New WA Curriculum
From the start of 2015 home educators are required to comply with the new West Australian Curriculum and Assessment Outline.
The Arts, Languages, Geography, Civics and Citizenship, Economics and Business, Health and Physical Education and Technologies will continue to use the Curriculum Framework until such time as they are included in the WA Curriculum Assessment Outline.
HEWA has received a response from the Education Department in regard to the level of compliance required for Home Educators. The Authority referred to below is the School Curriculum and Standards Authority (previously WA Curriculum Council).
“The Authority has advised that all educational programs, whether they are delivered in school or through a home education program, must reflect the Outline’s general capabilities, and the content and achievement standards.”
“Of course, moderators will continue to be flexible to cater for the different approaches of home educators and use their professional judgement when they come to evaluating home education programs according to the Outline.”
Therefore, from 2015 those families who are currently home educating will need to use one of the approved curriculum below for Maths, English, Science and History.
Whilst the new Montessori National Curriculum has been approved for use instead of the National Australian Curriculum, it is not yet available to home educating parents. Montessori Australia have this to say on their website:
“The development of the Montessori National Curriculum and the subsequent approval process will cost MAF (a not-for-profit) tens of thousands of dollars. Although the cost has been kept to a minimum due to the hundreds of hours of volunteer work done by our committees and document contributors, the majority of funding is derived from MAF subscriptions. This support affords all MAF school subscribers the benefit of a license to use the Montessori National Curriculum. The document may be downloaded from the School Subscriber section of the website.
We have not yet developed a policy for access to the curriculum by non-subscriber schools as our priority has been spent on its development and working with ACARA. We will develop a policy over the coming months in consultation with our relevant committees.”
There are international Montessori curriculum documents and packages that are available online but these have not been approved for use in Australia instead of the Australian National Curriculum. It may be possible however, to talk to your Moderator about the use of an international curriculum until the Australian documents become more widely available.
The possibility of a group of home educators subscribing to Montessori Australia as a ‘school’ in order to access the curriculum has not yet been explored either. A minimum rate of $500 applies to all subscriptions and a group of home educators sharing this cost would likely need to be negotiated with Montessori Australia.
Similar to Montessori Australia, Steiner Education Australia (SEA) says of its National Curriculum:
“SEA has copyright over these documents and though we share them on this website, only SEA members can use the documents for school registration purposes.”
The Steiner National Curriculum is actually shared on this page:
The SEA statement above means that a school cannot use these documents to fulfil registration requirements unless they are a member of SEA. All schools, public and private must go through a registration process to ensure that they are meeting national standards for safety and many other areas, including adherence to the National Australian Curriculum. Schools obtain a registration rating that allows them to stay registered (operating as a school) from anywhere between 1-5 years before their next registration visit.
Since home educators are not schools but providing education for their children from home, it does not appear that there would be any problem with parents using the Steiner Curriculum in their home education. It is recommended that if parents wish to do this, that they print out the ACARA registration document in the first link above to show to their Moderator.
“The ACARA Recognition Committee considers that the IB PYP and MYP curriculum frameworks allow for comparable educational outcomes for students by the end of Year 10 in relation to the Australian Curriculum.”
There are International Baccalaureate curriculum documents and packages that are available online but these have not been approved for use in Australia instead of the Australian National Curriculum. It may be possible however, to talk to your Moderator about the use of an international curriculum until the Australian documents are developed.
Mix and Match
At this time, it is allowable for home educators to use a combination of Steiner, Montessori and West Australian Curriculum and Assessment Outline in providing their child’s education.
The Australian Curriculum
The Australia Curriculum website: http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/ provides this information on the curriculum;
“The development of the Australian Curriculum is guided by the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians, adopted by the council of state and territory education ministers in December 2008. The Melbourne Declaration emphasises the importance of knowledge, understanding, skills and values and a range of cross-disciplinary skills that will support all young Australians to become successful learners, confident and creative individuals and active and informed citizens.
These goals and priorities are reflected in the three dimensions of the Australian Curriculum, learning areas, general capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities, that together provide the basis for a curriculum designed to support 21st century learning.
The Australian Curriculum describes a learning entitlement for each Australian student that provides a foundation for successful, lifelong learning and participation in the Australian community. It acknowledges that the needs and interests of students will vary, and that schools and teachers will plan from the curriculum in ways that respond to those needs and interests.
The Australian Curriculum acknowledges the changing ways in which young people will learn and the challenges that will continue to shape their learning in the future.”
The Australian Curriculum sets out what all young people should be taught through the specification of curriculum content and the learning expected at points in their schooling through the specification of achievement standards.
The curriculum includes a rationale and a set of aims
- an overview of how the learning area is organised
- year level descriptions
- content descriptions (knowledge, understanding and skills) specifying what teachers are expected to teach
- content elaborations to provide additional clarity by way of illustrative examples only
- achievement standards that describe the quality of learning (the depth of understanding and sophistication of skill) expected of students at points in their schooling
- annotated student work samples that illustrate the achievement standard at each year level. As the Australian Curriculum is implemented, the available work samples will be enhanced in both volume and range of forms.
