Schools Pushing back on curriculum changes

  • By Erin Aulich
  • This article was published more than 8 months ago.
  • 14 Aug 2023

On 13 July, the revised F–10 Victorian curriculum was approved by the VCAA.

The AEU has been reporting to members for many months now that the VCAA was undertaking work in relation to updating the curriculum, following the approval of the Australian curriculum by state and federal education ministers in April 2022. 

As early as December 2022, the Joint Primary and Secondary Council of the AEU expressed concerns, via a resolution, about the timeframe for implementing the updated curriculum. This resolution relied in large part on the principles and processes set out in the AEU’s School Curriculum Development, Implementation, and Review policy (see link below), endorsed by the Joint Council in 2019, following consultation with members. 

In particular, the concerns centred on two areas: the provision of supporting resources and documents; and the time needed for teachers to get across the changes in the new curriculum and then build those changes into local curriculum plans.

In the context of the acute staffing pressures that schools are facing, the implementation of the mathematics curriculum has rightly been delayed until 2025.

The resolution called on the VCAA to have a strategy that also included:

  • clear communication to the profession about the extent of the changes;

  • provision of professional development; and

  • a staged implementation of the changes.

The original plan by the VCAA included implementing the curriculum around three areas first: Mathematics, English, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures. These areas were selected because they were expected to have the most significant change.

Within these three areas there was also a plan to stagger the implementation so that Mathematics was implemented first. The plan involved a period of six months for familiarisation of the curriculum, in the latter part of 2023, and then implementation in 2024. English and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures were intended for familiarisation in 2024 and then implementation in 2025.

The VCAA have indicated that they will have in place a series of webinars and targeted PD for school leadership, curriculum teams and teachers. It is the VCAA’s intention to provide curriculum planning documents and templates to support schools in integrating the curriculum. However, in Victoria, the F–10 Curriculum implementation is managed by DE, not the VCAA.

Indeed, the 2023–2024 Victorian Budget included $17.3 million for the VCAA and $19m for the department to, among other things, develop resources that would be used for the implementation of the updated curriculum.

So, in June 2023, the Joint Primary and Secondary Council of the AEU passed another resolution that called on the department to meet with the AEU to “identify the supports that will be provided to teachers related to the curriculum update. This is vital to ensure that the profession is integrally involved in the implementation of the updated curriculum and that the workload associated with this change is managed within the paid hours of department employees.”

In the week beginning 24 July, the AEU ramped up its pressure on the government through a targeted social media campaign. The position of the AEU was very clear. In the context of the acute staffing pressures that schools are facing, the implementation of the mathematics curriculum should be delayed until 2025.

The school update in the week of 31 July provided some very welcome news. The updated Mathematics Curriculum does not have to be implemented until the beginning of 2025, giving schools an additional 12 months to hold the necessary curriculum planning days, the local domain meetings, and collaboration planning sessions that all contribute to a genuine curriculum update process.

This is a great win achieved by AEU members!

The AEU’s School Curriculum Development, Implementation and Review policy is available here.

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