What are your views on the Australian National Curriculum?
The HomeLearn program must, at one level, be firmly opposed to the National Curriculum (in it's current form) for four very important reasons:
(1) The principle of central government dictating what all people should know and think is the antithesis (opposite) of what we believe are fundamental human rights of parents and the principles behind home-based education. We firmly believe that parents have the prior right to decide what their children should learn and know, and we would assume that this is one of the reasons parents involved in home-based education have chosen that path and are exercising that educational right.
(2) Some very important fundamental educational principles are not adhered to in the proposed form of the National Curriculum. The HomeLearn program has, at it's heart, the concept of 'concentric curriculum' - that is that students keep coming back around to the same concepts each year, but at an increasing level of understanding and with new perspectives. This principle is completely lost in the current form of the National Curriculum in many subjects, particularly Science. As an example of this, the Science topic of "heat energy" is listed ONLY at Year 3 level and does not appear again until a brief mention in Year 8. Educationally, that is absurd - students will and should develop this concept at increasing levels of sophistication and depth as their background and understanding grows. To just cover it in Year 3, or if they happen to be sick for that brief period of time or just 'not get it' that time around, they will miss the concept for their whole Primary school education. The National Curriculum is, on this extremely important principle, completely out of step with most existing State curricula and with best educational practice.
(3) The National Curriculum is a very narrow "Back-to-Basics" thinking, which goes completely against the need to develop creative lateral thinking people to move forward into the unknowns of the future. Most of today's jobs did not even exist or had not even been thought of as little as 20 years ago; Social perspectives have dramatically changed; Concepts and ideas and even many so-called 'facts' in school text books of even 10 years ago seem out-dated, inappropriate and sometimes downright silly today. Similar kinds of concerns are being expressed by educational experts. Professor Cathie Holden of Britain's University of Exeter, speaking at an educators conference in Australia, said: "a world-class curriculum is described as ''one that will inspire and challenge all learners and prepare them for the future. To achieve this, personalised, imaginative and flexible approaches to learning are essential.'' It is very clear that the current National Curriculum pushes in the opposite direction to this.
Read the full article: Debate About Australia's New National Curriculum
(4) The National Curriculum is highly political. It is being pushed by one particular ideology, and is strongly opposed by other ideologies within the current government and even other parties. This opposition within the political area will ensure that it remains a 'political football' for a long time to come, with the likelihood of continuous government interference and change.
On a different level, however, HomeLearn is supportive of some aspects of National Curriculum.
Firstly, we view it as our mission to support parents in providing curriculum that satisfies moderators, thereby giving parents the freedom to exercise their educational choice to educate at home. If parents are unable to meet the pressure to conform with 'curriculum requirements', they are at risk of losing that freedom (as will all States and both public and private sectors). The HomeLearn program therefore includes curriculum documentation that shows how the work being covered 'fits' with the National Curriculum statements. Parents can be assured that students WILL cover the content topics and concepts as noted in National Curriculum, but NOT necessarily at the precise year level or moment when the central dictate says 'jump'. [See the next FAQ on 'How does the program fit with the Australian Curriculum?']
Secondly, although we developed HomeLearn to initially conform to WA curriculum, which was an excellent model, we are now fully open to students from all states, and the program must provide for them in the same way. We have therefore made sure that the same quality home-based education is available and suitable for those in all states.