Preparing for curriculum change in English 7–10

This resource is part of a suite of conversations between the English Curriculum Team and teachers and school leaders from across the NSW Department of Education. These recorded sessions draw upon research and experience in subject English and present a range of evidence-based strategies for improving writing.

Audience: Stage 4 and 5 teachers

Watch 'Preparing for curriculum change in English 7-10' (1:05:17)

This session will support English teachers and leaders as they transition into a period of curriculum change

(Duration: 1 hours and 5 minutes)

Mark McDonald – Relieving English Curriculum Support Advisor

Okay, well we're just past 9:30, so I will get started. Welcome to the professional learning event, ‘Preparing for curriculum change in English 7-10’. We are so pleased so many of you have been able to join us today, and there is also a resource booklet that is attached to this presentation that Ashley will put into the chat for you all.

Where am I up to? I will note, sorry, the lobby sign is in my way.

Okay, so we are going to be referring to that participant booklet regularly throughout the session as it contains – sorry, I've just lost my place – as it contains the links and documents and resources we'll be discussing, suggestions for ways you might like to explore the draft syllabus as an individual or as a faculty and a wealth of other information. Due to time, we won't be able to answer any of your questions during this presentation, however, we encourage you to make note of these questions and to ask them in the evaluation survey via myPL.

If you haven't already, please register in myPL via this QR code.

[myPL – NR35028]

Our team will compile the questions from the various networks of whom we are presenting today and will share these with our answers via the Statewide Staffroom and your network leaders.

Please note that while I am presenting online, we also have members of our team presenting at network meetings in Coffs Harbour and in Kiama and obviously online. So, to ensure one united message is delivered today, this presentation is scripted, so, it will sound like I'm reading to you and that is because I am reading to you it. It's to make sure that we have the consistent message and that's also why we won't be answering questions today. We want to have a united, consistent approach addressing all of the questions that are asked across the 3 different places of presentation.

Okay, so I'd like to start the meeting by paying my respect and acknowledging the traditional custodians on the land on which we meet today. I pay respects to the elders past and present and extend that respect to other Aboriginal people here today. I am presenting from Coffs Harbour Senior college and this, so I'm presenting from the lands of the, sorry, Gumbaynggirr people. Feel free to add into the chat what lands you are joining us from today.

So, our primary means of communication is the English curriculum Statewide Staffroom. You are clearly already a member because you are all in here today. This QR code is for the people who are in our face-to-face sessions who are not part of the Statewide Staffroom.

In terms of our communication, we do have some good news, our newsletter will recommence this term. It had been put on pause throughout Term 2 because the Department of Education put in place a communications freeze.

As you begin planning for curriculum change, you may like to consider elaborating on your experiences and successes for our ‘Voices of the classroom’ section of our newsletter. This is always a very popularly received section by our subscribers and please get in touch via the Statewide Staffroom or our email if you are interested in contributing to that and we really look forward as a team to being able to get those newsletters back out to you.

Okay, so this is a snapshot of our time together today. We'll provide:

  • a brief overview of the support available for the, ‘Have your say’ process
  • a brief introduction to curriculum reform and changes in English
  • an exploration of the similarities and differences between English 2012 and the draft English 2022
  • ways to plan for changes in English curriculum and ways to evaluate current practice
  • an outline of the textual concepts, resources, and the way these can revitalize unit planning with a particular focus on the draft syllabus.

We will also explore the various resources available to you and where to access support and professional learning, and of course networking, understanding how to become involved in a curriculum reform community and maximize the opportunity provided by curriculum networks.

So, the ‘Three phases of implementation’ is an approach to curriculum implementation that can be utilized by teachers and school leaders. This session is structured around the first stage, ‘engage’. When the syllabus is released, we will ‘enact’ and as we implement the teaching and learning plan, we will ‘embed’.

A key component of engagement is becoming involved in the, ‘Have your say’ consultation opportunities. The English curriculum team will continue to provide a range of support materials for the 2nd and final, ‘Have your say’ period. These resources are designed to aid your understanding and guide your reflection process.

For round 2, we will run 2 ‘Have your say’ sessions. One of these will be before school, one will be after school, and a recording will be available for those who are unable to make either session and there will also be a support document.

NESA held an English Year 3-10 draft syllabus information session on the 9 March 2022. While a recording was previously available, it was removed at the conclusion of the first ‘Have your say’ period. If this occurs again, we'll promote this sort of session through the Statewide Staffroom.

