Victorian election: Focus on national pride, ‘back-to-basics’ curriculum under Coalition education plan


Updated

January 24, 2018 09:06:00

Victoria’s curriculum would be stripped back and teachers encouraged to teach Western history and national pride, as part of a school education overhaul promised by the Coalition ahead of this year’s state election.

Key policies:

  • Increased focus on writing, reading, numeracy
  • Improve knowledge of Western history, civics, Australian values
  • Free “overburdened” teachers from bureaucratic work
  • Schools encouraged to localise and specialise their curriculum

Schools would also be given a greater level of autonomy and encouraged to specialise, according to the Opposition’s school education values statement to be launched today.

While the document is light on specific policy detail and contains no budget commitments, it does set out themes the Coalition wants to pursue if Matthew Guy is elected premier in November — including lifting student results, which have stagnated across Australia in recent years.

Some of the policy pitches on Western history and civics are set to generate backlash among some education groups and fuel so-called culture wars.

In the document, the Coalition highlighted three topics considered priorities in the current curriculum that they may relegate: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia, and sustainability.

“Whilst we agree with the importance of these topics, we believe greater value would result from not having cross-curriculum priorities which serve only to dilute the teaching of core competencies; namely, literacy, numeracy and writing skills,” Opposition education spokesman Tim Smith said.

The Coalition has previously announced it will scrap the Safe Schools program if it is elected, following the lead of a number of other states.

More literacy and numeracy promised, less bureaucracy

Mr Smith, a Scotch College alumni, said curriculum should inspire young people with the ideas and values that have helped make Australia “a beacon of hope and justice”.

“It should emphasise what generations who have come before us have deemed worth conserving and that we are very lucky to call Australia home,” he said.

The Opposition wants “over-burdened” teachers to focus more on numeracy, literacy and writing skills.

The Coalition also wants to free teachers of bureaucratic work and allow them to teach issues that are important to “local circumstances”.

“The Victorian and national curricula exceed 6,000 pages. We need to prioritise what our kids are learning and make sure they are learning it properly,” Mr Smith said.

He also said he believed Western history prior to 1788 was not being taught enough, and evidence showed students had very poor knowledge of civics.

‘Safe schools takes time away from basics’: Coalition

Education has traditionally been tough political turf for the Coalition, but the Opposition said it wanted to focus on results for students.

“Compared to stronger performing education systems, Victoria’s curriculum lacks academic rigour, and is consumed by ideology and educational fads,” the document said.

“Mandating controversial gender and sexuality programs like Safe Schools takes time away from teaching the basics, and proves that the Andrews Government is more concerned about politically correct ideology than essential learning.”

In a joint statement, Mr Guy and Nationals Leader Peter Walsh said they were the first leaders of the Liberal and National parties to be both entirely educated in government schools.

“We are determined that under our leadership, Victoria will continue its proud tradition of being the intellectual capital of Australia,” they said.

Topics:

education,

schools,

state-parliament,

vic

First posted

January 24, 2018 06:16:07

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