Western Australian music teachers and the WACE Music syllabus five years down the track: Where are we now?
Edith Cowan University
Faculty of Education and Arts
School of Education
Western Australia introduced a new Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE) Music course for Year 11 and 12 students in 2009. Course construction was protracted due to political interference, input from vested interests within the music teaching community and adverse community publicity. The result has been the creation of a long and potentially confusing syllabus document. This article reports on music teacher experiences with the new course five years after its initial implementation. A questionnaire was distributed to all WACE music teachers asking them to respond to 27 statements drawn from a literature review relating to course design in music education, and the WACE syllabus document. At the end of the questionnaire, participants were invited to provide extended responses regarding the new course. Extended responses were frequently negative and sometimes contradictory, leading the researchers to conclude that after five years, the WACE music syllabus document, as a driver of 'curriculum', is creating a degree of discontent and confusion in the minds of many music teachers. The lessons are obvious: for any curriculum to achieve a desired educational outcome, the syllabus document needs to be clear and consistent, be guided by a philosophy which is coherent and transparent to teachers, and drawn from the relevant literature on the subject.