Curriculum needs to focus on student needs, not content

19 December 2019
High school students. Image: Jordan Grantham/Diocese of Parramatta.

 

The review of the NSW curriculum needs to deliver a new vision to help the state’s young people confidently take their place in a constantly changing world, Catholic Schools NSW (CSNSW) said Wednesday 19 December 2018.

CSNSW Chief Executive Officer Dallas McInerney said a new, longer-term vision for both curriculum design and content is needed to deliver more flexibility and autonomy for schools.

“The review must also examine the HSC’s objectives and the undue emphasis it often receives. We must examine whether the current distinction between vocational and other subjects is apt.”

Mr McInerney said curriculum design needs to be more flexible as the current approach is perceived to undermine the professional judgment and expertise of teachers.

“The curriculum, and potentially the structure of schooling, needs to adapt so that we can be more responsive to transformative change in the world and meet the needs of a new generation of learners.

“A more student-centred approach would shift the focus from the content to the student and support personalised learning, mapped on a scale that reflects each student’s progress rather than their age.

“It would take into account the diversity of students’ prior learning achievements and life experiences, empowering them to explore their interests and passions, and take ownership of their learning.

“Curriculum and assessment practices should be flexible, build on learners’ strengths, support academic and social capabilities and cater for each student’s learning needs. Teachers should be supported to differentiate the curriculum to meet the diverse learning needs of each student.”

Mr McInerney said the curriculum must be integrated with other elements of the education ‘eco-system’ – pedagogy, assessment, credentialing, regulatory requirements and the structure of schooling.

“Assessment practices must be more flexible to be more relevant and accessible to all students, who should have the opportunity to demonstrate in multiple ways what they have learned and avoid the exclusive reliance placed on traditional approaches to assessment.”

Mr McInerney also said the NSW Education Act needed to be reviewed to rearticulate the purposes of schooling in NSW, given the changes over the past 20 years and the need for a future orientation.

“We encourage the Reviewer, Geoff Masters, to take an expansive and visionary approach,” he said.

The full CSNSW submission to the NSW Government’s Curriculum Review is available here.

Catholic Schools NSW represents the state’s 595 Catholic schools and their 255,000 students.

With thanks to CSNSW.

 

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