All the classes set to be scrapped in new NSW curriculum
The biggest shake-up of the state's curriculum in 30 years will strip unnecessary clutter from every subject to focus on the basics and prioritise literacy and numeracy in a bid to lift NSW students' declining academic performance.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian last night said she supports the overwhelming majority of the review's recommendations and will axe farcical subjects including puppetry, lifestyle studies, jewellery and "wearable art" as soon as next year.
Curriculum review author Geoff Master cited NSW's sliding Programme for International Assessment (PISA) performance as strong evidence of the need for systemic change and slammed the system for teaching students in a superficial manner rather than in-depth.
"It seems likely that the crowded nature of many syllabuses, the undervaluing of skills in the curriculum, and constraints on teachers' abilities to address individual learning needs contribute to many students becoming disengaged from school," he said.
Developing a smaller number of higher quality HSC subjects are among the recommendations the government has supported while they stopped short of calls to make learning a second language mandatory.
A recommendation to "investigate the feasibility of not calculating and reporting the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank" was also not supported by the government.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she wanted the curriculum to go back to basics.
"For 30 years, unnecessary lessons have snuck into the curriculum. Teachers spend hours a week on content that does not provide young people the basic skills and knowledge they need to reach their full potential," she said.
"Lessons in circus skills, puppetry and wearable art should not be done during school hours."
"These hours are better spent learning the fundamentals - maths, English and science - to equip students with the skills needed for further learning and jobs."
The report has set ambitious time frames for the changes with students between Kindergarten and Year 2 to have a new English and mathematics syllabus by 2022 while a new Year 3 to Year 10 syllabus will be implemented by 2023.
Year 11 and 12 students will have their new syllabuses by 2024 with a reduced number of courses, but those remaining will be "higher quality".
In the early years of school, the syllabus will explicitly tell teachers that oral language development, reading, writing and mathematics skills are top priorities and should take precedence over all other subjects.
The review found 98 per cent of teachers said they believed excess syllabus content was leading to worse academic outcomes for students.
In high school, Aboriginal culture will form part of the human society and its environment curriculum while students will be given a minimum standard they must reach before the completion of their schooling.
The report was also critical of the fact that not all HSC subjects link clearly to further study and career pathways with the government committing to overhauling this.
The government gave in principal support for a recommendation requiring every student to complete a major investigation as part of their HSC, but it will consult with the education authority about how this will work in practice.
Another recommendation to make the entire syllabus "untimed" so students only progress once they have mastered the previous work has the government's in principle support.
Brothers Arran, 12, Owen, 10 and Ethan, 7, from South Coogee have a passion for hands-on science experiments in the classroom and at home.
Mum Kelly Storie, 44, said her sons "really enjoyed" both maths and science and would be excited to have more in depth lessons of those subjects.
"The younger two tend to enjoy maths more but all of the boys love their hands-on science experiments at school," Ms Storie said.
"It's the first thing they come back and tell me about at the end of the day."
Ms Storie said her three boys would "definitely" benefit from a curriculum focusing on maths and science.
"It's a good thing they'll learn more of that, especially if it's with a hands-on approach and they get more involved in their own learning," she said.
"Kids pick up things much easier this way."
Originally published as All the classes set to be scrapped in new NSW curriculum