The Arts Absent From Australia’s National Curriculum Planning

For all those Drama and Theatre teachers out there reading this blog in Australia, you should officially be concerned …. be very concerned.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you will be aware the Federal Government is planning a national curriculum for Australian schools. Here’s a brief run-down of what’s happened so far:

  • currently there is only Phase One and Phase Two planned
  • Phase One includes English, Maths, Science and History
  • Phase Two currently includes Geography and LOTE (Languages Other Than English)
  • Phase Two is apparently “locked off” with no intention of adding further learning areas to it
  • the framing documents for Phases One & Two have been written, but the curriculum documents for these learning areas have not yet been released
  • There is no official Phase Three and although there have been whispers of one, the fact is there is no budgetary funding set aside by the Federal Government for any likelihood of a Phase Three
  • The only hope The Arts has of being represented in a National Curriculum is now to be included in a Phase Three, which technically does not exist.

To put it bluntly, this is scary stuff. We already have a recent example of The Arts being shunted when last year the Australian Primary Principals Association released the very first Australian Primary School Charter, detailing the key learning areas of the curriculum in Australian Primary (K-6) schools as:

  • English
  • Mathematics (including numeracy)
  • Science
  • Social Education

Should we be at all surprised that The Arts was completely left off this list? According to the APPA, 90% of Primary Principals surveyed online, supported the content of this charter.

Now we have a Federal Government planning a national curriculum that does not recognise The Arts (performing or visual), which completely supports the President of IDEA (International Drama/Theatre in Education Association), Dan Baron Cohen, and his recent statement outlined in a post last week on The Drama Teacher that:

… in every region of the world, most parents and teachers still think of the arts and creative industries as elitist luxuries or irrelevant to their lives.

Please read a media release and an advocacy document put together by the National Advocates for Arts Education (NAAE) at the bottom of this post. The NAAE are planning a campaign in 2009 to try and solve this problem of The Arts currently not being recognised in a future national curriculum in Australia.

Australian Drama and Theatre teachers are encouraged to write a cover letter expressing your concerns and attach the advocacy statement below, then send it to your local Federal Member of Parliament. Our voices need to be heard. People’s jobs may be at stake and the future of The Arts, and Drama/Theatre in particular, at all levels of Australian schooling are at risk.

NAAE Media Release

NAAE Arts Advocacy Statement

3 Responses

  1. Miranda says:

    i am searching for a rural, semi rural primary school that has a performing arts in it’s curriculum, it seems like an almost impossible task!!! i know that hs is about the non inclusion of the arts in the new national curriculum, but i am really hoping that someone can point me in the right direction!

  2. Jules Alexander Grant says:

    We must fight and take action before it’s too late.

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