Implementing the Australian Curriculum: how some schools are making it work

While the implementation of the Australian Curriculum and the use of the Curriculum into the Classroom (C2C) resources have caused some problems, many schools are finding ways to make it work for them.

The QTU called on members to provide examples of how they are supporting curriculum implementation, and the responses, some of which are collected here, highlight the importance of giving teachers time to review the curriculum documents, explore C2C and amend the resources where necessary.

Don’t forget, 2012 is a transition year in the implementation of the Australian Curriculum. Schools are expected to use the C2C resources, but their use is not mandatory.

Primary school examples

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“All teachers will be released in year level teams for three hours in the next couple of weeks to plan the next units of work in conjunction with overviews prepared by the HOC. This will be followed by year level coordinators having an additional two hours of time off class to tidy it up and pull it together so that all teachers can be ready for day one next term.”

“A deliberate and focused investment model for teacher development is in practice at our school:

  • 0.1 FTE - Wednesday mornings for classroom WOW (watch others work) and individual professional conversations with HOC/coach/STLaN as required by staff. The 0.1 FTE releases teachers to participate
  • $15,000 professional learning budget
  • 20 TRS professional planning release days for cohort planning using the National Curriculum (supported by the HOC )
  • 20 professional learning meetings in place of staff meetings
  • negotiated pupil-free days focused on practices supporting curriculum change
  • strategic co-location of STLaN, coach, HOC in admin  to support professional conversations with teaching staff
  • Thursday afternoon professional learning circles
  • staff-based learning teams for English, maths, science.”

“Our principal released all teachers for four hours over two days to have an hour with each of the specialist teachers, including ESL and support teacher, HOC, teacher librarian, in order to see how they could assist us, share strategies and resources and generally get our teeth around the focus of the unit. This will occur for each unit; a total cost of $22,000 which our principal sees as supporting teachers to do the best job possible.”

Secondary school example

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The following outlines how one school has been supporting teachers in curriculum implementation.

  • Throughout 2011, the school leaders were consistent in their messages to HODs and teachers regarding how the school would be approaching the implementation phase – including clearly articulating that it was a transition year. This meant that staff were expected to be familiarising themselves with the Australian Curriculum and, while we were using the C2C units, they were to be viewed as a guide/starting point only.
  • We ensured that we proactively addressed any misconceptions that staff got from other sources outside of the school (including cluster HOD days) and reinforced the transitional nature of 2012.
  • We utilised the opportunity of reduced student numbers in the last two weeks of 2011 to release teachers who would be implementing the new curriculum in 2012. With their relevant HOD, they unpacked the Australian Curriculum before even looking at the C2C units. This gave them a better understanding of the curriculum and made it easier to contextualise the C2C units as a support vehicle.
  • During this process we had the HODs backward map the curriculum requirements of the Queensland-based senior courses (the largest discrepancies were in maths A, and an additional financial maths unit has consequently been embedded into the year 10 course to ensure our students were adequately prepared for their senior studies).
  • Following a review of the units, staff were given the option of using the C2C units or modifying the school’s existing units to align with the Australian Curriculum – staff chose to go with the C2C units.
  • Key teachers and the HODs went through the units with the express purpose of culling what was not relevant for our school and which resources were most appropriate.
    It was clearly articulated that staff should map the content that had to be covered by first looking at the assessment items, as this informed what content needed to be prioritised for the unit.
  • Teachers conducted pre-tests with their classes to better ascertain the students’ ability levels in the context of knowledge required to successfully engage with the Australian Curriculum.
  • The school has committed (and quarantined) planning days to each of the three faculties implementing the Australian Curriculum to unpack and plan implementation of the following term’s work.
  • The HODs assigned two teachers to each of the units for the year to cull/modify/evaluate units and feedback to the others (in order to spread the workload so that individual teachers were not required to repeatedly unpack multiple units throughout the year).
  • Time has been allocated at faculty meetings for teachers to reflect with each other regarding what worked well with each of the units and what we as a school will modify for next year.

A couple of examples of how we have modified the C2C units:

  • The expansion of the five-week unit in year 10 relating to financial maths to an entire term and the embedding of the backward mapped maths A requirements into the revised unit
  • Although the school made the decision to keep with the five-week units, the content of the units was reviewed and culled to embed “catch-up” days (in order to more closely match the reality of schools and account for both lost days and variability in the pace at which students would get through the work)
  • The combining of the five-week units on common topics in science into a single ten-week unit for each term – which allowed greater flexibility, increased connectiveness between concepts and allowed the school to reduce the amount of formal assessment.

QTU Resources

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breakthroughwoman.gifThe QTU has developed a set of resources to support members in responding to the implementation of the Australian Curriculum in their schools. 

These resources are available in the Right to Teach/Right to Learn section of the QTU website or can be accessed at branch meetings. Key strategies that you can consider using include: conducting a workplace meeting to discuss the issues; meeting with the school principal to seek additional resources; reviewing the school implementation processes at the LCC; or, as a last resort, seeking a directive with respect to the implementation in your school. Visit www.qtu.asn.au for more information about these strategies.

I would like to thank the schools who provided us with examples of how they have managed the implementation of the Australian Curriculum.  Please continue sharing your stories with the QTU and make sure you attend your branch meetings, where the implementation of the Australian Curriculum will continue to be a focus.

Kate Seed
Deputy General Secretary

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Volume 117 Number 3, 20 April 2012, p8-9