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Arts Learning and The Australian Curriculum Review

For the first time in six years The Australian Curriculum is under review. The Review looks to improve the Australian Curriculum by refining, realigning and decluttering the content so it focusses on the essential knowledge and skills students should learn and is clearer for teachers on what they need to teach.

The scope of the review covers all three parts of the curriculum – the Arts Learning Area (including the five subjects that combine as The Arts), the General Capabilities (including Critical and Creative Thinking, Personal and Social Capability and Intercultural Understanding) and the Cross-curriculum Priorities (including Sustainability and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures).

All members of the public, including students, parents and teachers have been invited to feedback on the proposed revisions. It is a significant opportunity to advocate for the importance of the Arts in the curriculum and to ensure it is accessible to students and teachers across the diversity of Australian school contexts, sectors and geographical locations.

It is vital that all voices are represented, this includes generalist primary teachers who have limited time, experience and resources to teach the Arts curriculum. If there are things in the proposed curriculum that don’t make sense to you, ACARA wants to know about it. You might like to view the proposed changes in one document relating to the year level you teach. This is available from ACARA here.

It is a great privilege and responsibility to have your voice heard in the Australian Curriculum Review. It is a unique opportunity to contribute to the national conversation about what we want young people to know and learn.

Australia’s National Curriculum should reflect the Educational Goals from the Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration by promoting ‘excellence and equity’ and clearly outlining the core knowledge and skills that will help meet the needs of young people to become ‘confident and creative individuals, successful lifelong learners and active and informed members of the community’.

At The Song Room, we know that the Arts has a critical role to play in achieving these goals. We are committed to providing all young people across Australia with opportunities to learn through an Arts curriculum that is relevant, holistic, student-centred and inclusive.

We strongly encourage you to take part in the public consultation process by completing an individual survey or sending your general comments/questions in an email.

Have your say by 8 July.

The below information may assist you in completing the feedback survey.

Proposed Changes to the Arts Curriculum

The ACARA website provides video content and clear documentation on what has changed in the Arts curriculum and why.

Some of the changes that The Song Room is really excited about include:

  • Explicit naming of the four strands (exploring and connecting; developing skills, practice and ideas; creating; and sharing and communicating) that organise the content in the learning area.
  • Reduced lists of elements and jargon in the content descriptions to ensure that essential learning across the stages of the creative process is articulated clearly.
  • New content descriptions and elaborations that connect directly to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures cross-curriculum priority.
  • Specific learning area content for the Foundation year, focusing on play-based Arts learning to support children’s transition from early years learning.
  • Improved content elaborations that identify connections across the Arts subjects with other learning areas, general capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities.
  • Changes to terminology across the Arts curriculum that improve accessibility and inclusivity for students and help ‘future-proof’ it as new arts practices continue to emerge.

Proposed Changes to the Cross-curriculum Priorities

The ACARA website provides information about the proposed changes for the three Cross-curriculum Priorities: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures, Asia and Australia’s Engagement with Asia and Sustainability.

Cross-curriculum priorities have been explicitly and purposefully included in the revisions to content descriptions and elaborations in all learning areas. The Arts curriculum provides students with rich provocations through which to explore these cross-curriculum areas and the learning area content is enriched by developing meaningful and authentic connections to regional, national and global contexts.

There have been some important new recommendations made for the Sustainability cross-curriculum priority that will directly impact the Arts. This includes:

  • Stronger connections to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to position the curriculum in relevant international contexts.
  • Stronger focus on the role of individuals and communities in effecting positive change though their actions and patterns of everyday living and decision-making. This will encourage teachers to place greater emphasis on student agency and action when teaching through inquiry and provides stronger cross-curriculum opportunities to connect to the sustainability priority in relevant and authentic ways.
  • The inclusion of the ‘design’ organising idea which will enable learning in The Arts and Technologies to connect to the sustainability priority in much clearer and stronger ways. As is described in SD1 and SD2, creative, innovative and sustainable design is essential to restoring and preserving ‘the quality and diversity of environmental, social and economic systems’ and artists and designers have an essential role to play in this work.

The Song Room is particularly pleased to see the proposed changes to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures cross-curriculum priority. We respect ACARA’s independent consultation process with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and support all recommendations based on the findings of the review that call for ‘truth-telling with greater respect for, and inclusion of, First Nations Australians histories and cultures throughout the Australian Curriculum’. The proposed changes include:

  • Revisions to the organising ideas to better reflect core aspects of Country/Place, People and Culture for today and the future.
  • Greater clarity to support the inclusion of the organising ideas in selected content descriptions and elaborations in each learning area.
  • Greater historical accuracy including explicit references to the Native Title Act 1993, Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property, Terra Nullius and acknowledgment of the First Peoples of Australia as occupiers of our continent for more than 60, 000 years.
  • Improved attention to the breadth and depth of First Nations Australians’ contributions to contemporary Australia.

The Song Room is privileged to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and Teaching Artists across our programs and is committed to ensuring that ALL students across Australia learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge, experiences and histories. It is vital that our national curriculum is culturally responsive, historically accurate, inclusive of diverse perspectives and supportive of reconciliation.

Proposed Changes to the General Capabilities

The ACARA website provides key information about the proposed revisions for each of the General Capabilities. As these capabilities are not stand-alone subjects but taught through the learning area content, including in The Arts, it is important to consider them as part of the review.

ACARA has sought to improve the relationship between the capabilities and the learning areas so that students can make authentic and meaningful connections in their learning and teachers can focus on teaching essential content. This includes connections between the Arts and Critical and Creative Thinking, Personal and Social Capability and Intercultural Understanding.

Make sure you have your say by 8 July to be a part to of this important conversation.

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