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Australian Curriculum

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The Foundation to Year 12 Australian Curriculum

Education plays a critical role in shaping the lives of young Australians and contributing to a democratic, equitable and just society that is prosperous, cohesive and culturally diverse.

The rationale for the introduction of the Australian Curriculum centres on improving the quality, equity and transparency of Australia’s education system.

  • Quality – an Australian Curriculum will contribute to the provision of a world-class education in Australia by setting out the knowledge, understanding and skills needed for life and work in the 21st century and by setting high standards of achievement across the country.
  • Equity – an Australian Curriculum will provide a clear, shared understanding of what young people should be taught and the quality of learning expected of them, regardless of their circumstances, the type of school that they attend or the location of their school.

The commitment to develop a national curriculum reflects a willingness to work together, across geographical and school-sector boundaries, to provide a world-class education for all young Australians. Working nationally makes it possible to harness collective expertise and effort in the pursuit of this common goal. It also offers the potential of economies of scale and a substantial reduction in the duplication of time, effort and resources.

Educational goals for young Australians

In 2008 all Australian governments committed to the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians. The development of world-class Australian Curriculum and assessment was one of eight interrelated areas for action designed to achieve the following.

Successful learners:

  • develop their capacity to learn and play an active role in their own learning
  • have the essential skills in literacy and numeracy and are creative and productive users of technology, especially ICT, as a foundation for success in all learning areas
  • are able to think deeply and logically, and obtain and evaluate evidence in a disciplined way as the result of studying fundamental disciplines
  • are creative, innovative and resourceful, and are able to solve problems in ways that draw upon a range of learning areas and disciplines
  • are able to plan activities independently, collaborate, work in teams and communicate ideas
  • are able to make sense of their world and think about how things have become the way they are
  • are on a pathway towards continued success in further education, training or employment, and acquire the skills to make informed learning and employment decisions throughout their lives
  • are motivated to reach their full potential.

Confident and creative individuals:

  • have a sense of self-worth, self-awareness and personal identity that enables them to manage their emotional, mental, spiritual and physical wellbeing
  • have a sense of optimism about their lives and the future
  • are enterprising, show initiative and use their creative abilities
  • develop personal values and attributes such as honesty, resilience, empathy and respect for others
  • have the knowledge, skills, understanding and values to establish and maintain healthy, satisfying lives
  • have the confidence and capability to pursue university or post-secondary vocational qualifications leading to rewarding and productive employment
  • relate well to others and form and maintain healthy relationships
  • are well prepared for their potential life roles as family, community and workforce members
  • embrace opportunities, make rational and informed decisions about their own lives and accept responsibility for their own actions.

Active and informed citizens:

  • act with moral and ethical integrity
  • appreciate Australia’s social, cultural, linguistic and religious diversity, and have an understanding of Australia’s system of government, history and culture
  • understand and acknowledge the value of Indigenous cultures and possess the knowledge, skills and understanding to contribute to, and benefit from, reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians
  • are committed to national values of democracy, equity and justice, and participate in Australia’s civic life
  • are able to relate to and communicate across cultures, especially the cultures and countries of Asia
  • work for the common good, in particular sustaining and improving natural and social environments
  • are responsible global and local citizens.

(Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians page 7-9)

Propositions shaping the Australian Curriculum

The development of the Australian Curriculum is shaped by the following propositions.

