The Australian Government is committed to placing more emphasis on the quality of school education and ensuring students have access to the knowledge and skills they need to succeed.
In January 2014 the Australian Government announced a review to evaluate the robustness, independence and balance of the Australian Curriculum, examining the content and development process. The final report from this review was released in October 2014. More information about the review is available.
The Australian Government has worked to restore the focus on a back to basics approach, placing a greater emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in schools, and conducting research into the provision of languages education across jurisdictions in the senior secondary years.
Agreed Australian Curriculum
On 18 September 2015 all Education Ministers endorsed a revised Foundation to Year 10 Australian Curriculum. Changes to the curriculum following the review focused on addressing overcrowding and rebalancing content, particularly in the primary curriculum, including a strengthened focus on literacy. The review also addressed the important issue of curriculum accessibility for all students and parents.
In December 2015, the Foundation to Year 10 Australian Curriculum: Languages was endorsed by all Education Ministers. Thirteen languages were included in the languages curriculum: Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Modern Greek, Spanish, Turkish, Vietnamese, and a framework for Aboriginal languages and Torres Strait Islander languages. A framework for classical languages (Greek and Latin) and AUSLAN (sign language) will be completed by the end of 2016.
The National Innovation and Science Agenda – Inspiring all Australians in digital literacy and STEM
On 7 December 2015 the Government released the National Innovation and Science Agenda. More information about the Agenda is available at www.innovation.gov.au
The Agenda’s Inspiring all Australians in digital literacy and STEM measure, has a variety of initiatives to increase the participation of all students and the community in ICT and improve their digital literacy. They include:
- initiatives to inspire curiosity and develop science and maths knowledge in early childhood;
- online computing challenges for Year 5 and 7 students nationally
- ICT summer schools for Year 9 and 10
- support for school leaders to drive digital literacy and partnerships between ICT leaders and schools.
There will be a focus on tackling the digital divide by ensuring that students most at risk of falling behind in the digital age are given opportunities to participate and engage.
Total Australian Government funding for Inspiring all Australians in digital literacy and STEM is $112.2 million. Of this, the Department of Education and Training’s initiatives total $64.6 million. These will be provided over four years and commenced from July 2016.
More information about the initiatives can be found on the Inspiring all Australians in digital literacy and STEM page.
Restoring the focus on STEM at school
On 14 October 2014 the Australian Government announced a seperate $12 million for initiatives aimed at increasing the focus on STEM subjects in primary and secondary schools. This forms a key element of its Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda aimed at increasing STEM skills in Australia’s workforce. More information about the Restoring the focus on STEM in schools initiative is available.
Improving the take up of foreign languages
The Australian Government supports the teaching and learning of languages and the understanding of cultures. To this end, it is working with states and territories to ensure the Australian Curriculum: Languages meets community expectations enabling all students in all schools who want to learn a language to learn it to the same high quality and to measureable achievement standards.
The Australian Government is focused on creating a pipeline of language study—encouraging preschool children who begin studying a language to continue this journey into the senior secondary years of schooling. The Early Learning Languages Australia (ELLA) program is a key part, along with the thirteen languages included in the Australian Curriculum.