Home' Independence : Independence Vol 33 No 2 Oct 2008 Contents Independence Volume 33 No. 2 23
perspective on the role of national cur-
riculum is underpinned by the emphasis on
effective pedagogy that supports intellectual
engagement, connectedness to the wider
world and a sense of purpose for engaging
in school and the wider community.
Advice provided by ISCA's national cur-
riculum reference group has highlighted
several concerns in the independent sector
in regard to development of a national cur-
riculum that will require open and rigorous
debate. Some of these are outlined below.
Autonomy of independent schools. The
relative autonomy of independent schools
in terms of decisions relating to cur-
riculum has been eroded in recent years.
There is a degree of caution across the
sector about the extent that national
curriculum might further limit this au-
tonomy, particularly in determining the
overall pedagogical framework and hence
approaches to teaching and learning.
Documents for teachers and prescription
of content. At this point the NCB proposes
that the national curriculum documents
be developed for use by teachers -- unlike
the Statements of Learning, which were
designed for use by curriculum authorities.
This could lead to a higher level of prescrip-
tion of content than is associated with the
state/territory based curriculum frame-
work documents. In this paradigm there
is the potential for more intrusion into the
pedagogy which underpins the design of the
curriculum. This in turn could increase the
tension between the autonomy of inde-
pendent schools to determine the pedagogy
associated with the curriculum. It is the
view of many in the independent school
sector that over-prescription of the curricu-
lum will reduce the capability of schools to
be responsive and proactive to the needs of
young people and communities.
Critical success factors. At this point it is
unclear what commitment there is across
Australia to the delivery of the national
curriculum. Will it be accepted as 'the'
curriculum by state/territory regula-
tory authorities, or will it be embedded
in state-based curriculum as another
resource? The emerging political context
of Commonwealth-state relations will
influence the answer to this question.
Connectivity to wider national agenda.
The connectivity between the national
curriculum and those Learning Areas (eg
Arts) that are currently not part of the
NCB's program will remain uncertain
for some time and may impact on the
progressive implementation of the nation-
ally developed curriculum. There is a risk
associated with selecting some Learning
Areas for development at the national
level, particularly in creating the percep-
tion within the community of the relative
importance of each Learning Area to the
education of young people. Further, the re-
lationships between the tasks of the NCB
and other major national initiatives, such
as the Early Learning and Development
Framework, need to be identified and
some mechanism established to facilitate
effective linkages. The relationship be-
tween other key national and state-based
reforms and policy initiatives are unclear
and currently not aligned in what most
would accept as a logical sequence. For
instance, the national testing regime is well
advanced in its implementation in com-
parison to the national curriculum; the
new National Declaration on Educational
Goals for Young Australians will provide
the broad framework within which the
national curriculum will be developed, yet
this statement is in the development phase.
Leadership and bridging the gap. The
development and implementation of
curriculum alone will not achieve the
Australian Government's aim of improv-
ing the standards of education across
Australia or raising retention rates. The
leadership of the Council of Australian
Governments (COAG) and the Minis-
terial Council on Education, Employ-
ment and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA) in
providing a coherent program of reform
is vital, along with a strategy that engages
all school sectors in the deliberations of
decisions that impact on schools and their
communities. Bridging the gap between
the policy makers and the classroom is
also essential if the implementation of a
national curriculum is to be successful.
Next key steps
The immediate next steps of the National
Curriculum Board include:
• The preparation of a position paper
outlining the Board's views on key is-
sues; this paper will be available online
for wide consultation.
• The preparation of framing papers to
shape the writing specifications in each
Learning Area, including what should be
included as core content, trends within
the discipline, the organisation of con-
tent within the Learning Area across the
various phases or years of schooling.
• Preparation of writing briefs for the
Ongoing consultation with stakeholders
will remain a priority for NCB.
Garry Le Duff is Executive Director of AISSA.
Nationally, he has represented the independent
schools sector on MCEETYA taskforces associated
with curriculum and student learning. An article
written by Garry with other AISSA staff, outlining
issues and trends in the development of a national
curriculum in Australia, was published in Inde-
pendence, Vol 32 No 2 (2007).
This article was extracted from a more
detailed report provided by Garry Le Duff.
The full report, including a set of princi-
ples for the development of a national
curriculum as identified by ISCA's national
curriculum reference group, is published in
Independence ONLINE, www.ahisa.com.au
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