Federation welcomes potential of curriculum review

Federation would support a process offering ample opportunities to be involved in school curriculum change that is introduced slowly and well-resourced, Federation President Maurie Mulheron said.

“Good education reform takes time and gives the profession a chance to embrace it,” he said.

NSW Curriculum Review leader Professor Geoff Masters suggests in his interim report, released on 22 October, that school curriculum change should happen over a decade.

Professor Masters’ report also states students have an entitlement to learning and achievement.

“We say resourcing must be commensurate with that requirement,” Mr Mulheron said.

The report offers suggestions for change relating to curriculum content, structure and the senior school curriculum.

The union welcomes the report’s suggestions to abandon students’ lockstep progression through the curriculum and A-E reporting.

NAPLAN does not fit in with the report’s more sophisticated approach to student assessment — based on growth and progress of individual students.

While Mr Mulheron said the report was a welcome, deeply considered approach to building a curriculum for the students of today and tomorrow, Federation is cautious about aspects of the proposed broad reform directions outlined in the report.

“We need to ensure that we do not jettison the strengths of the existing NSW curriculum, which is one of the finest school curriculums in the world,” Mr Mulheron said.

“We need to ensure that we do not narrow future life opportunities for children by narrowing the scope of what might be learnt in our classrooms.”

Federation also believes:

  • any extra level of teacher professional judgement afforded in choosing content must be maintained within a common curriculum framework for all students
  • extraneous non-teaching demands made on teachers and principals need to be addressed in addition to “decluttering” the curriculum
  • the HSC must not become merely a set of advanced courses that caters to an elite group of “advanced” students.

Mr Mulheron said Federation was willing to explore a range of processes in years 11 and 12 in addition to exams only, and consider the major project in senior years.

The interim report has been published as the basis for consultation. Submissions close on 13 December.

The union has contacted the NSW Education Minister to outline the inadequate timeline provided to the teaching profession and the public for feedback to the review.

Federation will, however, consult widely with members prior to making a final submission to the NSW Curriculum Review. The final report is expected in the first half of 2020.