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Schools in Australia: An Overview

Discuss about the Discourse Cultural Politics of Education.

ACARA has expressed that an Australian curriculum would be  contributing to the stipulation of a world class edification in Australia by setting out the information, indulgent and skills essential for life and effort in the twenty first century and by situations in frequent high standards of attainment athwart the country (ACARA, 2013). The following essay is going to analyse the mode of national curricular structure in Australia. The focus of the essay is going to be on the primary and the secondary schools in the country.  The Assessment and Reporting Authority develops, designs and reviews the Australian curriculum.. Schools in Australia have been undergoing different phases since the age of colonisation in the country. In the beginning period, the schools were segmented into major three categories. These are the catholic schools, the government schools and the private run schools (White, 2014). The divisional categories of the schools somehow created an economic class division in the Australian society. However, the major issues of national curriculum in the country have been pertaining to the funding. Government’s initiative to provide substantial and adequate funds in the government schools have been much talked about. The essay is going to cover the entire process of curricular structure in all modes of Schools in Australia. Since 2014 the all the kindergartens in the country have been taken under the national curriculum of Australia. However, introduction of the national curriculum in Australia has raised several questions pertaining to its authenticity because it was not introduced in a straightforward matter (Thomas, 2015).

In the year 2014, the Australian Government declared that there would be an independent review on the Australian Curriculum in order to ensure independence and prowess of the framework. Earlier, the curricular structure in the country used to differ according to the schools and their ownership and location.  In the year 1962, Goulburn Strike foresaw that the academic structure of the country was going to be changed and brought under the same shade (Ditchburn, 2015).  Before, the emergence of the twenty first century, the Australian schools were categorised into major three segments- depending on ownership and authority- these were the schools run by the Catholic Church, the schools run by the Government and the schools run by the private owners. However, most of the schools sought for government- specifically public funding. Lack of funding in the public (government) schools entailed poor academic infrastructure and lack of cohesive study. In the catholic schools, the students were taught the religious scriptures more than science and modern social study (Lynch, 2014).

The Evolution of the National Curriculum in Australia

Fortunately, Goulburn Strike of 1962 gave way to the formation of Australian schools Commission in the nineteen seventies. In the later years, the public schools were relieved from the problem and tension of proper funding, however, the funding was only done by the Federal Government whereas it was supposed to be implemented by the provincial governments who could took better care of the public schools.  With the ultra capitalist mindset of the Commonwealth Government in Australia, the private or other non-government schools received ample aid and funding whereas the public schools kept suffering from the poor academic and curricular facility. This was highly criticised by the Australian Labour Party.  The commission head Gonski, who reviewed the contemporary situation and recommended funding systems for the public schools, looked after Reformation in the mode of funding in the public schools in Australia. ‘Gonski Review’ recommended increase of funding in a heterogeneous way to the schools. (educationtoday.com.au, 2017)

Despite extremity in the funding, the schools did not experience better learning opportunity. Several critics argue that funding does not bring in proper infrastructure in the schools. It needs pedagogical and teaching reformation. This concept entailed the notion and idea of free learning.  According to the constitution, the responsibility of the schools in the country ought to be shouldered upon by the state and territory governments. Therefore, the state and territory governments invigilate the rules and regulation pertaining to the school education, funding and administration. Introduction and establishment of the Australian Curriculum in the academic institutes has been a phenomenal initiative by the Australian government. It is, no doubt, a joint venture of all the provincial and territorial powers. Having departed from the entire concept of sole funding method in the schools, the Australian Curriculum has now emphasised upon the external and internal development of the students through solid academic support from the government. ACARA has reviewed that fund was not the ultimate way to generate academic interest among the students or other greater masses. Funding could not be the foundation for education; rather knowledge was a better substitute. Incorporation of knowledge, discipline, competency, standard, assessment and reporting became the pillar of academic institutes under this particular initiative (Review of the Australian Curriculum, 2017). Australian Curriculum has been designed in different structures: Learning F-2, Learning 3-6 and Learning 7-10. The main objective of the implementation of Australian Curriculum was to provide a global learning opportunity to the students and build innovative pedagogy among the teachers. There are some disciplinary segments in the learning areas of the national curriculum. It is nothing but a firm amalgamation of knowledge, skill and understanding of cross-curriculum priorities and general capabilities (australiancurriculum.edu.au, 2017).  The Australian Curriculum highly differed from the conventional method of supporting school education. Now the schools focused on acquiring better teachers who could generate competency in a student. Individual development became the focus of the initiative. This endeavour relieved the schools from a problem of academic differentiation. Due to verities of teaching and examination method, the students would suffer the most while shifting from one state to another state. The concept of one nation one curriculum was generated in order to omit the complexities in diverse curricular system. The national document of Australian Curriculum was written focusing on two sections in the Curriculum Development Process v6.0 and the Curriculum Design Paper v3.1. The documents regarding the development of the Australian Curriculum has four major phases namely shaping, writing, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation.

