Thursday, September 24, 2009

National Geography Curriculum keeps moving forward

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Picture descriptions:
Images: AGTA at work

Adelaide, Australia: S: 34º 55' E: 138º 36'

Things have been moving forward over recent months in relation to the development of a national geography curriculum in Australia. The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) process is well underway and on track to implement the national geography curriculum into Australian schools from 2012. This article will give a brief background to the work of the ‘Towards a National Geography Curriculum’ project in 2008 and 2009 and the on-going work of ACARA in developing a national geography curriculum for Australian schools.

The ‘Towards a National Geography Curriculum’ project

As you would be aware the ‘Towards a National Geography Curriculum’ project was established in October 2009 to inform ACARA of the views of geographers around Australia prior to the commencement of ACARA’s work to develop a national geography curriculum. The project involved the Australian Geography Teachers’ Association (AGTA), Institute of Australian Geographers (IAG) and the Royal Geographical Society of Queensland (RGSQ). The project aimed to develop a united and coherent statement from the Australian geographical community’s that provided a rationale, possible curriculum structures, preferred pedagogies and suggested implementation strategies for a national curriculum in geography.

Between November 2008 and May 2009 the project undertook extensive consultation across Australia involving input from teachers, students, academics and other community members. The project would like to take this opportunity to thank teachers, academics and community geographers for their participation in the consultation forums and comments posted on the ‘Towards a National Geography Curriculum’ project website. The enthusiasm of those attending the forums and the number of on-line responses was very encouraging for the project and showed the depth of interest and concern for geography in schools across Australia. The results of the consultation and supporting literature reviews and research by the appointed project writers Rob Berry and Roger Smith were presented as a background report to the ‘Towards a National Geography Curriculum’ project steering committee in May 2009. In turn, the steering committee synthesised and added to the background report, resulting in a final paper titled ‘Towards a National Geography Curriculum for Australia’ which was presented to ACARA in June 2009.
For more information on the work of the ‘Towards a National Geography Curriculum’ project and copies of the two papers go to the projects website at

ACARA’s curriculum development process

In May 2009 ACARA commenced its work on the Australian Curriculum: Geography when it appointed Lucie Sorensen as the Senior Project Officer Geography. In July 2009 a Geography Reference Group was appointed and met for the first time on August 25th, 2009. Lucie and the reference group used the ‘Towards a National Geography Curriculum’ reports as part of their literature review as they worked on identifying key issues needing to be addressed prior to the substantive work on the geography curriculum commencing. Following the second meeting of the reference group on September 14th, 2009 the ACARA Board was presented with a Geography Position Paper on October 6th. In October the lead writer for the Australian Curriculum: Geography and an Advisory Panel were appointed by the ACARA Board. On behalf of geography teachers and students in Australia we wish those involved all the best with their work on the shaping phase of the Australian Curriculum: Geography.

The following draft ACARA timeline will give an idea of the 2009-2011 progression with the writing process for the national geography curriculum. Naturally, the timeline may change as time goes by but at this stage these are the dates, events and milestones ACARA has mapped out for the curriculum development process.
o October – December 2009: The appointed writer and advisory panel develop an Initial advice paper for the national geography curriculum.
o February 2010: National Forum to gather responses to the Initial advice paper.
o February - March 2010: Development of The Shape of Australian Curriculum: Geography paper.
o April 2010: National consultation to gather responses to The Shape of Australian Curriculum: Geography paper.
o June 2010: The release of the final The Shape of Australian Curriculum: Geography paper.
o June – December 2010: Appointment of writers and an advisory group to develop the scope and sequence for the national geography curriculum. The writing to be accompanied by a consultation process for the scope and sequence document.
o January – June 2011: Course writing in line with the final scope and sequence document for national geography curriculum.
o June 2011: Publication of the national geography curriculum.

We encourage all Australian geography teachers to keep informed of the ACARA process by registering on the ACARA website at and take advantage of the opportunities provided by ACARA and geography teachers’ associations to feed comments and ideas into the process.

An opportunity

Over the next few years, issues associated with the implementation of the Australian geography curriculum are likely to dominate the work of AGTA and affiliates. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to develop a ‘state of the art’, contemporary, ‘worlds best practice’ geography curriculum for the 21st Century. Exciting times are ahead for geographical education in Australia!


plu said...

Thanks for the update

David Lambert said...

Everyone at the Geographical Association is excited at the news of a new National Geography Curriculum for Australia. We will watch developments with great interest. I dare say there are 'lessons to be learned' from the experience in England! - where geography is once again under great threat. Have you seen our 2009 'manifesto' A DIFFERENT VIEW? - not a curriculum but a statement and set of principles ... go to
It would be interesting to hear any response on what we are trying to say in this ... Best wishes, David