HTAA March 2009 Update

National Curriculum Update – March 2009

The period for consultation on the National Curriculum Board’s (NCB) History Framing Paper concluded at the end of February 2009. At the time of writing the responses to the Framing Paper are being processed and it is expected that a brief for curriculum writing teams will be prepared for the beginning of April. HTAA’s response to the History Framing Paper has been posted on the National Curriculum page of our website.

During March the NCB called for expressions of interest from those interested in being part of curriculum writing teams or advisory panels. These two groups are expected to be finalised by early April. In the meantime the NCB has published on its website the following timeline:

Stage Activity Timelines
K – 10
Senior years
Curriculum Framing Confirmation of directions for writing curriculum April, 2009 April, 2009
2 step process for development of curriculum documents:
Step 1 – broad outline; scope and sequence
Step 2 – completion of ‘detail’ of curriculum
April – December 2009 June, 2009 – January, 2010
Consultation National consultation on curriculum documents & trialling January – April, 2010 March – June, 2010
Publication Publication of national curriculum documents in print and digital format June – July, 2010 July – September, 2010

While the long development process and provision for more consultation are very encouraging, there must be some concern about the speed with which we are moving from curriculum framing to curriculum development. The time given for ‘confirmation of directions’ in response to submissions on the Framing Paper is very tight. It is to be hoped that the major concerns highlighted in HTAA’s submission will be dealt with. Many of those concerns have been echoed by other organisations and individuals. Most obviously, there is a need to gather more input on both the primary and senior secondary years. Across all years, the major concern is that we will be given courses that allow us to engage student interest and be able to present them at a level that allows us to build skills and aim at depth of understanding. For this to happen, there needs to be considerable imagination and expertise brought to bear on the challenge of creating curriculum documents that combine mandatory topics with the opportunity for optional studies and school or locally developed units.

Unfortunately, while HTAA has argued that each of the following areas must be addressed, we have been told that they are beyond the NCB’s ‘remit’. Even so, each will be critical to the effective implementation of courses:

At the secondary level, sophisticated new history courses will need to be taught by history graduates who have completed a full year method program in history. Primary teachers who are asked to teach history as a discrete discipline will also need to have completed a significant history component in their training.

Effective professional development will be essential in supporting teachers, particularly during the early years of national curriculum. Professional development programs need to be well-planned, well-targeted and cost-effective. We would expect HTAA and its affiliates to be closely involved in the planning and delivery of such programs.

In consultation, teachers have consistently focused on the need for the timely provision of resources to support new courses. HTAA has urged the NCB to consider the development of model units and templates as part of the curriculum development process.

Paul Kiem
President HTAA