There is however a recording of the first ‘Have your say’ session run by our team. You can see that the sessions run in our Statewide Staffroom are accessed via the message board channel on the tab previous check-ins. These are both essential viewing for any English teacher who is new to the curriculum reform process.

This QR code will take you to the stream page where all of our previous sessions run in the Statewide Staffroom are housed.

[No QR code displayed, screenshot of the message board of the Statewide Staffroom in Microsoft Teams.]

This presentation builds upon the materials, the material presented in those sessions. In the files section of the message board channel, you'll find a range of folders, past check-ins, and past e-newsletters. All previous content from 2022 are housed in these folders and there is also a curriculum reform folder as part of this Statewide Staffroom.

The curriculum reform folder is where the Department of Education's English support guide and the Department of Education teacher findings from Round One of the consultation process are housed, this is where future ‘Have your say’ sessions and resources will also be housed. You must be a Department of Education staff member and a member of the Statewide Staffroom to access this content and attend the PL events.

We hope that you were able to have your say during Round One. As you engage today and during the second ‘Have your say’ period and the familiarization period as a whole. It is a good idea to keep in mind the implications of a new curriculum for you in your context. This includes but is not limited to:

  • the way that you will approach designing and delivering inclusive teaching and learning and assessment.
  • the opportunity to refresh and refine your approach.
  • the opportunity to expand and refine your skills and knowledge, and
  • your ability to cater to a diversity of students.
  • of course, your love of the subject English, and
  • the joy in delivering high quality and engaging learning experiences.

Now we'll move on to the curriculum reform process and explore some of the draft changes in English. The syllabus development process has a clear structure including 4 phases:

  1. writing
  2. consultation
  3. approval
  4. preparation, and
  5. implementation

There has already been one consultation on the draft English 3-6 and English 7-10 syllabuses, and the draft syllabus is being refined based on the feedback provided. This occurred from 19 March to the 2 May 2022. The draft documents have since been removed from the NESA page.

Louise Ward, the Inspector English and Literacy has confirmed that this is their usual process. NESA do not leave draft documents online between the ‘Have your say’ periods. If you attended our ‘Have your say’ sessions and explored some of the material released by NESA as part of this process, some of this information will be familiar to you.

In terms of the syllabus development cycle, we are here, at the stage between writing and the second consultation phase. The next ‘Have your say’ period is yet to be confirmed by Minister Mitchell. We're expecting this to take place this term. NESA has indicated that not all syllabuses will have 2 consultation periods like English and mathematics.

It is important to keep in mind that NESA is separate from the Department of Education. The New South Wales Department of Education has the responsibility to implement curriculum in our schools, K-12. The department supports through the preparation and implementation phase, and this commences once the syllabus has been published. At this time, schools begin their familiarization of the new syllabus.

There will be both NESA and department PL and resources to support you during this process. These will be designed to support familiarization and guide planning and preparation ready for implementation. Engaging with this information, support and resources will make implementation easier for individuals and faculties.

So, how did we get here? In May 2018, the New South Wales government announced a comprehensive review of the school curriculum K-12. The aim was to ensure that the New South Wales education system is properly preparing students for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. In response to the Master's Review, 2020, the government has committed to an ambitious program for streamlining and strengthening what is taught in our schools.

The reform aims to provide more time for teaching by refining syllabuses to ensure a focus on essential knowledge and skills, reducing extracurricular topics and streamlining compliance requirements. The new curriculum K-12 will involve more than 200 syllabuses. The aim is for these to be developed by 2024.

In relation to all syllabuses, a key intention is to examine, declutter, and improve the New South Wales curriculum to make it simpler to understand and to teach. The review found there was not enough time to focus on deep learning in the current curriculum.

The review also identified that some students are not getting the solid foundation in English and mathematics that they need and deserve. NESA has already released new syllabuses for K-12 English and mathematics. These syllabuses are due for implementation in 2023 and have been taken up by some early adopter schools this year.

Within the English syllabuses Minister Mitchell has stated that there will be a clear explicit focus on writing skills as well as a continued focus on studying literature to improve writing, grammar, and use of language. We can already see evidence of this focus within Draft One and the final K-2 syllabus.

