Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Big Picture

The New South Wales Government has recently decided to postpone the introduction of the Australian National Curriculum by a year. They claim that the reason for taking this action is so that they can arrange to offer appropriate professional development to all staff. The NSW says it will cost around $80 million over four years to implement the curriculum and provide professional development to teachers. The Federal Government has failed to provide funding for this development and so the decision has been made to postpone the implementation.

Peter Garrett, Federal Minister for Education, has expressed disappointment at the delay and believes that 'there is no justifiable reason for the 11th hour backdown'. He doesn't believe that this is viable excuse and suggested that the NSW Government was shirking it's responsibilities in implementing the curriculum.

Last Friday a group of leaders at my school participated in an exercise that helped us to define the most dominant aspects of our individual leadership styles. There were four options:

  • North - are innovators and like to take action and get things going;
  • South - like to ensure that everyone's voice has been heard before making a decision;
  • East - aim to see the big picture before putting a plan into action;
  • West - like tick all the boxes and know every detail about the effects of the action before proceeding.
It was noted that leaders generally exhibit aspects of all four options but the task asked us to choose which one was most dominant. This helps us and others to understand how we work and what barriers we may face when working with different styles.

It seems Mr. Garrett has more of a 'North' leadership style in that he is obviously keen to get the curriculum into action. Unfortunately, he has failed to recognise one of the most important parts of what I referred to previously as 'The How' in curriculum development. Professional development of staff is a key part of effectively implementing a curriculum and adequate provisions must be made to allow for this. If this is not provided a curriculum runs the risk of falling short in the provision of quality education for its students. If this is to be the 'highest quality curriculum in the country', as Mr. Garrett claims, it is important to ensure that it is appropriately implemented.

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