Teachers and principals have criticised the Victorian Opposition’s plan to overhaul the state’s school curriculum, saying the Coalition has “very little understanding” of what goes on in the classroom.
Why am I not surprised they are critical of this?
Whether we like it or not, the education system is flawed. I see so many young people coming for jobs who struggle in the basics of Maths and English, which you need in any job you do.
In addition, they are clearly not work ready, and I do not lay this at the feet of the schools totally, and parenting would come into this as well. They have no idea of the wide world, and what the world, and employers, expect from them.
Furthermore, there is a real issue around their communication skills, and this we can lay at the feet of the education system
I do not have all the answers, but clearly, there is an issue that needs to be addressed.
The “School Education Values Statement”, launched today by Liberal Opposition Leader Matthew Guyand opposition education spokesman Tim Smith, said that if the Coalition wins this year’s state election, Victoria’s curriculum will be stripped back, with greater emphasis on Western history, “Australian values” and national pride.
The document said schools would be given a greater level of autonomy and encouraged to specialise in areas such as science, the performing arts and languages.
While the document is light on specific policy detail and contains no budget commitments, it does set out themes the Coalition wants to pursue if Matthew Guy is elected premier in November — including lifting student results, which have stagnated across Australia in recent years.
• Increased focus on writing, reading, numeracy
• Improve knowledge of Western history, civics, Australian values
• Free “overburdened” teachers from bureaucratic work
• Schools encouraged to localise and specialise their curriculum
The Australian Education Union’s Victorian president, Meredith Peace, marked down the Coalition effort, describing it as “a pretty disappointing document”.
“I think it shows that Matthew Guy and the Opposition have very little understanding of what’s actually occurring in our schools,” Ms Peace said.
“I think we have a very robust and strong curriculum in Victoria. We already teach kids values, important values in our school system and we don’t need Matthew Guy telling staff in our schools that you need to teach our young people values.”
‘We don’t need another review': union
Ms Peace said Mr Guy’s promise of a review of the Victorian curriculum was unwelcome.
“We don’t need another review of our curriculum. Staff in schools are tired of constant change. They simply want to be supported and funded appropriately to do the important work that they do,” she said.
Victorian Principal’s Association president Anne-Maree Kliman said teachers needed stability in the curriculum.
“We had a new curriculum introduced last year. We need time for that to be embedded,” she said.
“We have a literacy and numeracy strategy that is and always will be the core foundation of what we teach in schools.”
Andrews attacks Coalition’s record
Mr Smith said curriculum should inspire young people with the ideas and values that have helped make Australia “a beacon of hope and justice”.
Premier Daniel Andrews responded to the Opposition’s announcement by attacking the Coalition’s record on education.
“I think that when it comes to the education system in our state, there are some people who talk, there are other people who get on and build schools, employ more teachers and staff, run more programs and achieve better results, and that’s what the national data shows us,” Mr Andrews said.
“I’ll leave it to the good judgement of Victorians to work out who it is that cuts education and talks a lot about these things but has never delivered, and others who I’m very proud to say, who are all about building the new schools we need and setting us up for the future.”
Mr Andrews said values were already taught in Victorian schools.
“Well, I do think we teach Australian values in schools and we’re very, very proud of it,” he said.
Victorian graduates ‘not well prepared': employers
The Opposition said it wanted “over-burdened” teachers to focus more on numeracy, literacy and writing skills.
Jennifer Buckingham, a senior research fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies said the Coalition document contained much that “the majority of people would agree with”.
Dr Buckingham, who has been asked by the Coalition to chair an independent review of the Victorian curriculum if it wins the state election in November, said literacy and numeracy outcomes in Victoria had not improved in recent years, despite increases in funding.
“There’s also perceptions in the community, from employers particularly, that graduates of Victorian schools are not well prepared for the workforce,” she said.
“There is a concern about the depth of the curriculum and the rigour in certain subjects. There are concerns that there is too much that tries to be covered in the course of the school day and a lot of responsibility being put on schools to educate students in areas that were previously considered to be the domain of their families or their communities.”