As per the New South Wales Education Act, the New South Wales Education Standards Authority (NESA), writes syllabuses for schools in all sectors and the Curriculum and credentials committee endorse the final syllabus and the minister of education approves it ready for publication.

Implementation of the Australian curriculum is the responsibility of states and territories. In New South Wales Australian curriculum content is incorporated into syllabuses using an “adopt and adapt” approach, and NESA is aligning new syllabuses with version 9 of the Australian curriculum.

To avoid any confusion about what is meant by syllabus and what is meant by curriculum, we have included an outline. So, in New South Wales public schools, school curriculum is defined as a plan for learning and includes mandated syllabus documents and the associated educational materials such as scope and sequences, assessment schedules and assessments for example, and current departmental policies and procedures.

Now that we've revisited key contextual details, I'd like to give you 2 minutes and if you could put into the chat what your current experiences and plans are for curriculum reform. So, what exposure have you had to this point either with previous syllabuses or this one and what plans do you have in place at the moment?

So, some focus questions here that may help guide your thinking:

  1. What is happening in your school and or faculty in relation to curriculum reform at the moment? And if that's nothing, that's nothing and that would be good information for us to know as well.
  2. What is being planned for curriculum reform in your school context? Again, if it isn't part of your school plan yet or there hasn't been a focus, that will be good information for us to know as well.

I'll give one more minute for that commentary to come through.

Okay, please feel free to continue adding to the chat, I am going to move on just due to our time constraints.

Okay, so this slide here is more for the face-to-face presentations, this is where our presenters face-to-face would be asking the faculty groups to speak up. So, I'm going to skip past this slide – actually I'm not going to skip past this slide.

Some things that we have heard so far and know might be coming from individuals and faculties is including, but is certainly not limited to, possible faculty meetings dedicated to exploring the draft. So, some teams then constructed a response together and individuals could tweak this, so they weren't all starting from scratch for their ‘Have your say’ response.

Faculty meetings dedicated to exploring current NESA and DoE PL, seeing what's out there and what's coming. This is helping head teachers plan for their teams, but also helping individual teachers develop a deeper understanding of where the syllabus is coming from in the early years. Faculties and individual teachers, some faculties and individual teachers are attending the NESA and DoE ‘Have your say’ sessions and using these to guide faculty learning and discussion.

Teachers and head teachers have explored the draft with colleagues from other schools and are sharing their insights and ideas. Teachers have been responding to the ETA survey and using the ETA reflection questions as a guide, and teachers and head teachers have also started identifying professional learning needs and starting to plan for a collaborative approach. Identifying the areas of strength and need within each faculty in response to the draft syllabus.

For example, the explicit teaching of writing has been identified as an area of need for many and head teachers and teachers are reading widely and exploring professional learning within this area, and we as a team are as well.

There is now a great deal of research that explores the curriculum implementation process and a core component of that happening successfully and avoiding burnout and fatigue is doing this collaboratively, both as faculties and as networks and across the state through the Statewide Staffroom and the other resources that we can provide to you as a team.

So, in this next section, we have aimed to provide broad outlines of the similarities and differences between the current syllabus implemented in 2012 and the first draft released in March. It is important to keep in mind that we are referring to a draft and it is highly likely we will see differences in the 2nd draft.

You may have noticed that NESA did not consult on the aim or rationale during Round One, and this is because they are K-10 and have already been finalized as part of the K-2 syllabus development. In terms of examples, we have tried to provide a range across the entirety of the syllabus and at times make connections to Stage 3.

Comparing the syllabuses is a very useful and valuable learning experience. You will not be throwing out all your current programs, resources and texts, but rather reforming and refining them based on evaluative practice and the requirement to update them as per syllabus requirements.

When the final version is released, dedicating a series of faculty meetings to exploring the similarities and differences and planning for change can help the entire team stay connected and focused.

Just like our current syllabus, this draft has been designed with the intention that all English content in this syllabus is interrelated. The outcomes and content are not intended to be taught or assessed in isolation but should be selected in combinations according to the focus and design of each learning experience.

For example, we would not teach reading or creating texts in isolation. You would not have standalone reading or writing lessons. These would be guided by the conceptual framework you develop in response to the textual concepts you select.

As you explore the next draft and reflect upon whether the diagram and the syllabus structure clearly reflect this aim, think about the implications for you in your context. Are the qualities and features of what you love about subject English maintained? If you think the intention for the delivery to be interrelated could be strengthened, make sure you give feedback to NESA illustrating your concerns.

