Version 9 of the Australian Curriculum was released in May 2022. ACARA aimed to provide a pared down curriculum to make it more manageable for teachers, and the new version has a 21% reduction in content descriptors overall.
Several changes that are relevant for our context are outlined in the summary of key changes:
Engaging students in contemporary issues provides opportunities for student voice and agency. Using contemporary issues enables students to engage with key political, legal, social and economic issues, and to become active and informed citizens.
However, active citizenship has been passively framed as ‘improving community’, with examples given such as classroom recycling program, community social service programs, student leadership programs, volunteer programs and partnership programs with local councils or groups outside the school. In the new version of the curriculum, students are also asked to consider actions, options and responses in relation to contemporary issues and issues of community concern, and to develop action plans to address these, rather than actually being encouraged to undertake action or create change about issues.
SCEAA is concerned that this latest version of the curriculum limits the efficacy of young people and essentially casts them as ‘citizens-in-waiting’, rather than active citizens, and limits their agency to engage meaningfully with contemporary issues that impact on their lives.
SCEAA member Peter Brett has written a blog for the AARE entitled ‘The insidious way the new curriculum undermines democracy’, which discusses some of the other concerns about the new version of the curriculum which you may like to read.