The Australian Curriculum – What is the latest?

Today I went to a T&D run by the Primary Maths Association. The T&D was led by Lisa Jane O’Connor. I thought I would share with you some of the interesting and relevant information that I gathered, a lot of which is information relating to the AC in general, not just maths.

Reporting and Assessment

1. The new “Reporting Guidelines” will be out sometime this week or next through Info Connect (not sure who gets this – Denise?). This is the document that describes what an A, B, C, D and E grade is. It also gives the language to be used if you want a word equivalent. This wording by the way is non negotiable. There were also supposed to be reporting proformas with this but they are not ready yet. They should be out by the end of the term and hopefully will be useful when we look at our R-6 reporting through this year.

1.1 An interesting point made by Lisa was about grading. She suggested that a lot of students may now get ‘D’ grades and not ‘C’ grades based on the word descriptors. For example:

C Grade : “Apply …………. in new contexts

D grade; “Apply …………. in familiar contexts

This is only a part of the descriptor obviously but it was a key part. How many of our kids can apply concepts from any subject in new contexts? If they can’t they are a ‘D’ student!

1.2 All students will be assessed by the Achievement Standard that they align with i.e. a Year 4 is graded against the Year 4 Achievement Standard (regardless of ability). There are two exceptions to this; 1. The student has an IEP. Only those subjects mentioned in the IEP are exempt from grading against the Achievement Standard and 2. Individual negotiation with the students parents.

1.3 Reports must state if the subject is aligned with SACSA or the Australian Curriculum.

1.4 Lisa made it clear that reports should not only cover content but the 7 capabilities as well. How/where do we fit this in?


2 When programing in maths teachers should look at the Content Descriptions, the Achievement Standard (I think most knew this) and also the Numeracy Capability (which I didn’t know) when working out what content to cover at a particular year level.

2.1 Lisa described the Numeracy Capability as another list of things to cover in maths. On the AC website go to General Capabilities – Numeracy – Learning Continuum. This shows what students need to know by the end of Year 2, Year 4, Year 6 and Year 8. Lisa described the 3 areas in the following way – Content Descriptions and the Achievement Standard are used to generate the A-E grade while the Numeracy Capability is tested by NAPLAN explaining why it says by the end of Year 2 etc…..

2.2 The Australian Curriculum (can’t remember if Lisa just meant maths or all areas) is at a higher level than most students work at now. Considering what I said above under Reporting and Assessment 1.1 this implies that students grades will fall across the board. How will parents react to this? How will students react to this? It was mentioned that the Minister needs to come out and publicly say something like, “Implementing the Australian Curriculum requires schools to work towards the Achievement Standards over the next 3 years.” Schools should not be left to justify to their communities why students results have dropped i.e. due to a new curriculum and grading system as this will just sound like we are covering our backsides.

Programing and Planning

3. Lisa talked about ‘Learning Design’ being the term now used across DECD as the term for planning. She said that the backward design process is now not used. This was just one example of many conflicting messages seemingly out there at the moment. The process of Learning Design will be out as part of a Leaders resource coming out in week 10 this term. It is more detailed than what follows but to give you a basic idea of the Learning Design process you would ask yourself these three questions and undertake your planning based on those questions in this order:

Step 1 – What do I want them to learn?  Step 2 – How will I know they have got there?  Step 3 – So how will we get there?

3.1 The issue of legality around programing was raised.

  • Evidently programs are the property of the Minister of Education and are to be archived by the school at the end of every year and kept for seven years. There have been court cases where these programs have been called upon.
  • The department requires that all teachers have a written detailed program.

I hope this information has been useful and generates some discussion (anger, confusion) amongst staff. Maybe even leave a comment so others can see your thoughts encouraging them to add their own.




2 thoughts on “The Australian Curriculum – What is the latest?

  1. Very scary stuff Nick and this is just in the area of maths. I consider myself a conscientious teacher but have found that maths is often an area where I struggle to cover all concepts to a sufficient depth by the end of the year. Add in capabilities and it just gets worse. I agree with the comment about the reaction of parents and students to a lower grade – applying skills in familiar contexts should be a C not D. Surely being to apply skills to new and unfamiliar contexts is a higher than normal expectation. Are the program outlines which we are currently placing in folder/on drive suficient for the Dept or will we be expected to write them as student teachers currently do for each lesson. My daily program is kept on my personal computer – I have stopped having a paper program – does this mean that the school needs a digital copy?

  2. None of these requirements is new around programs. The way Lisa Jane spoke it didn’t matter how you kept it but it did need to be printable she thought but didn’t seem clear. I’ve been teaching for 17 years through 7 principals and never been asked once for my program to be archived! The legal examples she gave involved special ed students. Parents not satisfied the education system was catering for their child. Ended up in court – show us the program that caters for our child etc…….

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