A New Era of Localism

I had made a solemn promise to my blogging self not to talk any more about the propects of national curriculum since we all apparently agree on what a great boon it will be for our nation, and those students who move interstate every year, for all Australian curriculum, including content and pedagogy, to come out of Canberra where only good things happen!

However, I couldn’t resist another go at breathing life into the corpse of local and state autonomy by pointing out that Britain is about to abandon those very reforms we’re about to copy. The Guardian reports today:

In a totemic break from the Blair years, next week’s education white paper will signal the end of Labour’s national strategies for schools, which includes oversight of the literacy and numeracy hours in primaries. The changes will strip away centralised prescription of teaching methods and dramatically cut the use of private consultants currently employed to improve schools.
They will give schools more freedom and establish new networks of school-to-school support to help drive up standards in what will be described as a “new era of localism”.

In a totemic break from the Blair years, next week’s education white paper will signal the end of Labour’s national strategies for schools, which includes oversight of the literacy and numeracy hours in primaries. The changes will strip away centralised prescription of teaching methods and dramatically cut the use of private consultants currently employed to improve schools.

They will give schools more freedom and establish new networks of school-to-school support to help drive up standards in what will be described as a “new era of localism”.

It’s not all good news, of course. Britain also proposes New York style report cards for schools giving schools a grade from A to F.  Funny how only schools get a report card and a grade; isn’t is possible to think outside this paradigm when we’re talking about education?

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3 comments

  1. I’m a pom primary teacher and I don’t know anything about Australian education, but the National Strategies being abandoned are not the same as our National Curriculum.

    Our National Curriculum was introduced in 1988 by the Conservative government under Margaret Thatcher. It lay down the subjects (programmes of study) that should be taught in schools in England and Wales and the standards that children should reach (attainment targets) by the end of primary and secondary schooling. It was revised in 1995, and again (by the Labour government) in 1999. In 1995 the Conservatives also introduced National Curriculum testing, which measured the progress of children in English, Maths and Science (sometimes known as SATs tests).

    In 1997, and 1998 the new Labour government launched their ‘National Literacy Strategy’ and then their ‘National Numeracy Strategy’, later combined into the ‘National Primary Strategies’. These were far more detailed teaching programmes for English and Maths, setting hundreds of objectives and targets for each year in primary school, and even specifying which term or which week they should be taught. They weren’t compulsory, but everyone followed them anyway. The objective was to raise the lacklustre attainment in primary schools, which duly happened.

    It’s the latter that are being abandoned, mainly because they cost a fortune and are increasingly useless. Most of the progress that was going to made by a one-size fits all teaching programme has now been made, and there is a sense of the government spending money for the sake of it. As a teacher, I’m sick of a new crusade arriving every month, then brought forward by a year, then cancelled.
    The National Curriculum is not being abandoned, though it’s current format, based rather on a 1950s public school version of a subject by subject curriculum, is in the process of being dragged up to date.

    1. Thanks for filling us in on some of those details Mark; national curriculum is new(ish) in Australia as education up to now has been state controlled.

      There’s lots of discussion as to what kind of national curriculum we’re going to get; and whether it will be a framework, whether it will mandate content and even pedagogy.

  2. the devil will be in the detail,,,

    how will assessment be achieved?

    in my own situation, writing textbooks for both VCE and HSC(NSW), while 95% of the topics are identical.

    the manner of dealing with the content is worlds ( and years) apart.

    NSW has almost NO mathematics, NO open ended problem solving.

    Victoria has NO long descriptive requirements using the ‘approved’ terminology, and keywords.

    NSW has a syllabus, Victoria has a study design.

    Haviing dealt with the two courses for about a year in detail, one is long winded, descriptive, wordy and BORING!!

    the other uses the latest research to illustrate probelms to be solved by understanding the content knowledge…

    one is easier to study to pass a paper based point in time exam

    i wonder which will prevail…

    no prizes for guessing NSW will ‘win’

    politically, economically, logistically

    there have been no curriculum changes in NSW for 8 years, Victoria has course reviews each four years

    as for other countries, while they have a national curriculum, they also have local examination boards…wales and scotland do not hand over their assessment to england!!

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