St Francis Xavier College in Melbourne is one of 150 schools nationally involved in a trial of the new Australian curriculum, reports the Age.
Joe Marsiglio, the school's numeracy co-ordinator, says parts of the maths curriculum, especially year 9, have higher levels of difficulty, with some areas of study moved into earlier year levels.
"Overall the philosophy has changed: some teachers will have to change the way they teach because the emphasis is not about telling students that this is the formula," says Mr Marsiglio, who has previously written and published maths text books.
"It's an inquiry based approach where students are encouraged to discover and find out things for themselves rather than be bombarded with facts.
"The new curriculum is not perfect but it's very easy to follow and it hasn't been dumbed down. It's very clear at the end of each year level what achievement standards are expected of students."
Paul Desmond, principal of St Francis Xavier College, says feedback from staff road-testing the new English and maths subjects suggests the curriculum is an improvement on what teachers have used before.
"For a number of years we heard from our senior campus that we must place greater emphasis on writing skills and grammar. We recognised that essentials in literacy such as spelling were not given sufficient emphasis in the past.
'The new curriculum seems to recognise that too; it's got those basic skills but it also has the elements of inquiry-based learning that extend students' imaginations."
The Age reports that school principals felt a shiver of trepidation a few weeks ago when the New South Wales government announced it would delay introducing the new Australian curriculum into its schools by at least a year.
For senior officials of the Australian Primary Principals Association the news reinforced worries that teachers simply won't be adequately prepared to implement the curriculum.
"There's no national implementation plan for the professional development of teachers to emphasise what should be done first," says Mr Norm Hart, the association's president.
"We could well end up with an Australian curriculum in name only. At this stage it's a fear rather than a prediction.
"But when we ask our national executive council what support from the government, Catholic and independent sectors looks like, they say it's variable. In some sectors there's quite a deal of resources going into professional development, in others it hasn't been considered yet."
The first four subjects of the Australian curriculum — English, maths, history and science — will be mostly rolled out in all schools by the end of 2013 under an agreement reached in December. NSW has cited the high cost of preparing teachers for the curriculum as the reason for breaking the agreement and delaying its rollout to 2014.
Schools brace as change looms (The Age)
Stock photo: Study, from stock.xchng