Let's move on to the outcomes. NESA’s intention is that outcomes in the syllabus are organized and designed to describe the understanding and skills that students are expected to demonstrate in their study of English by the end of each stage.

When we compare the 2 documents, there is a clear difference. In our current syllabus we have objectives that created an overarching framework and connected to specific outcomes. This guided how teachers would help their students respond to and compose texts while developing specific knowledge, understanding and skills.

We have 9 outcomes currently with one specifically dedicated to reflection. In the 1st draft, outcomes have been grouped into 3 areas with each having a core focus. There are 5 outcomes with reflection distributed throughout. We know reflection is an incredibly important skill in English and also in life. Because of this, programs will need to embed reflection in a way that ensures the process within responding and composing is maintained.

The outcome groups in Draft One are reading, which has one outcome, understanding and responding to literature, which has 3 outcomes, and creating texts which has one outcome. It is important to note that this may change. The draft is not a planning document. It can be used for reflection conversations, identifying potential PL and resource needs, and a boost for evaluating current practice. But the only document that should be used to guide planning is the final syllabus and other curriculum materials released by NESA.

Now, let's look at the content. The key processes that organize the content in the current syllabus have been replaced with content groups outlining focus knowledge, understanding, and skills. NESA has stated that content groups are used to cluster related content associated with an outcome. The structure and content of the syllabus content should support and enhance your ability to deliver engaging lessons that foster deep thinking and enable differentiation for your students.

Okay, so, sorry, I'm not sure what's happened here. I think that there's, now let's look at – sorry, I'm just a little bit lost here with the notes. The notes here are what I've read on the previous slide, so I'll move forward to the next one.

Content describes the intended learning for each outcome, including the breadth and depth of student learning and aims to provide explicit detail of the knowledge, understanding, and skills that students will need to be able to demonstrate the outcomes.

NESA has stated that content listed in the same group often have multiple possible applications across the stage and are not necessarily intended to be taught or assessed in their groups or at the same time. In the example on the slide, we are looking at the reading outcome for Stage 4.

The draft also draws on a conceptual framework, this can be used for planning, programming, and textual analysis. It will not necessarily be new to all teachers, particularly those who have used the English Textual Concepts resources.

The way they are articulated and organized within this syllabus is new. On the screen is a visual representation of the conceptual terminology used within Stages 2-5. Please take a moment to examine this outline.

Just as you're examining, I'll note that it is important to note that this outline is from a draft syllabus. This outline has been provided to articulate the ongoing relevance and importance of the concepts to teaching and learning of subject English. In the draft syllabus, the structure of the concepts provide a framework for programming and also a framework for responding and composing.

It is not expected you would explore the concepts in isolation separate from the exploration of quality texts, and the composition of a range of personal responses. So, your exploration of these concepts would be done in conjunction with an exploration of the outcome content points under the reading outcome, and also the content points under the writing outcome.

When you're unpacking the updated outcomes in the next draft or using Draft 2 as a guide to initial thinking, it is useful to keep NESA standards reference assessment framework in mind. This should guide the structure to planning, evaluation and refinement processes.

[See page 13 of the Participant booklet, Figure 2 – Standards-referenced assessment diagram.]

Sorry, that shouldn't have clicked through. Let me – we would like you to take a moment now and think about this diagram. Think about what this diagram highlights for you, you might like to share – okay, that sentence is for – you might like to share in the chat, your most important point, about this diagram.

What we do hope is that it has highlighted the requirement to engage with syllabus outcomes at all stages of the teaching and learning cycle. It is for this reason that when it comes to consulting on Draft 2, it is vital you give feedback on the way the outcomes do and do not work for you in your design of teaching and learning and assessment.

Do they explicitly describe the understanding and skills that students are expected to demonstrate in their study of English by the end of each stage? If they don't, how or why could they be improved? So, curriculum reform provides an important opportunity to evaluate current practice through the standards referenced assessment lens.

Ask yourself and your team, are you currently constantly coming back to the outcomes and the content? How are you applying this learning and improving your practice as a collective? How are you using this knowledge and data to refine your assessment planning and creation?

Many English teachers have asked about the text requirements list and Draft One, as a list was not released with the first draft of the syllabus.

