Education plays a critical role in shaping the lives of young Australians and contributing to a democratic, equitable and just society that is prosperous, cohesive and culturally diverse.
The rationale for the introduction of the Australian Curriculum centres on improving the quality, equity and transparency of Australia’s education system.
- Quality – an Australian Curriculum will contribute to the provision of a world-class education in Australia by setting out the knowledge, understanding and skills needed for life and work in the 21st century and by setting high standards of achievement across the country.
- Equity – an Australian Curriculum will provide a clear, shared understanding of what young people should be taught and the quality of learning expected of them, regardless of their circumstances, the type of school that they attend or the location of their school.
The commitment to develop a national curriculum reflects a willingness to work together, across geographical and school-sector boundaries, to provide a world-class education for all young Australians. Working nationally makes it possible to harness collective expertise and effort in the pursuit of this common goal. It also offers the potential of economies of scale and a substantial reduction in the duplication of time, effort and resources.
The Australian Curriculum has been written to take account of the growth and development of young people across the years of schooling, the diverse needs of the student population in Australian schools, and the knowledge, understanding and skills that it is desirable for all young Australians to learn in terms of learning areas, general capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities.
The Australian Curriculum makes clear to teachers what is to be taught. It also makes clear to students what they should learn and the quality of learning expected of them. Schools are able to decide how best to deliver the curriculum, drawing on integrated approaches where appropriate and using pedagogical approaches that account for students’ needs, interests and the school and community context. School authorities will be able to offer curriculum beyond that specified in the Australian Curriculum.
The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians identifies three broad categories of outcomes that the curriculum should deliver for students. Thus the Australian Curriculum is developed in terms of learning area knowledge, skills and understandings and general capabilities.
- A solid foundation in in knowledge, skills and understandings, and values on which further learning and adult life can be built
The curriculum will include a strong focus on literacy and numeracy skills. It will also enable students to build social and emotional intelligence, and nurture student wellbeing through health and physical education in particular. The curriculum will support students to relate well to others and foster an understanding of Australian society, citizenship and national values through the study of civics and citizenship. As a foundation for further learning and adult life, the curriculum will include practical knowledge and skills development in areas such as ICT and design and technology, which are central to Australia’s skilled economy and provide crucial pathways to post- school success.
- Deep knowledge, understanding, skills and values that will enable advanced learning and an ability to create new ideas and translate them into practical applications
The curriculum will enable students to develop knowledge in the disciplines of English, mathematics, science, languages, humanities and the Arts; to understand the spiritual, moral and aesthetic dimensions of life; and open up new ways of thinking. It will also support the development of deep knowledge within a discipline, which provides the foundation for interdisciplinary approaches to innovation and complex problem solving.
- General capabilities that underpin flexible and analytical thinking, a capacity to work with others and an ability to move across subject disciplines to develop new expertise:
The curriculum will support young people to develop a range of generic and employability skills that have particular application to the world of work and further education and training, such as planning and organising, the ability to think flexibly, to communicate well and to work in teams. Young people also need to develop the capacity to think creatively, innovate, solve problems and engage with new disciplines.