ACARA news, April 2021

The Australian Curriculum: public consultation open

29 April 2021

Proposed revisions to the Australian Curriculum for Foundation – Year 10 (F–10) have today been released for public comment.

“On behalf of the ACARA Board, I am delighted to welcome the release of proposed revisions to the Australian Curriculum – revisions that aim to give our students a curriculum of excellence, which is amongst the best in the world,” said Belinda Robinson, ACARA Chair.

“The Australian Curriculum reflects our national aspirations for our students and future generations and this Review seeks to ensure we set high expectations for them and equip them with the knowledge and skills they need to be confident and creative individuals, lifelong learners, and active and informed members of their communities, including our national and global communities. 

“Our students deserve our best efforts and these revisions come at a time when our students’ performance in recent international assessments demonstrates that we need to raise the bar and set challenging but achievable standards. In revising this curriculum, our focus has been our students and preparing them for the world they will inherit, for the jobs, challenges and opportunities of the future.”

The Australian Curriculum establishes the expectations for what all young Australians should be taught, regardless of where they live or their background.

The Review includes revisions to all eight learning areas (English, Mathematics, Science, Humanities and Social Sciences, The Arts, Technologies, Health and Physical Education, and Languages), as well as the three cross-curriculum priorities (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures, Asia and Australia’s Engagement with Asia, and Sustainability) and the general capabilities, such as Critical and Creative Thinking.

ACARA CEO, David de Carvalho, added: “We have benchmarked ourselves against, and looked to adapt, where relevant from, the best curricula internationally. The national collaborative review effort has worked to deliver a less crowded and more helpful curriculum for teachers and students, reducing and refining content to focus on what is most essential for students to learn, and to be much clearer for teachers on what they have to teach to support improved student outcomes”.

“These revisions highlight the need to support teachers to help students reach their full potential and the focus has been on identifying for teachers the essential content they need to teach, and their students to learn.”

ACARA’s review process has involved teachers and curriculum experts from all states and territories, and the government and non-government sectors.

“From talking to teachers and principals across Australia, we know that many find the curriculum somewhat unwieldy and difficult to navigate. Giving them more time to teach essential content in a more in-depth manner is important,” said Janet Davy, Director Curriculum, ACARA. “We do not want teachers to have to spend excessive time interpreting the curriculum. The revisions remove the guesswork and provide clearer expectations as to the essential content we want all students to learn.”

Changes include:

  • significantly improving the content descriptions and achievement standards – the core curriculum that teachers use to plan, teach and assess learning – by simplifying expression, explaining requirements more clearly and reducing ambiguity
  • reducing content across the primary school curriculum, with greater consistency and coherence in organisation, language and expectations across all learning areas
  • improving the content elaborations – the illustrations and examples of ways to teach the content – to show how the teaching and learning of the learning area content can be supported using the general capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities
  • ensuring a clear and coherent Foundation year curriculum that makes it clear what teachers need to teach in this important first year and to ensure content in Foundation builds on the Early Years Learning Framework.

The proposed revisions to the Australian Curriculum are now available for public comment from 29 April until 8 July 2021. Feedback and input will be used to develop final revisions for consideration of education ministers.

“We want teachers, principals, education specialists, parents and the wider community to let us know what they think of the proposed revisions,” Mr de Carvalho said. “Reviewing the national curriculum is not an effortless task – there has been plenty of robust discussion and there will continue to be – and that is welcome.

“Curriculum should always be a work in progress. It should be contested and of keen interest to us all, but in contesting our ideas, we should also ensure it is the needs of our students that are paramount. Responses will go towards shaping the new Australian Curriculum to ensure it is serving our children and young people and equipping them with the knowledge and skills they need.”


The Australian Curriculum underpins teaching and learning in all Australian schools and is reviewed every six years. Over the last nine months, ACARA has been consulting widely with key education stakeholders and groups.

