Revision of English K-6 - Executive Summary, April 1997
The 1996 Review of the English K-6 Syllabus and Support Document (1994) provided the Board of Studies with a detailed account of the views of teachers, principals, consultants and academics. These views were included in findings presented to the Board in August 1996 by the English K-6 Review Committee in Report Part A: Findings from the Consultation.
English K-6 Review Report Part B has been developed by the Review Committee as advice to the Board for the revision of the English K-6 Syllabus and Support Document. This advice is presented in the form of proposals that specify possible solutions to issues identified in Report A concerning:
- the functional approach to language
- the place and scope of grammar
- syllabus content (what is to be taught)
- the scope and sequence of content in Stages
- the number and nature of outcomes
- planning, programming, assessing and reporting
- size, organisation, layout, design and language of the document
- support documents for teachers, parents and principals
- general principles and the 'load of newness'.
In each case the proposals put forward have been developed by the Review Committee, revised following advice from the Syllabus Advisory Committee and then trialled in workshops with groups of teachers, consultants, principals and academics.
Functional approach to language to be Retained
The functional approach to language receives strong support from teachers, principals, consultants and academics. This approach to the teaching of English is based on the three main functions of language: the use of language to develop understandings about the world and ourselves; its use for interacting with others; and its use to create and interpret texts. It enables teachers to provide students with an understanding of how language works and how it is used for different purposes in different situations. The functional approach is to be retained as the basis for the revised syllabus and support documents. Proposals in Report B are aimed at providing teachers with a clear and concise rationale for this approach and how it relates to reading, writing, talking and listening.
Place and Scope of Grammar to be changed
The place and scope of grammar were identified in Report A as aspects of the existing syllabus that require significant change in the revised syllabus and support documents. Proposals in Report B are aimed at identifying the grammar to be included in the revised syllabus and support documents and providing teachers with the key concepts and associated terminology required for working with students. The review suggests the use of conventional language, using traditional grammatical terms at the sentence level and functional concepts expressed in clear and concise terms at the level of whole texts. The Review Committee proposes that grammar should be taught in context and placed in the Text and Context substrand of the revised syllabus. Such an approach illustrates the purpose of grammar as a tool for learning about language and as a resource for making meaning.
Content in the revised syllabus
It is vital that in the revised syllabus the content is clear, accessible, easy to locate and readily related to classroom settings. The proposals for the revision of the syllabus and support documents in Report B are aimed at providing teachers with a clear description of what is to be taught at each stage of the English K-6 continuum of reading, writing, talking and listening. It is also proposed that teachers be provided with materials that support them in planning and programming and in assessing and reporting student progress in reading, writing, talking and listening.
Teachers and consultants requested content overviews that clearly describe what students would be taught in each stage of the English K-6 curriculum. It was felt that such information should be expressed in a way that enables teachers and principals to obtain a clear picture of the scope of content and its sequence within each stage from Early Stage 1 to Stage 3. Proposals in Report B identify the areas in which a scope and sequence continuum is required and what should inform the development of this material.
The number and nature of outcomes in the syllabus were identified as areas of concern during workshops with teachers, consultants and principals. The Review Committee proposes that these aspects be attended to in the development of the revised syllabus and support documents through a more explicit description of syllabus content; by reducing the number of substrands; through the change from a framework of outcomes in five levels to four stages of outcomes (ES1 to S3); by making outcome statements clear and concise; and through the use of indicators and annotated work samples to illustrate student achievement in relation to the outcomes in the syllabus.
Existing Syllabus regarded as cumbersome
The existing syllabus and support document is regarded by many teachers as cumbersome and difficult to use. In developing Report B, the Review Committee considered issues concerning the size, organisation, design, layout and language in the existing document. The proposals in this section of the report are aimed at providing teachers with documents that are accessible, manageable and easy to use.
Support Documents proposed
The Review Committee proposes support documents for several different audiences: teachers, principals, parents, and the community and media. The proposals in Report B have been developed to ensure that support material for each group be released at the same time as the syllabus so that consistent advice is provided to all interested parties. In addition to these materials, the Committee also proposes that a range of materials be developed for teachers to support the teaching of English and the monitoring of student progress in reading, writing, talking and listening.
"...changes in the revised syllabus be minimised where possible"
Both the Department of School Education and the Catholic School Systems in their submissions to the Review Committee recommended that the changes in the revised syllabus be minimised where possible. The Committee proposes minimal changes to content other than those specifically required, particularly in the area of grammar. It also proposes the development of a marketing plan to ensure that teachers, principals, parents, and the community and media are well informed up until and at the release of the revised English K-6 Syllabus and Support Documents.
Report B conclusions
Report B concludes the review of the English K-6 Syllabus and Support Document (1994) by the English K-6 Review Committee. In presenting its proposed solutions to issues identified in Report A the Committee recommends:
- That the Board of Studies adopts the proposals set out in 2.1 to 2.9 of Report B as the basis for the revision of the English K-6 Syllabus and Support Document.
- That in accord with Board of Studies policies, a Project Team revises the English K-6 Syllabus and Support Document.