The NSW Government has launched the first comprehensive review of the entire school curriculum since 1989 to ensure the education system is preparing students for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Education Minister Rob Stokes have announced a review of the NSW school curriculum from Kindergarten to Year 12.
“The world has changed rapidly since the last comprehensive review in 1989 and we must ensure the curriculum is as strong as it can be,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“We want to ensure our students have every opportunity with the skills needed for the jobs of the future. This includes a greater focus on the basics including English, maths and the sciences.”
However teachers have hit back, telling media they are tired of the political announcements regarding education.
President of the NSW Teachers Federation Maurie Mulheron told The Sydney Morning Herald that teachers were sick of “so-called experts” being brought in to chair reviews while they remain in the dark and that the curriculum is not the main issue facing teachers in classrooms.
“The thing that teachers are worried about is the lack of time for the curriculum, and that isn’t driven by the curriculum itself but things that sit outside the curriculum,” he said, citing the obsession with “pointless and irrelevant” NAPLAN data as one of the “real issues” teachers are worried about.
Mr Stokes said the review would implement findings of David Gonski’s latest report into Australian school education.
“Our review puts David Gonski’s report into practice and will tailor the national education reform agenda to the NSW context,” Mr Stokes said.
“Several recent national reports on improving educational outcomes call for curriculum review, and we are keen to ensure that these reports are answered by real action.
“This is a once in a generation chance to examine, declutter, and improve the NSW curriculum to make it simpler to understand and to teach.”
The curriculum review also supports the premise that while the goals and values of education remain eternal, the methods of achieving these outcomes have dramatically changed, particularly with the development of information technology over the past 30 years.
The review will therefore examine the role of new technologies and teaching methods in delivering the curriculum.
The Minister said it is essential that the review draws on the expertise of teachers and ensures the curriculum continues to support them in the important work they do.
Another core component will be ensuring that Australian perspectives are included throughout the curriculum. This will include maintaining a strong emphasis on Australian literature, scientific discoveries and key events that have shaped our history.
“For Australia to continue to mature, we must first have pride in what has made us great,” Mr Stokes said.
“We are a proud pioneering nation. The tyranny of distance once meant we had to invent, improvise, and do things for ourselves. A by-product of this isolation was innovation and the cultivation of incredible minds. It is time to look at how we can best support students to develop that mindset and those skills in the complex modern world.”
The NSW Education Standards Authority will engage Professor Geoff Masters, CEO of the Australian Council for Educational Research to lead the review.
Professor Masters was supportive of the broad directions of the Gonski report and said the NSW Curriculum Review will need to focus strongly on implementation issues and look for ways it can be decluttered and simplified.
“This review is a timely opportunity to demonstrate how the national reform agenda can be successfully tailored to the specific needs and context of high performing state education system. This is how Commonwealth/State collaboration should work,” Professor Masters said.