In 2020, Australian education ministers agreed that it was time to review the national K-10 curriculum. Accordingly, the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) has been working to “benchmark” (1) the curriculum against those of well-regarded jurisdictions like Singapore, Finland, British Columbia (Canada) and New Zealand.
The results of the first review were published in late April, with the newspapers headlines focusing on suggested changes to the History curriculum. In debate reminiscent of the so-called “History Wars” of John Howard’s prime ministership, there were strong criticisms of the idea that Year 9 History syllabus might ask students to consider different perspectives of the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 and include terms such as “invasion”. Barnaby Joyce was particularly vehement in his words against such ideas (2). However, there were many voices in favour of such a move (3), and it will be interesting to see what happens through the review process.
Other suggested changes include developing digital literacy from Kindergarten and pushing key mathematical concepts such as times tables, linear equations and telling the time back a year (2).
Dr Fiona Mueller of the Centre for Independent Studies argues that “every Australian has a stake in this work”(5). Before the review was published, she was critical of what she sees as “minimalist”terms of reference for this review and, once it was published, decried what she saw as curriculum proposals “captured by the 21stcentury learning agenda”which she does not believe address the problems faced by schools (6).
There is now a review period, which is open until 8 July, for teachers and parents to have their say. If you wish to engage in this process, please visit the ACARA website at The Australian Curriculum | Consultation
The Australian Curriculum is not directly enacted in NSW; however, it is highly influential for NESA when it reviews its K-10 curriculum.