VCE faces axe for national education certificate

An interesting article in today’s Herald Sun:

Laurie Nowell and Stephen Drill, August 30, 2009 12:00am

 VICTORIA’S VCE is set to be replaced by a national education certificate as schools move to an Australia-wide curriculum for years 11 and 12.

A paper created by the newly formed Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority and obtained by the Sunday Herald Sun reveals the transition to new national subjects and standards.

It reveals all state and federal education ministers have now made a commitment to introduce a kindergarten-to-year 12 national curriculum. Until now, a national curriculum has been planned only up to year 10.

Victorian Education Minister Bronwyn Pike yesterday said: “It’s inevitable that we move towards a national certificate.”

The plan will be discussed at a meeting of education ministers in Brisbane on September 28.

The move will spark controversy. Many teachers, educators and business groups support the scheme, saying it will help universities compare like with like.

But others say the move to what is expected to be called the “Australian Certificate of Education” will create a “homogenised” education system in which Victorian students are no longer taught about events such as John Batman’s settlement of Melbourne.

And they are outraged that Australian History is to be dumped as a separate subject.

Another concern is that, during the transition period, students studying state-based year 10 courses will not be prepared for year 11 national curriculum courses.

ACARA chairman Prof Barry McGaw said details of the year 11 and 12 national curriculum in the four core areas were being drafted and were due to come on stream in 2012.

He said a fully fledged “Australian School Certificate” could come after that.

“We have looked at the best curricula around the world. We believe we will be able to deliver a world-class system,” he said.

ACARA has been created as an education super-body.

It is a statutory authority of the Federal Parliament with powers to oversee curricula, assessment and the recently announced reporting on schools.

Under the plan, initially the year 11 and 12 national curriculum will apply to English, Maths, Science and History, but plans are in progress to extend it to other subjects.

Maths teacher and educational consultant Russell Boyle said the senior national curriculum was “a step in the right direction”.

“If students all around the country are to compete on an equal basis, then they should not only be doing the same curriculum, but be assessed in the same way,” he said.

But critics say the national curriculum will “dumb down” some subjects.

“You will have English students being able to avoid any kind of study of literature at all,” said former English teacher and business education consultant Angus Creasy.

Victorian Education Minister Bronwyn Pike confirmed the ACARA paper was a first step towards a national certificate. 

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