It is unquestionably a massive time of uncertainty in the world right now. It is not often in Australia that the education system gets a shake-up, but that is exactly what is happening due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many schools in New South Wales have been thrust into the world of online learning and the technological challenges that ensue. Staff have had to adapt and learn to use unfamiliar programs and students have, at times, struggled with access and developing the skills necessary to access the curriculum via this platform.
The pandemic has forced schools to re-evaluate the core values of education and review what is being taught. This is evident in the announcement by the NSW Education Standards Authority that school sectors will have the authority to decide which syllabus outcomes and content they teach and assess for Kindergarten to Year 10 in 2020. This means that schools will have free reign to determine which parts of the curriculum are most important in their local contexts and to only teach and report on those outcomes. For a system which is often described as having a crowded curriculum, this could actually be a silver lining within this whole crisis. For years, teachers have been expressing their concerns that the basics of education are becoming lost within a curriculum full of ‘extras’, a problem which has resulted in many students missing out on a solid basic foundation to learning due to rushing through content.
It is understandable that many parents are fearful that their children are missing out on a quality education due to online learning, learning from home and the educational program not addressing all outcomes and content of the syllabuses, but could this be just the shake-up the system needs in our post-modern globalised society? We are about to find out.
Sara Drebber is an educational consultant, teacher, writer and mother of three.