Understanding the NSW Curriculum


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An overview of the school curriculum of NSW, Australia. Including key elements, unpacking a syllabus, and reporting requirements. All policy information taken from NSW Board of Studies syllabuses and NSW Department of Education policy documents.

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Understanding the NSW Curriculum

  2. 2. CONTENTS • The NSW Curriculum • Unpacking a syllabus • Working groups • Reporting
  4. 4. Kindergarten to Year 6 focuses on 6 Key Learning Areas (KLAs): 1) English 2) Mathematics 3) Human society and its environment 4) Personal development, health and physical education 5) Creative arts 6) Science and technology
  5. 5. Year 7 to Year 10 focuses on 8 Key Learning Areas (KLAs) 1) English 2) Mathematics 3) Human society and its environment 4) Personal development, health & physical education 5) Creative arts 6) Science 7) Technology 8) Languages
  6. 6. Mandatory Requirements Years K-6 • Approx 50% of time allocated for English and Mathematics • 40% of time for the other KLAs and sport • as part of the 40% allocation, 2 hours per week for planned physical activity, including in Years 3 – 6 a minimum of 1 hour per week for sport
  7. 7. Mandatory Requirements Years 7-10 • 500 hours per subject for English, Mathematics and Science across Years 7–10 • 400 hours for HSIE: In Years 7-8, 100 hours for Geography and 100 hours for History and, in Years 9-10, 100 hours for Australian History and 100 hours for Australian Geography • 200 hours for Technology (mandatory) across Years 7-8 • 300 hours for PDHPE across Years 7–10, in each of the years • 100 hours of one language in a continuous one-year period • 100 hours for Music and 100 hours of Visual Arts • 400 hours for electives (additional studies) • 80–120 minutes per week for sport in each of the years
  8. 8. Other curriculum policy There are requirements covering: • Curriculum planning and programming • Assessing students • Reporting to parents as well as development of: • Homework policy
  9. 9. Other curriculum policy There is also a set of core values for all classrooms and school communities: • representing the aspirations and beliefs of the Australian community • including its concern for equity, excellence and the promotion of a caring, civil and just society • common to a range of secular and religious world-views and found in most cultures
  11. 11. Elements of a Syllabus • Principles • Statements • Stages • Outcomes • Content • Assessment
  12. 12. Principles At the beginning of every syllabus there are the following: • Rationale • Aim • Objectives It is important that the school and teachers of the syllabus share a common understanding of these guiding principles.
  13. 13. Statements In every syllabus there are Foundation Statement s (or Stage Statements) relating to each stage of the course • Each statement gives a summary of knowledge, skills and understanding that students need to develop at that stage • Curriculum planning addresses the Foundation Statements and how they relate to each other across the stages
  14. 14. Stages A stage is a period of learning typically of 2 years duration: Early Stage 1 refers to Kindergarten Stage 1 Years 1 and 2 Stage 2 Years 3 and 4 Stage 3 Years 5 and 6 Stage 4 Years 7 and 8 Stage 5 Years 9 and 10 Although most students will achieve the outcomes of each stage in the years listed above, there are some students who will be working towards outcomes at an early or later stage.
  15. 15. Outcomes Syllabus outcomes are statements of the knowledge, skills and understandings expected to be gained by most students • Each individual outcome has its own code, for example in the English K-6 syllabus WS3.10 refers to... Writing strand, Stage 3, Outcome 10 Uses knowledge of sentence structure, grammar and punctuation to edit own writing. • Curriculum programming addresses these outcomes and related course content
  16. 16. Content Content for each outcome can be found in the form of: • Indicators (K-6), • Students learn about.. and Students learn to.. (7-10) • Content (or Subject Matter) Overview • Scope and Continuum (or Sequence) • Stage 5 has additional Course Performance Descriptors Indicators are statements of the behaviour that students might display as they work towards the outcomes. Indicators help teachers monitor student progress and make judgements about student achievement.
  17. 17. Assessment • Teaching programs incorporate assessment as an integral component. • Teachers plan assessment strategies when developing teaching programs, and also make additional assessment judgments in the course of teaching and learning. • Teachers collect and record assessment information to: (i) guide ongoing teaching and learning (ii) monitor and evaluate student progress (iii) report achievement to parents and relevant authorities
  18. 18. Working Groups
  19. 19. Working Group Proposal To achieve the outcomes of each syllabus, teachers and schools are required to develop appropriate teaching programs. • Members of a working group can plan the school’s overall approach to each syllabus, sharing information and ideas. • Each group can conduct an assessment of student needs, available resources, expectations and curriculum requirements. • Under the guidance of a coordinator, individual members can develop detailed teaching programs, and receive feedback.
  20. 20. Each working group and group coordinator would be responsible for planning and programming one Key Learning Area (KLA) from K to 10. 1. Curriculum Planning Review the syllabus and ensure that outcomes are chosen to systematically cover all stages. Consult with management and school community as necessary. 2. Designing Teaching Programs Group members each design a program for one stage of the KLA, including three term plans and relevant units of work. Each teacher can implement, monitor and evaluate.
  21. 21. Writing Units of Work Teaching programs will generally be composed of a range of units of work. A unit of work may be of any length, lasting from a few lessons through to a whole term. In order to develop units of work, teachers should address the following two questions. 1. What programming approach should I use? 2. What elements should be included in the unit?