However, while one wasn't released, you can explore the K-12 version and the 3-6 draft as starting points, a section of the 3-6 draft is on screen. ‘Text’ refers to print digital or spoken forms of communication and includes fiction and non-fiction works. Please take a moment to examine the text selection requirements contained within the draft of 3-6 that's on the screen at the moment.

[See Draft text requirements – Years 3 to 6, page 13-14 of the Participant booklet.]

I'm sure you can see in that list that there are lots of similarities, but also with our current syllabus, but also a few differences. An important consistency is the requirement that all students must have the opportunity to engage with a variety of texts that includes these items. A change is the mention of, “a year of learning” and not a stage. We are yet to see whether this will be the same in the 7-10 syllabus.

What is clear is that text selection will form an essential element in the planning of scope and sequences. The draft also states that text selections should respond to the individual needs of students. Texts should be selected that either support or extend students' reading experiences.

EAL/D students should be provided with opportunities to share their experience of texts in their home language so that they can make meaningful connections between their home language and standard Australian English. For children for whom Auslan is their first language, this should include a variety of signed texts which may be live or recorded.

It is important to provide an opportunity for students to respond to and create texts using their preferred communication techniques and systems. This may include assistive technology and augmentative and alternative communication systems, dependent on the students that you have in your context.

We are now going to quickly touch on the Stage 4 and 5 life skills outcomes and their related syllabus content. NESA outlines that the Year 7-10 courses based on life skills outcome and content and the Year 11, and 12 life skills courses provide options for students with disability who cannot access the regular course outcomes, particularly students with an intellectual disability and there are clear guidelines connected to this process. There has been a reduction in outcomes moving from 17 in our current syllabus to 8 in Draft One.

There is the addition of communicating as an outcome group. Thinking about communicating, what would programming for this look like in your context for life skills students? Can you integrate your approach with other outcomes as is intended in the design of this syllabus? And this is articulated in the context section of the document. When you're examining the draft life skills outcomes and content, it is valuable to have your context and the practical application of these in mind.

In regard to life skills students in standalone classes where all of the students are life skills students, but also those students that we may have in our mainstream classes that are life skills, the same principles apply to the layout, structure and purpose of the content. There are examples provided for every life skills content point.

Another important change is the format of the syllabus. The final syllabus will be digital and will provide functionality that was not available with the old PDF syllabuses, including different ways to filter information to reduce clutter, making it easier for teachers to understand what needs to be taught and to program learning. The site will continue changing and developing so it is worth exploring and revisiting to learn how the new functionality can help in curriculum planning.

The ability to show multiple subjects should assist teachers planning cross KLA programs and the ability to export just the data required, such as outcomes, content, descriptions, etc. in multiple formats, which makes it easier to bring this information into other platforms.

We recommend that teachers use the digital version. As the syllabuses are updated by NESA and new functionality released, these will be reflected on the curriculum website. Downloaded copies of the syllabus will be dead documents. A universal glossary is included on the site and will continually be added to as other subjects are refined and it will all be in one location.

Examples have been provided to help clarify and or extend the intention of the content points. NESA has stated that these examples are not mandatory, and they are not examples of pedagogy, they are just a guide. While the examples are provided as footnotes in the PDF of the first draft, this will not be the case when it moves online.

On the screen is the English K-2 syllabus, which is one of only 2 that has been published to date. The footnotes you see in the PDF version will actually appear when you click here.

[Slide content displays screen shot of NESA syllabus website, a red arrow points to the upper right corner indicating where the ‘Examples’ button is located].

See how the examples have now been embedded into the content?

To develop a deeper understanding of the impact of a digital curriculum on you and the opportunities and challenges it may provide, it is well worth exploring the English K-2 space as a faculty to build familiarity with the format. It is worthwhile exploring this platform sooner rather than later so you can become comfortable navigating this space. You can also develop familiarity with the structure of NESA support resources and identify useful content already available.

Please let us know via the Statewide Staffroom or our email, what you find useful and or challenging because this can help inform what we provide as professional learning or resources.

We'll have a lot more to come in relation to unpacking the syllabus as the documents are finalized. In the meantime, there are a lot of ways you can plan for change while this writing and consultation process takes place. We know that schools will encounter multiple changes during curriculum reform and sometimes it can be challenging to determine where to best direct your efforts with limited time and resources.

