- Beyond the school gate
- Improving student learning
- Let's teach maths and science
- What's real in a virtual world?
- Careers and transition
- Curriculum for the 21st century
- Early childhood education & care
- Teachers and Teaching
The big picture - in education
Opportunity to learn for all
David Leigh-Lancaster, with the assistance of Graham Meiklejohn, Yvana Jones, Di Kerr and Joan Holt, reports on progress in the National Consistency in Curriculum Outcomes (NCCO) project during 2005.
The curriculum is a potent agent of change and continuity for Australia as a whole and for each individual. Greater national agreement about the curriculum and greater national consistency in the curriculum will enable us to better transmit our shared culture, promote our common values and work together for our preferred futures.
For our students and their families, particularly those moving school, greater agreement and consistency will bring a sense of confidence that the curriculum of their new school, at the very least, shares the same intentions as that of their old school. Between 1991 and 1996, about 220,000 children and young people aged 5–19 moved to a different state or territory. Consistency in curriculum will go some way to alleviating the educational and emotional impacts of moving school.
Our students are operating in a national and global society and economy—it makes sense for education jurisdictions across Australia to work collaboratively to identify a small body of knowledge, skills and attributes agreed as essential for that context. It also makes sense for jurisdictions to retain the flexibility and autonomy to integrate these elements into their own curriculums in a manner that suits the diversity of students’ needs and types of schools across the country.
Teachers are conscious of the role of the curriculum in shaping Australian citizens and Australia as a nation. Greater curriculum consistency across the nation will help engender a shared sense of purpose and facilitate shared pedagogical approaches.
Greater national consistency will help ensure that our students—and ultimately our country—are well positioned in an information-based global society and economy.
What involves high-stakes challenge, problem-solving, excitement and intrigue, travel and adventure, language, mathematics, science, information technology, politics, civics and citizenship? Writing a thriller like Matthew Riley’s best-sellers, or working as part of a writing team for the National Consistency project? The answer: definitely both of the above! As both a member of the writing team for the project and someone who has just finished reading several of Matthew Riley’s action thrillers, I can readily see the similarities!
In 2003–2004, state, territory and commonwealth Ministers through the Ministerial Council for Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA) agreed to collaborate in order to achieve greater consistency among their curriculums, particularly for the sake of mobile students and their families. Ministers asked that national Statements of Learning be developed in five domains— English, mathematics, science, civics and citizenship, and information and communications technology. These Statements of Learning describe the essential knowledge, understandings, skills and capacities that each child should have the opportunity to learn, no matter where in the country they are undertaking their education. The Statements of Learning will be integrated into the curriculum of every state and territory.
The development of the Statements of Learning is an undertaking to which all Ministers have contributed. The Australian Government has linked funding to the states and territories to the completion of the Statements by early 2006, and implementation of them either as part of each jurisdiction’s next curriculum review (if that occurs between 2006 and 2008) or before 1 January 2008.
To carry out this developmental work, the Australian Education Systems Officials Committee (AESOC), on behalf of MCEETYA, commissioned Curriculum Corporation as the project manager. The Statements of Learning for English were completed first and approved by Ministers in early 2005. These can be found on the Corporation website at www.curriculum.edu.au. Work on the remaining domains is drawing to a close.
What are Statements of Learning?
The Statements of Learning describe opportunities to learn. They are set at a reasonable and challenging level, appropriate to the majority of young Australians for the junctures of Years 3, 5, 7 and 9. This means that they will be a stretch on their initial introduction, but that there must be a reasonable expectation that students will be able to learn them within a reasonable period. Each of the Statements has Professional Elaborations which build on the Statements by providing more specific detail.
The opportunities to learn for a given domain do not constitute a set of outcomes for expected student levels of achievement, nor do they describe activities or pedagogy. Rather, they describe the concepts and skills teachers will offer their students, and the capacities they will try to develop. They are not intended to encompass the whole of the curriculum in a domain. Thus, while each state and territory is required to incorporate the Statements of Learning within its curriculum documents, each will also develop other aspects of a domain it particularly values.
What is the process?
During 2004 and 2005, the Statements of Learning and the Professional Elaborations in each of the five domains have been developed and refined by a robust iterative process of drafting, critical review and refinement, involving extensive and repeated consultation. Responses from states and territories to the final versions of the Statements of Learning are progressively due to AESOC in February 2006.
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