The issue of state vs. National curriculum has been raging for many years now with the Australian national government trying to force a national curriculum on all states and territories. However for this work all states and territories must agree on the curriculum and with so many different ways of teaching and how students have been taught in the past it was always going to be a difficult assignment. New South Wales, the leaders is assessments and with what they believe is a superior curriculum, have been the main fighters of the curriculum.
New South Wales believe a national curriculum could work based around parts of their own curriculum as well as improvements in teaching development, management and mentoring. The implementation of an Australian national curriculum will mean huge changes to not only the New South Wales educational system but the educational systems of all states and territories. This will also mean a change in the New South Wales syllabus in order to make it fit with the national curriculum.
As well as this it will not only will this impact on the education systems within Australia but will also mean a new requirement for teachers to teach at the level required to allow a national curriculum to work. New South Wales believe that the federal government is trying to lower the standard of education across the state in order to fit with the national curriculum. The New South Wales has long fought for the curriculum to be upgraded to fit with their syllabus so that when the nation does get brought to a certain level that level it is brought to is a high level of education giving everyone an opportunity at a better future as a whole.
Not all the education departments agree or want the changes that will be brought in by a national curriculum. The New South Wales educational department are the main fighters of the implementation of the national curriculum. New South Wales believe the state curriculum they have in place alongside the HSC is more than adequate enough to suffice as a national curriculum for all states and territories. The development of the new national curriculum will mean changes to the New South Wales syllabus.
This includes the introduction of mechanics back into the syllabus as well as the introduction of plants into the reproductive part of the syllabus. The latest version of the national curriculum from the Australian curriculum website shows step by step how the national curriculum looks to improve the standard of scientific knowledge taught across the country. It goes in depth to show how from year 1 right through to year 10 they will be building on skills learnt from previous years of science education.
The latest version of the curriculum then goes on to tell of the more in depth science will be taught from years 7-10. This curriculum is able to show how the nation will be brought to the same standard of science knowledge through primary and secondary education. As well as this the Department of Education in the draft national curriculum for science (ACARA 2009) argue that although there will be new areas of study the curriculum will be more flexible for teachers allowing them to better teach the science curriculum.
The draft curriculum also outlines 8 forms of considerations that will hopefully close the gap between indigenous, foreign and disadvantaged students. These considerations include Equity and Opportunity, Connections to other learning areas, Clarity of the curriculum, Breadth and depth of study, The role of digital technologies, The nature of the leaner (K-12), General capabilities and Cross-curriculum perspectives. The Department of Education are hoping that this will bring all students, schools and teachers up to a certain standard that this national curriculum will hopefully bring in.
Bringing the students, schools and teachers up to a national standard will also hopefully make it easier for teachers to educate the students on topics and allow a bit more flexibility for the teachers in the classroom. The Australian national curriculum will also impact on the science pedagogy. Aubusson (Australian Journal of Education, 2011) believes that the curriculum will force one of two pedagogical situations. Aubusson believes the pedagogy will change to a standardising pedagogy or a pedagogy that will allow teachers to interpret the curriculum and teach it to their students in a way they will understand best.
The standardising pedagogy could potentially lead to teachers being unable to form a connection with their students which could in turn cause students to become uninterested in the topics. This could potentially lead to a large amount of students failing the course. However a pedagogy which allows teachers to interpret the curriculum so they know which way will be the best to teach their students will allow connections to be formed, students to remain interested and engaged in their education and will lead to an increase in examination marks.
This brings me to the teacher development issue with the national curriculum. Many teachers and education professionals in New South Wales oppose the change is due to the drastic development teachers will need to go through to allow the national changes to work. As sourced from the article ‘Mentors Reporting on Their Own Mentoring Practices’ (P. Hudson 2010) Hudson refers to his own personal experience of the failure of the last national curriculum.
