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NSW Response Draft Years 5–10 Australian Curriculum: Economics and Business

Introduction

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 managed by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). ACARA released the Draft Years 5–10 Australian Curriculum: Economics and Business on 6 May 2013 for consultation until 19 July 2013.

The Board of Studies NSW is working with the education sectors in NSW to support ACARA in this initiative and to provide input and feedback on the development of the curriculum.

Key matters

  • NSW does not support the proposed draft curriculum for Economics and Business.
  • The Draft Years 5–10 Australian Curriculum: Economics and Business does not yet meet the needs of students, teachers, curriculum developers and systems.
  • The curriculum needs a major revision with a clear focus on essential learning in Economics and Business.
  • There is too much content for the allocated hours, this is likely to lead to superficial treatment of the content and consequently little opportunity for depth of learning.
  • Much of the content is not set at an appropriate age level.
  • The strands need to be better allocated across the curriculum at age-appropriate levels and not necessarily addressed in each Year.
  • There is an imbalance between Economics and Business.

Recommendations to ACARA

  • The curriculum needs to have a focus on essential learning in Economics and Business.
  • The content needs to be reduced and be achievable in the allocated hours.
  • The content needs to be reconsidered for age appropriateness.
  • The strands should not be addressed in each Year, rather they should be allocated across the curriculum.
  • The imbalance between Economics and Business should be addressed with Business being strengthened.

Background information

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) released the Draft Years 5–10 Australian Curriculum: Economics and Business on 6 May 2013 for national consultation until 19 July 2013.
The Board conducted a coordinated set of consultation activities to engage teachers and stakeholders and to seek their feedback.

The NSW consultation consisted of:

  • three focus group meetings
    • Newcastle on 17 June 2013 - NFG
    • Albury on 20 June 2013 - AFG
    • Sydney on 24 June 2013 - SFG
  • an online survey on the Board of Studies website from 3 June to 19 July 2013 - Survey
  • written submissions were received from:
    • NSW Department of Education and Communities - DEC
    • Independent Primary School Heads Association - IPSHA
    • Catholic Schools Office Diocese of Broken Bay - CSO
    • Individual Submissions - IS

Analysis of responses

Rationale

The value and importance of students learning about and engaging with an Economics and Business curriculum was widely supported. There were major concerns raised however about it being restricted to twenty hours in each Year for Years 5 to 8 with optional learning for Years 9 and 10. The Rationale was generally supported, although some respondents noted inconsistencies between the Rationale and other sections of the curriculum and reported that it was an overview statement that failed to emphasise the place and purpose of learning in Economics and Business.

It is likely the Rationale will need to be adjusted in line with expected major changes to the curriculum following consultation and the need to reconsider the approach to the Australian Economics and Business curriculum.

Summary of feedback Source/s

The consistency between the Rationale and Aims needs to be enhanced.

DEC

This is an overview statement rather than an emphasis on the importance for students of Economics and Business.

CSO

Review the terminology to be consistent across the curriculum.

DEC, Survey

The document reflects more on Economics than Business.

NFG, AFG, SFG,

The nature of the course is too demanding for Primary students.

Survey

Aims

Overall respondents commented that the Aims addressed the main areas of learning for the curriculum. However, the Aims continue to reflect the greater emphasis on Economics at the expense of Business. There is also a need to place emphasis on business ethics and corporate social responsibility.

Summary of feedback Source/s

There is a need to reword the first aim to include ‘and uses’ to read ‘ …allocates and uses scarce resources…’

DEC, Survey

There is an emphasis on Economics rather than Business.

Survey, NFG, AFG, SFG, DEC

The Aims should include business ethics and social responsibility.

CSO, DEC

The consistency between the Aims and the Rationale needs to be strengthened.

DEC

Organisation of content

The two strands of Economics and Business knowledge and understanding and Economics and Business skills are supported. The division of the knowledge and understanding strand into ‘organising ideas’ is not supported. While valuable as ‘key themes’, they are not useful as a curriculum structure. The ‘organising ideas’ add a layer of unnecessary structure and burden to the curriculum as they are addressed in each Year rather than at appropriate points in the curriculum.

The Economics and Business skills have a limited explanation and yet in each Year there are six skills addressed. There is limited development of the skills over the Years. Greater clarity would assist the curriculum. The layers of skills for each Year are too demanding and disjointed; a simpler approach would allow teachers to address them in a realistic and appropriate manner.

Summary of feedback Source/s

The organisation of the curriculum needs to be reconsidered so as to provide a clear learning pathway for students in Economics and Business.

Survey, SFG

The Economics and Business skills are not sufficiently developed and require more specificity.

DEC, Survey, NFG, AFG, SFG

Years 5–6 teachers found the ‘organising ideas’ difficult.

DEC, NFG

The strands do not reflect a contemporary interpretation of the Australian business sector.

