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School review finds curriculum needs overhaul

AUSTRALIA'S school curriculum is set for a major shake-up after a review found it was overcrowded and recommended adopting a back to basics approach.

The proposal is now in the hands of state education ministers who will meet in December to discuss the recommendations.

Reviewers Professor Kenneth Wiltshire and Dr Kevin Donnelly, who released their report at the weekend, recommended rebalancing the curriculum to ensure what students were being taught was appropriate and there were no gaps in content across key subjects.

They also recommended there needed to be a greater focus on literacy, numeracy and phonics.

Education Minister Christopher Pyne said on Monday a final government response to the Review of the Australian Curriculum would be made available early next year.

He said there was no reason why the new curriculum could not be in place as early as 2016.

"This is a very important review and it will make a big difference if most of its recommendations are adopted," he said.

"But we do not want to get the cart before the horse . . . we have to get the education ministers to agree that this curriculum needs to be altered in a positive way.

"That might well take time, but I hope they want to work collaboratively with me to bring it about."

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said he was pleased there was a greater focus on numeracy and literacy as a key review recommendation.

"We have adopted a national curriculum, but that is something that we are prepared to change and modify to adapt to Queensland's needs," he said.

"We want to create well-rounded members of a liberal democracy in this nation.

"People who have got the core skills and who can think freely . . . that is the most important thing."

New South Wales Education Minister Adrian Piccoli told Sky News Australia the board of studies would consult with the state's public, Catholic and independent schools on the recommendations before he formally responded.

He said he was particularly happy with recommendations, which called for improvements in the quality of teaching.

The Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia said it supported the recommendations contained in the review, in particular the focus on core skills such as literacy and numeracy.


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