  1. The Australian Curriculum recognises the entitlement of each student to knowledge, understanding and skills that provide a foundation for successful and lifelong learning and participation in the Australian community.
  2. The Australian Curriculum is presented as a continuum of learning that makes clear to teachers what is to be taught across the years of schooling. It makes clear what students should learn and the quality of learning expected of them as they progress through school.
  3. The Australian Curriculum is based on the assumptions that each student can learn and the needs of every student are important. It enables high expectations to be set for each student as teachers account for the current levels of learning of individual students and the different rates at which students develop.
  4. The Australian Curriculum is aligned with the Early Years Learning Framework and builds on its key learning outcomes, namely: children have a strong sense of identity; children are connected with, and contribute to, their world; children have a strong sense of wellbeing; children are confident and involved learners; and children are effective communicators.
  5. The Australian Curriculum helps prepare all young Australians to become competent and contributing members of the community. It builds firm and meaningful foundation skills as well as providing the basis for developing expertise for the increasing number of students who move on to specialised advanced studies in academic disciplines, professions and technical trades.
  6. The Australian Curriculum specifies what all young Australians should learn as they progress through schooling and is designed to be taught within the overall teaching time and with the resources available to teachers and students. School authorities make decisions about the allocation of time and other resources.
  7. The Australian Curriculum provides for rigorous, in-depth study, preferring depth to breadth wherever a choice needs to be made, with consideration also being given to the overall teaching and learning time available.
  8. For some learning areas, the Australian Curriculum will be written with the expectation that they will be taught in each year of schooling from Foundation to Year 10. For other areas, the Australian Curriculum will describe an entitlement that students will have the opportunity to learn across Foundation to Year 8, as well as additional learning they may choose and/or schools may choose to provide in Years 9–10.
  9. The primary audience for the Australian Curriculum is teachers. The curriculum is concise and expressed in plain language while preserving a complexity appropriate for professional practitioners. Consistency in terms of language and broad structure supports teachers in planning within and across learning areas.
  10. Jurisdictions, systems and schools will be able to implement the Australian Curriculum in ways that value teachers’ professional knowledge, reflect local contexts and take into account individual students’ family, cultural and community backgrounds. Schools and teachers determine pedagogical and other delivery considerations.
  11. The Australian Curriculum is established on a strong evidence base, which is related to learning, pedagogy and what works in professional practice, and has been benchmarked against international curricula.

(The Shape of the Australian Curriculum Version 4.0 pages 10-11)

Scope of the Australian Curriculum

The Australian Curriculum has been written to take account of the growth and development of young people across the years of schooling, the diverse needs of the student population in Australian schools, and the knowledge, understanding and skills that it is desirable for all young Australians to learn in terms of learning areas, general capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities.

The Australian Curriculum makes clear to teachers what is to be taught. It also makes clear to students what they should learn and the quality of learning expected of them. Schools are able to decide how best to deliver the curriculum, drawing on integrated approaches where appropriate and using pedagogical approaches that account for students’ needs, interests and the school and community context. School authorities will be able to offer curriculum beyond that specified in the Australian Curriculum.

The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians identifies three broad categories of outcomes that the curriculum should deliver for students. Thus the Australian Curriculum is developed in terms of learning area knowledge, skills and understandings and general capabilities.

  • A solid foundation in in knowledge, skills and understandings, and values on which further learning and adult life can be built

    The curriculum will include a strong focus on literacy and numeracy skills. It will also enable students to build social and emotional intelligence, and nurture student wellbeing through health and physical education in particular. The curriculum will support students to relate well to others and foster an understanding of Australian society, citizenship and national values through the study of civics and citizenship. As a foundation for further learning and adult life, the curriculum will include practical knowledge and skills development in areas such as ICT and design and technology, which are central to Australia’s skilled economy and provide crucial pathways to post- school success.

  • Deep knowledge, understanding, skills and values that will enable advanced learning and an ability to create new ideas and translate them into practical applications

    The curriculum will enable students to develop knowledge in the disciplines of English, mathematics, science, languages, humanities and the Arts; to understand the spiritual, moral and aesthetic dimensions of life; and open up new ways of thinking. It will also support the development of deep knowledge within a discipline, which provides the foundation for interdisciplinary approaches to innovation and complex problem solving.

  • General capabilities that underpin flexible and analytical thinking, a capacity to work with others and an ability to move across subject disciplines to develop new expertise:

    The curriculum will support young people to develop a range of generic and employability skills that have particular application to the world of work and further education and training, such as planning and organising, the ability to think flexibly, to communicate well and to work in teams. Young people also need to develop the capacity to think creatively, innovate, solve problems and engage with new disciplines.

(The Shape of the Australian Curriculum Version 4.0 pages 13-14)

The curriculum development process

The Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) is responsible for the development of the Australian Curriculum.

The ACARA website presents detailed information about the process used to develop each part of the Australian Curriculum and the background to the development of the Australian Curriculum.

(ACARA > Home > Curriculum > Development of the Australian Curriculum)

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