HSC English: Letter to NESA

Recently I received a letter from English educators concerned about the changes to the Higher School Certificate. Many readers of this blog are passionate English teachers and I publish the concerns expressed by Associate Professor Jackie Manuel, Dr Don Carter and Janet Dutton below for your consideration.

Dear colleagues and friends,

We’re writing because we need your help, as passionate educators, writers, researchers and advocates for the quality and integrity of arts and humanities education.

As you may be aware, NESA has recently released a revised HSC English syllabus.

The changes are significant, with far-reaching implications for student learning, the integrity and status of the subject, university admissions, and the role and significance of literature in the broader social and cultural realms. Just to name a few!

It is hoped you will sign your name to this letter to NESA which sets out the issues at stake due to the recent changes to HSC English. 

We’re seeking signatories from a range of people, including academics in the field, writers, publishers and others. If you are agreeable to signing this letter, just click on this link to add your name, role, affiliations and contact details.  

We have already had professors of English, English educators and writers from around the world writing to NESA, the Minister and the Premier to protest against the watering-down of senior English and to express their consternation at the removal of the requirement to study novels and poetry in the final year of secondary English.

It would be so appreciated if you were able to distribute this letter to your networks in Australia and internationally – to colleagues in the field, artists (especially novelists and poets), and organisations or groups with a stake in arts and literary education.

You may wish to communicate directly as an individual or on behalf of a group, organisation or association, to the following people: 

Dr Rob Stokes – NSW Minister for Education: [email protected]

David de Carvalho – CEO (NESA): [email protected]

Tom Alegounarias – Chairperson (NESA): [email protected]

The Hon. Gladys Berejiklian – Premier of NSW: [email protected] 

We need expert and esteemed voices to speak out against these changes. These voices must include those of Australian writers – particularly poets and novelists – as we seek to have the study of their work reinstated as a core requirement for all HSC English students. 

Whatever you can to do support this campaign would be very much appreciated.

Thank you for your time and your support.

Jackie, Janet and Don.

Associate Professor Jackie Manuel

  • Chief Examiner HSC English (Standard and Advanced, 2006-2011)
  • Member, NSW Board of Studies (2007-2012)
  • Chair, NSW Board Curriculum Committee, English K-10 (2008-2012)

Janet Dutton

  • Chief Examiner HSC English (Standard and Advanced, 2012-2016)
  • Lecturer in English Education, University of Sydney

Dr Don Carter

  • Board Inspector, English, NSW Board of Studies (2005-2012)
  • Senior Curriculum Officer, NSW Board of Studies (2002-2004)
  • Senior Lecturer, English Education, UTS BA/BEd
  • Coordinator Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Technology Sydney

If these concerns resonate please consider becoming a signatory to this letter and disseminating further

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