Every role in the system will have different responsibilities as they prepare to implement new syllabuses. The department has mapped out the journey for schools that are familiarizing with the English and mathematics syllabuses K-2 these are currently for primary with secondary versions linked to 3 phases in development.

Curriculum reform is an excellent opportunity to revitalize and review faculty procedures, programs, and assessment practices. These reviews can be conducted within the faculty and by surveying students. In both cases, surveys should be conducted with clear and direct questions. To ensure that curriculum reform change is at the heart of these evaluations, we suggest that questions target the aspects of planning shown here on the screen.

[Slide content –

Title – Review and evaluate existing resources

Subtitle – What do the teachers think? What do the students think?

  • Scope and sequences
  • Units of work
  • Assessment schedules
  • Book room resources

End slide content]

Asking questions about the scope and sequence should allow your faculty to evaluate if students recognize the transferrable skills and content knowledge intended in the platform of learning. The same can be gathered from responses to questions about units of work and assessment schedules.

However, surveys about these aspects of planning could be more targeted to allow you to make decisions about what to keep and adapt once the new syllabus is released, and what to leave behind with the old syllabus. These surveys will then allow you to conduct a book room audit and in turn to plan a budget for the curriculum reform changes required.

The department's evaluation resources hub is a starting point for developing your evaluative tools. Here you'll have access to data collection reference guides designed to offer practical tips for good survey design, running effective focus groups, interviews and more. Some of the suggestions in this webpage have been included in the participant resource booklet.

Every teacher knows that their classes are unique, there is no average student. In all New South Wales classrooms there is a diverse range of students including students with disability, high potential and gifted students, Aboriginal students and students who are learning English as an additional language or dialect. Some students may identify with more than one of these groups or even with all of them.

Reform provides a unique opportunity to reflect on current approaches to curriculum planning and to build effective curriculum programs for the new syllabuses. Understanding the diversity of each classroom and how to plan for learning that acknowledges that diversity as part of creating productive learning environments for all students.

This professional learning brings together expert advice from across the department on optimizing learning for all students. It has been co-developed with teams from across the department. So, this professional learning is 25 microlearning modules of 10-15 minutes duration. There are 5 groups of 5 modules in the professional learning.

  • Group One explores curriculum planning for diverse student needs.
  • Group 2 explores curriculum planning support for Aboriginal learners.
  • Group 3 explores curriculum planning support for English as an additional language or dialect learners.
  • Group 4 explores curriculum planning support for high potential and gifted learners.
  • Group 5 explores curriculum planning support for learners with disability.

We encourage every teacher to engage with the 1st group to build capacity in proactive curriculum planning to optimize learning for all students. Then they can select modules from the other groups depending on their specific needs of their students. Further modules will be released with all professional learning available to schools by the end of 2022.

We'll now showcase some surveys designed by our team. Faculties may choose to evaluate one or more of the focus areas shown on the screen during their evaluation phase. This will inform planning for curriculum reform change to enable a sharper focus on the faculty's impact on the outcomes for all students.

It is worth noting that the sample surveys provided in the resource booklet are not exhaustive. In addition, the curriculum team acknowledges that the questions may require tweaking and or unpacking. The surveys we have designed allow students to scale their answers by selecting, “yes”, “to some degree”, or, “no”. They're then required to elaborate with a comment which is prompted by a series of focus questions.

We acknowledge that not all students could answer all the questions by themselves and at times more direct questions with some closed and open possibilities like, “were the characters in the novel interesting for you? Why or why not?” could be more useful.

Essentially faculties will need to design questions based on their knowledge of the students in their school context. Will the majority of students be able to answer this question and will the prompts in the column section provide them with some direction about what to write without influencing or limiting their comments too heavily?

So, the purpose of this survey is to gather evidence of the extent of student engagement in the unit of learning measured by sustained interest and attention for the duration of the unit of learning. Please note the example shown on the screen for this and each of the following surveys is 1-2 questions only. The full survey is included in the participant resource booklet.

Asking these types of questions will benefit planning for curriculum reform by providing student voice about learning that they believe is relevant, transferable, and meaningful. This survey will benefit planning by providing insights about transferrable content and skills based on students' perceptions.

While the text requirements outline for the new syllabus is being developed, English faculties can plan ahead by evaluating the suitability of texts currently, including the scope and sequence for each scholastic year. The student evaluation survey could be designed to include all text studied in one year or it could be based on a specific text for a unit of learning, which is demonstrated in the survey we have designed. The full survey is included in the booklet and our thinking for the types of questions has been elaborated on before the table.

