Australian Curriculum teaching and learning - Education Matters Magazine

Academics Fight English Language Cuts

Fourteen academics from NSW leading universities have written to the O’Farrell Government to appeal against plans to abolish dedicated funding for teachers of English as a second language.

The letter to Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, says funding for ESL teachers will be distributed to schools as “untied and untagged” funding. Under the existing scheme the funding aims to provide 1600 specialist ESL Teachers in 896 teaching and consultancy positions. These teachers support 130,000 migrant and refugee children.

Curriculum To Revive Indigenous Languages

The First National Curriculum document outlining how Agoriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages can be taught in schools has been released for public consumption.

Minister for School Education, Peter Garrett said the draft Framework for Aboriginal Languages and Torres Strait Islander Languages would supports community language revival and maintenance.

Under the framework there will be three different learning pathways to best cater for particular groups of students including the First Language Learner Pathway, which will cater for students whose first language is still spoken as the main or one of the main languages of everyday communication.

‘Keeping language alive in our community is really important, but until now there has been no national approach’ Mr Garrett said. ‘Under the new national curriculum we want to see a more consistent approach while still making the curriculum flexible and able to take into account local needs and circumstances’.

He said there were more than 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages spoken in Australia. ‘This draft framework sets out how teachers and schools can work with local communities to keep language alive and encourage more young Indigenous Australians to learn and communicate in language,’ he said. 

Parents told kids can opt out of NAPLAN

More than 1 million students are currently sitting down to complete the NAPLAN test and one principal has come out with a message for parents. Mr Paul Marshall, principal at Emmaus Christian School in Canberra, has told parents they could withdraw their children from the exams. The principal stated on the school’s website, ‘I have several issues with the NAPLAN testing regime’. ‘One of them is that the results take so long to get back to us, so long that they do not benefir the teachers or students’. On average it takes six months for NAPLAN results to get back to schools. Mr Marshall had further advice for parents, stating that ‘the decision to allow your children to sit the NAPLAN tests rest with you’.

National rates of withdrawal from the NAPLAN tests have grown since it was first introduced in 2008, with the withdrawal rate for year 3 mathematics, for example, growing from 0.5% in 2008 to 1.9% in 2012. Another issue currently facing NAPLAN is that parents seem to view the tests as an assessment of the school’s performance, with Mr Marshall stating that this was ‘akin to judging the quality of a hospital on a snap check of the health of its patients’

Despite this a spokesperson for the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Austhority (ACARA) which runs the tests, said that participation rates remained high and it expected ‘all students to sit NAPLAN’.



Calls for Hindi to be included in Australian Curriculum

A vast untapped pool of skilled Indian migrants should be used to teach Hindi in Australian schools and universities, according to a report.

The report by Melbourne-based think tank Australia India Institute (AII) argues for the inclusion of Hindi in Australia’s school curriculum, saying it should be an essential part of the Commonwealth’s Asia policy.

Geography joins the new Australian Curriculum landscape

School students across Australia will soon be able to learn from the first national geography curriculum, with the final version released today by the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA).

 School Education Minister Peter Garrett said the Foundation to Year 10 Australian Curriculum: Geography will help students better understand the world they live in.

“The new geography curriculum will give students a real sense of our place in the world, our environment, sustainability and the interconnection between places and people.

“Students focus on their local area from Foundation to Year 2, then study Australia and neighbouring countries from Year 3, covering Asia, South America, Africa, Europe and North America by Year 6.

“In an increasingly globalised society we know how important knowledge of the world will be for the jobs of the future, so students will have the chance to focus their studies in the later years.”

Students can focus on West Asia and/or North Africa, Europe, the United States of America and China across Years 7–8. Throughout Years 9–10 students will be encouraged to focus on the Pacific Islands, Africa or South America.

“Geography is about more than just location and this curriculum reflects the richness of this subject area, covering the key concepts of place, space, environment, interconnection, sustainability, scale and change,” Mr Garrett said.

“The new geography curriculum also includes cross-curriculum priorities that tie into other aspects of the Australian Curriculum.”

The cross-curriculum priority ‘Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia’ will link geographical study of the Asia region to other aspects of the Australian Curriculum, including the study of Asian languages, so students can participate fully in the Asian Century.

In the cross-curriculum priority of ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures’ students will learn about Indigenous connections to land, water and sky, and the knowledge and practices that developed as a result. The ‘Sustainability’ cross-curriculum priority will include studying human dependence on the environment and why the environment needs to be protected.

The Australian Curriculum for geography has been developed in consultation with education authorities, curriculum experts, teachers, professional associations and universities and has been endorsed by the Ministerial Council for Education Ministers.

The Australian Curriculum

The Australian Curriculum describes a learning entitlement for each Australian student that provides a foundation for successful, lifelong learning and participation in the Australian community. It acknowledges that the needs and interests of students will vary, and that schools and teachers will plan from the curriculum in ways that respond to those needs and interests. The Australian Curriculum acknowledges the changing ways in which young people will learn and the challenges that will continue to shape their learning in the future.

The Australian Curriculum has been published for English, Mathematics, Science and History for Foundation to Year 10. Curriculum for these years is being developed for Geography, Languages, The Arts, Health and Physical Education, Technologies, Economics and Business and Civics and Citizenship and will be published progressively.

The Australian Curriculum sets out what all young people should be taught through the specification of curriculum content and the learning expected at points in their schooling through the specification of achievement standards.

The curriculum includes:

  • a rationale and a set of aims
  • an overview of how the learning area is organised
  • year level descriptions
  • content descriptions (knowledge, understanding and skills) specifying what teachers are expected to teach
  • content elaborations to provide additional clarity by way of illustrative examples only
  • achievement standards that describe the quality of learning (the depth of understanding and sophistication of skill) expected of students at points in their schooling
  • annotated student work samples that illustrate the achievement standard at each year level. As the Australian Curriculum is implemented, the available work samples will be enhanced in both volume and range of forms.
  • a glossary to support consistent understanding of terms used

Increasingly, in a world where knowledge itself is constantly growing and evolving, students need to develop a set of knowledge, skills, behaviours and dispositions,or general capabilities that apply across learning area content and equip them to be lifelong learners able to operate with confidence in a complex, information-rich, globalised world.

The Australian Curriculum includes a focus on seven general capabilities: Literacy, Numeracy, Information and communication technology (ICT) capability, Critical and creative thinking, Ethical understanding, Personal and social capability and Intercultural understanding. Continua of learning have been developed for each, to describe the relevant knowledge, skills, behaviours and dispositions at particular points of schooling.

The Australian Curriculum also pays attention to three cross-curriculum priorities: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia and Sustainability. These have been embedded where relevant and appropriate in each learning area and can be viewed explicitly in the curriculum online.

The Australian Curriculum is published online to provide maximum flexibility in how the curriculum can be accessed and organised. For example, the curriculum may be viewed by learning area, by multiple year levels, or by year level across learning areas, and may be downloaded and printed in those views.