A national curriculum

Dr Peter Hill

On Monday evening, the CEO of ACARA, Dr Peter Hill delivered our 2010 Ann D Clark lecture to over 500 educators.

I have known Peter Hill for many years – he’s had an extraordinary career in education and is someone who brings great insight and experience to this role.

What is evident is that Peter understands the nature of today’s world and the needs of today’s learners.  This is articulated in his vision of a national curriculum that responds to these by creating equity and quality across all states and territories.

Peter shared some interesting statistics that show a decline in our international testing results especially within the top bands.  The challenge will be reducing the achievement gaps across schools and more importantly within classes.

It’s widely acknowledged that the key to the success of the national curriculum will be good teachers.  As Peter says, the curriculum is only an enabler of good learning – it cannot replace the role of good teachers as moderators of learning.

One of the merits of the national curriculum will be access to a plethora of online resources such as the ABC National Archive, Australian Bureau of Statitistics and and hypotheticals from Geoffrey Robertson QC.

Peter presented the national curriculum as a 3D construct made up traditional subject disciplines,  general capalities (skillset for 21st century) and cross-curricula priorities (Asia, Indigenous studies and sustainability.

What was re-affirming was hearing ACARA’s long-term challenges post roll-out and implementation of the national curriculum.  These are:

  • building professional capacity and accountability
  • moving from a normative to a standardised reporting system
  • personalising the learning for every student

There is a clear alignment here to Professor Richard Elmore’s instructional core – the synergy between teacher, student and high quality content to improve student learning outcomes.

I liked Peter’s 3Ps of ‘personalising, precision and professionalism’, which served as a touchstone for his work on the national curriculum.  I think the traditional 3Rs may eventually be replaced by the 3Ps when we refer to contemporary schooling.

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