CSO

The key ideas limit the curriculum.

DEC, SFG

Content descriptions

Much of the curriculum is not age appropriate and needs to be better targeted to build knowledge and understanding and develop skills. The content tries to address too much and needs to be pared down to essential Economics and Business learning for each Year and designed for the available hours. By focusing the curriculum, teachers could effectively address the content and students would more likely engage with their Economics and Business learning. Currently the curriculum is over-crowded. There is not a satisfactory ‘flow’ of learning and it does not build sufficiently from Years 5 to 8 and then to Year 10. It is suggested content be reconsidered for scope and also for sequencing and become more focused on essential learning rather than the broad approach in the current version.

Much of the knowledge and understanding content for Years 5 and 6 is too complex and demanding, while aspects of the Years 7 and 8 content are also challenging. The concepts are often set at too high a level and are not considered age appropriate. Further work is needed to determine the appropriate skills to complement the knowledge and understanding content and allow time for teachers to assist students develop their skills.

Summary of feedback Source/s

There is concern about the use of difficult and value laden language, particularly in the ‘work’ content.

AFG, SFG

Much of the content lacks relevance for students and would not be engaging.

DEC, NFG, AFG, SFG, Survey

Some of the content is unrealistic and needs to be mapped to student capacities.

NFG, CSO, SFG

There are serious concerns about the focus and relevance of the content for Stage 3 students.

IPSHA, SFG

This content is not achievable for schools, there is too much content for effective learning.

IPSHA, CSO, SFG, Survey

Review and reduce the content and reconsider where it is located.

NFG, AFG, SFG, IPSHA

It is better to remove ‘work’ from Years 5–6 and place it in the later Years.

NFG, AFG, SFG

The emphasis on financial literacy is good.

CSO, DEC, AFG, NFG, SFG

The skills are too abstract for Years 5–6 students.

CSO, IPSHA

Review all aspects of the curriculum for consistent use of terms.

DEC, NFG, AFG, SFG

The key inquiry questions need to be reviewed for consistency and to reflect the content descriptions.

DEC, SFG

The content is complex and is not engaging.

DEC, NFG, AFG, SFG, Survey

In Years 9 and 10 there is capacity to develop greater awareness of work and work futures.

DEC, NFG, AFG, SFG

The focus in Years 7 and 8 should be at a micro level and the focus in Years 9 and 10 at a macro level.

DEC

The content descriptions are lengthy and highly conceptual.

DEC

There is a lack of regulatory frameworks in the curriculum.

DEC

Ethical and socially responsible behaviours of business should have more prominence.

DEC

The work focus is too narrow.

SFG

The skills are not adequately addressed.

SFG

How can the skills be effectively integrated with the knowledge and understandings content?

Survey, SFG

Achievement standards

There is a mismatch between content and achievement standards across the curriculum document. They require substantial revision and should be more flexible for effective implementation. As content descriptions are reviewed and amended achievement standards will also need to be amended.

Summary of feedback Source/s

There is a lack of detail in the achievement standards.

CSO

The achievement standards do not align with the content in the respective Years.

NFG, AFG, SFG,

There seems to be a big step up from Year 7 to Year 8.

Survey

The information in the achievement standards requires further work.

DEC, NFG, AFG, SFG, Survey

The achievement standards appear to specify the assessment tool to be used rather than leaving it open and flexible.

DEC

General capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities

Respondents indicated that Economics and Business provide opportunities to integrate the general capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities into teaching and learning. They noted, however, that the current curriculum does not adequately address these. Where they were included in the content descriptions the general capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities were not appropriately integrated and appeared to be an ‘add-on’. In some instances their inclusion in the elaborations appeared to be tokenistic.

Summary of feedback Source/s

Much of the content for the general capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities appears to be tokenistic and an ‘add-on’.

NFG, SFG

The general capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities are supported; however, their application in the context of Economics and Business needs a lot of work.

DEC

Revision of the general capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities is required to ensure they are appropriately embedded in the content descriptions.

DEC

Sustainability needs to recognise the role of economics and business practices that lead to a sustainable environment.

DEC

Some of this is quite good but it should be more specific for ICT skills.

Survey

Other comments

The Draft Years 5–10 Australian Curriculum: Economics and Business does not yet meet the needs of students, teachers, curriculum developers and systems. It was clear in the consultations that participants are concerned over the breadth of curriculum to be achieved in the time allocation, a lack of clarity in the document, and the age appropriateness of the content.

Summary of feedback Source/s

The topic titles do not reflect what appears in the content.

SFG, Survey

There is a concern if the Civics and Citizenship curriculum is accepted and the Economics and Business curriculum is not supported – what of the timeline?

SFG

The content descriptors should give an indication of breadth and depth; at this stage that is not evident.

Survey, SFG

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