Guiding Geography curriculum in the right direction

Here is an opportunity for a new refreshing syllabus that will encourage renewed vigour in the love of learning and teaching Geography

Celebrating 20 years as a teacher, Natasha Convery has taught a variety of social science courses over the years, but Geography and implementing curriculum have always been her overriding passions.

As HSIE (Human Society and Its Environment) Coordinator at St Marys High School, Gateshead in the Lake Macquarie area of Newcastle, Natasha was selected by the IEU to represent Geography teachers from Catholic and independent schools on the K-10 Geography Board Curriculum Committee with Board of Studies Teaching Standards (BOSTES) in 2014.

The role will continue this year to finalise the new Geography Syllabus for the Australian Curriculum for implementation in 2017.

Natasha has also represented IEU members during 2013 and 2014 as Chapter co-ordinator at St Mary’s and continues her role as chair of the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese HSIE Secondary Key Learning Area Network, a role that involves thorough and accurate planning of HSIE curriculum, programming and assessment.

She said the BOSTES Geography Curriculum Committee has a range of interest groups, each of which have vested interest in specific aspects of this new curriculum. Having an IEU Rep to speak on behalf of Geography teachers is critical to ensure workload and continued professional development are considered.

“It is important to take into account how the new curriculum will impact our members before it is introduced,” Natasha said.

Initially implementation of the new Geography syllabus was to occur in 2016, but members will have some added breathing space with a decision by BOSTES to delay until 2017.

Advice from committee members urged BOSTES to consider timing issues and the impact on teacher’s workloads in implementing both the History and Geography syllabus concurrently.

This may provide opportunities for IEU members to network more comprehensively in preparation for the new K-10 syllabus.

“Teachers are under increasing pressure with time constraints to ensure quality teaching and effective assessment occurs in the classroom. More often than not there is an expectation that curriculum programming is done outside school hours.

“We encouraged the Board to make the new curriculum less onerous and more user-friendly for our teachers. Here is an opportunity for a new refreshing course that will encourage renewed vigour in the love of learning and teaching Geography.”

As well as influencing the timing of the introduction of the syllabus, Natasha has been advocating the importance of increased funding and resourcing, and whether there will be greater practical support available for teachers at the time of implementation.

Natasha is relishing the role as BOSTES Geography IEU Rep: “I love curriculum and programming and I am so fortunate to have this opportunity to use my skills and knowledge to advise and somewhat persuade BOSTES in the future direction of Geography in NSW.

“I strongly urge any IEU member given the opportunity to represent their respective curriculum to put their name in the ring to go to BOSTES meetings. It’s a great experience and you leave knowing that you have made a small difference to the lives of our teachers and our students.”