The NAAE met in Sydney in September at the offices of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) to have discussions with Arts Curriculum Specialist Helen Champion and Director of Curriculum, Janet Davy.
Helen noted that ACARA was about to release Arts Learning Area advice to support the National Literacy and Numeracy progressions and that ACARA was starting to think generally about what learning progressions looked like in different learning areas; for example, what it means to progress in learning in the arts.
Helen gave NAAE members a thorough briefing of current ACARA thinking, and requested feedback from member associations. At this point ACARA has no plans to develop an Arts Curriculum for Senior Secondary (Years 11 & 12).
Janet Davy said that ACARA’s approved work plan from the Education Council included providing advice to ministers at the end of 2019 on options for the refinement of the Australian Curriculum. To inform that advice ACARA has established a research program that includes comparative studies with other countries.
NAAE noted that members are looking to get something substantial and meaningful out of the research so we know what's actually going on in schools. We also need to know more about the emerging challenges, and the learnings that students are gaining. There is not a critical mass of data about student outcomes and teaching populations, which is a real missing link. Janet said that ACARA would be happy to support research led by the professions.
After much discussion it was agreed to continue to work with ACARA on a range of issues, and to share information in support of The Australian Curriculum: The Arts.
NAAE discussed the urgent need for a research project that included impact, review and evaluation of implementation of all five art forms, socio economic factors in public and independent schools etc. with particular emphasis on primary education. We need qualitative and quantitative data on the number of students and teachers, and case studies related to examples of implementation, e.g. how many of the five art forms are being implemented?
It was agreed that such research should be considered in the context of a new strategic plan for NAAE, to be developed late in 2018 or early in 2019. This process would also include a review of the NAAE constitution.
The rewriting of the NSW Arts curriculum was discussed, following a meeting by key NAAE members with Prof. Geoff Masters, who is leading the review of the NSW curriculum. Earlier in the year NAAE had also met with the NSW Education Minister, the Hon. Rob Stokes to express major concerns about the direction of the Arts curriculum.
Following these meetings, each state association had been invited to bilateral meetings with the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) to discuss individual concerns, followed by group meetings with representatives from each of the state associations.
The meetings were positive and productive and the state associations worked with NESA to find common ground and an agreed way forward. We understand that significant changes have been made to the Arts curriculum that reflect the consensus found during the targeted consultation meetings, and NAAE has written to Minister Stokes to thank him for his intervention.
NAAE is also in the process of making a submission to the review of the NSW School Curriculum.
Report by Julie Dyson, Chair