26 July 2016 | No. 18-16 | Download as PDF

QTU members win – government to identify core Australian Curriculum and revise C2C to reduce teacher workload

After 18 months of intensive lobbying by the QTU on behalf of members, the state government has today announced that a ‘core Australian Curriculum’ will be defined, and accompanying C2C resources will be revised, in a concerted effort to reduce teacher workloads and to ease the pressure on students in Queensland state schools.

The QTU warmly welcomes the announcement, which comes in response to the recent review of the Australian Curriculum completed by the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA). It is anticipated that the report will be available on the QCAA website (www.qcaa.qld.edu.au).

Background

Members will recall that at the start of 2015, in the face of ever increasing demands on teacher workload, concerns about a crowded curriculum and increasing uncertainty surrounding the Wiltshire/Donnelly review of the Australian Curriculum, the QTU issued a directive to members to cease any further implementation of new learning areas of the Australian Curriculum until further notice.

In August 2015, the Education Minister confirmed that for the remainder of the school year, teachers should cease implementation of further learning areas/subjects and could consolidate existing learning areas/subjects in the Australian Curriculum that had already been implemented at the local level. With the pace of implementation under control, the QTU called for the identification of a core curriculum to reduce the workload impact of the curriculum. The Minister directed the QCAA to consult with key stakeholders, and in February this year a series of stakeholder forums was held. The QTU strongly encouraged members to attend these and provide feedback to the QCAA.

Report recommendations

The subsequent report from the QCAA makes six recommendations, the most important one being the definition of core curriculum. The Australian curriculum should not take up more than 80 per cent of the total teaching time in schools with the remaining 20 per cent discretionary. All recommendations have been accepted by the government and work to implement these outcomes for state schools will begin immediately. This effectively brings to an end the previous Queensland requirement that the Australian curriculum be implemented unmodified.

The QCAA report recommends that the content and student achievement standards of English, mathematics and HPE remain unmodified, however the Minister has instructed the Department of Education and Training to undertake a revision in the number of units for mathematics and English for all year levels, with a particular focus on years prep through to year six. The streamlined units will be available at the start of term four, to allow teachers a whole term to familiarise themselves with the content, before implementing from 2017.

Critically, these changes will consider the current expectations regarding the teaching and assessment of five week C2C units and the associated intensity of teacher workload and impacts on students.

In addition, subjects such as history, geography and civics and citizenship will be combined into one humanities and social science (HASS) subject for prep to year six students. Science will have less duplication and schools will have greater flexibility in how they choose to deliver the arts. More detail on the core, optional and discretionary content in each of the learning areas is contained in the report, together with draft advice for schools regarding recommended time allocations for subjects. The QCAA report also recommends that further advice and support be provided for engagement with the curriculum by students with disabilities. Further detailed advice will be provided by DET.

Timelines for implementation

The current schedule for the implementation of the remaining Phase 2-3 Australian Curriculum learning areas/subjects is suspended, as schools will not be expected to implement the updated Australian Curriculum before 2020. The exact timelines for implementation of each remaining learning area will be the subject of further negotiation between key stakeholders, including the QTU, the education sectors, the QCAA and the government. This represents a further win for the QTU, which has advocated on behalf of members for revised timelines and an end date no earlier than 2020.

Where to from here?

QTU members are reminded that any changes to work practice that have the potential to impact on workload should be considered by their local consultative committee (LCC). It would be most appropriate if the changes to work practice resulting from the workload for teachers associated with familiarising themselves with the revised core curriculum were considered at the same time as the development of the school’s local data plan, which is also due to be completed and, if possible, ready for the start of the 2017 school year (as outlined in the QTU/DET Joint Statement On The Use and Purpose of Data in Queensland Schools).

Teachers should meet to discuss the Australian Curriculum that is to be taught in the school in 2017, including the C2C units that are to be utilised (if the school is using C2C units), the nature and frequency of student assessment to be undertaken and the purpose and use of the student data to be collected. The QTU recommends that additional support be provided to teachers at the local level, including release time to cooperatively plan, to enable this to occur.

The QTU strongly advises members to take this unique opportunity, which has been hard fought for and won by your Union, to shape their workload for the year ahead.

Further developments will be posted to the QTU website when available.


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