Australian Journal of Education

Article Title

An Australian science curriculum: Competition, advances and retreats


Science schooling enjoys high status. Scientific capability is perceived as critical in underpinning economic success in advanced societies. Science achievement, at all levels, has become a global competition in which nations want to be seen to triumph. Governments periodically pay close attention to science education with a view to ensuring it does its work for our society and that we perform in the international contest. This is a mixed blessing, because, while it provides occasional injections of funds, it also brings intrusive scrutiny, criticism and demands for change. Typically there are calls for better science, more scientists and a more scientifically literate society. Consequently, from time to time, ideal outlines for school science are generated for translation into curriculum. This article briefly locates the Australian science curriculum in this broad context of science education. It then reports analyses of conversations with leaders in science education research from five Australian states. These explore curriculum development and implementation, strengths and weaknesses of the Australian science curriculum, and missed and realised opportunities. This leads to a conclusion that describes alternative future school science scenarios.