As many HEIA members would know, The Australian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education (HPE) and The Australian Curriculum: Technologies were finalised in late 2013—at about the same time that there was a change in the federal government. The new government ordered a review of the development and implementation of the Australian Curriculum and, as a result, endorsement by the Australian Education Ministers of the Australian Curriculum for HPE and for Technologies was put on hold. The review of the curriculum took place in 2014, with the final report being submitted to the Minister for Education in August 2014.
HEIA's response to the Review
In December 2014, the Home Economics Institute of Australia sent to all Australian Education Ministers, a response to the 2014 review of the Australian Curriculum, with a copy to the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). The HEIA response outlined those recommendations that HEIA believed would enhance the Australian Curriculum. It also raised concerns about the following:
- the recommendation (p. 211) related to Technologies not being introduced until Year 9 being inappropriate for effective food and nutrition education in an era of massive diet-related diseases in Australia
- the recommendation (p. 211) related to Technologies not being introduced until Year 9 being inappropriate in relation to the development of critical and creative design thinking and the ability to use practical skills to solve problems.
- the recommendation (p. 207) that core content in Health and Physical Education be reduced potentially resulting in the focus areas not being up front for teachers, when they are already difficult to locate.
Further work by ACARA
In response to the Review of the Australian Curriculum, the Australian Education Ministers agreed that ACARA should undertake work to resolve the overcrowded primary curriculum; rebalance the curriculum; improve accessibility for all students; and improve parental engagement around the curriculum. As a result, ACARA developed draft changes to the Australian Curriculum to reduce the volume of content descriptions and /or achievement standards across the learning areas, in particular Foundation to Year 8. These draft changes related to two of the themes agreed to by the Education Council: resolving the overcrowded primary curriculum and rebalancing the curriculum.
HEIA's response to the draft changes
In April 2015, HEIA was invited to participate in a limited consultation on draft changes to the F–10 Australian Curriculum content descriptions and achievement standards for HPE and for Technologies. The consultation was limited to state and territory curriculum and school authorities; key stakeholders and a sample of practising primary teachers. HEIA submitted its response on 13 April 2015.
The HEIA response addressed proposed changes for Bands 5/6, 7/8 and 9/10 for HPE and Technologies, but with particular emphasis on Band 7/8. HEIA’s response addressed not only the proposed changes to the curriculum, but also suggested further changes, especially to the Design and Technologies content descriptions for Years 7/8, which generally were thought to lack clarity and at times be overly complex. Concerns were raised about the lack of alignment of the content descriptions with the achievement standards.
ACARA is currently working on the responses to the proposed changes. It is envisaged that it will be September 2015 before any further news is forthcoming. ACARA will recommence work on advice related to Home Economics and the Australian Curriculum once the revisions have been approved.
Dr Janet Reynolds
Convenor, HEIA Education Standing Committee