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Monday, 22 August 2011
Page: 8778

Mr TUDGE (Aston) (15:37): When I was interrupted, I was outlining some of the concerns that we on this side of the House still have with the proposed national curriculum. In the first instance I was referring to our concern about the lack of an overall framework, which governs the national curriculum, and the lack of clear direction, which underpins it. I was then moving on to talk about the fact that the curriculum has a very heavy emphasis on Asian and Indigenous culture but does not give a similar weight to our British heritage or our Judeo-Christian traditions. I advise the House that they should read the IPA's monograph on the national curriculum. It is called The national curriculum—a critique. It noted that Western culture and civilisation are:

… v irtually absent from the national curriculum as it is currently conceived.

I think that is an area which needs to be re-examined, relooked at and incorporated into the national curriculum in terms of our overall British and Western heritage and our Judeo-Christian heritage, which we inherited, as well as Asian and Indigenous culture.

Some of the other concerns that we have raised are over the lack of appropriate resources which will be attached to the implementation of the national curriculum. There many other issues which Christopher Pyne, the shadow minister for education, has raised.

We are moving two amendments to enhance the Schools Assistance Amendment Bill. The first is to ensure that schools are provided with appropriate support to implement the national curriculum. One of our criticisms has been that there has not been that support in the form of professional development training for teachers to implement the curriculum.

The second is to ensure that there is a clear representation of the non-government school sector with respect to decision-making processes for future time lines of the national curriculum. Again, one of the problems I was referring to beforehand was that the non-government school sector was out of sync with the government school sector. I think part of that has come about due to the fact that the non-government school sector has not been at the decision-making table. These amendments would ensure that they are always at the decision-making table on issues which affect their schools. Given that they make up a third of all school students in the country, it seems to be a very sensible thing to do.

Let me conclude by saying that, like many things the government has touched, the national curriculum has involved delays, bungles and underdelivery against the government's rhetoric. This national curriculum was supposed to be finished and implemented by January 2011. Of course it has not been and now probably will not be implemented until 2013 or 2014. It was supposed to be a smooth process but it has not been anything of the sort. In fact, every single stakeholder group has in some respect complained about the drafts that have been presented and asked for significant changes.

Finally, it was supposed to have been delivered already according to the Prime Minister's own words of July 2010 when she said:

This nation ' s talked about national curriculum for 30 years. I delivered it.

She has not delivered it. It is nowhere near being delivered. It will be several years late from when she claimed she delivered it, but I suggest she takes that time and gets the national curriculum right because it will have a significant impact across all schools in our community. It needs to be properly thought through and properly considered and the government needs to get the content right. As I have mentioned before in this House, we ideally should have bipartisan support, at least in relation to the broad framework of the national curriculum, so that schools in the future can have confidence that it will not be chopped and changed but, rather, there will be a consistent framework governing the curriculum going forward.