Every student benefits from arts education under new National Curriculum

Joint Media Release
  • Minister for School Education
  • Minister for Early Childhood and Youth
  • Minister for the Arts

Every Australian student will study the arts from their first year of school under the new national arts curriculum, which was released today for public consultation.

School Education Minister Peter Garrett said that education will be transformed with the arts coming to centre stage.

“This will be the first time every Australian school student will be entitled to arts education from kindergarten onwards and I know the positive impacts on students will be huge,” he said.

“I’ve been a passionate advocate of the importance of arts as part of a comprehensive, well-rounded education. Learning subject areas like music and drama inspires creativity, encourages young people to think critically, helps develop their sense of identity and can provide great benefits for learning in other core areas.

“The value the Gillard Government places on the arts is reflected in the fact that the Arts Curriculum is the first learning area to be developed for the National Curriculum after the four core subjects of English, maths, science and history.”

Speaking at the Australian Major Performing Arts Group (AMPAG) Arts in Education forum in Brisbane, Mr Garrett said the draft curriculum has been developed after close and extensive consultation with the arts community and educators across the country.

“The curriculum is divided into the five arts subjects of drama, dance, music, the visual arts, and media arts. It sets out how students from the first year of school to Year 10 will study these subjects, what they can learn and the achievement standards they will need to meet,” he said.

“Each subject is developed to be appropriate for different age groups, so for example kindergarten students will learn about dance movements by playing games.

“Students will also use the arts to learn about local, regional and global cultures, history and traditions. There is also a strong focus on Indigenous art forms in the new curriculum.”

Minister for the Arts Simon Crean said a creative nation is a more productive nation and teaching arts is vital to inspiring creativity in young people.

"Research shows an arts-rich education prepares children for better academic achievement and creative flexible thinking,” Mr Crean said.

"The new national arts curriculum is an important dot to join as the Federal Government develops the first National Cultural Policy since Creative Nation more than 20 years ago.

"The National Cultural Policy will link traditional arts, creative industries, screen production, digital platforms and school education to position the arts as a driver of social and economic benefits."

Mr Garrett said the draft Arts curriculum was developed by the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), following the blueprint set out in the earlier arts ‘shape paper’ developed last year by Professor John O’Toole, Foundation Chair of Arts Education at the University of Melbourne.

Teacher associations, arts educators and the arts community were also instrumental in the development of the curriculum.

“Everyone now has the chance for a final comment on the curriculum before the consultation process finishes on September 23,” he said.

“After that a final version will be developed by ACARA and will be endorsed by all education Ministers early next year. It can then be progressively implemented in Australian schools.”

Mr Garrett said the Gillard Government supported a number of arts education programs, including providing funding for groups such as Bell Shakespeare and the Song Room to help them work with schools.

“The arts help us learn about the world around us, they fire our imagination and spark our curiosity. The new national curriculum will improve arts education across the country and inspire our next generation of creators and story tellers. Our creative industries have been valued at $30 billion and provide significant employment opportunities for the future," he said.

The draft curriculum is available at www.acara.edu.au.

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