Release type: Transcript

Date:

2CC Breakfast with Stephen Cenatiempo

Ministers:

The Hon Alan Tudge MP
Minister for Education and Youth

Subjects: Draft national curriculum concerns

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO:

I touched on this yesterday, this new national curriculum that, look, I think it’s absolutely ridiculous some of the stuff that's on there. Things like changing the way we look at history, delaying when children learn how to tell the time and the like. Now, our Federal Education Minister, Alan Tudge, has criticised the planned curriculum changes, which would see things like times tables pushed back by a year. He joins us now. Minister, good morning.

ALAN TUDGE:

Good morning, Stephen.

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO:

Anyone with common sense would look at this national curriculum suggestion and say this is ridiculous. Who comes up with this rubbish?

ALAN TUDGE:

So, this has been developed by the Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority, which is an entity jointly owned by the Commonwealth and the respective states and territories. Now it's a draft that they've put out there, there’s some very good elements in the draft, but there's also some concerning elements which you've raised. I mean overall, through this process, I want to see standards raised, not lowered. And in the mathematics curriculum, which you mentioned in part there about times tables, generally the standards have been raised in the draft. For example, percentages are going to be brought forward to Year 5 instead of Year 6. Pythagoras's theorem, which people would know about, is being brought forward to Year 8 rather than Year 9. But there are some perplexing things which you pointed out - times tables have been pushed back by a year, I don't understand that one and we'll be delving into that.

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO:

And I was reading some detail on it, talk about apparently rote learning of times tables is not enough anymore, where years and years of history have proved that it is. But particularly, this moving even further away from the concept of phonics when teaching kids to read. I mean, you talk to any teacher with any experience and they say this is how kids have learnt to read, and this is why our literacy standards are dropping, because we don't do this anymore.

ALAN TUDGE:

I think you're absolutely right in relation to that point. We’ve pushed phonics very hard, including insisting now that there be a phonics check for students when they first start school, to help them identify whether they've got reading issues. Now, I've seen some reports on this, and I haven't delved into the detail yet of that part of the draft curriculum, but I would be concerned if we've moved at all away from the teaching of phonics, because all the evidence suggests that that must be taught, particularly for some of the kids who are really struggling to learn to read.

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO:

And I think some of the concerns a lot of people would have around the teaching of history too, the moving away from Western culture and with more emphasis on Indigenous history. Now, I don't think anybody would begrudge Indigenous history being included in the curriculum, but there's got to be a decent balance.

ALAN TUDGE:

You’re exactly right, Stephen. And this is, this is perhaps my greatest concern, based on the reports that I've read so far. Again, I haven't gone through all of the hundreds of pages of the draft curriculum yet, I've just received them 24 hours ago myself. But from what I've read in the reporting, I have some concerns that will be diminishing the emphasis on the core things which make Australia a liberal democracy today. And yes, we should have more emphasis on our Indigenous history, I think that's where we can do more. It’s an important part, a critical part of our overall nation state, but equally, we don't want to diminish the emphasis on the core Western civilisation values which make us the liberal democracy that we are today, including our Christian heritage. That is equally important to learn.

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO:

As the Minister, do you have final sign off on this?

ALAN TUDGE:

So, this’ll come to myself and the state and territory ministers for sign off later this year. And certainly, there are some things which I've seen, and I've read which I would not approve, and I'd expect there to be changes. So, we've got time. The public now has an opportunity to make submissions to the process. So, if they're concerned about what they've read, and they can go online and make a submission, that does get taken into account before the final draft is presented to ministers.

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO:

Alan Tudge, I appreciate your time this morning.

ALAN TUDGE:

Great to speak with you, Stephen.

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO:

Federal Education Minister. We'll put some details of that public consultation up on our website and Facebook pages so that you can have your say on that because, as Alan Tudge said, some very, very concerning things in that draft proposal for a new national curriculum.