Victoria and NSW cool on curriculum reform
Education Ministers from New South Wales and Victoria have expressed reservations about progress to a National Curriculum following a meeting of the Ministerial Council on Education, Early Childhood and Youth Development (MCEECDYA) held in Melbourne earlier this month.
The Council endorsed a position paper from the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), and affirmed their commitment to an Australian Curriculum in all eight key learning areas under the Melbourne Declaration to ensure that every Australian school student is taught the same core curriculum and is judged against the same achievement standards.
However, NSW Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, and Victorian Acting Minister for Education, Peter Hall expressed “a strong desire” that the national curriculum organisation, Australian Curriculum and Assessment Reporting Authority, focus on getting phase 1 of the National Curriculum right before moving into phases 2 and 3.
"It's time to draw breath and make sure the roll out of the National Curriculum in every jurisdiction does not diminish the high standards in our schools or put an unnecessary burden on our teachers," Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said.
Mr Hall said that the states and territories have an obligation to ensure national reform in education does not erode educational standards in the quest for national consistency.
The Ministers further questioned whether there was a need for an Australian Baccalaureate and raised the considerable costs of curriculum change.
"The Commonwealth has failed to take the full impact and cost of these curriculum changes into account," Mr Hall said.
Minister Piccoli said a single day of professional development for all teachers would cost each state many millions of dollars.
"If states are to make this kind of investment into a new curriculum we have to have confidence the curriculum is right and that the Commonwealth is prepared to support its implementation as well," Minister Piccoli said.
"Less widespread curriculum reform in NSW in the 1990s cost more than $60 million to implement in today's dollars. The Commonwealth needs to share the costs in this significant change to State education systems."
The ACARA position paper will be used to further revise the Shape of the Australian Curriculum, the next iteration of which ACARA will submit to Ministers in October, along with the validated achievement standards and curriculum support for students with disability, for endorsement.
The meeting was the last to be held by the Ministerial Council, which will become a Standing Council following agreement on the Council of Australian Governments’ governance reform agenda. The first meeting of the new Standing Council will be held in October.