‘Australia’s future depends upon each citizen having the necessary knowledge, understanding, skills and values for a productive and rewarding life in an educated, just and open society’ (Brady & Kennedy 2007) these skills, values and knowledge are gained throughout the early years of individual’s lives as they attend schools. The Australian Government ensures that all schools develop students in the appropriate manner by deriving a national curriculum by which all schools must follow.The national curriculum is constructed by The Australian curriculum, assessment and reporting authority (ACARA).
How is the curriculum organized? There are four stages in the development of the Australian curriculum. The first stage requires the development of a rough or draft ‘Shape’ of the Australian Curriculum. The second stage develops a written document out lining the curriculum, including a content description and achievement standards for years K-12. This is done by a team of writers with supervision and guidance from expert advisory panels and ACARA curriculum staff.The third stage is the implementation planning stage. The curriculum is received by schools and teachers so they can plan to implement the curriculum in their classroom. Individual States and Territories can then plan to implement the curriculum according to their individual needs with support and guidance from ACARA. The fourth and final stage of developing the Australian curriculum involves reviewing the feedback given from the implementation stage.
The curriculum is now closely monitored and improved.The Australian curriculum is developed into three phases. The first phase of the curriculum consists of English, maths, science and history. A second phase involves the development of languages, geography and the arts. As for the third phase, it has been decided by Australian education ministers that it will focus on health and physical education, information and communications technology, design and technology, economics, business as well as civics and citizenship.The Australian curriculum is organized into content descriptions and achievement standards, ‘Content descriptions specify what teachers are expected to teach. They include knowledge, skills and understanding for each learning area and are described for each year level’ (ACARA 2010) this detail to content gives scope and sequence to teaching and learning and so teachers can focus more on how to teach content to individual students interests and needs rather than what to teach from each topic or subject. Achievement standards will describe the quality of learning students should demonstrate in relation to the content for each year of schooling’ ((ACARA 2010) these achievement standards help teachers to review such things as lesson plans and teaching strategies to determine if they were successful in meeting standards of student learning and development.
How is it related to various models of curriculum? There are two broad types of models for developing curriculum: the technical models based on a sequence (fixed or flexible) of the substantive elements of objectives, content, method and assessment; and the descriptive models based on deliberation’ (Brady & Kennedy 2007). The Australian curriculum has similarities to both models as the process of developing an adequate curriculum is both complicated and multifaceted and so aspects from just one model would not be adequate.A lot of the aspects of developing the Australian curriculum are similar with those of the objectives model, also known as Tyler’s (1949) model. These similarities are mainly due to the curriculums out-comes based approach. This is shown with the use of the achievement standards which are outlined in the curriculum. The four central questions that Tyler’s rationale is based upon link directly with the Australian curriculum as both the curriculum and the objectives model first question ‘What educational purpose should the school seek to attain? (Brady & Kennedy 2007 p. 162). They both then question experiences that can be provided to attain these goals or purposes and the best way for these experiences to be organised according to individual students needs as ‘Teachers must recognise and value each student’s unique interests, experiences and abilities, needs and backgrounds.
’ In the Australian curriculum, this is done by the by the state, principals and teachers based upon the guidelines portrayed by the government.Finally, the objectives model then questions whether the learning goals or purposes are being reached. The Australian curriculum does this in its final stage also as it reviews its implementation. The first step in both the Objectives model and the development of the Australian curriculum is the stating of objectives. When referring to the objectives model, ‘the source of these objectives includes what students need to know, what society believes should be taught, and what subjects specialists consider important.
No single source is adequate’ (Brady ; Kennedy 2008) This can also be said for the development of objectives in the Australian curriculum as the first stage of developing the curriculum involves developing a rough Shape of the curriculum content paper and ‘Expert advice is sought in the development of an initial draft shape paper which is endorsed by ACARA’s Board for release for wide public consultation’ (ACARA 2010) after the public provide feedback from the paper it may then be further developed to meet the needs of the public and experts.Another common aspect between the Objectives model and the Australian curriculum is the attention they both have on teacher reflection and the assumed teacher professionalism, it is assumed in both instances that the teacher has the level of professionalism required to develop the curriculum into experiences and activities that will meet the needs of all individual students.The Australian curriculum also has similarities with Walker’s naturalistic model (1971b), as there is a lot of focus on how those planning the curriculum approach the task with a wide variety of values, beliefs and perceptions but work together to make a consensus about what is the most important aspect to place in the curriculum. Walker’s model displays how with the sharing of different beliefs and perceptions within society curriculum can be developed to accommodate and involve all involved in the society as does the process of developing the Australian curriculum.By involving people with diverse views and beliefs in the curriculum development process, both the naturalistic model and ACARA identify potential problems and issues the curriculum may develop in society. What view is promoted about the purpose or goal of education? During the construction of the National Curriculum “The Board needs to examine different curriculum approaches that may be required for different stages of schooling to support young people to grow and develop as successful learners. ” (Professor Barry McGaw.
Cited in ACARA 2008) Although different approaches are examined on how to deliver the curriculum and what it should contain those involved in developing the Australian curriculum have an unprecedented view of what the curriculum should aim to achieve, ‘In 2008 all Australian governments agreed that a quality education for all young Australians is critical to maintaining Australia’s productivity and quality of life’ (ACARA 2010) The Australian government’s view on curriculum is that it is an instrument of social and economic development.This was proved when the current Australian prime minister, Julia Gillard referred to the plans to create National curriculum as “opportunity to create a curriculum which helps achieve educational excellence across the whole community and it should be shaped by the best material and experience there is” (Gillard 2008. Cited from ACARA 2008).This view of curriculum links with the views taken by some academic writers, Marsh & Willis (1995) view curriculum as ‘an interrelated set of plans and experiences that a student undertakes under the guidance of the school’ (cited in Brady & Kennedy 2007) The plans and experiences described by Marsh and Willis mirror the Australian government’s strategies of planning and implanting the curriculum.Whilst developing the curriculum ‘ACARA works collaboratively with a wide range of stakeholders including teachers, principals, government, state and territory education authorities, professional education associations, business/industry, community groups and the broader public’ (ACARA 2010) This is linked with the view of Smith et.
Al. (1950) which states that ‘the curriculum is always, in every society, a reflection of what the people think, feel, believe and do’ (Brady & Kennedy 2007).Although Australia, like most counties, have a specific view of what they want the curriculum to achieve, their view of the construction and implementation of the curriculum is broad and relates to many different views. What view does it have about the learner? The new Australian curriculum views the learners as unique and diverse individuals who have a vast variety of disabilities, advantages, skills, interests and capabilities.It is recognised by the curriculum that although students develop at different rates that they follow the same principles of development. The curriculum is designed to develop all individual students and has been designed around general principles and theories of development.
One of the major factors influencing a student’s development is maturation. Maturation is an age related change in an individual and is taken in to account in the new curriculum, this is evident as the curriculum is divided into Developmental age groups.This ‘age grouping’ method of curriculum and learning links with Piaget’s theory of intellectual development as one of the most prominent elements of this theory is Piaget’s descriptions of stages of development. The new curriculum takes into account age appropriate subjects, tasks and expectations and just as Piaget’s theory appreciates that ‘children develop steadily and gradually, and experiences in one stage form the foundation for movement to the next’ (P.Miller, 2002 Cited in Eggen & Kauchek 2010). The new curriculum also has links to Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory of development as this theory views learners as being ‘active in social contexts and interactions’ (Eggen & Kauchek 2010) and the new curriculum also values student interactions in the learning process as it will specifically cover ‘social competence’ and lists it as a desired general capability resulting from the curriculum.
The capability of ‘social competence’ is described by ACARA in the 2009 “shape of curriculum’ paper as ‘will enable students to interact effectively with others by assessing and successfully operating within a range of changing, often ambiguous human situations. It includes initiating and managing personal relationships; being self-aware and able to interpret one’s own and others’ emotional states, needs and perspectives; the ability to manage or resolve conflicts and to foster inclusive and respectful interactions; and participating successfully in a range of social and communal activities’.The curriculum values students individual prior learning, experience and goals and attempts to build on this to help them reach their full potential, Some of the differences among students in their level of development can become the basis for inequities in their educational experiences. ‘In developing curriculum for all Australian students, the Board will not accommodate these differences by setting different expectations for different groups, since that reinforces differences and creates inequitable outcomes’ (ACARA 2009).What are the processes of teaching, learning and assessment that are valued? Teachers are required to stick with the national curriculum when is it comes into place but are encouraged to develop ways to deliver this curriculum to their students in ways that are meaningful to them, then new curriculum values the process of teachers taking the content of the curriculum transforming and adapting it for students different learning abilities, interests and understanding. Teachers will be able to choose how best to introduce and develop increasingly deep understandings of concepts and processes, maximising the engagement and learning of every student they work with every day’ (ACARA 2009). The process of motivating students is also valued by the new curriculum as it is the teacher’s responsibility that to ensure students are intrinsically motivated and interested in what they are learning.