Some of the work has included:

  • eighteen reference groups of around 360 practising teachers and curriculum specialists from across Australia
  • a program of research benchmarking the Australian Curriculum against the curricula of Singapore, Finland, British Columbia and New Zealand
  • feedback from states and territories on the effectiveness of the Australian Curriculum
  • an informal listening tour of 24 primary schools from each sector in each jurisdiction to talk to teachers and principals
  • engaging with national teacher and principal professional associations and other subject matter experts
  • reviewing the latest national and international developments and research in each learning area.

Public feedback will be sought via the new consultation website from 29 April 2021 until 8 July 2021.

The updated version of the F–10 Australian Curriculum, once approved by ministers, will be made available on a new Australian Curriculum website at the start of 2022. 

Media contact: 0414 063 872, [email protected] 

ACARA Chair on the Australian Curriculum Review

27 April 2021

Proposed revisions to the Australian Curriculum for Foundation – Year 10 (F–10) are released for public comment on Thursday, 29 April 2021. 

Read ACARA Chair Belinda Robinson’s opinion piece (PDF 65 kb) discussing the upcoming consultation period and why she believes everyone should have their say.

Updates to the National Report on Schooling data portal

14 April 2021

Today, ACARA has released new data on schools and schooling on the interactive National Report on Schooling data portal. The release includes updated data on:  

  • school, student and staff numbers
  • student-teacher ratios
  • 2019 school finance data
  • enrolment rates and
  • apparent retention.

Through the data portal, ACARA provides online access to national data on Australian schooling, including general statistics on enrolments and funding, and data on agreed key performance measures for schooling.

In most cases, the portal allows readers to view and download data at the national level, but also by state and territory, by school sector, by calendar year and by other breakdowns such as gender and Indigenous status.

The data portal is updated twice a year with the most recent information on schooling; the next refresh is scheduled for December 2021. See the National Report on Schooling data portal on the ACARA website

The COVID-19 education impact – are parents more engaged?

06 April 2021

According to new research conducted for ACARA, COVID-19 has had a significant impact on parents’ understanding of their children’s education, with parents across Australia reporting that they have far greater insight now into their children’s schooling, irrespective of the length of time families had spent on remote learning.

While experiences differed from school to school and family to family, remote learning gave parents surveyed a unique and often frustrating understanding into the mechanics of schooling and education, with many finding a new appreciation for teachers and their skills.

ACARA CEO, David de Carvalho, said COVID-19 had challenged parents and led them to consider schooling in new ways.

“What we found is that those periods of remote learning – regardless of how long – gave parents a far greater insight into their children’s education, learning styles and where they struggle and thrive,” he said.

“COVID has given many parents a window into what goes on in classrooms, into the challenges of teaching, and that seems to have given them a sense of empowerment, understanding and greater engagement.”

The research, conducted with small focus groups, showed that pre-COVID, parents prominently relied on conversations with teachers to determine how their child is progressing, with school exams and standardised testing playing a lesser role.

Parents noted in the sessions that face-to-face channels were the most important forms of communication, and that as a result of the pandemic, they have a better understanding of student assessments such as NAPLAN and the ability to use results as a resource.

Many parents feel they now have a greater idea of the importance of social aspects of class learning, such as regular feedback on classwork, providing students with structure, sense of competitiveness and engagement with other students to motivate progress, as well as a general sense of belonging.

Among parents who had the capacity to spend time with their children in their learning, there emerged a stronger acknowledgement of the benefit of one-to-one homework/tuition support for their child. There was a greater understanding that, particularly for the first years of primary school, children who are struggling need more support and contact from educators.

Tennille Southcombe, mum to two children aged 14 and 16, from Ryde NSW, said that remote learning opened discussion for them at home, “For the first time, I got a close-up view of what they were learning about at school. We wouldn’t have known as much before COVID as they didn’t always talk about it.” Tennille’s kids each had their own space at home and could ask her questions if they needed it. “You could have further discussions as you had more time. I really appreciate the job teachers do. In their classrooms, there are 24 kids, each with different personalities and teachers need to think about how they can really engage with all of them with all sorts of distractions.”

Jenni Rickard from Australian Parents Council agrees that COVID does have some silver linings when it comes to education, “The shared understanding between teachers and parents on how far education has come and what is involved in educating our children has changed the landscape of the relationship between parents, school and student learning.”

