New Australian minister to enter the history wars

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WESTERN Australia's new Education Minister wants to change the teaching of high school history to give students a deeper understanding of international conflicts and Australia's role in them.

Mark McGowan, who has inherited the state's troubled gradeless curriculum, said an assessment and possible overhaul of the state's history curriculum was a priority.

The former naval legal officer landed the state education portfolio last week from Ljiljanna Ravlich, who stumbled in attempting to introduce a system of "outcomes-based" courses into Years 11 and 12.

A proposed high school history course is among 13 new Year 11 and 12 courses that have been rewritten and their introduction delayed to 2008 as a result of mounting criticism that the courses lacked rigour and traditional instruction.

Pressure group People Lobbying Against Teaching Outcomes gained crucial union support with its campaign last year against the new method of assessing students based on eight "levels of achievement" instead of giving them a grade or a percentage, which it claims is confusing for parents, labour-intensive for teachers and does not encourage students to compete with each other.

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