Newsletter August 2016

Draft Stage 6 Syllabus Consultation

The Draft Stage 6 syllabus has now been released and we have prepared an analysis of the differences between the current syllabus and the new proposals. The Standard, AdvancedEnglish Studies, EAL/D and Extension courses are available to members once they have logged in.  We hope that these will assist you in clarifying the new draft against your current practice.
    We ask that you respond to the ETA surveys individually or as a faculty so that our submission to the BoSTES reflects the views of the broad membership.  A faculty meeting around responding to the consultation can be an excellent form of staff development and using the list of differences in conjunction with reading the draft document can assist in clarifying some of the changes. 

    to allow for compilation of our report by the due date to the BoSTES
    ETA surveys 

     Despite our history of rigorous consultation the Sydney Morning Herald published an article,  HSC reforms push environment, Asia, women and Aboriginal history, which inferred that this was not the case. In fact the article managed to enrage several professional associations for different reasons due to errors in it. The ETA immediately wrote this letter to the editor in reply which was not printed.
    It was surprising and disappointing to read that the response of English teachers to the draft HSC syllabus has been predetermined as “resistance from the English Teachers Association”( HSC reforms push environment, Asia, women and Aboriginal history 21st July). The English Teachers Association reaches almost 5000 English teachers and consults its members widely and deeply before submitting a considered response to syllabus change.

    The article explains curriculum change in NSW by denigrating the expertise of those who find the current curriculum a valuable and enjoyable learning experience for students. The assertion that the HSC English syllabus has focussed on “critical theories such as feminism and nihilism” and promoted “theory-based and post-modern approaches” is incorrect. This suggests that experts who contributed to the syllabus - including the Board’s Curriculum Committee, academic advisers brought in from universities - and the Board itself who endorsed it– possessed an ideologically driven and reductive view of the subject.

    The condemnation of the comparative text approach, belittling Emma and Clueless for example, shows a lack of understanding of the subject. Indeed, the very draft syllabus that the Board President praises recognises this approach in its elective, “Textual Conversations”. This study has a long tradition in literary scholarship, allowing students to understand, for example, how Shakespeare drew on previous texts. It also allows students to develop their own creative capacities.

    Has the draft syllabus already been rejected at the Board even before the consultation takes place? The English Teachers Association on the other hand, is still consulting.

    We have since had conversations with Tom Alegounarias who strongly denies having made the comments reported by Eryk Bagshaw in his article. He has since published in the Board Bulletin his thanks for the assistance received by the ETA in developing the syllabus. This also is not entirely true. Individuals from the ETA, experienced in teaching and curriculum analysis, were invited into the Board to pass a critical eye over the documents before they went out for consultation. The ETA also has representation on the Board's Curriculum Committee.

    NAPLAN in the media

    With the results of NAPLAN released this week, there has been the usual fretful media flurry that our schools are not performing as they should, despite the funding flooding from Treasury. There is of course little consideration of the way the test is constructed and marked let alone the wisdom of the policy. In case you have been too busy doing your job to catch some of the stories, here is a quick sample for you from the Sydney Morning Herald, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Conversation, a comment in the Sydney Morning Herald from the President of PETAA and of course the stream of letters in response.

    Literacy requirement for HSC

    There has been considerable discussion and distress expressed on our Facebook at the statement about Year 9 NAPLAN level 8 requirement for gaining an HSC. Clarification may be found on the BoSTES website explaining the various options available to students.

    Forthcoming events

              Thursday 4th 
                 Teachers: Grammar in Context. Six webinars sessions until 20th October.
                 Program and registration by email or post.   Online registration. 

    Wednesday 10th
    Teachers: Improving quality through leadership in English.  5 webinar sessions supporting action research ending 23rd November. Program and registration by email or post. Online registration

    Saturday 13th
    Teachers: Teaching English Studies. Campbelltown Performing Arts High School, Beverley Road Campbelltown. Registration by email or post.  Online registration.

    Tuesday 16th
    Teachers: Kindergarten - Year 6. English Textual Concepts in Depth. This  first series of 6 webinars will be held weekly on Tuesdays, ending on 20th September. Program and registration by email or post. Select your Series to register online.  

                 Saturday 15th
                 Teachers: Teaching through concepts - Lismore - Southern Cross University  Room R248
                 Program and registration by email or post.   Online registration.  

        Friday 28th
                  Students: Discovering Discovery. Wesley Centre, Pitt Street Sydney.
                 Program and registration by email or post.  Online registration.  Additional information

                 Friday 11th 
    Introduction to Extension 2

                 Friday 18th and 19th
                 Teachers: Annual Conference - To unpathed waters, undreamed shores…  UNSW

    Image to text is a beautiful example of developing student creative writing using art, in this case Adolphe Valette’s Under Windsor Bridge, from
    one of the Manchester Art Gallery's teaching resources.

    The ETA has at last found a home in Nyrang St Lidcombe, having spent the last 3 years in temporary accommodation.  The offices are with the Professional Teachers' Council where we will be joined by other subject associations.

    Members of committees first saw the offices when they attended a planning day last Saturday. Despite the heavy agenda, these days are enjoyable as we meet up with teachers from all over the state and professional friendships grow. Members are most welcome to join a committee and help in any way they would like.
    In the photo are (on left) Wayne Sawyer, Viviana Mattiello, Kerri-Jane Burke, Sharyn Stafford (hidden) Jane Sherlock, Eva Gold (hidden), Mel Dixon, Karen Yager, Margaret Youdale, Imelda Judge, Vanessa Refalo, Matt Bentley. Hidden are Ann Small, Amanda Taplin, Susan Gazis, Amy Cotton and Prue Greene, who had the presence of mind to take the photo.

    It’s an exciting time at The Red Room Company, as entries for the Poetry Object poetry writing competition start to arrive. Here are some NSW highlights. To read other submissions, or to find out more about the competition, visit

    Fascinating page of the way writers, including Sylvia Plath, JK Rowling, William Faulkner develop plans for novels. This image is the Harry Potter series.

    With the added emphasis on writing in the draft Stage 6 syllabus, this site on The 50 of the most beautiful sentences in literature  could encourage interesting discussion and some competition as students try to add to the list.