The Baillieu government is threatening to deviate from the new national curriculum over its downplaying of language teaching.
While the national curriculum aims to place a greater emphasis on languages, the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) has allocated only 300 to 400 hours to language teaching between Prep and Year 6.
This is about half the number of hours recommended by the Victorian Education Department, which endorses 700 hours of language study before Year 7 (around 150 minutes of language study per week in primary school).
State Education Minister Martin Dixon said that, in light of this information said the government would not renounce its power over language education with the implementation of the new national curriculum.
''The Commonwealth government must wake up and stop pushing Victoria towards the lowest common denominator in education,'' Mr Dixon said.
''We will continue to demand Victoria's high standards form a minimum baseline for national reform.''
ACARA is currently finalising the language curriculum before it moves on to the writing stage in August.
The language curriculum is being developed alongside arts and geography. Together, these subjects make up phase two of the national curriculum, and are due to be rolled out in classrooms in 2013. This follows the first phase of the curriculum — English, mathematics, science and history subjects — which began implementation in 2011.
According to ACARA, these are merely indicative figures that were designed to act as a guide for the writers of the curriculum. They have reported that no decision has yet been made over how many hours will be spent learning languages in the classroom.
FACTS ABOUT THE NEW NATIONAL LANGUAGE CURRICULUM: