ACARA news, June 2014

Enhanced work sample portfolios for F-10 English, mathematics, science and history

25 June 2014

ACARA has recently published enhanced student work sample portfolios for the Foundation – Year 10 Australian Curriculum for English, mathematics, science and history.

Annotated work sample portfolios are provided to support primary and secondary schools in their implementation of the Australian Curriculum. Each portfolio provides an example of evidence of student learning in relation to the achievement standard. As in previous years, three portfolios are available at each year level, illustrating above satisfactory, satisfactory and below satisfactory student achievement.

The set of portfolios available for each achievement standard assists teachers to plan and make decisions about the quality of their students’ learning

New student work samples available on the Australian Curriculum website.

Students, teachers and principals across Australia have collaborated to develop a diverse range of assessment tasks and work samples. Through work undertaken in 2013 and 2014, an additional 218 samples were added, making a total of 1039 student work samples in the 132 portfolios for these learning areas.

The portfolios are available on the Australian Curriculum website:

The new work samples demonstrate that teachers are embracing the Australian Curriculum. A variety of new student work is provided including group discussions, class movies, presentations, photographs and board games. The portfolios have been selected, annotated and reviewed by classroom teachers and other curriculum experts.

ACARA thanks the students, teachers and principals in each participating school that has collaborated with us in this project.

Please send any feedback regarding the work samples to: [email protected]

NAPLAN in the news

23 June 2014

ACARA Chair Prof. Barry McGaw looks at how school comparisons on the My School website and NAPLAN can help lift the performance of the education system as a whole in an article 'It’s no longer personal, but more is possible' in The Australian over the weekend.

Other news items, Queensland schools show improvement; Mount Nelson Primary School in Tasmania is thriving: getting parents involved in their children's reading programs and using NAPLAN results to refocus attention on areas of weakness.

And Tempe High students learn literacy, communication skills and teamwork through the school’s range of creative, sporting and cultural programs.

(subscription required)

Latin a choice amongst many

20 June 2014

The story 'Absurdus Maximus' (the Courier Mail, 20 June) is an absurdity itself.

It is disappointing that the Courier Mail and its journalist chose to ignore the facts provided to them by ACARA. This is sensationalist journalism at its best and an attempt to politicise the Australian curriculum.

Latin will not be 'dragged back into Australian schools' as reported. Instead, schools will simply have a wider choice of languages to teach in the classroom.

It is schools that decide the languages they want to teach. Some schools may choose to offer Latin as a language to study. Some may not. It is their choice as that choice exists now.

The more language options available for schools, the more likely students will continue to study a language through to their senior year. A government aim is for 40 per cent of Year 12 students to studying a second language in a decade - ACARA is supporting this initiative by offering world class curriculum improving the learning for all young Australians.

The languages selected for development and inclusion in the curriculum by ACARA followed extensive consultation in 2011. There was support for the development of classical languages, along with a range of others. Eleven languages have been, or are being, developed. A further five additional languages including Turkish, Hindi, AUSLAN and Classical Greek and Latin have been funded for development.

Rob Randall
Chief Executive Officer
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority

Coding in the curriculum Response to AFR story

20 June 2014

The article in the Australian Financial Review 'Should schools teach coding as part of the curriculum?' by Misa Han (18 June 2014) contains inaccuracies.

The statement that no coding is taught in schools is incorrect. Many Australian schools currently do teach coding to their students.

In addition, the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) has Digital Technologies curriculum available for use by schools. A key part of this curriculum is students developing coding skills from the first year of schooling, just as they do in the UK.

Rob Randall
Chief Executive Officer
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority 

ACARA's new infographic

17 June 2014


click on the image to see the full version

ACARA CEO looks back on NAPLAN 2014

16 June 2014

ACARA CEO Rob Randall has written an article for The Age wrapping up NAPLAN for another year. He reminds readers that illiteracy and poor numeracy skills are high-stakes, and that despite all the controversy and media headlines, the majority of students took NAPLAN as it was meant to be: just another day at school.

