General capabilities make up one of the three dimensions of the Australian Curriculum. They describe key understandings, skills and dispositions important for young Australians to live and work successfully now and in the future. The F–10 Australian Curriculum includes seven general capabilities:

  • Literacy
  • Numeracy
  • Critical and Creative Thinking
  • Digital Literacy (formerly Information and Communication Technology (ICT) capability)
  • Personal and Social capability
  • Ethical Understanding
  • Intercultural Understanding.

The general capabilities are not stand-alone subjects but are taught through the learning area content in the Australian Curriculum. Not all general capabilities will be developed in every learning area. They are only included in learning area content where they can be developed in authentic and meaningful ways.

The Review has improved the learning continua for the general capabilities with reference to current research. The Australian Curriculum has also been decluttered by improving the relationship of the general capabilities to the content of the learning areas, so teachers can focus on teaching essential content.

Literacy and numeracy were not reviewed in this process as they have already been reviewed and improved as part of the online formative assessment initiative. You can view the National Literacy and Numeracy Learning Progressions here

 

Overview of the key proposed revisions

  • The ICT capability has been renamed Digital Literacy to align with international developments and the findings of recent national reports.
  • The description of each general capability and its learning continuum has been revised to refine the language and improve the clarity for teachers, update the developmental progression and ensure that the understandings, skills and dispositions are current and relevant for Australian students.
  • Each general capability has been embedded in the content descriptions of learning area curricula where that learning is essential – for example, Digital Literacy in the content of the Digital Technologies curriculum; Personal and Social capability in Health and Physical Education; Critical and Creative Thinking in The Arts.
  • The content elaborations in all learning areas have been significantly revised and improved to ensure they only include authentic illustrations of how the general capabilities can support the teaching and learning of the learning area content.

Australian Curriculum Review – the process

ACARA looked at the latest research and worked with experts in each capability to identify opportunities for updating. An analysis of the learning continuum for each was undertaken to ensure it still reflected current research and that the current descriptions were aligned across levels and within sub elements.

Evidence and information gathered in this process was used to refine and propose revisions to the continua for consultation and feedback through ACARA’s reference groups and advisory groups.

Download the General capabilities consultation documents

To give feedback download the document for the general capability you wish to comment on below. The following documents contain introductory information and the revised learning continua for each general capability. They also provide the current continua so you can easily compare to the proposed revisions.

You can access the primary level scope and sequence charts that combine all the learning areas and are presented by year level

How to have your say

Provide your feedback through our survey, which will ask you to respond to statements about the revised general capability. You can see a copy of the survey questions before you begin to give your feedback.

For further information on the survey, including how to save and return to it, refer to the survey information sheet.

General capabilities describe key understandings, skills and dispositions important for young Australians to live and work successfully now and in the future. They are one of the three dimensions of the Australian Curriculum. The F–10 Australian Curriculum includes seven general capabilities:

  • Literacy
  • Numeracy
  • Critical and Creative Thinking
  • Digital Literacy (formerly Information and Communication Technology (ICT) capability)
  • Personal and Social capability
  • Ethical Understanding
  • Intercultural Understanding.

As required by the Review terms of reference the proposed revisions aim to:

  • “declutter the content of the Australian Curriculum by improving the relationship of the general capabilities to learning area content” and
  • “improve the quality of content elaborations by only embedding the general capabilities explicitly in content elaborations where it is most authentic to do so”.

The revisions have explicitly and purposefully identified general capabilities in content descriptions where they can be developed or applied through the content of the learning area. This has made it clearer for teachers that not all general capabilities are meant to be developed in every learning area. Some learning areas explicitly develop certain general capabilities, which may then be applied in other areas of the curriculum. For example:

  • English is the primary learning area for the development of Literacy.
  • Mathematics develops the numeracy skills required to engage effectively with other learning areas.
  • Health and Physical Education includes content that develops key elements of the Personal and Social capability.
  • Digital Technologies provides the foundational knowledge for the application of Digital Literacy across the curriculum.

We have also revised content elaborations in all learning areas to ensure they only include authentic illustrations of how the general capabilities can support the teaching and learning of the learning area content.

General capabilities are developed through the learning areas, they are not separate learning areas or subjects. Not all general capabilities will be developed in every learning area. They will only be included in learning area content where they can be developed in authentic and meaningful ways.

The terms of reference for the Review of the Australian Curriculum required ACARA to “revisit and improve, where necessary, the learning continua for the general capabilities with reference to current research”.

In the Australian Curriculum Review, five of the seven general capabilities were reviewed – Critical and Creative Thinking, Personal and Social capability, Digital Literacy, Ethical Understanding, and Intercultural Understanding. The process was similar for each.

We reviewed recent research and worked with experts in each capability to identify opportunities for updating. An analysis of the learning continuum for each capability was undertaken to ensure it still reflects current research and that the current descriptions are aligned across levels and within sub-elements.

Evidence and information gathered in this process were used to refine and propose revisions to the continua for consultation and feedback through ACARA’s reference and advisory groups. 

In the last few years, ACARA has been able to draw on the latest empirical evidence to develop more detailed learning progressions for literacy and numeracy as part of the online formative assessment initiative. The National Literacy and Numeracy Learning Progressions describe the learning pathway(s) along which students typically progress, regardless of age or year level. The learning progressions can be used by teachers to help locate the literacy and numeracy development of their students and to identify what literacy and numeracy development should follow.

The learning progressions replace the existing learning continua for literacy and numeracy and so do not require further review as part of the Australian Curriculum Review process. To find out more about the online formative assessment initiative, go to https://www.ofai.edu.au/

The Digital Literacy general capability was previously named ICT capability. As a result of the Review, we have renamed this capability, Digital Literacy, to align with national and international developments.

The description of each general capability and its learning continuum have been revised to simplify the language, make it clearer for teachers, update the developmental progression and ensure that the understandings, skills and dispositions are current and relevant for Australian students. These changes are detailed in the consultation papers for each capability.

The general capabilities are not meant to be taught as separate areas of the Australian Curriculum. They are developed or applied through the learning area content where they can be developed in authentic and meaningful ways.

ACARA provides additional information on the general capabilities by publishing the learning continuum or progressions for each capability. Teachers can access this information for a deeper understanding of the developmental sequence of the general capability, but they don’t need to do so to plan their teaching program; the proposed curriculum revisions ensure the general capabilities are already addressed in the content descriptions and elaborations in the learning area curricula.