An overview

The Australian Curriculum describes a learning entitlement for each Australian student that provides a foundation for successful, life long learning and participation in the Australian community.It acknowledges that the needs and interests of students will vary, and that schools and teachers will plan from the curriculum in ways that respond to those needs and interests. The Australian Curriculum acknowledges changing ways in which young people will learn and the challenges that will continue to shape their learning in the future. 

The Australian Curriculum will eventually be developed for all learning area and subjects set out in the Melbourne Declaration: initially for English, mathematics, science and history; followed by geography, languages, the arts, economics, business, civics and citizenship, health and physical education, and information and communication technology and design and technology. 

The Australian Curriculum sets out what all young people should be taught through the specification of curriculum content and the learning expected at points in their schooling through the specification of achievement standards. 

Each learning area or subject includes: 

  • a statement of rationale and a set of aims
  • an overview of how the learning area is organised
  • year level descriptions
  • content descriptions (knowledge, understanding and skills) specifying what teachers are expected to teach
  • content elaborations to provide additional clarity by way of illustrative examples only
  • achievement standards that describe the quality of learning (the depth of understanding, extent of knowledge and sophistication of skill) expected of students at points in their schooling
  • annotated student work samples that illustrate the achievement standard at each year level—as the Australian Curriculum is implemented, the available work samples will be enhanced in both volume and range of forms
  • a glossary to support consistent understanding of terms used.

Increasingly, in a world where knowledge itself is constantly growing and evolving, students need to develop a set of skills, behaviours and dispositions, or general capabilities that apply across discipline content and equip them to be lifelong learners able to operate with confidence in a complex, information rich, globalised world.

The Australian Curriculum includes a focus on seven general capabilities (literacy, numeracy, information and communication technology competence, critical and creative thinking, ethical behaviour, personal and social competence and intercultural understanding) and three cross-curriculum priorities (aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia and Sustainability). Continua of learning have been developed for each to describe the relevant knowledge, understanding and skills at particular points of schooling. These have been embedded where relevant and appropriate in each learning area and can be viewed explicitly in the Curriculum online.  

General capabilities in the Australian Curriculum

General capabilities, a key dimension of the Australian Curriculum, are addressed explicitly in the content of the learning areas. They play a significant role in realising the goals set out in the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (MCEETYA 2008) that all young people in Australia should be supported to become successful learners, confident and creative individuals, and active and informed citizens. 

The Melbourne Declaration identifies essential skills for twenty-first century learners in literacy, numeracy, information and communication technology (ICT), thinking, creativity, teamwork and communication. It describes individuals who can manage their own wellbeing, relate well to others, make informed decisions about their lives, become citizens who behave with ethical integrity, relate to and communicate across cultures, work for the common good and act with responsibility at local, regional and global levels. 

The general capabilities encompass the knowledge, skills, behaviours and dispositions that, together with curriculum content in each learning area and the cross-curriculum priorities, will assist students to live and work successfully in the twenty-first century. They complement the key learning outcomes of the Early Years Learning Framework (COAG 2009)—that children have a strong sense of identity and wellbeing, are connected with and contribute to their world, are confident and involved learners and effective communicators. 

The Australian Curriculum includes seven general capabilities:

  • Literacy
  • Numeracy
  • Information and communication technology (ICT) capability
  • Critical and creative thinking
  • Ethical Behaviour
  • Intercultural understanding.

National Assessment Program

The National Assessment Program (NAP) encompasses tests endorsed by the Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs (MCEECDYA) including the National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) and three-yearly sample assessments in science literacy, civics and citizenship, and ICT literacy. 

ACARA (the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority) manages the development of and overseas the delivery of tests for NAPLAN. 

For information on NAPLAN (including tests dates and resources) and NAP Sample Assessments, and other aspects of the National Assessment Program, visit the NAP website

All the information on this page has been provided by ACARA (Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority). Please visit the Australian Curriculum website for more detailed information.

Last reviewed 03 February 2020
Last updated 03 February 2020