School curriculum set for biggest shake-up in 30 years
Times tables, spelling, grammar and mental maths will be drummed into students from kindergarten under the most sweeping changes to the education system in 30 years.
A complete rewrite of the entire curriculum will take a back-to-basics approach for the younger years, which could include repetitive learning times tables and grammar and old-fashioned classroom spelling bees.
The new curriculum will be rolled out from 2022, which gives the NSW Education Standards Authority at least 18 months to put a broom through every subject from kindergarten to Year 12.
Children are currently expected to know their times tables up to 10 times 10 by year six, but the syllabus does not dictate how they are taught.
Primary school students are now likely to practise repetitive techniques to help recall them on demand. To give teachers more time to focus on the basics, all subjects will be stripped back to the core disciplines.
Currently all kindergarten students are expected to learn their numbers as well as patterns, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, algebra, length, area, volume and capacity, mass, time, three-dimensional space, two-dimensional space, position and date.
From 2022, kindergarten students will instead be taught numbers, addition, subtraction and multiplication, and only move on to more complex concepts like fractions once they have conquered the basics.
Compared to other Australian states, NSW students have dropped from fourth to sixth in reading, third to fifth in maths and third to fifth in science between 2012 and 2018. A once-in-a-generation review of the curriculum set to be formally released this week has found irrelevant content that has crept into the curriculum over the past 30 years is behind NSW students' gradual decline in test results.
The review found most syllabuses are "overcrowded" with content and need to be stripped down to focus on what is essential in each subject and students need more time to master a syllabus before moving to the next one.
New subjects for kindergarten to year nine will be gradually introduced on a subject-by-subject basis, instead of changing every subject for a single cohort at once. New subjects for the senior secondary years will be introduced in one fell swoop, so course content does not change while a student is studying the HSC.
"These changes are the biggest shake up in education in more than 30 years," Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
"They will be welcomed by teachers and parents and most importantly will deliver better results for students across the entire state.
"For our youngsters, the curriculum needs to focus on core subjects of English, maths and science.
"We need to lift standards and ensure every student has the opportunity to reach their full potential."
Niche and unnecessary subjects across all years will be scrapped to make way for more vocational subjects, in a bid to better prepare students for the workforce by the time they graduate.
The Sunday Telegraph last week revealed the education department will create more relevant and engaging vocational education subjects with input of tradies to tackle rising rates of wagging and dropouts who think the HSC is only important for students who aspire to study at university. The review recommended core disciplines should be taught "across the school years".
While students will continue to be grouped by age, those struggling to keep up will not automatically advance until they have a deep understanding of the subject matter and high achievers can move on to tougher topics so they are continually challenged.
Originally published as School curriculum set for biggest shake-up in 30 years