Several parents felt that their children coped with remote learning relatively well and even progressed beyond expectations. But many others sensed that 2020 felt like a ‘write-off’ – their children largely disengaged or avoided learning and generally struggled without structure and face-to-face class time. 

Mr de Carvalho said, “We expect that these experiences may mean that this year’s NAPLAN results will be eagerly anticipated, as parents, schools and schooling systems use the data, along with their school’s own assessments, to get a clearer picture about any impacts of the COVID disruptions on students learning and whether there were any differences in impact across the community.”

“We are hopeful that the first-hand glimpse into the curriculum and what their child is taught will encourage parents to take a look at the proposed revisions to the Foundation – Year 10 Australian Curriculum, which will be released on 29 April as part of public consultations, and take the time to tell us what they think,” he added.

Parents in Victoria reported feeling the most significant impacts, while parents in Western Australia and Queensland felt the least disrupted. In New South Wales, parents also experienced a sense of disruption and frustration, although sentiments were not as strong as in Victoria.

Key facts:

  • Due to COVID-19, parents across Australia said that they have far greater insight and involvement now into their children’s learning, irrespective of the length of time families have been learning remotely.
  • COVID-19 has challenged parents to consider schooling in new ways, refocusing on what is important and what they want out of student assessments and the ability to use those results as a resource.
  • Many parents feel they now have a greater idea of what were previously implicit benefits of the importance of social aspects of class learning.
  • The pandemic has assisted parents to consider what types of feedback parents and students consider to be the most valuable.
  • Pre-COVID, parents prominently relied on conversations with teachers to determine how their child is progressing. As a result of COVID-19, some parents now feel more empowered to bring their own observations of their child to those conversations.
  • Parents have a better understanding of student assessments such as NAPLAN and the ability to use results as a resource.
  • There was more acknowledgement that, particularly for the first years of primary school, children who are struggling need more support and contact from educators.


Australian Parents Council (APC)

Jenni Rickard, APC President: “COVID did have some silver linings when it comes to education. The shared understanding between teachers and parents on how far education has come and what is involved in educating our children has changed the landscape of the relationship between parents, school and student learning. Experts often talk about parent engagement, but COVID gave us a first-hand lesson of what that means in practice and highlighted the impact parents can have on children's achievement. Remote learning had many challenges and rewards, and parents are anxious to understand the impact of this on their child's progress.”

Catholic School Parents Australia (CSPA)

Karl Rodrigues, CSPA Chair: “Through the challenges to schooling brought on by COVID, many parents have developed a greater appreciation of what their school-age children learn, how they learn and how they interact with their teachers and peers. For some parents, the experience has been empowering and partnership-building, while for others, it has been frustrating, and they feel the shared care for the wellbeing of their children and young people has been compromised during this time. It has created, however, a lengthy snapshot in time that prompts reflection on how better to provide education opportunities that are equitable for all children and families.”

Australian Council of State School Organisations (ACSSO)

Dianne Giblin, ACSSO Chief Executive Officer: “It became very clear during the 2020 remote learning that a time of crisis is not the time for schools to begin their family engagement strategy. This should be embedded in all practice. We will be seeking to work with educators and decision-makers to see how a solid family engagement strategy could help schools respond better and faster in crises like this pandemic.

“It was clear that generally schools did not know enough about the number and quality of family computing devices. Particularly in primary schools, where many families borrowed, bought, or did without the technology needed for remote learning. Equity of access to education was exacerbated during the remote learning period.

“Families acknowledged schools worked extremely hard in a short period of time, but there are some big lessons to be addressed with remote learning. Communication is key, there appeared to be a disconnect and some confusion for many families of what was expected or how to assist with challenges their child was experiencing. Having a device is not the same as saying it is good enough to cope in isolation for all learning needs.

“We share families concern for students’ wellbeing during the time when they were isolated from their social circle of friends – ACARA’s research aligns with the survey we conducted, which revealed that the educational, social, emotional and physical wellbeing was much lower for students who participated in remote learning.”

View COVID-19 parent focus group research (PDF 424 kb)