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 Science Curriculum Reference Group and the 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–Y6) Curriculum Reference Group and the Teacher Reference Group, which 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 Science 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: Science includes the following key changes:
- Core concepts have been developed for each of the strands, building on the core concepts that have always underpinned the science understanding strand.
- Content descriptions in science understanding and science as a human endeavour have been redesigned to be more explicit and to remove ambiguity.
- Content across science understanding has been resequenced to improve the conceptual sequence within each sub-strand and to balance content across the year levels; some content descriptions have been moved between year levels and some have been consolidated.
- The number of science understanding content descriptions across the primary years has been reduced to enable teachers to explore content to a greater depth and focus on integrating the three strands.
- The science inquiry content has been refined to more clearly articulate progression and differentiate between band levels, and intercultural inquiry skills content has been added.
- The science as a human endeavour strand has been refined to emphasise how scientists engage in inquiry so that students are supported to connect their own science inquiry practices with those of scientists.
- The elaborations have been redesigned to provide more diverse and detailed illustrations of approaches to teaching the content descriptions, and inquiry questions have been added to the year level overviews to support the curriculum’s focus on inquiry.
This name change reflects the intention of the strand, which is to describe both the skills and the understanding underpinning those skills. Some people have interpreted the sub-strands of science inquiry as a linear inquiry process; this name change also underpins the idea that the sub-strands represent elements of inquiry rather than a linear list of skills.
Why are all the content descriptions so long now? Does that mean the curriculum has been increased in size, rather than decluttered?
Previously, the content descriptions were framed as open-ended propositions, and it was not clear what depth or breadth of coverage was required. The additional detail in the revised content descriptions provides clarity about required depth and breadth. While the revised content descriptions look longer, the curriculum has actually been streamlined with regard to concept development and focus within content descriptions.
Why do all the content descriptions in the science understanding and science as a human endeavour strands start with ‘explore’ or ‘investigate’?
The revised content descriptions begin with ‘explore’ or ‘investigate’ to encourage a more explicit focus on active engagement with concepts through inquiry. This aligns to a key message underpinning the Australian Curriculum: Science, which is that the strands have been designed to be taught in an integrated way.
Early years students are still developing the knowledge, understandings and skills to be deliberate and intentional in their investigations. The verb ‘explore’ enables and encourages active engagement with content descriptions as students develop science inquiry practices. Older students engage in more systematic science inquiry practices and this is reflected in the verb ‘investigate’.
Expectations of student explorations and investigations are defined by the achievement standards and explicitly described in the science inquiry strand at each level. Students use science inquiry practices to engage with the concepts related to science understanding and science as a human endeavour.
No, they are not mandatory. They can be used as stated, adapted to local contexts, replaced with teacher- or student-determined alternatives, or not used at all. Inquiry questions can help excite students’ curiosity and challenge their thinking. They are designed not to direct or focus a unit of work, but to spark discussion.
Why are some science understanding sub-strands absent in the early years, such as chemical sciences in Year 1? Won’t removing sub-strands cause gaps?
The science understanding content for Foundation – Year 3 has been refined and decluttered to provide opportunities to teach for greater depth and rigour. The sequence and balance of content remain developmentally appropriate and continue to support conceptual progression.
Why have you combined content descriptions across F–6? Doesn’t combining content descriptions mean that there’s more to teach?
The revised content descriptions enable students to explore connected concepts in depth at appropriate stages of schooling. For example, the Earth and space sciences’ understanding that there are observable changes in our environment (previously Year 1) is essential to the understanding that these changes affect everyday life (previously Foundation), so it is useful to bring these ideas together into a single content description in Year 1, enabling depth without substantially adding content. Previously, some content, such as day and night, required re-teaching at later year levels; moving and combining this content with the relationship between the sun and the planets of the solar system enables students to appreciate patterns of cause and effect and to explore the complex model that underpins day and night at greater depth.
The achievement standards have been revised to enable teachers to more easily connect the achievement standards with the content descriptions. Previously, multiple content descriptions from different sub-strands were addressed in a single sentence, and some teachers found this challenging when assessing and reporting student achievement. The revised achievement standards have been designed to address a single sub-strand in each sentence. A statement has also been added to the Foundation – Year 4 achievement standards to indicate the expected standard for the science as a human endeavour strand.