Module 2 – Curriculum in the Middle Years

3 Cross­curriculum priorities and general capabilities

The cross-­curriculum priorities and general capabilities are integrated into the curriculum documents of the various States in different ways. Check curriculum documentation for your State and note in your learning journal how this is done.

Glenn Savage of the University of Melbourne in (Adoniou, M, Louden, B, & Savage, G , 2015) sums up the intention and understanding of the curriculum format into the three parts:

  • “The discipline-based “Learning Areas” are the traditional school subjects, or what students need to know. There are strong arguments for maintaining disciplines at the heart of a curriculum.
  • “General Capabilities” outline the skills or attributes that are seen to be relevant to young people, or what students need to be able to do in our increasingly globalised 21st century.
  • “Cross-Curriculum Priorities” require teachers to engage with contemporary issues not necessarily made explicit in the school subjects. These are currently Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures; Sustainability; and Asia and Australia’s Engagement with Asia.”

The Cross-curriculum priorites listed in the Australian Curriculum are designed to incorporate the ‘employability skills’ students will need not only in their post-schooling years, but to develop throughout their schooling lives.  The overall aim of the general capabilities is to see each student develop necessary skills and knowledge to become a “Successful learner, confident and creative individual, and active and informed citizen.” (2016).  The VCAA website however warns that the ‘development of learning continua for the General Capabilities is still being undertaken by ACARA. Until that work has been completed and a process of validation undertaken, AusVELS will continue to use the current Physical, Personal and Social Learning and Interdisciplinary Learning strands’ ( 2016.2) as opposed to other states’ use of the cross-curriculum priorities.

The Victorian Curriculum has identified the following cross-curriculum priorities:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures
  • Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia

The rationale for embedding these cross-curriculum priorities into the curriculum is that these are identified as issues of importance for contemporary Australian society.  The entrenchment of these priorities in each of the curriculum learning areas is based on the relevance and fit to that area. By doing so, the curriculum identifies these priorities as connected to and integrated within the greater curriculum to give students an understanding of the significance of these issues, rather than stand-alone learning.

4 Curriculum for Years 7 ­ 10

Record in your learning journal a summary of the information found in each your State’s curriculum documents which you will need to refer to when teaching Years 7 ­ 10.

With Victoria adopting its own version of the Australian Curriculum from 2017, it sets itself apart in the structure and ideology of the learning continuum.  The major reason for this breakaway from the other states is that it identifies learning as a fluid continuum (and developing student learning along this continuum) rather than by age and year-level expectations.

Victoria’s capabilities are listed as:

  • Critical and Creative Thinking
  • Ethical
  • Intercultural
  • Personal and Social

With this in mind, these capabilities are to be ‘developed, practised, deployed and demonstrated by students in and through their learning’ (2016) but importantly, assessed by teachers and the outcomes reported to parents.  Critics, such as Frawley (2016) whilst agreeing that these capabilities are important, struggle with the notion of placing a numeric rating or mark on them.  Frawley’s article raises valid points about the ability of testing these capabilities and associated quantifiable measures.


5 Humanities

Record in your learning journal the 5 most important things you have learned about the Humanities curriculum.

Within the Humanities learning area in primary schools, a number of ‘traditional’ secondary school subjects have been combined to assist in the de-clutter of the curriculum including: Civics and Citizenship, Economics and Business, Geography and History.

The most important things from this investigation:

  1. The listing of key premises of each of Australia’s five major religions to provide a very broad overview of a highly complex topic. (Fisher, 2015)
  2. The idea that Business and Economics is about the ‘allocation of resources’ of different people and groups from an individual to a worldwide view
  3. Geography looks at the places within our environment with the various concepts from personal and global perspectives widening in scope and increasing complexity as the student progresses
  4. History investigates societies, events and developments that have influenced the lives of humans from various times and places
  5. A common thread throughout the Humanities subjects is to inspire interest and a desire for learning about these subjects through the various perspectives available, learning research and investigation tools that assist with the comprehension of subject materials but for the students; future post-schooling life.


6 The Arts

Record in your learning journal a summary of the information found in each your State’s curriculum documents which you will need to refer to when teaching Years 7 ­ 10.

The Arts encompasses traditional arts and techniques, whilst also embracing and innovating through the use of technology to create and communicate.  The overview explains that students will be ‘artist and audience’ to develop creative, expressing and critical thinking skills which can be used in other areas of schooling and post-schooling life.

Whilst cultural identity has been portrayed through the arts wherever civilization has existed, the importance for Arts is to help students develop and identify with their own cultural identity from a personal and wider community level.

The multiple facets of Arts is to enrich the lives of students – an important part of the human experience.


7 Health and Physical Education

Record in your learning journal the 5 most important things you have learned about the Health and Physical Education curriculum.

Exploring the Health and Physical Education curriculum has identified the following points:

  1. The inclusion of physical, emotional and mental health awareness of a student’s self in the current moment and in future situations.
  2. Intention to develop life-long skills and awareness of healthy lifestyle in response to trends in public health issues.
  3. The inclusion of social issues such as healthy relationships, information about drug and alcohol, personal safety etc to widen the appeal to HPE for more students (i.e. as opposed to purely sporting pursuits).
  4. Age-appropriateness of drug and alcohol issues and relationships and sexuality education for early years learners.
  5. Social and emotional health awareness and strategies for identifying issues and courses of action.






Adoniou, M, Louden, B, & Savage, G (2015) ‘What will changes to the national curriculum mean for schools? Experts respond.’. The Conversation. Retrieved from: (2016). “General capabilities – Introduction – The Australian Curriculum v8.2.” Retrieved from (2016.2).. AusVELS – General capabilities. Retrieved 30 July 2016, from (2016.1) ‘AusVELS – Cross-curriculum priorities’. Retrieved from

Batham, Jane. (2012) ‘Classroom blogs and addressing the general capabilities of the Australian Curriculum. [online]’ Quick; n.120 p.14-17; Autumn 2012. Retrieved from:;dn=194660;res=AEIPT

Fisher, P. (2015) ‘Learning about world views and religions’ VCAA website Retrieved from:

Frawley, E. (2016, March 20). ‘Victoria’s new curriculum priorities are almost impossible to assess.’ The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from: (2016).. ‘Overview – Learning areas and Capabilities – Victorian Curriculum.’ Retrieved from:


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