[LINK] Australia's ICT Future

stephen at melbpc.org.au stephen at melbpc.org.au
Tue Aug 31 09:07:41 AEST 2010

Suggest our Australian ICT community talk with ACARA, immediately ..

IT faces squeeze in high-school syllabus 

by Fran Foo From: The Australian August 31, 2010

THE federal government is planning to reduce the hours of computing 
studies for high school students.

Most students in Years 9 and 10 would see the elective subject cut from 
200 hours to 80 hours over two years under draft plans by the Australian 
Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, the body responsible for 
developing a national curriculum in schools.

Internal Acara documents sighted by The Australian show that under a 
single system students in Years 9 and 10 would receive only one hour a 
week for ICT studies.

Academics and information and communications technology teachers are up 
in arms over the proposal.

Acara has downplayed the impact, saying the figures are merely in draft 

At the moment states and territories have different allocations for 
computer studies -- in NSW and Victoria, for example, students undergo 
100 hours a year on ICT. The Acara draft shows students from Years 3 to 8 
will have 20 hours in the year dedicated to ICT.

University of Sydney's James Curran said the proposal meant computing 
would be squeezed out from the intermediate (Year 9-10) syllabus, and 
this would have an enormous impact on enrolments in senior (Year 11-12) 
computing subjects, and on the country's future.

"ICT gets a mere 20 hours each year in Years 7 and 8 and 80 hours 
combined between Year 9 and 10 -- if the students take that elective," Dr 
Curran, a senior lecturer with the Faculty of Engineering and IT, said.

"In Year 7-8 that means 25 per cent of the time devoted to geography (or 
languages), 50 per cent of the time devoted to history, and the same 
amount of time dedicated to civics and citizenship.

"In Year 9-10 computing (is) squeezed into an optional one-hour per week 
so even the kids who really want to study computing may not have the time 

"So much for a forward looking country, we're spending more than twice as 
long looking backwards (and it gets worse if you consider primary school 
as well)," Dr Curran said.

He said Australia's prosperity was clearly heavily dependent on 
information technology and skills, and the Year 9-10 subject was the 
gateway to the senior courses and on to university.

"There is already considerable concern about IT subjects turning off good 
students from pursuing IT further, and the reduction will only make 
things worse," Dr Curran said.

NSW Computing Studies Teachers Association president Steve Madsen was 
also scathing.

"The Acara timetable does not allow for the proper development of a 21st-
century student who has been immersed in technology since they were very 
small . . . more like a 1950s secondary student," he said.

"Students are already required to stay longer at secondary school; often 
it is the elective subjects that keep the students at school and halfway 
interested. Yet the Acara draft suggests time for electives will be 

Mr Madsen said the Acara draft roughly translated to one period per week 
and was not "an ideal situation to promote IT".

A spokeswoman for Acara said the document was an early draft of a guide 
for curriculum writers, and "was one of a number of internal documents 
circulated for feedback several months ago".

She said the hours indicated should be viewed as indications of what 
students were entitled to, as a starting point, not as prescriptive 

"The curriculum entitlements are still being discussed, but states and 
territories as well as individual schools will still be free to provide 
additional learning as they find appropriate," the spokeswoman said.

It is unclear when a final decision on the elective subjects will be made 
but Acara says ICT was an important part of the education system.


Cheers people
Stephen Loosley
Victoria Australia

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