Teachers ignored in new curriculum reform plan

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5 July 2018

The Turnbull government is planning massive reforms of the Australian curriculum, including introducing learning progressions and online formative assessment into every classroom in the country.

However the teaching profession has not been consulted about the scheme, which was revealed when the draft plan was leaked.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham’s proposed National School Reform Agreement (NSRA) sidelines the teaching profession and has the potential to greatly increase administrative requirements in schools

Under the plan, teachers would be forced to spend time completing ‘tick a box assessment tools’ that add little insight to student achievement. The NSRA also includes a phonics test as part of a formative assessment tool.

These learning progressions were originally created as teaching guidelines, not means of assessment. The Turnbull government now intends to use learning progressions for a purpose for which they are ill-suited and were never intended.

The teaching profession has not been consulted about the NSRA, which Minister Birmingham plans to implement within three years.

What is proposed is the biggest Australian school curriculum reform in decades at the same time as the Turnbull government has ripped $1.9 billion from public education funding over the next two years.

Real-life experience has already shown that these reforms will have significant ramifications for schools. Earlier this year a trial of the Assessing Literacy and Numeracy (ALAN) program in more than 600 NSW schools only showed the overwhelming extra workload and reduced teaching time borne by teachers and students.

While NSW’s ALAN program only covered literacy and numeracy, Minister Birmingham’s NSRA scheme would cover fifteen different curriculum areas, creating a very real risk of catastrophic consequences for teachers, students and schools.

The NSW experience shows that valuable teaching time will be wasted ticking boxes.

The AEU has called on the federal government to halt any decisions on the NSRA and to commit to consultation with the teaching profession about the agreement.

Simon Birmingham’s educational reforms simply will not work to lift student outcomes if the government implements them without consulting the teaching profession.