing the overcrowded curriculum, making it easier for parents to engage with the curriculum, improving access for all students, re-balancing the curriculum and reviewing the workings of ACARA. It will now work with the state and territory governments to consider how the recommendations can be implemented.

The report also noted the importance of grammar and punctuation training for teachers. This echoes recent concerns about falling entry standards for teaching degrees, with experts calling for tougher requirements for prospective teachers. New South Wales has already taken steps to improve teacher quality, requiring future teachers to meet high entry standards in three Year 12 subjects, including English. The state's universities will also introduce a literacy and numeracy test in 2016, which students will need to pass before they graduate. In Queensland and Victoria, the Improving Teacher Quality National Partnership is working to attract, prepare, develop and retain quality teachers.

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