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Steven Schwartz to chair ACARA

ACARA News | 24 June 2015

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Emeritus Professor Steven Schwartz AM has been appointed as the new Chair of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) Board.

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ACARA CEO, Robert Randall, welcomed Professor Schwartz’s appointment , saying that:

Professor Schwartz brings extensive experience in the education sector to his new position as ACARA Board Chair. He has served as a vice-chancellor and president of three universities (Macquarie and Murdoch Universities in Australia, and Brunel University in England). A prize-winning researcher, teacher and author of 13 books, he is also the executive director of the Council for the Humanities, Arts and Social Science and a director of Teach for Australia – an organisation that aims to give all children the best chance in life through an excellent education.

Professor Schwartz told The Australian that a crowded schools agenda is at risk of being “constipated” and teaching standards have fallen to the point where “the best and brightest” are snubbing the profession.

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quote marks   … a crowded schools agenda is at risk of being “constipated”.

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He also expressed concern there was too much emphasis on teaching just to achieve high scores in National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) tests.Steven Schwartz

Professor Schwartz  his mission is to advocate the “cause of education” while allowing more creativity and flexibility in schools.

But he said lifting teacher standards is crucial.

Teacher quality is a big issue for Australia; I think it is one of the most important ingredients in school learning.  For too long teaching has been seen as not the profession for the brightest students, and it has a reputation that is reinforced by low entry standards. But it should be for the brightest (and) we need to do more to raise the value of the profession in the eyes of the public.

Professor Schwartz said he expects ACARA to continue pursuing a rebalancing of the national curriculum in line with recommendations made to the government by education researcher Kevin Donnelly and business academic Ken Wiltshire.

This should focus on streamlining subjects and prioritising the basics, such as literacy and numeracy in the early years of schooling.

We don’t want to have such a constipated curriculum that there is no room for schools to put their own touches on what students are learning. We don’t want to fill it up to the point where there is no room for anything else.

Four new ACARA Board members have also been appointed to replace outgoing members: Dr David Howes from Victoria; Ms Jayne Johnston from South Australia; Mr Paul Hewitt from NSW; and Dr Tim McDonald from the National Catholic Education Commission.

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