AbstractsEducation Research & Administration

The establishment of a national curriculum centre

by Beth Moran

Institution: University of Canberra
Year: 1980
Keywords: national curriculum centre; Commonwealth government; state governments; Australian Education Council
Record ID: 1518084
Full text PDF: http://erl.canberra.edu.au./public/adt-AUC20061019.093501


This study examines the establishment of the national curriculum centre and the historical, political, social and educational factors which contributed to the decision of the Minister for Education on the recommendation of the Australian Education Council, to establish such a centre. This study looks at the historical background which resulted in States' responsibility for education, at the Australian Constitution which avoids any mention of education but which allows Commonwealth support for education through grants to the States. It briefly traces the development of an increasing Commonwealth involvement in education, notes the very significant inquiries at national level into areas of need resulting in reports such as the Murray Martin, Karmel and Kangan recommending Commonwealth funding for specific areas of education. Other significant institutions and influences are identified. These include bodies such as the Australian Council for Education Research, the Conference of Directors' General and the Australian Education Council. The Commonwealth Department of Education is seen to play a major part in the decision to establish a national curriculum centre supported as it has been in this policy, by all major political parties and by successive governments in office. Much of this concern for curriculum reflects an environment of change typical of the 60's both educationally and politically. It was a period when philosophies of education and attitudes to the whole process of schooling were being questioned. Some influence emerges from contact by Australian teachers and academics with major overseas curriculum centres, notably the Schools Council and from large scale curriculum projects both in the U.S. and the U.K., notably in the area of science. A variety of factors contributed to the Australian Science Education Project as a major national curriculum program which gave support to the view that all States and systems could and would co-operate, with some Commonwealth support, in the provision of curriculum materials and the development of curricula with relevance for all Australian students. UNESCO conferences such as that at Burwood in 1967 on the "Teaching of the Social Sciences at the Secondary Level" and the Sydney one concerned with the Teaching of English, among others, brought together a range of concerned teachers who were involved in the subsequent establishment of the National Committee on Social Science Teaching and the National Committee for Teaching English. A third Committee, the Asian Studies Co-ordinating Committee arose from a Commonwealth inquiry into the teaching of Asian language and culture. These three committees undertook programs in curriculum development which responded to the need for work in these areas, and for the need for such programs to involve all States and systems and to rationalise expenditure and utilise…