14 October 2015  No. 19-15
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Curriculum update

Revised Australian Curriculum, plus digital technologies in Queensland

At the Education Council meeting on 15 September, state and territory Education Ministers endorsed changes to F-10 Australian Curriculum content descriptions and achievement standards for English, mathematics, science, humanities and social sciences, the arts, technologies and health and physical education. The revised curriculum is due to be published on the ACARA website in mid-October. The Education Council noted that each state and territory school sector and curriculum authority will determine the implementation schedule for their schools. 

Today, the Queensland Premier and the Education Minister launched #coding counts: a discussion paper on coding and robotics in Queensland schools as part of a larger plan titled Advancing education: An action plan for education in Queensland. There is more about this plan later in this Newsflash.

The planned introduction of the digital technologies curriculum, including C2C materials, plus the broader curriculum changes will be the focus of negotiations between the QTU, the Minister, the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA) and the Department of Education and Training (DET) on reasonable timelines for further implementation of curriculum areas. Delegates at the QTU’s October State Council will consider acceptable timelines for implementation of the remaining learning areas/subjects of the Australian Curriculum and updates will be sent to members via Newsflash. 

In the meantime, the QTU maintains its position, supported by the Minister in her communication to schools earlier this year, that there is no expectation that any new learning areas will be implemented this year and that the remainder of 2015 should be used for the purpose of consolidation. Note that implementation includes familiarisation. The QTU’s position on further implementation of the Australian Curriculum, adopted at the QTU conference in June, can be found on the QTU website. 

One of the key QTU considerations about curriculum demands was unreasonable workloads for teachers, which led to the member ballot and ban on further implementation. If, in spite of the Minister’s clear message, there are unreasonable demands on teachers or there are problems in consultation around timelines, QTU Conference authorised Executive to reissue the directive banning further implementation without a further ballot being required.

Coding and robotics

While the QTU has been involved in initial discussions with the Queensland Government on introducing the digital technologies curriculum, further negotiations will take place on a reasonable and effective way to phase in the curriculum from 2016 to achieve the government’s stated aim of having the curriculum offered across year levels in all state schools by 2020. 

Genuine consultation offers a chance to avoid the mistakes of the rushed implementation of the Australian Curriculum in previous years, which led to the 2015 ban on further implementation.

For example, the QTU believes that it may be most effective to initially offer coding and robotics to students in the prep to year 2 phase, and that schools should determine where the curriculum is best placed within their whole of school curriculum framework and planning.  It may be that schools determine to implement it in more than one of these three year levels to enable older students to catch up.

The QTU also believes that the curriculum should not be implemented in term 1, 2016, since schools will have already begun planning for term 1.  While a teacher is implementing digital technologies, they should not be required to implement another area unless the LCC votes in favour of implementing additional areas in keeping with the QTU position. For example – a teacher who is familiarising and planning in term 1 and implementing/teaching in term 2 will not be familiarising themselves with another learning area in this time, therefore they would be commencing familiarisation in term 3 and implementing another area no sooner than term 4.

Other considerations include the timing and content of professional development, release time for planning and collegial engagement, adequate teaching resources including equipment, and suitable consultation within schools. 

More information on the associated C2C units is available on the QTU Website.

Education plan

The Queensland Government has invited feedback on Advancing education: An action plan for education in Queensland. Many of the issues in the action plan are ones on which the QTU has been working with the government, eg. 875 additional teachers, needs-based funding, a new classification structure for teachers and administrative support for schools. The QTU will continue to be involved in progressing the profession’s interests through negotiations with the government about other matters in the action plan including workforce planning, workload management, adequate funding, suitable teaching resources and professional development.

 Authorised by Graham Moloney, General Secretary, Queensland Teachers' Union