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Inside Teaching : October 2010
www.atra.edu.au | firstname.lastname@example.org NEWS 47 New curriculum by December Minister for Schools Peter Garrett expects to burn the midnight oil to get the national curriculum ready by December, as Steve Holden reports. Prime Minister Julia Gillard appointed her new Commonwealth Minister for Schools, Early Childhood and Youth, Peter Garrett, in September, splitting school education from higher education. The PM announced that Chris Evans would be her Minister for Jobs, Skills and Workplace Relations, hurriedly adding Tertiary Education to the title after intense lobbying from the higher education sector. Curiously, Evans is responsible for the Building the Education Revolution program, but explained, ‘Peter Garrett’s going to focus on schools because we have a very ambitious agenda there.’ That ambitious agenda includes the national curriculum, which Garrett says is expected to be ready by December. Education stakeholders have questioned the pace of the Commonwealth’s reform. ‘If we are up a little bit later and working a little bit harder on the way through, then that’s not a bad thing, given how important it is,’ Garrett told the Sydney Morning Herald. According to the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, the English, mathematics, science and history curriculum to Year 10, achievement standards, work samples and a range of information and curriculum planning resources will be available from December. The Australian Council of the Deans of Science has written to Garrett, urging him to postpone implementation for up to 12 more months to allow for further revision of the science curriculum. In their letter, the deans also say there are not enough science teachers with the expertise needed to teach the new curriculum. The deans also say the draft curriculum ‘appears to have been driven more by expediency and the preconceived ideas of the writers. It does not set out a coherent scheme of interest drivers, engaging students in science, and in particular does not satisfactorily articulate the nature, scope and depth of scientific concepts that students are expected to have acquired.’ Strong showing Australian students won the silver medal at this year’s F1 in Schools Technology Challenge in Singapore last month. Zer0.9, a collaborative team with students from Pine Rivers State High School, Brisbane and the Indian School, Dubai, finished second, while Basilisk Performance, from Sebastopol College in Ballarat, Victoria, finished fifth. Hands down? A ‘remarkable experiment’ at Hertswood School in Hertfordshire, Great Britain, requiring students to write answers on small whiteboards rather than put their hands up has found that students ‘learned at twice the speed of peers not taking part,’ according to London’s Daily Mail. The hands-down approach, initiated by Deputy Director of the London University Institute for Education Dylan Wiliam for a BBC2 documentary called The Classroom Experiment, also required the 25-strong class of 13-year olds to participate in a physical education session at the beginning of each day. ‘The changes we made gave the quieter children confidence, made all pupils know they are expected to participate and created a more supportive atmosphere,’ Wiliam told the Daily Mail. IN BRIEF