National Numeracy Learning Progression

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Understanding money description

The descriptive term decimal applied to money refers to the basic conversion units being multiples of ten. However, money is not a true decimal system. Amounts such as $2.99 are spoken as two whole numbers (2 dollars 99) and, due to the withdrawal of 1-cent and 2-cent coins, can no longer be represented with coins. Money is more of a system based on the face value of coins and notes than a place value system. Understanding how to use currency draws on both additive and multiplicative strategies. Giving change requires being able to round values and work with multiples of 5, 20 or 50 as well as 10. Interest and compound interest involve operating with percentages and are outlined in that sub-element. Similarly, unitary pricing or determining ‘best buys’ is an application of rates found in the Comparing units sub-element.

This sub-element focuses on understanding the use of Australian coins in operating with money.

Some students will communicate using augmentative and alternative communication strategies to demonstrate their numeracy skills. This may include digital technologies, sign language, braille, real objects, photographs and pictographs.

Each sub-element level has been identified by upper-case initials and in some cases lower-case letters of the sub-element name followed by ascending numbers. The abbreviation for this sub-element is UnM. The listing of indicators within each level is non-hierarchical. Subheadings have been included to group related indicators. Where appropriate, examples have been provided in brackets following an indicator.



  • matches like coins and notes (matches 10-cent coins as being alike)


Face value

  • recognises 5c, 10c, 20c and 50c coins based on face value
  • recognises $1 and $2 coins based on face value



  • sorts and counts the number of coins with the same face value
  • identifies situations that involve the use of money


Counting value of coins

  • determines the equivalent value of coins to a maximum of 10 coins of one denomination


Coins of one value to $5[1]

  • determines the equivalent value of coins to $5 using one denomination of 5c, 10c, 20c or 50c coins (Sam has $1.20 in 5-cent coins. How many 5-cent coins does Sam have?)


[1] $5 is the limit of legal tender in combinations of 5c, 10c, 20c and 50c coins according to the Currency Act 1965 (section 16).


Coins of mixed values

  • determines the equivalent value of coins to $5 using any combination of 5c, 10c, 20c or 50c coins


Giving change

  • uses complementary addition (the shopkeeper’s method of adding change to obtain the amount tendered) to determine the difference between two amounts, rounding as necessary