While AusVELS provided the authorising environment for curriculum reform, the Overseas Study Program often provided the impetus for change. It highlighted the importance of Asia, breathed life into the curriculum requirements and brought Asia to the doorstep of many communities for whom it was otherwise a distant or abstract concept.
Maffra Secondary College principal says that she thought it was important to have some Asia coverage in all subjects and all year levels if they were to be an Asia literate school. They mapped out the curriculum to identify gaps and areas for improvement.
Learning from sister schools
Billanook Primary School principal says the people to people connections the sister school has created have been vital. Students find out about the culture of those they engage with, what is important to them and how they live, and this breaks down stereotypes. While the curriculum has changed it has been the authentic learning through people to people connections that has been most important. The teacher from Billanook says that both teachers and students have an expanded view of the world as a result of the program.
Schools improved the quality of language teaching and provision, working across clusters to employ teachers, to improve transition and programs and to provide professional support for language teachers.
McKinnon Primary School principal and teachers saw the need to improve the quality of their Mandarin language teaching as a result of exposure to the teaching of English in their sister school. Their school introduced a year 3 immersion program with a teacher on rotation around the year 3 classes.
Schools also increased the relevance and status of languages learning, partly through connections with sister schools and the perceived importance of internationalisation and Asia literacy.