English, STEM key in NSW school revamp

The NSW government plans to take a “back to basics” approach under a new schools’ curriculum due to come into full effect by 2024.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Tuesday announced the government’s response to a review of the state’s education system led by Professor Geoff Masters.

Prof Masters’ review recommended the removal of subjects like “Lifestyle Studies”, “Wearable Art” and “Puppetry” and the streamlining of crowded syllabuses.

Ms Berejiklian told reporters there were three planks to the government’s response to the review; the de-cluttering of the school curriculum to prioritise mathematics, science and English, the deepening of knowledge in those fields and the modernisation of pathways for year 12 students as they consider tertiary education or full-time work.

This would include pre-qualification in year 11 and 12 for university or TAFE course and an “untimed syllabus” to ensure struggling students aren’t left behind on course material.

This could mean students in the same classroom studying different things.

“I want NSW to have the highest education standards in the world,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“We have a long way to go in making sure our students can compete with the best in the world and that’s exactly what we need to do – we know that in the next decade, the competition will be (there) in getting those jobs, getting those advanced manufacturing jobs.

“We want NSW to be the capital of those industries.”

The government changes would begin to be implemented from nest year when subjects considered unnecessary are removed from the senior-school curriculum.

In 2022 new English and maths curricula will be implemented for kindergarten, year one and year two, followed in 2023 by years three to 10 and in 2024 by year 11 and 12 syllabuses.

Ms Berejiklian said subjects “have kept creeping in” over the past 30 years that are superfluous and the changes would reduce paperwork and red tape for NSW teachers.

Prof Masters’ study found 98 per cent of teachers “believed excess syllabus content was leading to diminished educational outcomes for students”.

“For parents, knowing there is a clear focus on making sure their children, our students, are the best they can be, our education system in NSW can be one of the best of the world … it’s really exciting,” NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell told reporters on Tuesday.

“We need to cut the number of those extra courses that really don’t contribute to anything post-school while still findings ways to make sure students can be creative.”

There are some 1.2 million students at 3100 NSW schools from kindergarten to year 12.

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