I found this paper, I had written in 1999, recently and decided it was worth another airing. The Australian National Curriculum is well on its way to implementation in Australian schools, both private and State systems. It is worth a moment of reflection, however, to ponder whether it is going to be as successful as predicted. If past history is anything to go by, we may wish to hold off on the accolades a little longer. This rather longish essay explores curriculum change in Western Australia, from the 1950-1993, and goes into considerable detail on the seven reports that led the curriculum changes in schools in Western Australia, framed in Fullan’s construct of four change decades. But the lessons learned there are worth considering for the future of the National Curriculum.

The History and Nature of change in the Lower Secondary Education System in Western Australia, 1950-1993

Introduction

This paper traces the history and the nature of change in the lower secondary education system in Western Australian State High schools.  Educational change can be defined as the processes which alter the behaviours or the attitudes of those who are involved in education, or to alter the structures, procedures or outputs of an organization, in this case the Western Australian lower secondary education system.  The paper begins with a discussion of the nature of change, including a definition of how change is viewed in terms of this paper.
The paper includes a brief historical overview beginning with the founding of the Education Department in 1893 up to the appointment of Dr. Robertson, 1950, as Director General of the Education Department.  This period of the Department can be seen as a time of ‘establishing’.  It was a time when there was little room for ‘educational change’.  During this time the focus was on setting up the Department and on gaining community acceptance and support for the introduction of state run secondary education.

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Further Reading:

For those interested in understanding more about Curriculum in Australian schools I recommend the text Australia’s Curriculum Dilemmas: State Cultures and the Big Issues, edited by Lyn Yates, Cherry Collins and Kate O’Connor.

Curriculum Change in Australia, Reflections on the National Curriculum

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