Understanding the WA Curriculum
The WA Curriculum is comprised of 8 Learning Areas: English, Maths, Science, Physical & Health Education, The Arts, Languages other than English (LOTE), Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS), and Technologies.
The curriculum provides a set of prescribed content that tells teachers and Home Educators WHAT to teach. HOW the content is taught is up to the individual educator.
Prior to 2014, each state followed its own state curriculum. In 2014, the Australian curriculum was introduced unilaterally across Australia. After a few years, WA requested that some minor changes be implemented in the WA version to make it more relevant to Western Australia. These changes are mostly in history, geography, Indigenous and cultural studies. Except for these small differences, the WA curriculum remains the same as the Australian Curriculum.
The WA Curriculum Across Year Levels
The WA Curriculum applies from pre-primary (called Foundation in the Australian Curriculum) to Year 10.
Kindergarten has its own curriculum, but as this year is not compulsory, it does not apply to home educators. Year 11 and 12 has a separate curriculum also, and this differs from state to state.
If your child has a significant disability, the ABLE WA curriculum may be more appropriate for your child. For more information, please see our page on Additional Needs.
Important Information about the WA Curriculum
You can find the WA Curriculum here: https://k10outline.scsa.wa.edu.au/home/teaching/curriculum-browser
When you first click on a subject area (syllabus), the volume of information can be quite overwhelming. The sections that are most relevant to home educators are:
1. The Scope & Sequence
The Scope & Sequence document presents the curriculum outcomes (also known as content descriptors) in a more organised way, making it easier to see the flow of skill development across the years. Curriculum outcomes are the skills and concepts students are expected to develop and learn.
You can find the Scope & Sequence document by scrolling down the “Overview” column on the left-hand side of each subject area/syllabus. You can download the Scope & Sequence as a Microsoft Word document or a PDF.
2. Achievement Standards
Achievement standards are a written description of what students are expected to know and are able to do by the end of each school year.
You can find the Achievement Standard descriptions by using the filters on the left-hand side of a subject area/syllabus page. In the “show/hide curriculum” section, deselect all boxes except for “achievement standards.” In the “year levels” section, deselect all boxes except for your child’s year level.
More information about the WA Curriculum
Working at different year levels
Your child can work at the year level that is most relevant for them. Your child can work at different year levels for different subject areas. For example, a Year 5 child may be working at a Year 4 level in maths but a Year 6 level in English.
Progress through the curriculum
Different factors affect a child’s progress through the curriculum, including outcomes they have already achieved at school or through life learning, the pace they naturally learn at, their need for support or extension, your educational philosophy, your child’s learning preferences, and their readiness for new information and skills.
As such, your focus should be on supporting your child to make progress through the curriculum at a pace and level that meets their needs, rather than placing pressure on a child to meet every outcome within a year.
Exploring the curriculum
You may find it of interest to explore other aspects of the WA Curriculum such as the Year Level Descriptors, Cross-curriculum priorities, and so on. However, if this is overwhelming, just focus on the sections mentioned above. Some aspects of the curriculum are more relevant for schools and home educators are not required to be familiar with all aspects.
How to Cover the Curriculum
There are many ways to cover the curriculum outcomes or achievement standards including discussion, play, exploration, watching a video, excursions, daily life experiences, hobbies and interests and so much more. Not everything in the curriculum requires direct teaching or workbooks/worksheets. Our page on Planning & Reporting on Progress has more information on how you can cover the curriculum in different ways.
Understanding Curriculum Jargon
The WA Curriculum can be difficult to understand and daunting when you first read it through it. The good news is that it’s not as hard as it seems though. Here are some tips to keep in mind when you’re looking at the curriculum.
1. Don’t panic.
2. Read an outcome and ask, “what are they getting at here?” and take an educated guess at the meaning.
3. Break the outcomes into sections if it’s long, rather than trying to understand the whole thing at once.
4. Look up any words you don’t understand. A quick Google search will usually explain any words you don’t understand. There is also an Australian Curriculum Glossary that might be useful.
5. Use a shortcut.
“Whispering Waters” is an online store belonging to a teacher who has translated the curriculum outcomes into jargon-free terms and provided examples of something that could be done to cover the outcome.
The store provides these documents, called “Student Goals” from Foundation (another word for pre-primary) to Year 8. These documents are an excellent way to understand the curriculum and provide checklists you can use for planning or reporting on progress too. Reading the Year 8 document should help you understand the Year 9 and 10 outcomes as much of the language is similar.
One example of curriculum jargon
Here is an example of a Year 3 maths outcome (also known as a content descriptor):
“Identify questions or issues for categorical variables. Identify data sources and plan methods of data collection and recording.”
Translation: A categorical variable is one that has two or more categories, but there is no intrinsic ordering to the categories – one category is not greater, higher or better than the other. For example, gender, hair colour, age, the suburb that people live in.
The outcome is asking children to be involved in collecting data for different categories and recording it in different ways, such as a graph, a chart or a table. This can be as simple as conducting a survey of friends and family’s favourite ice cream flavour or how many and what kind of pets they have.
This outcome isn’t hard to understand when you look into it, but at first glance, it may seem more suited to a computer programmer or statistician than an 8-year-old!