Australian Curriculum Conference – Toorak College

Toorak College (where I teach!) is hosting ‘Exploring and Implementing the Australian Curriculum‘ on the 23rd and 24th of July. This conference is an opportunity to engage with key people in a variety of curriculum fields who are going to share their understanding of the new curriculum with participants. I know there are many teachers who have perhaps read some of the documentation, but have questions regarding the implementation process. This conference is a wonderful opportunity to have some of those questions clarified.

What follows is directly from the conference program.


There are three clusters of keynote speeches in the conference and in total 11 keynotes.

Cluster 1 – Structure and General Capabilities

Keynote Speech 1 (by Professor Barry McGaw – ACARA)
Australian Curriculum to Promote 21st Century Learning

The Australian Curriculum includes a clear focus on major disciplines of knowledge as well as on general capabilities that are sometimes described as 21st Century skills or competencies. This balance of focus is important and deliberate. The curriculum also focuses on three cross-curriculum priorities that deserve current attention. The presentation will explain the logic of the structure and its consequences.

Biography of the Speaker:

Professor Barry McGaw is a Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Melbourne and Chair of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. He has previously been Director for Education at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and Executive Director of the Australian Council for Educational Research.

Keynote Speech 2 (by Dr. David Howes – VCAA)
Implementing the Australian Curriculum: from National to State Level

This address will explore the challenges and opportunities of whole curriculum design during the iterative development of the Australian Curriculum.

Biography of the Speaker:

Dr. David Howes is the General Manager of the Curriculum Division of the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA). He worked from 2003 – ¬2006 as a technical adviser with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) in Cambodia. Prior to that, he worked with the Victorian Department of Education and taught and held curriculum leadership positions for ten years in schools in the western suburbs of Melbourne and in London. He has completed post-graduate studies in education and public sector administration at the Institute of Education, University of London; Monash University; the Australia-New Zealand School of Government and the University of Melbourne. His professional interests include curriculum design, policy sociology, the nexus between school and higher education and micro-level studies of aid and development. David’s publications include school text books; refereed journal articles on student learning; book chapters on school curriculum reform and the impact of globalisation on higher education in South-East Asia and contributions to subject association journals.

Keynote Speech 3 (by Mr Tony Brandenburg – President of the Australian Computers in Education Council)
Technology as a general capability is not general, at all!

Tony will explore ICT as a general capability in the Australian Curriculum. He will challenge his audience to use technology in their teaching and in the students learning. He will explore social media, mobile technology and cloud computing as learning tools. He will also encourage participants to explore the Horizon Report as a way of thinking about the future of digital technologies in an education setting.

Biography of the Speaker:

Tony Brandenburg has taught at all levels of education both in Australia and internationally and has worked with government departments in Australia and the Middle East. At present he works as Professional Development Manager for the Victorian Institute of Teaching.

He is an experienced educator who has been involved with educational technology for more than 30 years. Currently he is a Director on the Board of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and is a member of the ISTE International Committee.

He is President of the Australian Computers in Education Council, which also awarded him a fellowship in 2010.He is a past president of ICTEV, the Victorian teacher association, which focuses on the use of ICT by teachers.

He has spent much of his teaching life working with technology, arguing for better resources and challenging much of the educational status quo in relation to ICT. He believes that passionate advocacy, excellent information and clear goals and objectives are essential when dealing with system and government authorities.

He has significant experience with the ‘NETS’, especially in lifting their usage in Australia, New Zealand and the Middle East.In 2005 he was presented with the Australian Leader of the Year in Educational Technology. He lists his passions as spending quality time with his family, educational technology pedagogy, strategic planning/policy development, travel and snow skiing. (Usually in that order!)

Keynote Speech 4 (by Ms Robyn Marshall – Director of Teaching and Learning at St Leonard’s College)
Using the Understanding by Design curriculum framework to integrate the Australian Curriculum

How best should we integrate the Australian Curriculum? How can we move from the content based, textbook driven curriculum to a concept based inquiry curriculum? Fundamentally, how can we use the Australian Curriculum to enhance learning for all our students? The Australian Curriculum can provide an opportunity for schools to have a significant impact on the teaching and learning process. The Understanding by Design framework, (often known as Backward Design) offers some of the answers to the questions posed above. By creating high quality units, based on the Australian Curriculum Achievement Standards, as well as reconceptualising the nature of teaching and of assessment, student learning can be ignited and the role of the teacher can be transformed.

Biography of the Speaker:

Mrs Robyn Marshall has taught secondary students in 4 states and sees the tremendous value of the Australian Curriculum as a unifying force, rather than something that divides. She began her teaching career in country New South Wales, before moving to Canberra, Adelaide and finally Victoria. Recently Robyn has specialised in the Middle Years, in particular the development of innovative Middle Years Programs in Nanjing, China and Clunes in country Victoria. She is currently Director of Teaching and Learning at St Leonard’s College and has successfully led the development of the Understanding By Design framework in a number of schools.

