Australian Curriculum Review – the process
In preparing for the Review, ACARA:
- considered the latest research and international developments; and
- consulted with practising teachers, curriculum experts, key academics and professional associations.
We formed the HASS Curriculum Reference Group and Teacher Reference Group to provide advice and feedback, with members nominated by state and territory education authorities and non-government sectors.
We also wanted a specific focus on primary schools, so we created the Primary (F–6) Curriculum Reference Group and Teacher Reference Group. These groups helped give advice and feedback on how we could improve the curriculum for our youngest students.
From this research, teacher feedback and our work with the reference groups, we identified some key areas where the HASS Curriculum could be improved.
How to have your say
Provide your feedback through our survey, which will ask you to respond to statements about the revised curriculum. 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.
The consultation version of the Australian Curriculum: Humanities and Social Sciences includes the following key changes:
- Core concepts have been refined and used to improve content descriptions in Foundation – Year 10 (F–10) and strengthen connections between F–6 and 7–10.
- New Foundation year content in the skills strand has been developed to better support learning in the early years.
- Content has been reduced, particularly in Foundation – Year 6.
- The Year 7 HASS content and achievement standards have been removed because all states and territories now include Year 7 in secondary school.
- The subject-specific achievement standards in HASS F–6 have been removed and the remaining achievement standards realigned to ensure clear connections to disciplines.
- The Years 7–10 HASS subjects – History, Geography, Civics and Citizenship, and Economics and Business – now show similarities and commonalities between the subjects and content is reduced or refined.
- The expected number of topics students study in Years 7–10 History has been reduced from 12 to 8, allowing greater depth of study.
- A new topic has been added in Year 7 History focused on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures named ‘Deep Time History of Australia’.
- Content descriptions have been better aligned to achievement standards for the subjects in Years 7–10.
There are no longer discipline-specific achievement standards, but the contributing disciplines have been retained as sub-strands under the knowledge and understanding strand to arrange the development of content and concepts across F–6. Concepts from each discipline have been more explicitly referenced in year-level descriptions, content descriptions and achievement standards. Some changes were made to the possible inquiry questions, but the structure of questions for both the interdisciplinary and disciplinary contexts has been retained.
Year 7 HASS content has also been removed, it is no longer required as all jurisdictions now include Year 7 in their secondary school structure.
The number of potential areas of inquiry in each year level has been reduced through removal, refinement and reframing of content descriptions in the knowledge and understanding strand. For example, the current focus on explorers and navigators at Year 4 meant at least two areas of inquiry in history. This content was removed but an elaboration added to allow teachers to choose to focus on exploration as one of the reasons for the First Fleet. This allows for students to study fewer topics in more depth.
Content has been resequenced to assist in reduction and to better align conceptual development within HASS and with content in other learning areas. For example:
- The focus on work and play in History has been moved from Year 2 to Year 1 to allow a more specific focus at Year 1 and allow remaining content at Year 2 History to be linked to Geography.
- ‘The impact of bushfires or floods on environments and communities, and how people can respond’ has been moved from Year 5 to Year 6 to better align with Science.
- Regulations and how laws are enforced have been moved from Year 5 to Year 6 so as to better connect with other Civics and Citizenship content and reduce the areas of inquiry in both year levels.
The content descriptions in the F–6 skills strand have been revised to ensure that the essential ways of working for each contributing discipline are developed as a progression. A separate set of content descriptions for skills have been developed for Foundation year to give greater direction to the learning expectations for the first year of school.
Content elaborations have been improved to ensure they provide helpful, authentic examples for teachers to plan the delivery of HASS, and more meaningful connections to the cross-curriculum priorities and general capabilities.
Year level descriptions have been revised to be more concise and reflective of each discipline by drawing on content formerly at the sub-strand level.
In HASS F–6, the skills sub-strands are overarching and broad to allow students to build their foundational understanding and application of skills across the HASS disciplines. Students then build on this knowledge in Years 7–10 subjects, and skills become more discipline specific to convey the nuanced differences in the skills for each discipline. Further, these skills increase in complexity in Years 7–10 to complement the specificity and complexity of content in the knowledge and understanding strand for each subject.
The main changes proposed to the Australian Curriculum: History in Years 7–10 aim to declutter and clarify the expectations of the curriculum, and also to allow for students to study key topics in more depth. For example:
- The expectation of the number of topics to be studied in depth has changed from 12 topics to 8 topics over the four years to allow students to study fewer topics in more depth.
- A new sub-strand, Deep Time History of Australia, has been included in Year 7. This sub-strand replaces the investigating the ancient past depth study, currently in Year 7, to allow the study of archeological methods in the context of First Nations Peoples of Australia and the history of time they have occupied the Australian continent. Students in Year 7 will now explicitly study the history of the people and places that have shaped our understanding of early Australia, at the same time develop their understanding of important historical concepts such as evidence and significance in an Australian context.
- Deep Time History of Australia in Year 7 has been added as a required topic for students to study, along with the three topics that already are in the current curriculum, which have been retained. These are World War I in Year 9, and World War II and Rights and freedoms in Year 10.
Why has a new sub-strand Deep Time History of Australia been added to the Australian Curriculum: History? Why has the Year 7 depth study about investigating the ancient past been removed?
