For over two decades Australia has been moving towards a national approach to schooling, including a national curriculum.
In 1989 all Education Ministers issued a set of common goals for schooling in Australia, expressed in their Hobart Declaration, and initiated work on supporting detailed statements of expected outcomes for students that would influence state and territory curricula.
Now, more than 20 years later and after a series of collaborative efforts among the states and territories, the first truly Australian Curriculum is almost ready for Australian schools. Australia ranks high in the international comparisons of school students’ performances in key subject areas so our state and territory curricula have served us well. We are not right at the top and we should aspire to be there in education as we do in other domains. A world-class national curriculum, building on the best of our current curricula and shaped by comparison with the best from overseas, gives us the prospect of achieving that goal.
The Australian Curriculum up to Year 10 for the learning areas of English, mathematics, science and history will be presented to the Council of Ministers of Education in December this year.
We had hoped to have reached this point in October, but the Board of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority has decided to take a few more weeks in the final stages to ensure that we have an Australian Curriculum that all education authorities support as we present it to Ministers.
Once Ministers endorse the curriculum in December, it will be available for implementation from 2011 by those jurisdictions and schools wanting to commence implementation in 2011. Ministers have previously agreed that the nature and timing of implementation is a matter for individual jurisdictions and schools as long as there is substantial implementation in all schools by the end of 2013.
Along with the final curriculum content, in December ACARA will also publish the achievement standards, work samples and a range of information and curriculum planning resources to support schools prepare for implementation. From next year ACARA will collect and publish further samples of students’ work to clarify the expectations of students. Schools will also have immediate access to over 4,500 support resources provided through the national digital resource collection that will link to the Australian Curriculum.
I take this opportunity to thank the members of the education community from around Australia who have participated in the process, both those who have been engaged in the current work and those who laid the foundations on which we have built. The process has been robust and productive and the product is something of which, I believe, we will all be proud.
ACARA Chair Professor Barry McGaw explains how much progress has been made towards a final Australian Curriculum and discusses possible implementation options for the coming years. Click here to watch the video.