Federal changes won't affect NSW syllabuses

Joan Lemaire
Senior Vice President

Each new NSW syllabus acknowledges teachers’ professional judgement in determining appropriate use of content to meet the individual learning needs of students

Changes to the Australian Curriculum will not affect NSW syllabuses or the timeline for their implementation, the Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards (BOSTES) has confirmed.

Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne announced earlier this month that the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) would begin implementing key recommendations of the Federal Government’s review of the Australian Curriculum.

As a result of campaigning by Federation, with professional teacher associations, implementation of the Australian Curriculum was delayed in NSW.

The delay allowed the board to conduct extensive consultation with teachers around the new English, mathematics, science and history syllabuses so that they incorporated the Australian Curriculum while retaining key features of NSW syllabuses including objectives and outcomes and the organisation of content in stages.

In this way, many concerns about the Australian Curriculum were addressed. The delay in implementation and the timeline established ensured that in NSW teachers were provided with time for both familiarisation and planning around the new syllabuses.

Most importantly, each new syllabus acknowledges teachers’ professional judgement in determining appropriate use of content to meet the individual learning needs of students.

The following statement, in relation to syllabus content, is contained in each of the new syllabuses: “in considering the intended learning teachers will make decisions about the sequence, the emphasis given to particular areas of content, and any adjustments required based on needs, interests and abilities of students.”

Federation has consistently raised concerns about the cuts to curriculum support and professional learning which followed the announcement of Local Schools, Local Decisions. These cuts have negatively impacted on the implementation of the new syllabuses and increased teacher workload.

BOSTES undertook the consultation process around the draft K–10 Geography syllabus during term 3 last year and continued to develop the syllabus following the feedback

A BOSTES update states: “In 2015 K–6 school will continue to teach the Environments, Cultures and Social Systems and Structures strands in the current HSIE K–6 Syllabus (1998) and adopt one of the following options:

“1. Continue to teach the Change and Continuity strand in the current HSIE K–6 Syllabus (1998), or

“2. Start teaching the History K–6 outcomes and content from the new NSW History K–10 Syllabus (2012) in place of the Change and Continuity strand.

“Year 7–10 schools will continue to use the current NSW Geography Years 7–10 Syllabus (2003).”

BOSTES has indicated that the timeline for implementation of the new K–10 Geography syllabus will be announced this year. Federation will pursue the need to ensure an appropriate timeframe which will allow teachers time for familiarisation and planning. The need for appropriate resources and support will also be pursued.