Read 'NAPLAN tests help us improve vital skills' by Robert Randall

Work studies now open for consultation

16 June 2014

The Australian Curriculum: Work Studies Years 9–10 has been approved by the ACARA Board for forwarding to Standing Council on School Education and Early Childhood (SCSEEC, from 1 July 2014 known as Education Councli) for endorsement in August 2014.

The revised curriculum is available on our website for viewing from Monday 16 June until Sunday 13 July.

View the Australian Curriculum: Work Studies Years 9–10.

National Literacy and Numeracy Week ambassadors announced

12 June 2014

Minister for Education, the Hon. Christopher Pyne, MP, today announced the ambassadors for this year's National Literacy and Numeracy Week.
Simon Pampena will return this year as Numeracy Ambassador and Alison Lester joins the week as Literacy Ambassador.

Read the full National Literacy and Numeracy Week ambassadors announced media release published on the Ministers’ Media Centre website.

2014 Queen's Birthday Honours list

11 June 2014

The 2014 Queen's Birthday Honours list recognised a number of Australians who have shown significant service and strong commitment to improving educational outcomes for young Australians. Three of the recipients have been involved with ACARA’s work.

Former ACARA Board member Emeritus ProfessorBill Louden was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to higher education in Western Australia as a leader in teacher education and sector reform. Prof. Louden was a foundation member of the ACARA Board until May 2012, and was also a member of the precursor Interim National Curriculum Board from April 2008 to May 2009.

Prof. Louden has made a significant contribution to improving literacy in Australia. He previously chaired the Western Australian Government’s Literacy and Numeracy Review Taskforce, and was a member of the National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy. Currently, he is the Deputy Chair of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership and is Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Western Australia.

ProfessorJohn O’Toole was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for his significant service to drama education as a lecturer, author, mentor and researcher. Prof. O'Toole was the lead writer for the Arts Shape Paper, which set the broad direction for the writing of the Australian Curriculum for the arts, and was the lead advisor on the arts curriculum development.

Prof. O'Toole is currently an Honorary Professor at Griffith University. Previously he was the Foundation Chair of Arts Education at the University of Melbourne and has been an active leader in drama education with his first book published in 1977. Since the early years of his career, Prof. O'Toole has worked in theatre-in-education and community theatre companies as a writer, education officer and director. He continues to be a prominent researcher and advocate of arts education.

Doctor Alan Finkel AM was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to science and engineering, and to tertiary education administration, as an advocate for the protection of children, and to philanthropy. Dr Finkel was appointed Chancellor of Monash University in 2007. Dr Finkel is currently working on a new science education venture, where cloud-based delivery allows students to proceed at their own pace, using interactive, classroom-ready lessons.

ACARA CEO Rob Randall said, ‘I am delighted that Professor Louden, Professor O’Toole and Doctor Finkel have had their significant contribution to education in Australia recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours’.

ACARA's new infographic

11 June 2014



Teaching maths by the weather?

06 June 2014

Internationally acclaimed mathematics educator, visionary and entrepreneur Conrad Wolfram recently attended a roundtable discussion with representatives from ACARA, the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, and Education Services Australia.

Discussion centred around the nature of mathematics education and the relevance of maths to everyday life. Conrad challenged the group to consider an approach to mathematics education that moves away from existing models, which he views as contributing to the declining interest and engagement in mathematics in classrooms, particularly in the non-compulsory years.

Conrad would like to see mathematics education that is based on mathematics as it is used in workplaces and that concentrates on developing conceptual understanding – rather than ‘drill to develop’ mechanical skills that are rarely used (although he does support young people learning their times tables). He believes that this would lead to students being more able to apply mathematics through technology to solve relevant problems and connect their mathematical ideas with the real world. He is convinced that this would encourage greater participation in mathematics in schools and also enhance a student’s life chances and society's needs.

