KINDERGARTEN TO YEAR 6 SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY SYLLABUS
The Hon. EDDIE OBEID:
My question is addressed to the Acting Minister for Education and Training. Can the Minister advise the House what the Iemma Government is doing to make the science and technology curriculum more attractive to primary school students?
The Hon. JOHN HATZISTERGOS:
I thank the honourable member for his question and commend him for his ongoing interest in education and training. New South Wales has a proud history of producing scientists of world renown, including chemist John Warcup Cornforth, winner of the 1975 Nobel Price in Chemistry, for his work on the stereochemistry of enzyme-catalyzed reactions; agriculturalist William James Farrer, who was involved in developing breeds of wheat to withstand disease, especially rust, and harsh Australian conditions; nurse and health administrator Elizabeth Kenny, who developed a new treatment for poliomyelitis during the 1930s; and biochemist Daphne Goulston, who was a Cancer Research Fellow at the University of Sydney, worked at the Radium Institute, London and later became Research Associate in Biochemistry at the University of Sydney. Those people have made profound contributions to our understanding of the world around us and the treatment and prevention of diseases.
To encourage our future generation of scientists, I am pleased to inform the House that the Board of Studies of New South Wales is currently conducting a review and revision of the science and technology syllabus for kindergarten to year 6 students. Young minds have a natural sense of wonder and curiosity about the world around them. The New South Wales science and technology kindergarten to year 6 curriculum is already well regarded because it demonstrates the strong links between the two disciplines. The syllabus is being developed to make the study of science and technology even more interesting and relevant to young minds. It is also being designed to give them knowledge and skills that will fuel their interest in the subjects into high school and beyond. With talk of a shortage of scientists and skilled workers in the technology fields in the future, this is a particularly important initiative.
Under the proposed changes to the primary science and technology syllabus, students gain knowledge, understanding and skills in investigating issues scientifically and designing and producing projects. They also learn about living things, physical phenomena, the Earth and its surrounds; built environments, products, information and communications; and the practice of science and technology in society. The improvements also demonstrate where links can be made to other parts of the primary curriculum such as numeracy and literacy.
Drafting a new syllabus takes extensive development and consultation. The Board of Studies is currently finalising the writing brief that will guide the drafting of the actual science and technology kindergarten to year 6 syllabus. Eleven consultation meetings on the draft writing brief, involving 270 teachers across the State and in Sydney, were completed recently, including in locations such as Dubbo, Ballina, Tamworth, Shellharbour and Albury. Teachers were generally positive about the new directions and have provided feedback for consideration in refining the proposals. Stakeholder and interest groups have provided written submissions on the draft proposals, and the board has received 100 survey responses from individuals. These are all being analysed for consideration in the final writing brief, which will be completed later this year. The new syllabus is expected to be in schools in late 2009.