31 October 2016

P-10 and senior curriculum matters

Half cohort: resourcing for schools

On 13 August, QTU State Council resolved to call upon the Department of Education to urgently announce provision of additional resourcing to relevant schools in recognition of the smaller cohort entering year 11 in 2018. This is in response to serious concerns raised by QTU members regarding equity of access to a breadth of curriculum and workload issues for school leaders and teachers of senior subjects.

Following correspondence with the Director-General, the QTU has been involved in meetings with the Department of Education to determine the extent of the issue facing schools, discuss options to minimise the impact on schools and ensure that students in this cohort are not disadvantaged. School resourcing should not suffer as a result of this enrolment variance, which is a “symptom” of the system-wide introduction of the prep year.

In addition to extensive feedback already provided by QTU Officers and Executive, the QTU is currently convening a group of education leaders to provide further feedback to departmental officers regarding their planned approach. A range of stakeholders are now involved in further consultation with the department regarding resourcing for the half cohort.

The QTU has also been active in advocating for the QCAA to provide viable models to ensure that the new senior syllabuses can be offered to small cohorts and QTU members can continue to provide feedback on the Draft Group 1 and Group 2 syllabuses and the way new external assessment arrangements will impact on their capacity to offer a range of subjects to their students. The QTU, through its representation of members on the Ministerial Senior System Taskforce, the QCAA 7-12 Committee, and all QCAA learning area reference groups, was instrumental in raising the concerns of its school leader members regarding the transition to the new system and how it would be resourced. This matter is explored further below.

This Saturday 5 November, QTU State Council will receive a further report on this matter and will determine what action QTU members across the state will take should schools not receive timely advice about appropriate resourcing for senior students commencing year 11 in 2018.

Any education leader who has not yet had an opportunity to participate in consultation regarding the matters outlined above should contact Paige Bousen at the QTU .

Senior secondary syllabuses, assessment and tertiary entrance

On 18 October, the Queensland Minister for Education announced that the commencement of the new senior secondary system would be delayed by 12 months (see QTU newsflash).  This means that the first year 11 students to enter the new system will do so in 2019 and will receive the first Queensland ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank) as they graduate in 2020.

The QTU has for some time been raising concerns about the ambitious timelines for implementation of the new system. Concerns raised on behalf of QTU members included the capacity for new or redeveloped syllabuses to be ready for familiarisation and planning in 2017, doubts as to whether quality professional development for all teachers of senior subjects across the state could be provided within the planned timelines, and the need for continued trialling of external assessment processes. Adding to the concerns was the fact that detailed advice regarding the calculation of the ATAR was not available to schools, and it was therefore going to become difficult for schools to support students in subject selection and future planning.

Of major concern to QTU members is the capacity for schools to offer subjects to small cohorts of students via composite or combined classes. As syllabus development has progressed, it has become clear that, in many subjects, the new syllabus structure and the introduction of external assessment would make it difficult to timetable or staff subjects for small cohorts. This will affect not only small schools but schools offering subjects to small cohorts or offering subjects on a number of lines to enable students a broader choice of subject combinations. While some models for ‘flexible delivery’ are being explored, the QTU retains concerns about the capacity for these solutions to be applied across the state at a system level and the impacts on equity of access for state school students across the state, workload for teachers and school leaders and, in some cases, impacts on enrolments for schools as parents and students may look to move schools in order to access the breadth of curriculum currently on offer in schools.

The QCAA has advised that the extensive program of teacher professional development to be provided will now commence in July, rather than in term one as originally planned. While the QTU welcomes the 12 month delay, it is essential that the time is used to ensure the issues outlined above are satisfactorily addressed. It would be unacceptable if, despite the additional time provided by the delay, students under the new system experienced disadvantage in relation to breadth of curriculum on offer or any other aspect of the system.

P-10 Australian Curriculum implementation – term one 2017 and beyond

Following action taken by QTU members and ongoing advocacy from the QTU, a number of changes have been announced regarding the way the Australian Curriculum will be implemented in Queensland from 2017.


The new expectation is that schools will have commenced implementation of all learning areas by the end of 2020. There is no prescribed order in which subjects or learning areas must be introduced and this will deliver more flexibility to schools to determine the way forward, based on teacher readiness and workload and the availability of appropriate learning resources.

No teacher should be required to implement more than one new learning area or subject at a time, unless QTU members in a school determine that they wish to move ahead with more than one learning area at time, and that they are receiving appropriate professional development and support to do so. Implementation refers to: familiarisation, planning, teaching, assessing and reporting on a subject or learning area for the first time. For example, if a teacher is familiarising themselves with a new subject in term one and is planning to teach, assess and report on it for the first time in term two, familiarisation of a new subject should not occur until term three without consultation with the teacher.

The introduction of new curriculum represents a change in work practices, and therefore the LCC is the appropriate forum for consultation regarding a school approach to implementation of the Australian Curriculum by the end of 2020.

Teachers to have more flexibility in teaching the Australian Curriculum

Under a previous approach taken in Queensland, the Australian Curriculum was being implemented unmodified, meaning that teachers were expected to cover all content descriptions. Under the new flexible approach, incorporating changes in Version 8 of the Australian Curriculum, planning will not need to address every content description. The focus will be on planning for students to undertake learning which enables them to demonstrate the achievement standards.

As outlined in recent advice from the Department of Education: “State schools should consider implementing humanities and social sciences, rather than the individual subjects of history, geography, economics and business, civics and citizenship. Similarly, consider implementing the arts as a single learning area instead of dance, drama, media arts, music and visual arts, and technologies instead of digital technologies and design and technologies.”

Revised C2C units and revised P-12 Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Framework.

Existing C2C materials are currently being revised in light of the new approach outlined above, and will be available from term one 2017. Other new units will be made available as they are completed throughout semester one 2017.

The Department of Education has been undertaking work to revise the P-12 Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Framework to outline new requirements for state schools as they work towards the new 2020 timeline. Subject-specific advice will also be provided. Consultation is taking place on the revised P-12 framework, which will be available prior to the commencement of term one 2017