Conrad Wolfram is working with education systems in Australia and other countries to introduce digital systems that encourage a different approach to learning mathematics.

Conrad’s views are being tested in Estonia, where he has radically rewritten the mathematics curriculum, which is being piloted by 10 per cent of middle and upper schools. In his curriculum, pupils are asked to answer questions such as ’Will it rain tomorrow?’, rather than learn mathematical procedures. To answer the question, children have access to weather data and use computer programs to give a forecast rather than a right or wrong answer. The emphasis is on development of related mathematical concepts.

Conrad challenged those around the ACARA table to think about how the Australian Curriculum: Mathematics is relevant for young people in Australia, and for life and future employment.

You can watch one of Conrad’s inspiring talks on the Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) website.

Northern Territory student principals for a day

04 June 2014

On 4 June selected school students will have an opportunity to become a principal of their school for a day. They will participate in a number of leadership opportunities throughout the day and gain a real insight into the work of their principal and school governance.

Next week students will be able to share their experiences with other student principals from around Australia through an online forum.

Read the Northern Territory Government’s media release

The Age 'Parent partners lead to love of learning'

04 June 2014

Leah Young from The  Age believes that parents' involvement in learning improves children's achievements.

Read the 'Parent involvement in learning, not just fundraising, improves children's achievements' by Leah Young

A message from Robert Randall, ACARA CEO

04 June 2014

Last week ACARA turned five years old.

Some of our highlights have been…

Curriculum development

  • We have received more than 13 000 submissions from individuals, groups and organisations about the development of the curriculum.
  • In December 2010, the Australian Curriculum was published for English, mathematics, science and history for Foundation – Year 10; its implementation is underway across the country.
  • The Australian Curriculum for geography was published in March 2013.
  • The Australian Curriculum for the arts was published in February 2014.
  • The Australian Curriculum in technologies, health and physical education, economics and business, and civics and citizenship was made available for use in November 2013.
  • And languages are coming later this month!


  • With around 1.1 million kids being tested every year since 2008, that means around 35 million tests have been conducted.
  • We have demonstrated that NAPLAN is one source for governments, education authorities and schools to determine whether young Australians are meeting important educational goals in literacy and numeracy.

My School

  • My School was launched on 28 January 2010, providing the opportunity for educators, parents and the wider community to view updated information on all schools across Australia, and to make comparisons between them.
  • In the last 12 months, there were over 17 million page views of the My School website.

NAP Sample Assessments

  • National Sample Assessments have been conducted on a triennial basis since 2004, including the NAP – Civics and Citizenship (NAP–CC), NAP – Science Literacy (NAP–SL) and NAP – ICT Literacy (NAP–ICTL).
  • For the first time last year, the NAP – Civics and Citizenship tests were delivered online. We are looking towards online delivery again for NAP–ICTL later in the year.

This is just a sample of our achievements and the milestones we have reached – with many more to come with the important research and associated activity that we have in train.

ACARA is completely committed to improving the learning for all young Australians through world-class curriculum, assessment and reporting. I would like to thank everyone who has generously and passionately contributed their time and energy to helping ACARA reach its goals. I look forward to continuing to engage and work with everyone as we carry on our journey.

I would particularly like to thank the ACARA Board, past and present members, and the ACARA staff. Without you, none of our achievements would have been possible.

Best regards,

Rob Randall

Kidspot 'Numeracy, your children and what you can do'

03 June 2014

Linda Drummond from the Kidspot Australia, parenting site and pregnancy resource, examines what it means to be numerate, and what parents can do to help their children.

Read 'Numeracy, your children and what you can do' at kidspot

ACARA Working together

03 June 2014

Here at ACARA, we recognise the generous contribution made by many of our partners and stakeholders.

See ACARA’s latest video and listen about the ways we have been working with our partners and stakeholders, as well as about our plans to make our communications more engaging.

See the full video