  22. 22. 1. What programming approach should I use? Selecting a programming approach involves deciding between a single strand model, a combined strand model or a combination of models. • The single strand model means that teachers will develop units of work that draw only on subject matter and outcomes from one strand. • The combined strand model is sometimes termed the ‘thematic approach’ because it draws two or more strands together to focus on a particular issue.
  23. 23. 2. What elements should be included in the unit? Having chosen an approach for programming, it is necessary to structure a format for each unit. Ideally, the unit will include the following details: • title of unit • length of unit • strand/s and outcome/s • content • teaching strategies • learning activities • resources and equipment • assessment procedure
  24. 24. Reporting
  25. 25. Components of written reports Schools provide parents with written reports on their child’s learning, meeting the Policy Standards: (i) use plain language (ii) provide information on a student’s learning in each of the key learning areas (KLAs) or subjects (iii) compare the student’s achievement in each KLA or subject against syllabus standards* * Includes syllabus objectives, stage or foundation statements, syllabus outcomes and content or indicators.
  26. 26. Components of written reports (cont.) (iv) include teacher comments for each KLA or subject; comments identify areas of student strength and for further development (v) have information about the student’s attendance at school (vi) provide information about student achievement in relation to school programs that extend or are additional to syllabus requirements (vii) provide information about the student’s social development and commitment to learning.
  27. 27. Years K – 6 Schools report on the six key learning areas: (1) English, (2) Mathematics, (3) Science and Technology, (4) Human Society and Its Environment (HSIE), (5) Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE) and (6) Creative Arts. In English and Mathematics, reports show achievement information for each broad syllabus strand.
  28. 28. Years 7 – 10 Schools report on subjects studied in the eight key learning areas: (1) English, (2) Mathematics, (3) Science, (4) Technology, (5) Human Society and Its Environment (HSIE), (6) Personal Development, Health and Physical Education, (7) Creative Arts and (8) Languages. In all KLAs, reports show information for components of each subject.
  29. 29. Kindergarten Reports describe how a child’s achievement compares with syllabus standards through teacher comments Years 1 – 10 Schools use a five point achievement scale: A = outstanding B = high C = sound D = basic E = limited Years 11 – 12 Schools use a numerical score (1-100) or use A-E achievement grades
  30. 30. Outstanding A The student has an extensive knowledge and understanding of the content and can readily apply this knowledge. In addition, the student has achieved a very high level of competence in the processes and skills and can apply these skills to new situations. High B The student has a thorough knowledge and understanding of the content and a high level of competence in the processes and skills. In addition, the student is able to apply this knowledge and these skills to most situations. Sound C The student has a sound knowledge and understanding of the main areas of content and has achieved an adequate level of competence in the processes and skills. Basic D The student has a basic knowledge and understanding of the content and has achieved a basic level of competence in the processes and skills. Limited E The student has an elementary knowledge and understanding in few areas of the content and has achieved very limited competence in some of the processes and skills.
  31. 31. English as a second language (ESL) students Schools use the following grades for ESL students to report achievement in English – ESL 6, ESL 5, ESL 4, ESL 3, ESL 2, ESL 1 The student’s report indicates that it shows achievement in learning English judged in relation to the ESL Scales. Achievement in the KLAs or subjects (other than English) are reported using the five point achievement scale.
  32. 32. ESL 6 The student can communicate with developing accuracy and complexity of language in formal and informal situations. With assistance, the student can analyse complex texts and can improve their writing through planning and revision. ESL 5 The student can communicate with varying fluency and accuracy, ideas about a range of topics. With assistance, the student can analyse unfamiliar texts and write and edit using appropriate language and structure. ESL 4 The student can communicate ideas about familiar topics using suitable language. With assistance, the student can understand the main ideas and details in texts and plan and write about a variety of familiar topics.
  33. 33. ESL 3 The student can take part in simple conversations in social and learning situations. With assistance, the student can read and learn from simple texts and can write stories and factual texts. ESL 2 The student can communicate simple messages in familiar situations. With assistance, the student can read and write simple texts about personal experiences, events and ideas. ESL 1 The student is beginning to learn English. Some students can communicate using single words. Other students can communicate using simple words and phrases and can read and write simple sentences.
  34. 34. Reporting to parents In response to requests from parents, schools provide information on how their child’s achievement compares with the student’s peer group. This information takes the form of the number of student peers receiving each grade or achievement level. (This does not apply to ESL students or peer groups of less than 5 students)
  35. 35. Reporting to parents Reports to parents should include the following statement: You are encouraged to ask the school to provide you with written information that clearly shows your child’s achievement compared to his or her peer group at school. This information will show you the number of children in the group in each of the achievement levels.
  36. 36. Information taken from NSW Board of Studies syllabuses and NSW Department of Education policy documents, especially “Curriculum planning and programming, assessing and reporting to parents K-12” https://www.det.nsw.edu.au/policies/curriculum/schools/curric_plan/PD20050290. shtml and “Curriculum Policy Standards (pdf)” https://www.det.nsw.edu.au/policies/curriculum/schools/curric_plan/implementati on_2_PD20050290.shtml PowerPoint slides by Jason Beale, October 2012