PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA: Mr TUDGE (Aston) (12.29 pm)—I rise to second the motion moved by the honourable member for Sturt.
We are calling on the government to delay the implementation of the national curriculum for the simple reason that it is not ready. And don’t just believe me or Mr Pyne in this assessment but listen to the views of education stakeholders. For example, the Victorian Association of State Secondary Principals has described the curriculum as ‘not up to scratch, drowning in content, overlapping subjects such as science and geography and contains no agreement as to how it would be assessed’.
The Australian Council of Deans of Science wrote to the Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth asking him to delay the implementation of the science curriculum for six to 12 months. The President of the Science Teachers Association, Anna Davis, said there needs to be another round of consultation to include classroom teachers to comment on the latest version of the science
curriculum. The Mathematical Association of New South Wales claimed the four maths courses proposed for years 11 and 12 are too difficult for students with learning difficulties and are insufficiently challenging for gifted maths students. The History Teachers Association has also written to the minister expressing concern
about the pace of progress. The New South Wales Board of Studies and teaching associations for science, maths, English and history have all criticised the curriculum and the process. On geography particularly it has expressed concern that the curriculum contains an inadequate focus on physical geography. And finally, just last week, the New South Wales education chiefs from the government, independent and Catholic sectors wrote to principals arguing that ‘some dimensions of the Australian curriculum currently being developed by ACARA are not being
considered for implementation by New South Wales at this stage’.
They are simply not going to do it, against the express wishes of Minister Garrett.
I could go on with examples of real concerns from other credible stakeholders pleading with the government to delay. But one of the concerns that many have in relation to the draft curriculum is that it lacks a clearly stated direction or curriculum theory and has no overarching framework.
It also appears to be unbalanced and ideologically biased in its approach to some issues. For example, it is promoting the teaching of the climate change film An Inconvenient Truth despite the UK High Court finding that the science in the film contained nine fundamental errors and had been used to make a political statement and to support a political program.
The curriculum also has a heavy focus on Indigenous and Asian culture without giving similar weight to our British and our Judaeo-Christian traditions.
Trade union history and the history of the ALP are also given special prominence in the draft national history curriculum. On the other hand, there isn’t a single mention of the most politically successful party in Australian history, the Liberal Party of Australia.
Even if the curriculum was up to scratch, there would be insufficient time to train teachers in the new curriculum to be ready for next year. Ms Leonie Trimper, President of the Australian Primary Principals Association, believed that August of this year was too late to finalise the draft curriculum and get the teachers
up to speed. It is now November and the draft curriculum is not to be finalised until next month.
There are positive aspects of the draft curriculum and we should not lose these aspects. For example, grammar is finally being put back in its proper place, phonics is being introduced into the early stages of literacy learning, and students will learn more about Asian history and culture, which is a good thing. All of these are good
developments. However, overall the national curriculum is far from where it needs to be. Something as important as a national curriculum needs to be of the very highest standard, and it is not that presently.
I implore the minister to give the national curriculum another year, to give ACARA the time necessary to get it right. We are better off delaying than producing something inferior.