Cluster 2 – Cross Curriculum Priorities

Keynote Speech 5 (by Ms Jacinta Mooney)
Incorporating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures into your School Curriculum

This address explores how the national Cross Curricula Priority of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Island histories and culture can be incorporated into an individual school curriculum. What opportunities does this priority present for curriculum design and guarantee that students attain the skills and knowledge intended by the framework.

Biography of the Speaker:

Jacinta Mooney is a secondary English and History teacher who spent nine years in the Northern Territory working in Indigenous health and Indigenous education. Jacinta has extensive experience living and working in Aboriginal communities, including Ngukurr, Wadeye and Santa Teresa. Jacinta focused on developing curriculum and strengthening the relationship between the school and the community. After two years training educators in Ethiopia, Jacinta is working in high schools in the North-Western suburbs of Melbourne.

Keynote Speech 6 (by Ms Jennifer Ure – Asia Education Foundation)
Implementing Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia in the Australian Curriculum

Asia is now the region currently emerging as one of history’s greatest catalysts for worldwide change. The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians calls for all Australians students to develop new skills, knowledge and understanding related to the Asian region and Australia’s engagement with Asia in order to meet the challenges and opportunities of living and working with our neighbours.

The Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia priority in the Australian Curriculum provides essential learning for all Australian students. This session will look at how this priority appears in the Australian Curriculum; what it means for developing curriculum programs and presents resources and ideas to support its inclusion in classroom practice. Included will be the Australian context for learning about the Asian region and examples of Asia Education Foundation programs that support schools’ implementation of the Asia priority.

Biography of the Speaker:

Jennifer Ure has been with the Asia Education Foundation since 2008. She manages national projects including the Leading 21 Century Schools: engage with Asia project, a national leadership initiative for principals and school leaders. In addition, Jennifer manages the AEF’s web portal that provides services and resources for teachers and schools to implement the Australian Curriculum cross-curriculum priority of Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia.

Prior to working with the AEF, Jennifer worked in the Northern Territory for five years as the Curriculum Officer for Studies of Asia with the Department of Education and Training. In that role she delivered professional learning for educators and schools across the Territory. An important element of that work was linking studies of Asia with Indigenous education in remote schools.

Keynote Speech 7 (by Mr Kerry Bolger – Principal Cornish College)
Sustainability – the new educational imperative: more than just environmental education and is no longer an optional extra

This presentation will provide an insight into how one school has integrated educating for sustainability through its Prep to Year 9 curriculum. Participants will be introduced to a ‘sustainable thinking disposition” developed by Mr Kerry Bolger and Mrs Marcia Behrenbruch over the last decade.

In presenting the Bolger/Behrenbruch model of teaching and learning the audience will be challenged to consider the concept of sustainability in its broadest sense as the central purpose of a 21st Century education.

Biography of the Speaker:

Kerry Bolger is currently the Principal of Cornish College. He is a secondary trained teacher who started his teaching career with the Ministry of Education. After 20 years as an Economics/History teacher he was appointed as the Head of the St Leonard’s College Cornish Campus in 1991. Kerry has a Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Special Education. He was awarded an Internal Teaching Fellowship to England in 1985 and was the recipient of a National Excellence in Teaching Award in 2006. His staff were awarded the Herald Sun Teaching Team of the Year in 2005 and the Campus was judged the Sustainable School Champion in 2005 by the University of New South Wales. Kerry has co-authored a number of articles on sustainability and he and his staff have developed a model of teaching and learning linking education for sustainable living with a concept driven, multidisciplinary, inquiry based educational program. Kerry was awarded a John Laing Professional Development Award for his contribution to the education of others in education by Principals Australia in 2011. He is a past President of the Victorian Branch of the Commonwealth League of Exchange teachers and is currently the Independent School Council of Australia representation on the National Sustainable School Network and the Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative.

Cluster 3 – Learning Areas

History (by Ms Annabel Astbury)
The Shapes of the Australian Curriculum: History – Many voices, many stories

In this session, Annabel Astbury will examine the Australian Curriculum: History and present ideas on how to approach the challenges of implementing it at school level. The focus will be on the Foundation to Year 10 curriculum but will also include discussion on the progress which has been made on senior courses thus far.

Biography of the Speaker:

Annabel Astbury is the Executive Director of the History Teachers’ Association of Victoria. Her role is a varied one which includes overseeing the operations of the association, focusing on the direction and development of professional learning programs for teachers; advising and consulting with curriculum and assessment authorities.

Science (by Prof Denis Goodrum)
Australian Science Curriculum: Implementation and implications

Biography of the Speaker:

Denis Goodman is an Emeritus Professor and former Dean of Education of the University of Canberra. He has been involved in many national and international activities in Science education. In 1998 he was a visiting scholar at the National Research Council in Washington DC, working on a project examining inquiry and the National Science Education Standards. He is presently Chair of the ACT Teacher Quality Institute

National projects for which Denis has been responsible include:

  • Primary Investigations – a curriculum resource for primary schools with an associated professional learning model.
  • Status and Quality of Teaching and Learning of Science in Australian Schools.
  • Collaborative Australian Secondary Science Project (CASSP) that evaluated a teacher change model through the development of integrated curriculum and professional development resources.
  • Science by Doing – concept plan 2006 and Stage One 2009-11
  • Australian School Science Education: National Action Plan 2008–12
  • National Science Curriculum Framing Paper 2008

English (by Mr Sean Box – Acting Curriculum Manager VCAA)
English Goes National

This session will outline some of the new opportunities represented by the implementation of the Australian Curriculum: English. It will provide participants with an overview of the new English curriculum and how it differs from the current VELS curriculum and much common contemporary practice in Victorian schools. A particular focus of the session will be on the place and role of texts in the new curriculum and the inter-relationships between the three strands of Language, Literacy and Literature.

Biography of the Speaker:

Sean Box is Acting Curriculum Manager of English at the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA). Prior to working in the Curriculum Division, he held a position with Student Learning Division of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD). He has contributed to Australian Curriculum consultation and implementation in Victoria and Queensland.

Mathematics (by Dr Michael Evans)
Shape of the Mathematics Curriculum

Biography of the Speaker:

Dr Michael Evans is responsible for the ICE-EM Mathematics program. He has a PhD in Mathematics from Monash University and a Diploma of Education from La Trobe University. Before coming to ICE-EM, he was Head of Mathematics at Scotch College, Melbourne, and involved with the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority in various capacities. He has also taught in public schools. In 1999 he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Law by Monash University for his contribution to Mathematics Education, and in 2001 he received the Bernhard Neumann Award for contributions to Mathematics enrichment in Australia.

I’d encourage you to alert your teachers to this conference and sign up to attend. We really do need to have a complete understanding of all facets of the new curriculum. It would be great to see teachers from all curriculum areas increase their understanding of something that is going to impact us all.

CPL workshop – all systems go!

A couple of years ago, I would speak at staff meetings and I could see eyes raising and people looking at one another with that, ‘here she goes again’, body language happening. Experiences like that have made me wary of staff presentations. In fact, I’m more comfortable presenting to a room of 200 strangers than I am with the people I work with on a day to day basis.

Yesterday I ran a whole day workshop at my school for Toorak College’s Continuous Professional Learning Seminar series, and the majority of participants were people I work with. I was more than a little anxious I have to admit. Firstly, it was a whole day, and that’s a whole lot more daunting than a one hour presentation, and secondly, I was putting my ideas out there to people who I found my most difficult audience.

Well, I’m pleased to say, my fears were unfounded. It was a really great day. I had plenty of content to keep the day humming along nicely; too much in fact. We were racing a bit towards the end! I’m pretty chuffed to know I can single-handedly lead a successful workshop, and hope I get the opportunity to do it again. Best of all, my audience was responsive and open. Open to ideas, open to thinking about social media as something that we need to explore in our classrooms. It was affirming for me. I feel so much more positive about enacting change in our classrooms and working cooperatively with staff who want to see how they can reinvent their practice to suit the times we are living in.

And that’s what’s made the change I think. The time we are living in. Social media is far more pervasive in our lives than it was three years ago. I joined Twitter three years ago; I was making connections and could see then the powerful communication device it was for sharing and learning. I’d speak about it in glowing (evangelical?) terms to people I worked with, and I could see they just didn’t understand. To them, it was a time waster, a place where people told one another what they’d eaten for breakfast.

Today, Twitter is mainstream. It’s referenced on news bulletins, popular morning TV news programs share reporters’ Twitter user names and they use hashtags to encourage online conversations around a topic. Yesterday, we talked at length about Twitter, and visited hashtag results pages for Libya and Christchurch, where we could see aggregated tweets giving us real time information. Some participants joined up, and I hope they make efforts to follow people and make connections that will inform their teaching practice. I know that every day Twitter takes me to places that extend my learning and I would never have located those places without its help.

It’s this pervasiveness of new media in our lives that made all the difference yesterday. Now it’s important to understand new technologies and people are ready to listen. To those of you reading this who have been immersed for some time and have felt discouraged in your schools, I think we are seeing the tide turning.  Social media is mainstream, and our skills are necessary. We can lead others and we need to do so.

Toorak Continuous Professional Learning Seminar

I work at Toorak College, an all girls’ school in Mt.Eliza. One of the initiatives being driven here at the moment is the growth of a professional learning network for both the teachers within our school, and those further afield.

Continuous Professional Learning is an online network for our teachers (powered by Ning), and other teachers who are keen to join and share their insights about issues related to our profession. Coupled with this is a series of seminar workshops that will be run at Toorak College throughout the year. The first of these sessions is being run by yours truly (that would be me!).  Toorak College is an hour from central Melbourne, and we are hoping to provide educators from the South Eastern suburbs with professional learning opportunities closer to home. If you are a teacher from Melbourne, and know some teachers who would benefit from the workshop I am offering, please direct them to the site and download the flyer.

Sounds like a bit of an ad really, doesn’t it? It’s a departure from what I usually post about, but it is an exciting development at my school and I am hopeful that anyone who chooses to attend my workshop will leave with more knowledge than they started with! Hopefully they’ll have some strategies for their own personal learning and how they make it happen in their classrooms.

If you want to explore the CPL community, join the site and share your ideas. We’d welcome your presence. : )