Time on task

The nature of the school week and the allocation of time given to various Key Learning Areas [aka Subjects]  is about to change.  More time will have to be given to practising for tests that dominate the system.  It’s a must while the threat remains.  The ethos of the learning in primary schools will change.

Schools will need to establish a shopping list of minimal competencies and more time will be needed to practice for the tests;  and time is a school’s most valuable resource.

There has been a remarkable consistency in the official allocation of time over the years.  A comparison of required times in Queensland for the years 1952 and 1973 and 2003 shows this:

1952 1973 2003
English 7.5
Maths   5.0
Social Studies + RE 4.0
Music 1.0
Art & Craft 3.0
Health & Phys Ed 2.2
Natural Science 1.0
English 7.5-8.5
Maths 4.5-5.5
Social Studies 3.5-4.5
Music 1.0-1.5
Arts & Crafts 2.0-3.0
Health & Phys Ed 2.0-3.0
Science 1.0-1.5
English 7.0-8.0
Maths 5.0
SOSE 2.5
Music 1.0
Arts & Crafts 2.0
Health & Phys Ed 1.3
Science 1.0
L.O.T.E. 1.3
[There is some flexibility with allocations when Time Tables are constructed for Years 1-3.]

By 2003, Languages Other than English [LOTE], best described as a chic subject over-rated in usefulness, had stolen 1½ hours in Years 4 – 7 from the regular subjects. At the same time, an endless array of other intrusive aspects, little known in previous syllabus arrangements, also took major pieces of time.

There is an enormous press from well-meaning organisations and lobbies for school time. Schools, it seems, can solve all the ills of society. The media constantly feature an organisation or conspicuous person seeking to gain a slice of school time somehow or other for a worthy purpose.  [At the time of writing  (March,2009)  a Rugby League pundit was advocating for sport players to be taught at school how to be role models.]  Lobbies for school time are extensive in number.  The advocates do not appreciate the enormity of what they are asking and the affects.  Circa 1987,  the Primary Curriculum Committee listed 33 lobbies seeking official entry to the time table. Many sneak into school time under the official radar. The magnitude of demand at the present time must be enormous.  Many well-meaning lobbyists do not realise that a visit by a notable person, celebration of a major event, school carnival or minor festivity is  a major distraction from classroom learning.