Australian Journal of Education

Article Title

National curriculum: A political-educational tangle


Recent moves in Australia to institute a national curriculum emanated from federal governments of ostensibly different political persuasions in the period from 2003, building on developments that go back over 25 years. This article traces continuities and new developments, meditating on two questions: whether the current moves are politically likely to move along federalism in Australian education and whether the current approach to national curriculum is educationally sound. Lack of infrastructure to support teachers and schools, lack of necessary feedback loops into policy and development, and lack of appropriate evolving and specified relationships among levels of government may well undo all the important educational work on national curriculum. On the educational front, the overcrowding of specified content, its specification at age levels, and the disjuncture between content, assessment and pedagogies do not bode well for providing practicable and wellresourced support for teachers. But, given other national partnerships and work on federalising many spheres (including theAC two big spending areas still under states’ control: health and education), it may be that national curriculum is a project whose time has come. If so—and this is still not certain—it signals major shifts in the governance of curriculum and particularly has implications for the role of teachers in the core of their work.