Supporting schools to implement the Australian Curriculum - Education Matters Magazine

ACARA/NAPLAN, Policy and Reform, Resources

Supporting schools to implement the Australian Curriculum

Stephen Gniel, Acting CEO of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, is focusing on supporting schools to implement the Australian Curriculum and national assessments.

Having started my career as a primary school teacher and principal, I’m proud and honoured to have the opportunity to lead ACARA.

Joining at the end of 2023, I was straight into it when in December we updated our My School website with the NAPLAN current-year results, alongside school attendance, profile and population information. It was the first time that NAPLAN school-level data was released in the same year as testing – a key benefit of holding NAPLAN earlier in the school year.

My School provides parents, carers and the wider community with a one-stop shop of nationally consistent school-level data about every one of the nearly 10,000 schools in Australia. However, I also believe that My School is an equally valuable resource for teachers and school leaders, offering key insights into school performance, achievements and characteristics.

The My School website received more than a million visits on launch day, which clearly demonstrates its value to the public, as well as highlighting ACARA’s ongoing commitment to strengthening accountability and transparency in education through making information more accessible.

By the time you read this column, the 2024 NAPLAN test window will have been completed. This year, almost 1.3 million students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 at more than 9,400 schools around Australia will take part in the NAPLAN assessments over a nine-day test period.

It’s a massive operation to prepare for the tests each year so I’d like to say a big thank you to our fantastic teachers, principals and school staff for their hard work in getting schools and students ready for this year’s NAPLAN.

Last year saw some significant changes to NAPLAN. It was the first year in which the tests moved from May to March, and we also introduced a new, simpler system for reporting results.

This means schools and teachers, parents and carers now get results much earlier in the school year so that the NAPLAN performance information can be used in addition to the school’s own assessments and the teacher’s knowledge of their students to ensure each student is supported in the way they need to be.

It is important to remember that NAPLAN is the only national assessment that students in all schools across Australia participate in. Not only does it show us whether young Australians are developing the literacy and numeracy skills that provide the critical foundation for learning and for their adult life, but it also helps government and education authorities know how education approaches are working and where changes and support might be needed.

On the curriculum front, ACARA’s dedicated curriculum team continues to support the implementation of the Australian Curriculum, Version 9.0 by producing high-quality support resources for teachers and schools.

In recent months, we published seven new and updated Curriculum Connection resources on topics such as mental health and wellbeing, online safety, artificial intelligence, respectful relationships, food and wellbeing, outdoor learning and food and fibre. 

These resources help teachers plan lessons highlighting the interrelationships across the dimensions of the Australian Curriculum, while also supporting schools to consider policies, procedures and partnerships.

We also published new student diversity pages on the Australian Curriculum, Version 9.0 website, which provide advice and resources to promote inclusive teaching and learning programs and help teachers respond to the diversity of students in their educational community.

Our Professional Learning Hub, which was launched almost a year ago, continues to support teachers in their planning practices by offering useful resources in each of the eight learning areas in the Curriculum. New sets of courses are presently in development and we’re aiming to release them in stages throughout 2024.

2024 is shaping up to be another busy year, ensuring we support our teachers and ultimately students across the country.

To keep up-to-date with ACARA’s work on the Australian Curriculum, the National Assessment Program and the reporting on schooling in Australia, subscribe to its regular e-newsletter at www.acara.edu.au/news-and-media/subscribe-to-acara-update. 

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