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Curriculum & Leadership Journal
An electronic journal for leaders in education
ISSN: 1448-0743
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Taking stock: where are we in the curriculum debate? The 14th Curriculum Corporation conference

Special report


Away from school, young people are becoming ever more comfortable with new models of learning, models that rely on collaboration, on increased agency, on co-creating new products and resources, on relevant and instant feedback and, most importantly, on choice. We need to become far more serious about applying these models to formal learning if we are to increase engagement and retention, and not only by learners but also teachers. (Lord David Puttnam, Futurelab,  BETT 2007)

Never before have so many people wanted a say about what should be taught in schools in Australia. Curriculum Corporation's 14th annual conference, 21st Century Curriculum: Taking Bearings, focuses on ‘what curriculum should be’ within the context of these current and competing political and stakeholder perspectives about education.  Speakers and participants will discuss the state of the current debate and where systems, schools and teachers should direct their efforts. The conference is being held in Sydney on 12 and 13 November 2007.

The 2007 conference program will examine some of the emerging contexts shaping our world and reflect on how they impact on what happens in classrooms. Does the ‘upload generation’ require a different sort of curriculum and pedagogy? How do we address equity issues when access to information is so pervasive? How do systems lead change in large and diverse schooling environments?  What is an appropriate pace for curriculum reform? The Curriculum Corporation conference has over the years provided a forum for important national curriculum reflection and discussion.

Perhaps more than in previous years, the will for more nationally consistent curriculum documents is shared amongst stakeholders. Federalist Paper 2, The Future of Schooling in Australia, a report by the States and Territories released in April 2007, advocates working towards a national curriculum.  With both sides of politics committed to pursuing a more nationally consistent curriculum and with a Federal election imminent, the timing of this year’s conference provides a stage to highlight the next phase of work in this area.

Professor Peter Dawkins will provide an update on these developments.  Professor Dawkins is Chair of the Review Steering Committee and Secretary of the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. He is a former Director of the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research at the University of Melbourne. Professor Dawkins has also been asked by the Council for the Australian Federation (comprising the First Ministers of the States and Territories) to chair a Review of the Adelaide Declaration on National Goals for Schooling.

The role of schools in building economic and social capital

Another important strand in the conference will be the exploration of the broad notions of transforming schools to build economic and social capital.  Speakers will explore the practicalities of school-community partnerships and how school structures impinge on effective delivery of curriculum. The importance of building cultural intelligence and understanding underpins a debate about an excellent and equitable curriculum. Speakers representing a range of perspectives will present strong views about national identity, equity issues and Australia’s place in the region and globally.

A provocative perspective on the global context for curriculum reform will be provided by Lord (David) Puttnam of Queensgate, CBE. David Puttnam is current Chairman of Futurelab and President of UNICEF. After a distinguished career as an independent film producer David Puttnam was appointed Chancellor of the University of Sunderland from 1998, and moved on to become Chancellorship of the Open University in 2007. He was the founder and remains Chair of Trustees of the National Teaching Awards. He also served as the inaugural Chair of the General Teaching Council for England (2000–2002).

Other international colleagues involved in recent large scale curriculum change management projects in the United Kingdom (UK) and Canada will also share their experiences and expertise. Mick Waters, Director of  Curriculum, Qualifications and Curriculum Authority will explore the most recent approach to curriculum developed by the QCA, and how it addresses the particular challenges facing education in the UK at this time. Mick Waters’ background in education includes a role as Chief Education Officer for the City of Manchester where he played a leading role in the development of joint children’s services, the 14-19 Strategy , and the Building Schools for the Future program. Before that time he led a successful drive for school improvement in Birmingham.

Ben Levin, Canada Research Chair in Educational Leadership and Policy, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, will address the conference by video link and share his experiences producing an entire new curriculum for 700 schools in the Canadian province of Manitoba. Ben Levin has combined an extensive career as a senior civil servant in education with a strong track record as a researcher and academic. He has been a senior manager in government on several occasions. From 2004 to 2007 he served as Deputy Minister (director general) for Education in the province of Ontario, a time during which student achievement and teacher morale both rose significantly. He was also previously Director General for education in Manitoba.

Registration for the conference is now open. Early bird registration will close on Monday 1 October 2007. The full program and registration form is accessible by visiting: http://www.curriculum.edu.au/conference/2007/, or by contacting National Curriculum Services by phone; 03 9417 3555, or email ncs@ncsonline.com.au.



Subject Headings

Educational evaluation
Education policy
Curriculum planning