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National curriculum scores poorly, teachers say

SCHOOLS are uncertain how the Government plans to compensate or support teacher retaining expenses in light of the Government’s newly released national curriculum and its additional demands on teacher qualifications.

The secretary of the Australian Education Union, Penny Gilmour, says the lack of information despite requests is a “serious concern”.

“[We have] called upon the ACT Government to release its implementation plan, including what resources it may have to support the development of resources and support the development of quality professional learning,” she said Some schools are expecting to use their own budgets to ensure teachers are properly qualified.

One teacher who did not want to be named said that poorer schools would have teachers who were not qualified.

Despite the Government’s extensive consultation process, teachers are still concerned their practical knowledge has been disregarded in favour of politicians and universities.

Steve Ellis, a teacher for more than 30 years feels that he and his peers have been bypassed by “educational bureaucrats and academics”.

The head of teaching and curriculum at Daramalan College, Karlina Clarke, said that her experience was that while teachers contributed to discussions they had little impact compared to universities and politicians.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, has said that she expected resistance from the AEU but that the Government’s focus is on making a difference for the children, not focusing on the teachers. Gillard said the Government was determined to do so and made no apologies for it.

The new curriculum wrongly assumes all schools nationwide undertake a full year of history and social sciences throughout grades seven to 10. This creates additional material without additional contact class hours for many schools.

Ellis feels the curriculum is so overloaded that “if we teach for six days a week, for 50 weeks a year we might cover it.”

Clarke suspects that electives will suffer in order to make room for the extra content.

Despite concerns voiced by practising teachers the AEU is generally optimistic and supportive of the new curriculum.

Gilmour said, “As long as it is developed as a framework rather than a prescription for what should be taught and on particular days and times I think that has a lot of benefits and will help teachers and the community understand what we want our schools to deliver.”

The Government has said that schools will have limited flexibility in initial implementation.

The Rudd Government is standing firmly by its curriculum, fiercely fending off criticism from the Opposition.

The curriculum is undergoing nationwide trials, followed by a three month feedback period, and is set to be fully implemented in 2011.

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