Victoria is ready for a Year 7-10 outdoor education curriculum - Education Matters Magazine
Expert Contributors, Outdoor Education

Victoria is ready for a Year 7-10 outdoor education curriculum

The Outdoor Education in the Victorian Curriculum (OEVC) Project advocates for the inclusion of an outdoor education curriculum in Years 7-10 Health and Physical Education. In this Expert Contributor column, Federation University’s Dr Josh Ambrosy provides a brief update on the project’s progress.

Outdoor Education (OE) is a significant part of schooling in Victoria. Yet despite over forty years of advocacy from teachers, peak bodies and academics, OE is not formally included in the Victorian Curriculum F-10. The Outdoor Education in the Victorian Curriculum (OEVC) project is a joint initiative between Victorian universities and ACHPER Victoria, the Department of Education ROSA Network and Outdoors Victoria. The project’s purpose is to advocate for the inclusion of an optional year 7-10 Outdoor Education curriculum as part of the Health and Physical Education learning area (HPE) within the Victorian Curriculum F-10.

Presently, OE is only articulated in the curriculum in Victoria through the VCE Course, Outdoor and Environmental Studies (OES). Due to the omission of OE in the Victorian Curriculum F-10, teachers of outdoor education during Years 7-10 are forced into developing OE units using curriculum from other learning areas. This denies Victorian students a logical and appropriate curriculum pathway into VCE OES. In addition, such an approach requires radical shifts in curriculum integration to be undertaken by teachers, which may be critiqued as repetition.

The situation for OE is made more complex with some teachers adopting outdoor learning as a pedagogy to teach the current Victorian Curriculum. This is a positive pedagogical initiative but does not address the area of learning encapsulated in OE as curriculum. Outdoor learning is not a replacement for OE.

To date, the OEVC project team has supported the drafting of a possible year 7-10 OE curriculum for the Victorian Curriculum. The draft OE curriculum was constructed by the project team by accessing significant input from expert teachers and academics. Part of this process included presenting versions of the draft curriculum to four state-level teacher conferences.

Overwhelmingly, the responses have been supportive, suggesting that the introduction of such a curriculum is a much sought-after outcome. From here, the OEVC project team will continue to collect input and feedback on the draft curriculum, revising and improving it with relevant stakeholders, with the aim of seeing OE included as a formal option for Years 7-10 in the Victorian Curriculum F-10, within the HPE learning area.

Contributors:
Dr Josh Ambrosy, Federation University
A/Prof John Quay, The University of Melbourne A/Prof Marcus Morse, The University of Tasmania Sandy Allen-Craig, Australian Catholic University Matthew Cox, Victoria University
Greg Schneiders, ACHPER Victoria
Andrew Monson, ROSA Network
Andrew Knight, Outdoors Victoria

ABOUT DR JOSH AMBROSY

Dr Josh Ambrosy is a Lecturer at the Institute of Education, Arts and Community at Federation University in Australia. Prior to assuming his role at the university, Josh worked as a schoolteacher working in a range of government-funded, independent, and catholic schools. At Federation University, he teaches a variety of courses, including Outdoor Education and Science curriculum Studies. Josh’s research explores the different ways teachers and schools can structure their educational offerings to better suit the needs of their students.

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