Challenges in Implementing the National Curriculum

Though the government took the initiative, it has witnessed a huge setback in term of implementation. The reason behind such lacuna was sudden change in Government. The new commonwealth government formed a committee to review the existing curriculum directions in a critical way (aph.gov.au, 2017). It has been experienced that constant flux in the national curriculum in Australia has adversely affected the primary and middle school teachers. Since the major responsibility of educational reformation lies on the shoulder of the state and territorial governments, most of the regional authorities are found to implement their own approach towards educational reformation. Development of C2C by the University of Queensland is an example of such independent endeavours taken by the state governments. The introduction of Australian curriculum in the national academic sectors of the country has brought many ramifications with it as it has provided many opportunities to all sorts of stakeholders. Internal stakeholders of the schools such as the teachers, the students and the administrative personnel are directed to apply the national curriculum in different academic and pedagogical levels so that overall development of the students is executed and generated through empirical study method. The Australian curriculum ensures that every student, irrespective of region will receive equal academic service with similar syllabi and teaching method. The curriculum follows the teaching and academic technique of the twenty first century as it broadens the scope of knowledge procurement through e learning and interactive sessions. One of the most effective programs initiated for the vindication of Australian Curriculum is the implementation of NAPLAN (The National Assessment Program- Literacy and Numeracy) test. NAPALAN test is set to assess the basic eligibility of the students pertaining to the learning of language and number. The assessment result of NAPLAN leads to the judgment of one’s foundation to advance learning (NAPLAN, 2017). However, there always remains a question regarding proper implementation of the proposed structure of the assessment and the assessment review. Whether the students are actually judged, whether contextual development programs are formed- are always in doubt.

Since teachers are the most effective force in the classroom in providing better curriculum opportunities to the students, the governing authority needs to confirm cent percent involvement of the teaching faculties in accepting technological advancements inside the classrooms. Here lies the issue of lacuna between technological implementation and acceptance in the classrooms. Most of the old school teachers are found to reject the implementation of ICT (Information and Communication Technology). Such rejection of modernity in the classrooms, especially in the junior and middle schools often creates a huge gap between the objective of Australian Curriculum and its practice. The following diagram shows different dimensions of the Australian Curriculum.

Opportunities and Ramifications of the Australian Curriculum

Australian Curriculum has been formed in order to meet student diversity. Standing on the twenty first century, Australia has become a global hub of higher education. The foundation of higher studies and academic quality is solely dependent upon the pedagogical and formative excellence in the middle and junior schools. The national curriculum of the country does not only focus on the native Australian students, it also puts equal emphasis on those who arrive to the country in order to gain knowledge and facility of world class education in different genre.

A critical view to the overall incident may incur huge argument because of lack of prudence in the action of the formation of ACARA. Only one phase if Australian Curriculum was implemented and before any further implementation, it was put under review. Such indecisive approach to the education system is highly commendable. ACARA reviews are seen to have raised questions instead of giving proper solution to them. The purpose of the Australian curriculum is to set a paradigmatic example in every sphere of academic activity. The curriculum does not intend to reject or hinder any student from enjoying global academic facilities. The national curriculum extensively adheres to the terms and regulations of The Disability Discrimination Act of 1992.  The curriculum has set a standard for the physically challenged students. It shall be the obligations of the academic providers and facilitators like the teachers, the Principals and other educating factors to approach every student “on the same basis”.  Present day structure of the Australian Curriculum is multi-dimensional.  The authorities and the educators are highly obligated to advance the potential of every student. This is how the objectives of the curriculum can be met.

Reference:

ACARA - Curriculum. (2017). Acara.edu.au. Retrieved 4 April 2017, from https://www.acara.edu.au/curriculum

aph.gov.au. (2017). aph.gov.au. Retrieved 4 April 2017, from https://www.aph.gov.au/binaries/library/pubs/bn/sp/schoolsfunding.pdf

Ditchburn, G. (2015). The Australian curriculum: History–the challenges of a thin curriculum?. Discourse: Studies in the cultural politics of education, 36(1), 27-41.

educationtoday.com.au. (2017). educationtoday.com.au. Retrieved 4 April 2017, from https://www.educationtoday.com.au/_images/articles/pdf/article-pdf-1005.pdf

F-10 overview - Structure - The Australian Curriculum v8.3. (2017). Australiancurriculum.edu.au. Retrieved 5 April 2017, from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/overview/structure

Lynch, T. (2014). Australian curriculum reform II: Health and physical education. European Physical Education Review, 20(4), 508-524.

NAPLAN. (2017). Nap.edu.au. Retrieved 5 April 2017, from https://www.nap.edu.au/naplan/the-tests

Review of the Australian Curriculum. (2017). Students First. Retrieved 4 April 2017, from https://www.studentsfirst.gov.au/review-australian-curriculum

Thomas, V. (2015). The Australian Curriculum: Secondary considerations. Learning to Teach in the Secondary School, 86.

White, S. (2014). Union responds to Australian curriculum review. Newsmonth, 34(2), 5.

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