The plan for assessment during this phase of curriculum reform. Faculties could review their assessment schedule for each stage. Evaluation questions should allow faculties to determine if assessment is an integral part of the teaching and learning program and if the students feel supported to successfully complete the assessment task.

Our survey is designed with the assumption that students know the language of assessment. A survey like this one will provide valuable insights about assessment practice in your faculty and these insights will allow for proactive planning.

This survey will allow your faculty to evaluate pedagogical practices by gathering student feedback on the teaching and learning strategies used to transfer content into knowledge and skills attained by students.

While we have drawn on CESE’s ‘What Works Best’ to include specific questions about explicit teaching, we think it is also valuable to ask questions about other commonly used strategies such as group work, think, pair, share, mind maps, and so on. This survey should allow your faculty to evaluate if students recognize and benefit from the strategies being used in classrooms.

With this insight, your planning for curriculum reform can begin to consider if teachers or whole faculties would benefit from PL and pedagogy or if programs need to be fattened up with more variety in the types of strategies employed.

Moving on, once faculties have gathered and assessed the student surveys, a comprehensive faculty review could be initiated. Here, we have questions your faculty could consider to structure this review. These have been drawn from CESE’s High Potential and Gifted Education webpage and adapted by the English curriculum team with curriculum reform in mind.

Faculties may choose to address one or more of these questions in their planning for curriculum reform change to enable a sharper focus on the faculty's impact on the outcomes for all students. Please take a moment to read through these questions.

[See ‘Staff Evaluation’, page 27 of the participant booklet.]

If your faculty decides to use student evaluations, the insights gained from them will definitely help you to address some of these questions, particularly the last 3 points.

Okay, another useful tool for faculty evaluation has been designed by CESE. The ‘Reflect and Reset’ resource poses a series of questions suitable for asking what we are at a pause point in the evaluation or implementation phase of any curriculum. Sorry, I'm just, I've just lost my point.

I'm going to start that sentence again.

This Reflect and Reset resource poses a series of questions suitable for asking when we are at a pause point in the evaluation of implementation phase of any project or initiative. In the curriculum reform cycle the phase we find ourselves in at the moment could be described as a ‘pause point’.

The activity that's embedded here with this resource is designed for the face-to-face sessions that are being run in Kiama and in Coffs at the moment, so I'm going to move on to the next slide and again, I'll move past this slide because this is for that group discussion that's happening within the face-to-face sessions.

So, in summary, until the syllabus is released, faculties can plan for curriculum reform in a proactive way by using the time before the release of the new syllabus to evaluate current practice, process and procedure. After conducting evaluations, we recommend that faculty leaders develop and sustain a work schedule.

Including curriculum reform in the faculty management plan and [in] the professional development plans of teachers will ensure curriculum reform is at the forefront of our work, which will benefit both current practice and planning for future practice.

Okay, we now explore the textual concepts and the way they can revitalize unit planning. As we have already referenced, the draft syllabus is closely aligned to textual concepts and as such, reflecting upon programming through a conceptual lens will best prepare you for syllabus change.

The textual concepts as a resource were derived from a rigorous analysis of the New South Wales English syllabus for the Australian curriculum K-12, which led to considered definitions grounded in literary theory. There is evidence of the textual concepts and the role they're expected to play in conceptual planning with Draft One and the K-2 published syllabus.

The English textual concept resource made explicit what is important to learn in English, particularly the big ideas that can promote deep and transferrable learning. They enable appropriate and connected learning goals to be set and the learning processes provide opportunities for structured learning activities and targeted feedback through the program of learning.

Literary theory is the basis for the Textual Concepts. It's origination stems from here.

[Slide content –

Title – Literary Theory

Subtitle – From theory emerged the concepts

‘Words are like tools. To drive in a nail, one uses a hammer; to make statements about a text, one uses specialised terms like point of view or representation. In both cases it is important to use the right tool for the job, and to use the tool in the right way.’ – Brian Moon, 2002.]

To the right, an image of a text – Literary Terms – A practical Glossary, Brian Moon, Revised and expanded 2nd edition.

End slide content.]

