‘A sensible decision’: NSW school sectors respond to sweeping curriculum changes

‘A sensible decision’: NSW school sectors respond to sweeping curriculum changes

Thousands of NSW teachers are breathing a sigh of relief this week after the state’s government announced they would be given more time to focus on incoming changes to the curriculum.

Announcing the change at a teachers’ conference in Sydney, NSW Education Minister Prue Car said instead of having to learn, plan for and get ready to teach 100 new syllabuses over the next 2 years, the new syllabuses would be staggered, with core subjects like English and Maths to be prioritised.

Teachers had raised concerns that the current reform schedule was unworkable in light of soaring workloads and worsening staff shortages. The new “strategic rollout” means teachers will now have more time to understand – and implement – the new syllabuses ahead of their implementation on the first day of Term 1, 2024.

Minister Car said the updated schedule means all new syllabuses will be delivered to teachers by the end of 2027, bringing it closer in line with the 10-year timeframe outlined in the NSW Curriculum Review led by Geoff Masters in 2019.

“Instead of an unworkable release of dozens of syllabuses per term this year, I’ve asked NESA to lead with those that are core to improving learning outcomes for students,” she said.

“It is essential that we get a new curriculum in front of students and teachers to improve educational outcomes – and our teachers need to be given the right amount of time to do this so they can give their very best to their students.”

The changes have been welcomed by the three major school sectors.

Amber Flohm, Senior Vice President at the NSW Teachers Federation, said delaying the rollout was “a sensible and necessary decision” by the Minister.

“The development and implementation of curriculum is too important to rush. Curriculum and pedagogy are critical to everything a teacher does and having adequate time and resources to familiarise and plan only leads to a better outcome for students,” Flohm told The Educator.

“When teachers collaborate during the school day they bring a powerful combination of experience, energy and insight. But they need the time and support to do this. This cross-pollination is what brings a curriculum to life and creates engaging lessons for our children and young people.”

Margery Evans, chief executive of the Association of Independent Schools of NSW (AISNSW) said the changes “provide more scope for all school sectors to have meaningful input into the new syllabuses”.

“The Independent schools sector supports Minister Car’s decision to re-order and stagger the development and release of new draft syllabuses,” Evans said.

“This will give all school sectors more opportunity to manage the workload pressures associated with implementing a new curriculum and also give teachers time to familiarise and skill themselves in the new syllabuses.”

Catholic Schools NSW CEO Dallas McInerney said the curriculum reform timetable extension is a significant body of work before the education sector, and “deserves to be done well and without unnecessary haste”.

“The Catholic school sector looks forward to increasing collaboration with NESA and the Government in the coming months and years to ensure a high-quality curriculum is delivered because all three sectors’ focus is on improving learning outcomes,” McInerney told The Educator.

“This announcement provides the requisite time and capacity for professional practitioners to step forward and realise the full potential of the curriculum while achieving a smooth and manageable rollout.”