‘Difficult to know’ who is steering ACARA curriculum

The ascendancy of ACARA might be undermining the future of state education policy development, thinks academic Glenn Savage — though former education minister Bronwyn Pike says the problems began from day one.

The changing state-federal dynamic in curriculum policy development has made it “increasingly difficult to know who is actually steering the ship of Australian schooling”, says academic Dr Glenn Savage.

Savage, a lecturer in education policy in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne, told an event on federalism in education policy at the school last week that the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority had been created at a time when the federal government was intervening more heavily in education, and that it had “assumed an unprecedented and powerful role” in a very short space of time.

The curriculum agency is altering relationships among the states and between the states and the Commonwealth, driving “new forms of collaboration” through both formal and informal “offshoots around ACARA” between states and territories, he said. State policymakers interviewed by Savage “suggested ACARA was driving the creation of a kind of new language about curriculum in the country and it was bringing some consistency after decades of uncertainty.

“ACARA appears to be bringing states closer together, with agencies now communicating and collaborating in ways that would have seemed unimaginable just a decade ago.”

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