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The Hobart Declaration on Schooling (1989)

[Note: The Hobart Declaration (1989) is provided in full below for historical reference only. It was superseded in April 1999 by The Adelaide Declaration on National Goals for Schooling in the Twenty-First Century which in turn has been superseded by the December 2008 Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians.]

The State, Territory and Commonwealth Ministers of Education met as the 60th Australian Education Council in Hobart, 14-16 April 1989, chaired by the Minister for Education in Tasmania, Hon Peter Rae, MHA. Conscious that the schooling of Australia's children is the foundation on which to build our future as a nation, Council agreed to act jointly to assist Australian schools in meeting the challenges of our times. In reaching agreement to address the following areas of common concern, the State, Territory and Commonwealth Ministers of Education made an historic commitment to improving Australian Schooling within a framework of national collaboration.

  • Common and Agreed National Goals for Schooling in Australia
  • Annual National Report on Schooling
  • National Collaboration in Curriculum Development
  • Establishment of Curriculum Corporation of Australia
  • Developing an Appropriate Handwriting Style for Australian Schools
  • The Goal of a Common Age of Entry for Australian Schools
  • Improving the Quality of Teaching
  • Conclusion

Common and Agreed National Goals for Schooling in Australia

Ten national goals for schooling will, for the first time, provide a framework for co-operation between schools, States and Territories and the Commonwealth. The goals are intended to assist schools and school systems to develop specific objectives and strategies, particularly in the areas of curriculum and assessment.

The Agreed National Goals for Schooling include the following aims:

  1. To provide an excellent education for all young people, being one which develops their talents and capacities to full potential, and is relevant to the social, cultural and economic needs of the nation.

  2. To enable all students to achieve high standards of learning and to develop self-confidence, optimism, high self-esteem, respect for others and achievement of personal excellence.

  3. To promote equality of education opportunities, and to provide for groups with special learning requirements.

  4. To respond to the current and emerging economic and social needs of the nation, and to provide those skills which will allow students maximum flexibility and adaptability in their future employment and other aspects of life.

     

  5. To provide a foundation for further education and training, in terms of knowledge and skills, respect for learning and positive attitudes for life-long education.

  6. To develop in students:

    1. the skills of English literacy, including skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing;
    2. skills of numeracy, and other mathematical skills;
    3. skills of analysis and problem solving;
    4. skills of information processing and computing;
    5. an understanding of the role of science and technology in society, together with scientific and technological skills;
    6. a knowledge and appreciation of Australias historical and geographic context;
    7. a knowledge of languages other than English;
    8. an appreciation and understanding of, and confidence to participate in, the creative arts;
    9. an understanding of, and concern for, balanced development and the global environment; and
    10. a capacity to exercise judgement in matters of morality, ethics and social justice
  7. To develop knowledge, skills, attitudes and values which will enable students to participate as active and informed citizens in our democratic Australian society within an international context.

  8. To provide students with an understanding and respect for our cultural heritage including the particular cultural background of Aboriginal and ethnic groups.

  9. To provide for the physical development and personal health and fitness of students, and for the creative use of leisure time.

  10. To provide appropriate career education and knowledge of the world of work, including an understanding of the nature and place of work in our society.

Providing a sound basis for a collaborative effort to enhance Australian schooling, the agreed national goals will be reviewed from time to time, in response to the changing needs of Australian society.

 


Annual National Report on Schooling

An annual National Report on Schooling in Australia will be produced for the 1990 school year, marking the beginning of a process of national reporting to the Australian people.

The annual National Report on Schooling will monitor schools' achievements and their progress towards meeting the agreed national goals. It will also report on the school curriculum, participation and retention rates, student achievements and the application of financial resources in schools. The annual national report will increase public awareness of the performance of our schools as well as make schools more accountable to the Australian people.

In the history of Australian education there has never been a single document which informs the citizens of Australia about the nation's education systems and the performance of our schools.

The annual National Report will, for the first time, provide a true and comprehensive account of Australian schooling to the nation. The Australian Education Council (of Ministers) will co-ordinate its publication.


National Collaboration in Curriculum Development

Work has been proceeding through the Australian Education Council (AEC) Working Party for the past four years to seek to attain the highest standards of national curriculum, common principles and agreed areas for national collaborative action. These will now be defined for the mathematics curriculum taught in Australian schools. The statement of common principles will identify the knowledge and skills to which all students are entitled, recognise areas of strength and weakness in the mathematics curriculum and develop recommendations for future collaborative action.

The findings of this process will be presented for public discussion at a broadly representative national workshop to which the wider Australian education community will be invited.

Their use will not be compulsory but where agreement is reached after full consideration then it is likely that government and non-government systems and schools will use them.

It was also agreed that mapping work will continue to be undertaken in the key curriculum areas of Science, Technology and English Literacy.

 


Establishment of Curriculum Corporation of Australia

To strengthen the collaboration which has occurred to date, through the AEC, and to facilitate greater efficiency and effectiveness in curriculum development through the sharing of knowledge and scarce resources, a company known as the Curriculum Corporation of Australiawill be established.

The Curriculum Corporation of Australia will have a board of management whose directors are nominees of State, Territory and Commonwealth Education Ministers, a nominee each from the National Catholic Education Commission and the National Council of Independent Schools, if desired, and representatives of parents and of teachers. It is intended that the Curriculum Corporation of Australia will, eventually, become the major vehicle for collaborative curriculum development throughout Australia. Again its work will be available but no system will be bound to use it.


Developing an Appropriate Handwriting Style for Australian Schools

All Australian government school systems will now accept that a child taught a handwriting style in one State will not have to change it on transfer to another State which teaches a different style. A report on handwriting styles will be presented to the 61st meeting of the Australian Education Council with a view to removing unnecessary differences between States.


The Goal of a Common Age of Entry for Australian Schools

While working towards the long-term goal of a common age of school entry, State education systems will recognise the differences between States in school starting ages and will ensure that no child is disadvantaged because of interstate transfer. For example, where it can be demonstrated that a child has been enrolled in a formal educational program in another system and would be disadvantaged by not being permitted to continue at a similar level the student may be permitted to enrol at such a level.


Improving the Quality of Teaching

In recognition of the importance of the quality of teaching in assisting schools and systems to meet the educational challenges of our age, strategies to improve teacher education, particularly in science and mathematics, will be developed with a view to endorsement at the 61st meeting of the Australian Education Council.


This declaration represents a major advance in developing a national collaborative approach to schooling in Australia.

The vision of Australia's Education Ministers in adopting this historic program of national collaborative action will serve to enhance the capacity of all Australian schools to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

In agreeing to address the above areas of common concern, the State, territory and Commonwealth Ministers of Education have indicated their long-term commitment to strengthen Australian schooling.

Providing a sound basis for a collaborative effort to enhance Australian schooling, the agreed nat ional goals will be reviewed from time to time, in response to the changing needs of Australian society.


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