- a glossary to support consistent understanding of terms used
Increasingly, in a world where knowledge itself is constantly growing and evolving, students need to develop a set of knowledge, skills, behaviours and dispositions, or general capabilities that apply across learning area content and equip them to be lifelong learners able to operate with confidence in a complex, information-rich, globalised world.
The Australian Curriculum includes a focus on seven general capabilities:
- Information and communication technology (ICT) capability
- Critical and creative thinking
- Ethical understanding
- Personal and social capability
- Intercultural understanding
Continua of learning have been developed for each, to describe the relevant knowledge, skills, behaviours and dispositions at particular points of schooling.
The Australian Curriculum also pays attention to three cross-curriculum priorities
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures
- Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia
These have been embedded where relevant and appropriate in each learning area and can be viewed explicitly in the curriculum online.
The West Australian Curriculum and Assessment Outline
Western Australia’s curriculum prior to the introduction of the new Australian Curriculum was known as the Curriculum Framework.
The current Western Australian Curriculum encompasses the Australian Curriculum, setting out the knowledge, understandings, skills, values and attitudes that students are expected to acquire. The curriculum has a twenty-first century focus which includes three cross-curriculum priorities and seven general capabilities.
The Western Australian Curriculum comprises:
1. The Early Years Learning Framework
This document is available here: http://k10outline.scsa.wa.edu.au/Curriculum_k-10/Western_Australian_Curriculum/EYLF
2. Kindergarten Curriculum Guidelines
This document is available here: http://k10outline.scsa.wa.edu.au/Curriculum_k-10/Western_Australian_Curriculum/K_Guidelines
3. Pre-primary to Year 10 Curriculum (or Alternative Curr. - Steiner, Montessori, IB)
This document is available here: http://wacurriculum.scsa.wa.edu.au/
Year 11 and 12
At this time, the WA Curriculum and Assessment Outline (Australian Curriculum for Maths, English, History and Science and Curriculum Framework for all other subjects) only caters for kindergarten to year 10. Year 11 and 12 students will still use the Curriculum Framework in it's entirety.
Other important things to understand about WA
Given the phased development of the Australian Curriculum, WA schools will be teaching some learning areas from the Australian Curriculum supplemented by learning areas described in the former Western Australian Curriculum Framework. As the Australian Curriculum is developed, it will gradually replace the Curriculum Framework in Western Australia.
This link provides the Curriculum Framework:
Advice for Home Educating Parents
The best place to start in understanding the West Australian Curriculum and Assessment Outline is to visit the West Australian Curriculum website and start to read through the information. The online information is designed such that you can select the information most relevant to you.
It may be helpful to print out the relevant documents and start to go through them and make notes or start thinking about how you might follow the curriculum in a way that will work for your family and child.
There are a number of organisations working to provide resources for home educating parents to implement the curriculum in a way that aligns with their learning style. HEWA will provide information on resources that will support parents as it becomes available. You can also become an active participant on forums (in WA and nationally) to gain ideas, and start building a support net-work of people who may be able to help you in implementing the curriculum.
This website provides an outline of West Australian Curriculum and Assessment Outline
What about the Natural Learners?
The Curriculum Framework made it relatively easy for people taking a natural learning approach to home education to comply with the Curriculum. The Curriculum Framework is essentially a series of outcomes in different stages for each subject area. Teachers or parents could use any content they wished to support children in achieving those outcomes. That meant that home educating families have been free to choose to teach whatever content they find relevant to their child, provided they can show that they are learning in each of the core subject areas and working toward the Curriculum Framework outcomes.
The Australian Curriculum however, is much more specific in that it dictates certain content that is to be taught. A common cry from those with a natural learning approach is “but what if that con-tent is not relevant to my child? I am home educating so that I can choose content that IS relevant. It should be my choice.”
This is a deeper philosophical and political issue that is not likely to be resolved in the near future. Thus, it is recommended that parents choosing to pursue a natural learning approach engage their creativity in meeting the Australian Curriculum requirements.
The Australian Curriculum DOES NOT mean that natural learning is impossible. It is just a matter of taking a flexible approach and thinking creatively. Keep in mind these points:
1. There is no set time frame that home educating students must achieve the outcomes of the Australian Curriculum.
Thus, if content for a year in history focuses on Ancient Egypt, for example, there is no reason that parents can’t find several learning experiences to do with Ancient Egypt that would convey the required knowledge and do that within a matter of weeks - and then choose their own content for the rest of the year. You are not locked into following only the prescribed content of the curriculum.
2. Home educating students do not need to work at the year level that matches their age.
Thus, if your child is working at year 3 level in Maths but year 5 level in English, that is fine as long as they are continuing to make progress over the course of a year. Some children will be working below the year level relevant to their age in all areas and some will be working above. Others will be working at different year levels for each subject in the Curriculum. This is acceptable.
3. The Australian Curriculum does not prescribe HOW you teach the content.
You can choose to deliver content in any way you wish - and that includes natural learning experiences. Some pieces of content may be delivered through an excursion, or a discussion or every day activities. You are not locked into doing formal work. With creativity, it is entirely possible to meet curriculum requirements and enjoy natural learning.