The report is the final result of a government-commissioned review conducted by Ken Wiltshire and Kevin Donnelly.
Here’s a quick summary of what you can expect the report to say.
5 Things To Expect In The New Australian Curriculum
Expectation 1: Fewer Subjects
The review is likely to recommend that students learn fewer subjects. At present, there are 16 subjects (assuming that each student only learns one second language).
The Australian curriculum will be recast as the ‘essential core’ that all schools must teach, with a heavy focus on literacy and numeracy.
The idea is to teach less, which frees up time to teach it more thoroughly.
Expectation 2: More Substance
The review is likely to re-emphasise the teaching of knowledge.
This will not be at the expense of conceptual understanding and deep learning.
Rather, it is an acknowledgement of the growing body of research that shows knowledge is an essential foundation for deeper learning.
While isolated facts may seem irrelevant, collectively they give us the substance, which we can organise, and think about in order to form deeper understandings.
Expectation 3: Less Prescription
The original intent of the Australian curriculum was to outline an ‘essential core’ that all schools must teach. Yet, it subsequently became an all-encompassing curriculum, leaving little room for local discretion.
The review is likely to recommend a return to the curriculum’s original intent. It will dictate a small, common core of what must be taught, while leaving schools, states and systems to build a more comprehensive curriculum around that core.
Expectation 4: Increased Simplicity
The current curriculum includes several different subjects. Yet each subject is then overlayed with seven generalised capabilities (e.g. ethical understanding, cross-cultural understanding) and three cross-curricula priorities (e.g. Australia’s engagement with Asia) that teachers are supposed to integrate into everything they teach.
It is likely that this complexity will be removed, especially in areas where such integration is nothing more than tokenism at best. Some themes, such as indigenous perspectives, may become a discrete part of the curriculum (eg a topic within a subject) rather than being something to integrate into all subjects.
Expectation 5: A Continuation of the History Wars
History has been a political football for some time.
Left leaning politicians and educators claim they want an inclusive curriculum that honours all cultures and countries. Those on the right believe that the left promotes an apologist view of history that ignores the European roots that have enabled western civilization to flourish.
Right leaning politicians and educators claim they want to acknowledge and honour our European heritage. Yet, those on the left claim they want to whitewash the crimes of ‘white Australia’.
Given this is a government commissioned review, and the fact they chose reviewers whose views on history are well known, it is expected the review will recommend a more European-centric history curriculum.
The government has now released the report and their response to it.
- Download the Review of the Australian Curriculum here.
- Download the Australian Government’s Response to the Review here.
- Access additional information here.
The report will be discussed at the upcoming Education Council (federal, state and territory education ministers) in December. ACARA will offer its response to the Council at this time.
Australian Curriculum Changes for 2016
Following the Review if the Australian Curriculum, the Education Council (federal, state and territory education ministers) has asked ACARA to:
- free up space in a crowded curriculum
- formally embed phonics into the English Curriculum
You should be able to access this newly revised curriculum by the start of 2016.
While the details of the changes are not yet available, they will include:
- Reintegrating Humanities (History, Geography, Civics, Economics & Business) into a single subject for primary school
- Reducing the number of content descriptors
- Tagging cross-curricula priorities and general capabilities to learning areas
- Changing the English curriculum to include phonics and phonemic awareness