Australian schools are better at teaching children English than schools in England, according to new research.
Dr Paul Gardner, a lecturer at Curtin University’s School of Education, compared the English curriculums of England and Australia – and found a significant difference in the way pupils are taught in the two countries.
His study, published his findings in the English in Education journal, says teachers in England were faced with a rigid curriculum in how they could teach the language, while Australia’s curriculum allows for more creativity and flexibility.
Australian schools are better at teaching children English than schools in England, according to new research
His research found that 68 per cent of England’s curriculum emphasises a didactic, teacher-directed approach – with a focus on phonics, spelling and prescriptive grammar – as opposed to interactive learning.
Dr Gardner, a British former academic who now lives in Australia, also found that the Australian curriculum was better at combining the basics of English with a broader socio-linguistic view of the language allowing students to reflect on and respond to a wide range of literature.
‘What the research shows is the England-based approach focuses very heavily on language at word level and did not encourage pupils’ exploration of meaning at the level of texts,’ he said.
Curtin University’s Dr Paul Gardner (pictured) looked at curriculums of both countries and found significant differences
‘Unlike England, Australian teachers are encouraged by curriculum guidelines to use a variety of methods to teach English and this includes the use of Indigenous oral story-telling and the chance to incorporate literature from around the globe.’
Dr Gardner, who said his research was partly prompted by the Federal Government’s proposal to adopt the same phonics assessment used in schools in England to test six-year-olds, says the findings raise concerns over whether the more formal teaching approach in England is failing to prepare children for literacy needs in the 21st century.
‘Whilst phonics, spelling and grammar are important, you cannot base your whole curriculum on the basics,’ he added.
‘The knowledge economy of the 21st century requires pupils to be able to read and create multimodal texts, and democracy requires citizens who can think both creatively and critically.
‘The primary curriculum of England does none of these things.’