This review of the New South Wales (NSW) school curriculum has concluded that change is required. The changes proposed by the review are significant. They relate to the amount and nature of syllabus content, the overall structure of the curriculum, and the focus of learning in the senior years of school.
Given the depth of the proposed changes, detailed planning, trialling, testing and implementation will be required over an extended period of time – possibly a decade – although work on some changes should begin immediately. The longterm vision is for a future school curriculum that supports teachers to nurture wonder, ignite passion and provide every young person with knowledge, skills and attributes that will help prepare them for a lifetime of learning, meaningful adult employment and effective future citizenship.
The review’s first set of proposals address the content of the curriculum, including concerns that many syllabuses are currently overcrowded. They propose a reduction in the content of most syllabuses by prioritising what is central to each subject. The intention is to promote deep learning of core disciplinary knowledge. Although depth and breadth of learning are both important, the proposed changes preference deeper conceptual understanding over shallower coverage of extensive factual and procedural detail. The intended outcome is not quantitatively less teaching or learning, but teaching and learning refocused to develop deeper understandings and higher levels of skill.
The review’s second set of proposals address the structure of the curriculum, including concerns about its lack of flexibility to meet individual learning needs. They address directly the fact that students in the same year of school currently differ widely in the points they have reached in their learning, meaning that some students are not yet ready for, and others are not sufficiently challenged by, common yearlevel syllabus expectations. The intention of these proposals is to support teachers in establishing where individuals are in their long-term progress so that every student can be provided with welltargeted and appropriately challenging teaching.