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New ACARA Chair

Posted by Garry Collins, AATE President on 2 July 2015

The following letter was submitted for possible inclusion in The Australian of Saturday 27 June 3015 but it was not selected for publication.

Relevant experience for curriculum body?

Wednesday's edition reported that Professor Steven Schwartz, a former university vice-chancellor, has been appointed as the new chair of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) ("PM's new adviser fears 'constipated curriculum'", Jun 24).

Education Minister Christopher Pyne was quoted as saying that Professor Schwartz is an "experienced pair of hands". There is no doubting Schwartz's extensive experience but it is a little strange that virtually none of his various professional roles as a psychologist, academic and university senior administrator had anything to do with primary or secondary schools and the curriculum to be taught in them. This might be the notion of content-free management at work but more likely is that, in Minister Pyne's view, Schwartz's best qualification is that, according to the professor himself, no one has ever accused him of being a "leftie".

Schwartz was reported as saying that teacher quality is a big issue for Australia. This might be true but it does seem to be the formal business of another federal government agency, the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL), rather than ACARA. Could it be that, at that stage, Schwartz was not entirely clear about which body he was to chair?

Author: Garry Collins, AATE President
About: Garry Collins is the Immediate Past President of ETAQ and began a 2 year term as AATE President on 1 January 2014. A retired high school English teacher, he now works in the School of Education at the University of Queensland as a sessional tutor in English curriculum courses.
Tags: Curriculum matters

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