The current History curriculum in Year 7 requires students to study the general topic about archaeology, called investigating the ancient past, then select to study one of ancient Rome, Greece or Egypt, and then either ancient China or ancient India. The consultation curriculum proposes that the study of archaeology is embedded into the content of two key topics that students are expected to learn: Deep Time History of Australia and a choice of an ancient Mediterranean or Asian society.
The introduction of the new sub-strand Deep Time History of Australia makes visible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures in this era of study. It contextualises many of the content descriptions from the current investigating the ancient past depth study. First Nations Peoples’ history extends over 60,000 years. Deep Time History of Australia is a history of the people and places that have shaped our understanding of early Australia. ‘Deep time’ is a term that archaeologists use to describe and explain large times scales that geologists, archaeologists and anthropologists consider.
The current investigating the ancient past content descriptions have also been embedded into the revised skills strand and the revised sub-strand on the ancient world 60 000 BC (BCE) – c.650 AD (CE) where students can study an ancient Mediterranean or Asian society. This ensures students apply and deploy this content and these skills within a historical topic.
The content descriptions from Progressive ideas and movements depth study have been embedded into the content descriptions for the revised sub-strands of The Industrial Revolution (1750–1914) and movement of peoples (1750–1901). This ensures that irrespective of which topic students study, they will learn about significant ideas and movements.
These changes improve the coherence and clarity of the Years 7–10 History curriculum and give teachers more helpful direction, while retaining flexibility to meet their students’ needs. The content descriptions provide a clear set of expectations for Years 7–10 History and reduce unnecessary clutter and duplication. The elaborations for each content description illustrate and exemplify content for each historical topic. The elaborations have been strengthened to include a more detailed illustration of the historical knowledge and understanding of a topic.
The content in the history skills strand has been realigned to reflect the application of contemporary research in historical thinking. These concepts and skills are fundamental in giving the discipline of history its structure. This has allowed for a refinement of the content descriptions that make explicit the historical thinking concepts and skills. This provides greater clarity to teachers about what skills and concepts to teach and how they relate to the knowledge and understanding strand and the achievement standards. This has improved the clarity, the connections to the sub-strands and emphasis on the importance of History’s methodology.
The consultation version of the Australian Curriculum: Geography includes the following key changes:
- Geographical skills content descriptions have been refined with five sub-strands consolidated into four sub-strands.
- Concepts for developing geographical understanding have been made explicit in the knowledge and understanding content descriptions each year.
- Content descriptions have been revised and realigned to achievement standards.
- Repetition of content has been removed.
- Terms used in content descriptions, particularly in the geographical skills strand, have been updated to reflect current best practice in geography education.
- Content descriptions now include authentic connections to the cross-curriculum priorities.
Geographical knowledge and understanding content descriptions have been reviewed for their connection to a concept or related concept with repetitive content has been removed. The geographical skills content descriptions have been refined, with five sub-strands consolidated into four sub-strands.
There has been a refinement of content in the geographical knowledge and understanding strand to align with core concepts. Some content has been removed or incorporated within a related content description to ensure that the development of conceptual understanding occurs each year. Further, the revised content descriptions now effectively build understanding of geographical concepts and align with the achievement standard.
Geographical skills content descriptions have been refined to improve clarity and consistency in how expectations for learning are described across the four sub-strands, and they have been updated to reflect current terms used within the discipline.
Authentic connections to the cross-curriculum priorities have been strengthened in the geographical knowledge and understanding strand. The geographical skills content descriptions explicitly identify geographical methods, such as field work or the representation of data and the use of geographical tools, for example, digital and geospatial technologies.
The consultation version of the Australian Curriculum: Civics and Citizenship includes the following key changes:
- Content descriptions have been revised to build understanding of each civics and citizenship concept, improve alignment with the achievement standard and connect to the refined sub-strands.
- The resequencing of some content descriptions has consolidated knowledge and the progression of knowledge in each strand across Years 7–10. It has also created meaningful links in content descriptions between the three strands at a year level.
- The skills strand has been realigned to reflect contemporary research in civics education in relation to contemporary issues and active citizenship. This includes civic process, participation and engagement that are fundamental in civics and citizenship education and that enable students to be active and informed citizens.
- The achievement standards have been refined to highlight the relationship between the knowledge and understanding strand and the skills strand.
- Cognitive alignment has been strengthened between content descriptions and achievement standards. There are also greater refinement and clarity in the progression of skills and concepts across Years 7–10.
The consultation version of the Australian Curriculum: Economics and Business includes the following key changes:
- The economic and business concepts have been used to refine the content descriptions.
- Knowledge and understanding content descriptions are now organised by the new sub-strands of function and operation of systems and economic and business activity.
- Economics and business skills content descriptions have been reorganised by revised sub-strands that are broader in focus, and with decision-making and entrepreneurship made more explicit. Some content has been revised to build deeper conceptual understanding each year, particularly consumer and financial literacy and entrepreneurship.
- Content descriptions have been refined and realigned to achievement standards.
- Terms used in content descriptions, particularly in the economics and business skills strand, have been updated to reflect current best practice in Economics and Business education.
- Content descriptions now include authentic connections to the cross-curriculum priorities.