The development of the Australian Curriculum is guided by the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians, adopted by the council of state and territory education ministers in December 2008. The Melbourne Declaration emphasises the importance of knowledge, understanding, skills and values and a range of cross-disciplinary skills that will support all young Australians to become successful learners, confident and creative individuals and active and informed citizens.
These goals and priorities are reflected in the three dimensions of the Australian Curriculum, learning areas, general capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities, that together provide the basis for a curriculum designed to support 21st century learning.
The Australian Curriculum describes a learning entitlement for each Australian student that provides a foundation for successful, lifelong learning and participation in the Australian community. It acknowledges that the needs and interests of students will vary, and that schools and teachers will plan from the curriculum in ways that respond to those needs and interests. The Australian Curriculum acknowledges the changing ways in which young people will learn and the challenges that will continue to shape their learning in the future.
The Australian Curriculum has been published for English, Mathematics, Science and History for Foundation to Year 10. Curriculum for these years is being developed for Geography, Languages, The Arts, Health and Physical Education, Technologies, Economics and Business and Civics and Citizenship and will be published progressively.
The Australian Curriculum sets out what all young people should be taught through the specification of curriculum content and the learning expected at points in their schooling through the specification of achievement standards.
The curriculum includes:
Increasingly, in a world where knowledge itself is constantly growing and evolving, students need to develop a set of knowledge, skills, behaviours and dispositions,or general capabilities that apply across learning area content and equip them to be lifelong learners able to operate with confidence in a complex, information-rich, globalised world.
The Australian Curriculum includes a focus on seven general capabilities: Literacy, Numeracy, Information and communication technology (ICT) capability, Critical and creative thinking, Ethical understanding, Personal and social capability and Intercultural understanding. Continua of learning have been developed for each, to describe the relevant knowledge, skills, behaviours and dispositions at particular points of schooling.
The Australian Curriculum also pays attention to three cross-curriculum priorities: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia and Sustainability. These have been embedded where relevant and appropriate in each learning area and can be viewed explicitly in the curriculum online.
The Australian Curriculum is published online to provide maximum flexibility in how the curriculum can be accessed and organised. For example, the curriculum may be viewed by learning area, by multiple year levels, or by year level across learning areas, and may be downloaded and printed in those views.