Home' Independence : Independence Vol 32 No 2 Oct 2007 Contents Independence Volume 32 No. 2 15
The report concluded that it would be de-
sirable to: identify for each of some nomi-
nated senior school subjects a curriculum
‘core’ that clearly specifies what all stu-
dents in Australia taking that subject are
expected to learn, regardless of where they
live in Australia; and develop a set of ach-
ievement standards as a nationally consis-
tent description of how well students are
expected to learn the core in each subject.
AESOC Working Party on
Senior Secondary Reporting
In July 2006 MCEETYA agreed for an
AESOC working party to examine the fea-
sibility of a common five point scale for
reporting all senior secondary subject re-
sults, and a quality assurance mechanism
to ensure consistency of results of senior
secondary certificates across Australia.
The working party is investigating the
methods used by states and territories to
report results of senior secondary subjects
and included the trial of a common scale
for senior secondary reporting, develop-
ment of common nomenclature, and inves-
tigation of additional quality assurance
mechanisms. It intends to develop options
for jurisdictions to agree on a common scale.
IV PRIMARY SCHOOLING
While there is a strong emphasis on the
senior secondary years and higher educa-
tion entrance in national curriculum initia-
tives and debate, the primary curriculum
is influenced by national literacy and nu-
meracy testing. The Statements of Lear-
ning also cover Years 3, 5, 7 and 9.
Draft primary charter
The Australian Government supported a
national forum to create a new charter to
redefine the role of primary schools in the
community. The Australian Primary Prin-
cipals Association has argued that primary
schools have been asked to provide a huge
range of services that go far beyond what
was traditionally the role of schools, and
this has the potential to have a negative im-
pact on their ability to teach students and
allow them to develop the fundamental
skills in areas such as reading, writing
The draft charter has been released publicly
and proposes a simplified curriculum with
four prime core curriculum areas – English,
Mathematics, Science and History.
Early childhood education
There is now a strong commitment to
early childhood development and educa-
tion from the major political parties al-
though to date there has been little effort
to create a national perspective to the edu-
cation programs associated with this area.
A recent report prepared by ACER (Early
Childhood Education – Pathways to qua-
lity and equity for all children) describes
the provision of education and care ser-
vices for early childhood as a ‘confusing
mix of types of provision, regulatory re-
gimes and policy contexts’.
There have been some recent attempts to
establish a national perspective to early
childhood education. In May 2005
MCEETYA established an Early Child-
hood Reference Group to examine oppor-
tunities that will enhance the development
of a coordinated national approach to im-
proving the learning, development, health
and wellbeing of children from birth to
eight. The terms of reference refer to a
National Agenda for Early Childhood.
Autonomy in developing and implemen-
ting their curriculum is a fundamental
distinguishing characteristic of indepen-
dent schools. This relative autonomy is
increasingly compromised by the regula-
tory environment in which schools now
In terms of the national curriculum de-
bate, independent schools must ask:
• Will a national curriculum, particu-
larly at a senior secondary level, cater
for the variety of pathways that stu-
dents now access?
• Will the national curriculum specify
consistent approaches to assessment
and reporting of student results?
• Will the national curriculum give grea-
ter clarity to the rigour required to
achieve high academic standards?
• Will it lead to enhanced international
recognition of Australia’s post-compul-
sory school education?
• How will it encompass some of the
social and health policy initiatives now
seen to be the responsibility of schools
as educational institutions?
• Are there any possible losses from a
national curriculum that are insur-
mountable and justification not to
Independent schools must also consider:
• What would be the gains for indepen-
dent schools through the development
of a national curriculum?
• Do the possible gains outweigh the
losses or vice versa?
• What are the consequences for
schools accredited to offer programs
such as the International Baccalau-
reate and schools underpinned by
particular internationally recognised
educational philosophies such as
Montessori and Waldorf Steiner?
• What is it that independent schools
hold most dear in terms of curricu-
lum, and would want to preserve at
Implications of a national curriculum for independent schools
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