BOSTES (formerly the Board of Studies) has recently released the new NSW Geography syllabus for review. This syllabus, unique to NSW, incorporates the Australian Curriculum for Geography already being implemented in other states in Australia.
The draft new syllabus can be found at the BOSTES website along with documents outlining the features of the documents for different groups (Primary, K-10, Life Skills). The draft document does not include a Senior Geography syllabus draft at this stage.
The consultation session will only run until August 29, 2014, so it is a fairly brief period.
There are a number of opportunities for people to become involved:
Individual responses to BOSTES
There is an online survey which can be filled in, which is fairly comprehensive but contains closed questions. The survey covers topics such as views on the rationale, aims, topics, whether current resources can be used, whether it caters for a full range of students, etc. You can also make more detailed written submissions which can be emailed directly to the Senior Project Officer, Geography, Brooke Prideaux (email available at the BOSTES page linked above).
A number of sessions have been organised by BOSTES during the consultation period. These are to be held at Liverpool, Pennant Hills, Gymea and Ashfield as well as regional sessions at Moruya, Coffs Harbour, Orange and Griffith. Each of these sessions require registration very soon. Check the above-linked BOSTES page for details and links to registration. This is being organised by Eventbrite, but I'm sure that Brooke would the any questions.
For teachers in NSW Public Schools, the DEC Learning and Leadership Directorate are holding consultation sessions to put together a submission on behalf of the DEC. This will be done using Adobe Connect, and registration should be completed through the DEC's Professional Learning database and management system MyPL. The title is "Secondary consultation on the draft Geography K-10 Syllabus" (Course Code: NR06641). This is to take place on Monday 28 July 3.30pm – 4:30 pm. Alana Ellis, the Relieving HSIE Advisor 7-12 is the contact person, and can be contacted through her DEC email.
Professional Associations and informal groups:
Interestingly, the NSWGTA Annual Conference falls mid way through the consultation period. I suspect that while there doesn't appear to be a consultation session on the agenda (the agenda was released before the draft syllabus) that there may be some slight rearranging of the program to allow time for it.
Online groups, such as Geography Teachers Online Australia (Facebook group) are already abuzz with discussions regarding various parts of the new syllabus. This is a great way to hear a few different perspectives and get involved in the debate.
Don't forget that sometimes the best discussions can happen face to face in your own faculty. Consider what the difficulties are of the current syllabus for your students. Will the new syllabus solve these problems? Are there new issues? How will your students cope with the content? Will they find it interesting? What resources do you currently use that will fit in with new syllabus? What are the areas that are going to need a lot of work?
What we already know:
- Australia already has an agreed Australian Curriculum for Geography. The writing of the curriculum was completed in 2012, involved consultation between states, with professional associations and teachers, and was signed off by federal and state education ministers. There have been no discussions or public announcements about a review of this curriculum at this stage, despite reviews currently taking place of other subjects.
- All states/territories but NSW began implementation of the Australian Curriculum for Geography in 2013. Like the Phase 1 subjects (English, Maths, Science, History), BOSTES decided that the structure of the Australian Curriculum was not suitable for NSW teachers, and that it would need to be rewritten to more closely resemble the current/previous syllabi.
- BOSTES appointed a Project Manager to oversee the writing of the Geography syllabus for NSW as of January 2014. The former BOS had a procedure for writing new syllabi which involved hiring a team of writers, consulting with stakeholders, reviewing and refining. We can assume that a similar process was followed and that this has taken place between January and July to allow for the new document to be released.
- While we are in a consultation period, we can assume that some sections of the syllabus are "locked in" while other parts are open to discussion. These have been labelled in the draft document.
Please make sure you take the opportunity to have your say while we have the chance.
Deputy Principal at a Sydney high school. Coordinating author of the new Geoactive book series.