New English, Maths and Science Syllabuses in NSW

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In response to the Gonski Report and the evidence of falling educational standards in the three core subjects mentioned above, the NSW Government has produced new syllabuses which, they believe, will amazingly rectify the worsening situation. The deck chairs on the Titanic have effectively been re-aligned.

In case bureaucrats have not noticed, education occurs in the classroom under the guidance of teachers. Changing external happenings seem to have very little impact on what is occurring in the classroom. I have been involved with education all my working life, including eight years as head teacher mathematics in the State school system. I have done HR training of teachers in over forty different schools; I talk to teachers.

There are two main concerns of teachers that are repeated over and over; discipline issues in the classroom and lack of real support when this occurs; and excessive and meaningless documentation. Syllabus changes to not address the two mentioned issues and could in fact exacerbate the problem.

The new mathematics syllabuses are again alive with meaningless coding and jargon that requires adherence and wastes the valuable time of teachers.

The English K-10 syllabus has 245 pages of jargon and coding that teachers have to wade through to satisfy their superiors, whilst the mathematics K-10 syllabus has 524 pages. Despite this mountain of documentation, I am still receiving students at coaching, in years 4, 5 and 6, who cannot do either long multiplication or long division. More importantly, they seem to have no concept of numbers, and response to simple questions such as 72-69 reveal answers that range in value from 7 – 100+.

Maybe teachers should have more time to design programs that ensure that all students leaving year 4 are fully numerate, know their times tables, can add subtract and divide, rather than wading through and complying with the coded waffle that masquerades as a mathematical syllabus.

To see for yourself you can download the full syllabus at: http://syllabus.nesa.nsw.edu.au/assets/mathematicsk10/downloads/mathematicsk10_full.pdf

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