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Inside Teaching : April 2010
News Inside Teaching | April 2010 NEWS 40 National curriculum The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority has invited feedback on its draft national curriculum. steve HolDen reports. When the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) released its draft national curriculum for English, mathematics, science and history for national consultation last month, politicians and the media focused on content, but educators were more concerned about the implementation timeline and the need for the development of resources to support teaching. The consultation period on the draft national curriculum runs until 23 May, with the final curriculum expected to be in Australian schools from 2011. The second phase of curriculum development for 2011 addresses geography, languages and the arts, with the third phase, on information and communication technology, design and technology, health and physical education, economics, business, and civics and citizenship, yet to be and agreed by education ministers. The draft curriculum for maths and science shares plenty in common with existing state and curriculum documents. The draft maths curriculum addresses number and algebra, statistics and probability, and measurement and geometry, with ‘proficiency strands’ addressing understanding, fluency, problem solving and reasoning. The draft science curriculum addresses science understanding and inquiry skills, with ‘science as a human endeavour’ addressing student engagement and interest in science. As Australian Science Teachers Association (ASTA) president Peter Turnbull noted in ASTA’s formal response to the science framing paper in February last year, the intent of curriculum documents fails to be realised in practice unless there are significant and appropriate professional learning opportunities for all teachers. ‘The teachers must have a deep understanding of the documents before they can effectively use them to inform their practice,’ Turnbull wrote in the ASTA response. ‘Hence, there must be provision for significant and appropriate professional learning opportunities for teachers of science before the beginning of the implementation phase.’ Commonwealth Minister for Education and Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard told AAP ’s Bonny Symons-Brown in March that the Commonwealth expected to harness the existing curriculum support systems provided by each jurisdiction to support the rollout of the national curriculum. That may be easier said than done. The Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers (AAMT) will provide a formal response to ACARA regarding the draft curriculum in late April. Immediate past president Judy Anderson is steering the AAMT’s formal response process, since president Peter Sullivan was extensively involved in the development of the draft mathematics curriculum. In a prepared statement, Anderson observed, ‘The development is a staged process and, to date, we only have access to draft content descriptions with elaborations, and achievement standards. In providing feedback on these aspects we will be noting the need for careful development of other aspects, including thinking on the overall curriculum that is appropriate, including and especially the capabilities and cross-curricular components, as well as... coherence with the senior secondary curriculum; work samples; the role of achievement standards etc.’ The AAMT’s preliminary concerns include: • the embedding of the proficiency strands within each of the content strands • the appropriateness of expectations for each year level • the appropriateness of Year 7 descriptors for those states in which Year 7 is in the primary school