Unpacking the structure and content of the NSW curriculum
The NSW curriculum is structured into three primary and three secondary stages, with each designed to deliver and add upon the learnings of the previous stage. While the specifics and design of the curriculum are unique to NSW, the curriculum incorporates the objectives of the Australian curriculum, to ensure the learning is in balance with other regions.
The NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) is responsible for the design and regulation of the curriculum taught in NSW schools from Kindergarten through to Year 12. NESA is also responsible for regulating courses that are externally developed, such as Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses, as well as those developed by universities or specific schools, and alternative and equivalent courses offered by schools.
Primary Stages in NSW
The primary stages are Early Stage 1: Kindergarten; Stage 1: Year 1 and 2; Stage 2: Year 3 and 4; and Stage 3: Year 5 and 6. Within these stages, flexibility is allowed for schools to make decisions around the content of the delivery and the emphasis given to particular learning areas.
In saying this, the content must address some mandatory outcomes, such as including learning around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures. A guide to time allocation for each subject is provided by NESA, to ensure the basics, such as English, Science and Maths, are given the appropriate emphasis state-wide.
Secondary Stages in NSW
The secondary stages are Stage 4: Year 7 and 8; Stage 5: Year 9 and 10; and Stage 6: Year 11 and 12. Students are expected to stay in school until at least Year 10, which is when a Record of School Achievement Certificate is given, provided a student has achieved to the levels required.
Past Year 10, students work towards their Higher School Certificate (HSC) which involves studying 12 units (subjects or learning areas) in Year 11 and 10 units in Year 12. There are some mandatory requirements around the subjects that can be chosen within these units. For instance, at least six units must be taken from NESA Board developed courses and at least two must be in English.