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Draft Australian Curriculum: The Arts Foundation to Year 10 – Consultation Report

Executive Summary


NSW has joined with the Australian Government and all other states and territories in a joint endeavour to develop an Australian curriculum. The Board of Studies NSW is responsible for advising the NSW Minister for Education on the appropriateness of curriculum for NSW schools and the structure and process of its implementation, including with regard to the Australian curriculum.

The development of the Australian curriculum is being coordinated by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). Phase 1 includes English, Mathematics, Science and History. Phase 2 comprises Geography, Languages and the Arts. The Board is providing feedback from consultation to ACARA about the Draft Australian Curriculum: The Arts.

Key matters

  • The rationale does not position the Arts as contributing unique knowledge, understanding and skills and does not empower students to be informed in the Arts in the 21st century.
  • The use of the generic strands Making and Responding does not accommodate arts-specific language, structures and practices.
  • The curriculum is a limited interpretation of how students work in and through the arts in the practical and cognitive domains.
  • The structure and organisation of the curriculum does not provide sufficient guidance for teachers in clearly identifying what knowledge and skills students will learn.
  • There is an overemphasis on a participatory approach where experience and imagination are more important than practice, depth, rigour, knowledge, learning and opportunities to engage in, connect with, and learn about real-world arts practice.
  • The description of each art form does not adopt a contemporary view of best practice in education.
  • The descriptions of learning do not represent an appropriate continuum of knowledge, understanding and skills.
  • The significance and importance of technology in the Arts is not reflected.
  • References to cultures beyond Australia are limited and do not represent the diversity or scope of cultures, worlds and knowledge in the arts.
  • This curriculum does not provide the opportunities for students to engage with real world practice.
  • The F–10 curriculum does not provide an appropriate body of knowledge nor base for study beyond the compulsory years of schooling into the senior years and tertiary study.
  • Media Arts does not reflect best practice and 21st century thinking; it is based on a narrow focus and understanding of this area.
  • Media Arts should not be included as a separate discipline in the Arts; it should be incorporated appropriately in all learning areas.
  • The achievement standards do not indicate the quality of knowledge, skills and understanding students will have achieved at the end of each stage and do not provide specificity for teachers.
  • The diagrams of learning in and learning through the arts do not represent an appropriate model or entitlement for study of the arts.
  • The curriculum does not cater for the learning needs of all students.

Recommendations to ACARA

  • Review the nomenclature for the Making and Responding strands to more accurately represent the practices and knowledge, skills and understanding in each subject K–10.
  • Include Performing as a strand in Music, Drama and Dance.
  • Rewrite the rationale to include the intellectual and cognitive demands required for each arts subject.
  • Remove the diagrams Learning in The Arts and Learning through The Arts. They do not inform, guide or support teachers, and they misrepresent both Making and Responding.
  • Revise the band descriptions to reflect a developmental continuum that is logical and sequential and is appropriate for learning in each subject.
  • Review the F–2 structure, creating a separate strand of learning for F and then Years 1–2 to cater for the diverse learning capabilities and backgrounds of students in these years.
  • Review the achievement standards so that they reflect intellectual rigour and describe student achievement.
  • Include and acknowledge the range of technologies that influence and contribute to the arts.
  • Provide opportunities to reference contemporary practice in each art form as well as the study of traditions, conventions and histories.
  • Review the curriculum to ensure that it caters for the learning needs of all students.
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