ACARA’s Senior Moment

ACARA, it seems, has embarked upon a review of the senior curriculum. They just forgot to tell anyone.

OK, that’s not quite true. The Terms of Reference, embedded below, provide for certain groups to be represented at information-providing fora for the various subjects, with a subsequent “consultation” of unspecified nature. And to be fair, having learned at least one thing from the debacle of the F-10 curriculum review, ACARA has invited mathematician organisations to participate in such a forum. The mathematicians’ input will presumably be swamped by that of the maths ed people and the education bureaucrats, and then ARACA’s “working group” will go off to do whatever they please, but at least a few mathematicians will be in the vicinity.

The general public, however, has not been invited to participate in the review, and seemingly has not even been informed of the review’s existence. Although the senior curriculum process supposedly began in 2023, there is still no notification of the review on ACARA’s curriculum page, or on ACARA’s curriculum review page, or on ACARA’s senior curriculum page, or anywhere we could see. Transparency, thy name is not ACARA.

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Estimating Stephen Gniel

Stephen Gniel, of course, was CEO of VCAA while the Deloitte debacle played out, and then during the subsequent 2023 VCE exams battle. Gniel then began his previously arranged secondment, to be Acting CEO of ACARA (also permitting Gniel, it seems, to duck appearing before the Bennett inquiry). It is in the latter role that Gniel appeared (along with Sharon Foster, ACARA’s Executive Director, Curriculum, and Russell Dwyer, ACARA’s Executive Director, Assessment and Reporting) at Senate Estimates on 15 February, in front of the Education and Employment Legislation Committee. I don’t think Gniel had much fun. Continue reading “Estimating Stephen Gniel”

David de Carvalho, Annotated, Again

Two years ago, we annotated parts of a speech that ACARA CEO, David de Carvalho, gave at The Age Schools Summit. De Carvalho’s stage-setting for ACARA’s soon-to-be-released draft curriculum was nonsense throughout, and included a cunning reference to the “Joint Maths Statement” from “five of the leading maths and science organisations” supposedly supporting the then secret draft curriculum; it only emerged a year later that ACARA had prior knowledge of, and appears to have been intimately involved in the production of, this purportedly independent statement. Classy work from a classy guy. Continue reading “David de Carvalho, Annotated, Again”

Ben Jensen Damns ACARA with Faint Damning

Ben Jensen is a think tank guy. Ben is CEO or King or whatever of something called Learning First. We’re not a fan of think tanks, but Ben appears to be pretty smart. Ben writes clearly and for a purpose, and demonstrably Ben is playing for The Good Team. He can play better.

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David de Carvalho and the Annoying Taco Kids

Last week we wrote about the mushy Australian puff piece on PISA clown, Andreas Schleicher. Readers may recall that Schleicher was critical of “Australia’s shallow Curriculum”. Schleicher says nothing of substance, simply advocating, ad nauseam,

“teaching fewer things at greater depth”.

The Australian piece also briefly quoted Ben Jensen and Mailie Ross, from some consultancy group called Learning First. In the same issue of The Australian, Jensen and Ross had an opinion piece strongly criticising the Australian Curriculum in the opposite direction:

“The Australian curriculum, however, is not a high-quality, knowledge-rich curriculum. It doesn’t guarantee the knowledge students are supposed to learn … Instead, it is a skills-based curriculum; the standards for students to achieve are skills-based. A skills-based curriculum includes knowledge but isn’t specific about what knowledge should be taught, so there is no guarantee of what will be taught in each year level, let alone across the curriculum.

[The Curriculum should] make it clear what knowledge and skills students have the right to learn in order to participate productively in life. Be honest and acknowledge that the Australian curriculum does not offer this clarity.”

Jensen and Ross’s piece is not great, in particular arguing too loosely on the basis of vague generalities. But, notwithstanding the vagueness of both pieces, there is a clear conflict about what the Australian Curriculum is, and what it should be. Luckily, we have ACARA’s CEO, the all-wise David de Carvalho, to resolve the conflict. Continue reading “David de Carvalho and the Annoying Taco Kids”

A Bita Crap

We’ve been trying to tone down the language on this blog. Honestly. But education reporters make it so damn hard.

To be fair, most of the reports of the passing of ACARA’s curriculum have been ok. Not good, not exhibiting much in the way of thought or memory or reflection, but ok. Sure, the reporters could have pointed out that the Wonderful New Curriculum is still secret, meaning nobody really knows whether the media releases are remotely accurate. They could have reported that the participants in ACARA’s final charade are still bound by ACARA’s insidious NDA and so have been cowed into not commenting. They could have reported that AMSI and AustMS have been silent, and most definitely have not signalled endorsement of the new mathematics curriculum. They could have pointed out that ACARA had screwed up royally, for years, and that the alleged improvements to the mathematics curriculum, if real and meaningful, only came about because of a massive campaign, a campaign which, until the very end, ACARA treated with utter contempt. But, after all, they’re education reporters; you can’t expect too much. Continue reading “A Bita Crap”

ACARA, Annotated

Yesterday, ACARA’s draft curriculum was approved by the Ministers, as it was always going to be. The draft is, of course, still secret, since when did ACARA ever give a stuff about what anybody thinks? The draft is due to appear in a couple weeks. We shall be ready.

Until the draft is released, there is not a lot upon which to comment. We know some details of the reprehensible process of the last month, and we have been given some vague hints of the nature of the new curriculum. But, because of ACARA’s insidious NDA, and out of a respect for sources, there is little we have to write and less we are permitted to write. We know, however, what to be watching for, and we’ll be waiting. Continue reading “ACARA, Annotated”