Throughout the curriculum it is valued for students to ‘develop their capacity to learn and play an active role in their own learning’ (ACARA 2009) and to have the ability to be creative, individual, motivated and productive learners. The process of thinking deeply and logically and to seek out evidence to support theories as well as collaborating effectively in teams, communicating properly and working towards success in further education are all valued in the new curriculum.As students embark on the new curriculum with these processes their teacher will probably be assessing their development frequently to ensure that no student gets left behind or loses motivation, however as student’s progress through their schooling years they will be formally assessed with the National Assessment Program. Since 2008 the National Assessment Program (NAPLAN) has been implemented in Australian schools, it involves students taking four tests in the areas of Reading, Writing, Language Conventions and Numeracy.NAPLAN test items are developed by a team of Specialist writers and it is developed so that it is appropriate for the relevant year levels. ‘In future, the NAPLAN tests will be aligned with the Australian Curriculum, currently in draft form for consultation’ (ACARA 2010) the results of these tests can then be used to identify strengths and weaknesses in teaching and learning programs and processes and also to set realistic goals in literacy and numeracy for students.To what extent does this curriculum cater for the needs of 21st Century learners? The new Australian curriculum has been designed “equip all young Australians with the essential skills, knowledge and capabilities to thrive and compete in a globalised world and information rich workplaces of the current century” (ACARA 2010).
To cater to the needs of the 21st century to new curriculum must be relevant to the rapidly evolving world and its workplaces.For students to be successful in future society Australia needs to stay up to date with new technologies, it expected that through the new curriculum students will have a competent understanding and skills relating to new digital technologies. ‘As a foundation for further learning and adult life the curriculum will include practical knowledge and skills development in areas such as ICT and design and technology, which are central to Australia’s skilled economy and provide crucial pathways to post-school success’ (ACARA 2009).ICT skills are currently focused on in schooling but the effectiveness and depth must increase rapidly through the new curriculum to ensure world standards in this area.
‘Global integration and international mobility have increased rapidly in the past decade’ (ACARA 2009) and will undoubtedly continue to increase in the future, to cater to this aspect of the 21st century the new curriculum strives create individual who appreciate and respect diversity of all social, cultural and religious groups, A feeling of global citizenship is also a aim of the new curriculum. India, China and other Asian nations are growing and their influence on the world is increasing’ (ACARA 2009) due to this fact the curriculum has been designed to make students capable of communicating and trading efficiently, as well as form a strong relationship with Asia. Due to the fact that ‘Skilled jobs now dominate jobs growth and people with university or vocational education and training qualifications fare much better in the employment market than early school-leavers’ (ACARA 2009) the new school curriculum must encourage students to continue their studies further than just the required secondary education.
Due to the world’s ever evolving people and technologies the new curriculum has been designed to be adaptable and assessable as it is almost impossible to predict the future challenges, conditions and demands of society that students will need to function. “Developing a national curriculum for the 21stCentury also needs to take account of the changing nature of young people as learners and the challenges and demands that will continue to shape their learning in the future” (ACARA 2010).For example the ‘wicked problems’ which are faced in today’s society require students to learn about things like the impact we are having on our environment, mental and physical illness, psychology and different cultures.
As well as these challenges future students will have new different issue and challenges that will continue to shape their learning.The New Australian curriculum is and developed in a way that includes all people from Australia’s diverse, muliticurltural and accepting society. It is developed so that no student will be excluded and all can feel part of a society that is prepared for the future and societies whose education system meets the standards of other countries around the world.The curriculum equips students with what they will need to be successful in leading Australia’s future in a positive direction and to be competing, communicate with and understand other countries they will surely be in close contact with in this shrinking world. Further the curriculum caters for and prepares students for the demand to challenge and change the current and the possible future problems Australian Society and the world society will face.
com.au.•ACARA 2009- Key features in national curriculum, retrieved from web address: www.ACARA.
edu.au/curriculum.com.au.•ACARA 2010- NAPLAN frequently asked question, retrieved from web address: www.ACARA.
edu.au/assessment/assessment.html•ACARA 2008- ‘National Curriculum Journey Begins’ media release, retrieved from web address: www.ACARA.edu.au/curriculum.
com.au.•ACARA 2009- Shape of curriculum, retrieved from web address: www.ACARA.edu.au/curriculum.com.au.
•Brady. L and Kennedy. K- Curriculum construction, Edition 3. 2007.