Hudson was a New South Wales school principal at the time tells of how he believes the failure can be partly blamed on the lack of development training offered to the teachers to allow them to teach the nation curriculum. New South Wales teachers and other teaching professionals believe that all Australian teachers need to go through development so that they are able to recognise the ways in which their students learn the best, this will enhance the students learning environment and allow them to work better as individuals and as a group.
Teachers across Australia need to be able to understand and recognise the VARK learning system. The VARK learning system basically just asks the question of how students learn best. Whether they are, V – visual learners, A – auditory learners, R – reading and writing learners, or K – kinaesthetic learners. As well as being able to recognise this VARK concept and implement it in the classroom teachers will also need to be able to recognise when things aren’t going to plan so they can improve their own teaching skills and the learning environment of the student.
This will require constant reflection on the teachers on behalf, they must regularly reflect on how the lessons have gone. Doing this will not only help the teacher improve of their work and how they teach the curriculum but it will also help their students better understand the knowledge put before them. This means that teacher development is a must for the national curriculum to succeed for a long period of time. New South Wales are leading the way with teacher development, understanding and practices for the national curriculum rollout.
The Minister for Education Mr Piccoli has stated in the past the NSW government is allowing their schools time to adjust to the changes the new curriculum will bring is. The government for NSW is delaying the implementation of the curriculum to give NSW schools and teachers time to prepare for these changes as well as time to implement the preparations. On August 9, 2011 Mr Piccoli stated that the national curriculum will not be rolled out across NSW schools until 2014 with the preparation and planning for the national curriculum to commence around 2013. Management is a key actor in the success of the national curriculum.
For the curriculum to work steps must be put in place to manage the introduction of the curriculum as well as the up keep of the curriculum changes. Early teacher or Preservice teachers will be benefitted by the fact that most of them will be starting their full time jobs around the same time the curriculum is rolled out allowing them to focus on the new curriculum and what needs to be done. However the older teachers might struggle at times to recognise where change is needed from the old curriculum to new, this is where the management side of things comes into play.
As cited from the mentors report (Hudson, 2010) teachers must help and mentor each other. There will be this area of overlap where the preservice teachers will be able to help the older teachers understand the changes from the old to new curriculum whilst the older teachers are able to help the preservice teachers in understanding the way in which the classroom works and how to better understand how their students work. This management and mentoring role comes from within the staffroom of the school and head teachers and principals must work together to achieve this mentoring and management role.
Another key way for this mentoring idea to work is for teachers to give feedback on each other to help them improve. Hudson believes a method of understanding personal attributes, system requirements, pedagogical knowledge and modelling are all helpful in giving and/or receiving feedback. If colleagues are able to give and receive positive and critical feedback well the standard of teaching will only improve. With the standard of teaching improving the curriculum will get taught better to students which will in turn mean an increase in examination marks causing the national curriculum to work and to stick.
With a new curriculum coming into place new resources will be needed for teachers to educate their students whilst still keeping them engaged in the lesson. Not only will some new resources be needed but some of the older teacher’s resources could be irrelevant. This is where that teacher development will come into play again; teachers will need to recognise where new resources are needed, where older resources aren’t needed and where some are still relevant. Again this will require all the teachers to come together and help one and other with this dilemma and help share resources in order to give each student the same learning experience.
However new sources will be readily available to teachers with many websites out there having new up to date information to show the children. There are also many sites out there with activities the teacher can do online with the class to keep them engage, there are also videos out there that contain the information required for the national curriculum to show the students as well. So although new resources will be needed there are still many places teachers can find resources to keep their students engaged.
As a first year university student studying teaching in the New South Wales education system I believe a national curriculum is vital for the future education of our next generation. However I do believe New South Wales were right to fight for the curriculum to be brought up to their standard because if we are going to have every student at the same level of education it should be at the highest level possible to give every student the best opportunity possible to have a successful life after school.
The national curriculum will work throughout the country as long as teacher development is put in place as well. Teachers need time to develop and adjust their own teaching techniques so they can best teach this new curriculum to their students. Teachers in all schools will need to work together for this national curriculum to succeed in our schools to give the next generation of young Australians the best chance at success.