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Strengthening Australian literature in NSW schools

19 May 2008

Minister for Education and Training, John Della Bosca, has announced a plan by the Iemma Government to ensure every NSW student studies more Australian books, poems and plays will soon be open to comment by teachers and education groups.

The plan follows a request by the Minister to the NSW Board of Studies to explore ways to improve the presence of Australian literature in the English curriculum.

“NSW leads the country in standards–based curriculum, assessment and reporting and our Higher School Certificate is considered the gold standard”, the Minister said.

“Australian literature is important in providing students with a sense of identity, insight into our diverse culture, historical contexts and our unique place in the world.

“While Australian literature is already featured across the primary and secondary English syllabuses, these proposals will help to ensure that all students experience the wisdom, knowledge and talent of our authors.

“The Board of Studies has now developed some broad proposals to bolster the study of high quality home–grown fiction and nonfiction books, poetry and drama.

“Under the proposals, the Board has recommended changing the English K–6 syllabus to include a substantial experience of Australian literature in each stage of learning”, Mr Della Bosca said.

Examples of how this could be achieved include:

  • regular guided reading, shared reading and independent reading of Australian picture books and Big Books
  • extended studies of Australian novels and poetry
  • close study, as a whole class or in groups, of Australian novels and poetry
  • a detailed study of Australian literature as a link across several key learning areas in a unit of work.

“In addition, the Board of Studies web site would support schools with links to authoritative web sites featuring lists of high quality Australian literature”, the Minister said.

“To ensure students in Years 7–8 and Years 9–10 have a solid experience of Australian literature, it is proposed the syllabus be changed to make it compulsory for students to study at least two pieces of Australian literature from different forms including fiction, nonfiction, poetry and drama.

“The Board is also proposing the development of a new Australian literature module which would challenge Year 11 students taking the English Extension course in the lead up to the HSC”, Mr Della Bosca said.

“However, there is no plan to change the HSC English syllabuses”, the Minister said.

“Australian literature already features strongly on the HSC English Prescriptions list which is the focus of HSC English study for all students. Selected texts are studied in depth.

“On the new 2009–2012 HSC Prescriptions list, of the 101 print medium texts listed, 33 are Australian and students may study Australian novels, poetry, drama and nonfiction works.

“Among the internationally renowned Australian writers whose works are listed are Peter Carey, David Malouf, Patrick White, Tim Winton and Gail Jones.

“These proposed changes would be put to teachers and key stakeholders at metropolitan and regional meetings before the end of the current school term”, Mr Della Bosca said.

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