Writers are currently finalising a draft for K–10 national history courses. It is expected that this document will be released in February 2010. After a period of consultation and piloting the final version of the K–10 curriculum document is due to be published in July 2010, with implementation of the new courses to begin at the start of 2011. There will be some delay for senior courses, with publication of final documents set down for September 2010 and implementation not expected until 2012. The most up to date information on these timelines will be available on the ACARA’s website:
It is not possible to comment in any detail on draft course material. Nevertheless, it is clear that the consultation and writing process to this point has resulted in significant improvements on earlier drafts. With regard to the senior courses, in particular, HTAA has been very encouraged by ACARA’s willingness to embrace a HTAA proposal aimed at developing imaginative options that have the potential to combine a range of existing interests with some fresh ideas. It will now be interesting to see how much imagination is brought to the task when this proposal is scrutinised during the consultation period.
While the quality of draft curriculum documents continues to improve, the timelines remain tight and this gives rise to a number of concerns. The period of consultation beginning in February 2010 obviously needs to be productive. The documents presented need to be fully developed. They must have a clear rationale and be presented with specific explanation. The consultation events need to be well-structured and certainly more subject-specific and less open-ended than they have been previously. At the moment there must be some anxiety about a timeline that has an essential period of sustained writing scheduled during December-January, while ACARA is moving office from Melbourne to Sydney. It is also not clear how piloting of the draft material will work at the same time as consultation.
Beyond the writing and consultation, everything is as uncertain as it has been since the start of the process. HTAA’s consistent support for the national curriculum project has been based upon a concern for the whole process – the development of new national courses and their successful implementation in schools. Our frustration has been that it has proved very difficult to locate either organisations or individuals who share this larger concern. While there is no shortage of rhetoric, there is very little detail available on how national curriculum will actually work. At the moment it appears that states and territories will have considerable flexibility in how they implement new courses. Some have given a little indication of their intentions. Most have not. There has certainly been no commitment to the allocation of teaching time and it is not even certain that history will be mandatory. All of this raises questions about the extent to which we will actually have a national curriculum. There is also the danger that truncated courses or tokenistic implementation will be counter-productive rather than, as some may hope, at least a step in the right direction.
HTAA’s oft-stated concerns about resourcing, teacher preparation and professional development remain largely unaddressed. Indeed, recent comments addressed to a gathering of association representatives by a federal bureaucrat on professional development and teacher training were complacent and disturbingly ill-informed.
Well over eighteen months into this long march, I would like to acknowledge the work, good sense and support of the HTAA national executive. From the beginning, we have had a unity of purpose that has underwritten the success of our commitment to inform, consult and represent.
Spare a thought for our colleagues working through the holiday period as ACARA officials or on the writing teams.