What should students learn?

YEAR-by-year breakdowns of how and what students should be learning provided in the draft national curriculum have sparked controversy nationwide.

The draft history curriculum includes extensive work on indigenous history which was previously absent in Queensland classrooms.

Opposition education spokesperson Christopher Pyne said the draft syllabus had been “skewed to a black armband view of Australian history”.

“I know that the government will immediately demand that the Opposition retract from its views that indigenous culture has been over-emphasised and there will be an attempt to snub a debate ... there will be false claims of racism by the government in order to shut down debate,” Mr Pyne said.

Mr Pyne said the draft curriculum had 118 references to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture but none of the Westminster parliamentary system or the Magna Carta, on which Australia’s laws were based.

The curriculum also featured an emphasis on phonics when teaching students to read.

St Luke’s Anglican School head of middle school and curriculum Nick Johnstone said the phonic approach was probably more familiar to most as “sounding it out”.

“It is about looking for patterns in how letters sound and most schools are using some sort of phonics program,” he said.

Mr Johnstone said there were many different approaches to phonics.



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