Education Council Meeting – 12 June 2020

The Education Council, consisting of the Federal and all State/Territory Education ministers, met for what might be the last time today.  The future of this and other national meetings is to be reviewed as part of the proposed changes to the COAG structures.

The Council discussed a number of matters affecting Christian schools at its meeting –

National Assessment Program

The arrangements for the National Assessment Program in the context of disruptions caused by COVID19 were discussed and Ministers announced the decision to postpone the scheduled National Assessment Program Information and Communications Technology Literacy (NAPICTL) sample assessment by 12 months to 2021. The NAPICTL is part of a broader sample assessment cycle, alongside NAP Civics and Citizenship and NAPScience Literacy.

Following the decision by Ministers in March to cancel NAPLAN for 2020 due to the impact of COVID19, the Council received advice from the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) about challenges and opportunities for NAPLAN, including the transition to NAPLAN Online. Council agreed that the cancellation of the 2020 NAPLAN test event means that the full transition to NAPLAN online be deferred from 2021 to 2022.

Review of the Foundation to Year 10 Australian Curriculum

Late last year, Education Council tasked ACARA with undertaking a review of the Foundation to Year 10 Australian Curriculum. The review is, once again, charged with “addressing an overcrowded curriculum” and “lifting Australia’s performance in literacy,numeracy and science”.  For those involved in education for any length of time this aim seems vaguely familiar.

In endorsing the Terms of Reference and timelines for the review today, Ministers have asked that ACARA consider how to:

  • refine and reduce the amount of content across all eight learning areas of the Australian Curriculum F10, with a priority on the primary years, to focus on essential content or core concepts;
  • improve the quality of content descriptions and achievement standards by removing ambiguity and unnecessary duplication, and ensuring consistency and clarity of language and cognitive demand;
  • rationalise and improve content elaborations, ensuring they are fit for purpose and they suggest to teachers the most authentic ways to treat general capabilities and cross curriculum priorities when teaching the learning area content; and
  • improve the digital presentation of the Australian Curriculum in line with agreed content changes and user experience.

The Terms of Reference for the review and accompanying support documentation are published on the ACARA website.  There will be opportunities for input into the review in early 2021 with the revised curriculum, if approved by Ministers, scheduled for adoption from the beginning of 2022.

National Evidence Institute

Education Council also agreed to collectively invest $50 million over four years to establish the national evidence institute. The institute will work with teachers and researchers to:

  • Curate and translate evidence of what works in the classroom.
  • Mobilise this evidence to ensure it can be easily and freely accessed.
  • Generate new evidence of effective teaching and learning practices.

The Education Council endorsed the appointment of Dr Jenny Donovan as the inaugural Director of the national evidence institute. Dr Donovan has significant experience in the teaching, academic and government sectors. Dr Donovan is currently serving as the Managing Director of the Online Formative Assessment Initiative under the National Schools Reform Agreement. Prior to this, she served as the Executive Director of the Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation in the New South Wales Department of Education. Dr Donovan will commence in the role on 1 July and the institute will be launched by the end of 2020.