English is a fluid language. We are constantly borrowing and adapting from multiple sources to inform our usage. But while there is more than one way to study a text or a concept, terms and concepts shouldn't be mixed and matched at will, critical practice is not a smorgasbord. Familiar words may signify different things dependent on the type of critical practice it is employed in.

In case you are unfamiliar with the concepts or require a refresher, this is the current list of concepts.

[Slide content –

Title – The English Textual Concepts

Subtitle – The current resource

  • argument
  • authority
  • character
  • code and convention
  • connotation, imagery and symbolism
  • context
  • genre
  • intertextuality
  • literary value
  • narrative
  • perspective
  • point of view
  • representation
  • style
  • theme

End slide content]

The outline will be updated as the new syllabus is released. Within the Statewide staffroom, you'll find the English textual concepts grey book that contains detailed explanations of each concept.

You may be wondering how this helps us as teachers. It has a lot to do with some of the issues that emerge within the teaching of English. Topic and theme are often used to guide teaching and learning in English and while these are important, they often result in narrow and shallow learning. Students show this when they say things like, “I learnt about friendship” or, “I learnt that it takes courage to stop bullying.”

It is important to explore the topics in a text, so students know the subjects being explored and it is important that students understand that theme is a statement about life, and they should be supported to develop the ability to express thematic statements. But what is missing from making this learning deep and textually focused is an understanding that topic and theme arise from understanding of the interplay of key elements of the text, such as:

  • representation
  • character
  • code and convention, and
  • point of view.

Let's apply this for a moment through a text we should all know, Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet when we think about this play, you might think of the topic fate versus free will. The thematic statement could be Shakespeare leads audiences to contemplate the conflict regarding whether fate or free will is what determines human life.

A topic might also be the individual versus society in the thematic statement, the decisions and motivations of the characters is frequently driven by the conflict between individual desires and the expectations and rules of social institutions. The young lovers are represented as struggling internally and physically against their respective families.

But these should be supported through a conceptual framework. For example, unpacking what is represented in the text, how that is represented through codes and conventions, exploring whose perspective is presented and the way the reception of the players in different contexts reshapes the point of view within the narrative.

I hope you can see that the topic and meaning of the text or the ‘what’, while the textuality through the concepts of the ‘how’, exploring the 2 together helps enhance student agency as they are able to unpack what is presented to them, how that is presented, and then as they engage in their own experience or composition, this helps refine their understanding of the why of the composer's purpose.

Somebody is now joining us.

The approach to programming through the concepts we recommend is the conceptual framework structure. We recommend having a lead concept and supporting concepts. Often code and convention is the overarching concept that is explored in every unit or lesson sequence in English. This does not mean you do not explore other concepts as you are examining texts, it just means you have central and driving focus. It means you can explicitly build textual knowledge and backward design this development from program-to-program, year-to-year, and of course stage-to-stage.

To provide an authentic example of this, we have chosen to visually represent a real scope and sequence in the conceptual journey this series of schools are guiding their students through. I'll give you a moment to read through this conceptual progression.

[Conceptual progression:

  1. Title – Common module: Texts and Human Experiences – film
    1. Representation [arrow pointing to next point]
    2. Theme [arrow pointing to next point]
    3. Code and convention [arrow pointing to next point]
    4. Transferrable learning [This statement is displayed over a brown bag. This bag is the smallest of 3. Arrow points from here to next title.]
  2. Title – Module A: Language, Identity and Culture – prose fiction
    1. Narrative [arrow pointing to next point]
    2. Perspective [arrow pointing to next point]
    3. Character [arrow pointing to next point]
    4. Code and convention [arrow pointing to next point]
    5. Transferrable learning [This statement is displayed over a brown bag. This bag is the 2nd smallest of 3. Arrow points from here to next title.]
  3. Title – Module B: Close Study of Literature
    1. Perspective
    2. Context & Code and convention
    3. Argument
    4. Transferrable learning [This statement is displayed over a brown bag. This bag is the largest of 3. Arrow points from here to top right of screen indicating a continued growth of transferrable learning.]

End conceptual progression.]

So, within the common module students are always supported to come back to what is being represented, how is it being represented, and what does this say to us in the world we live in in a simple sense. Students continue this focus on how and dip specifically into specific narratives, what and how they show us the composer's perspective and the way this is or is not evidenced through the characters.

We flow again with perspective exploring the world of the composer and the world's reception of the text. We explore how this is communicated and we focus closely on exploring the arguments of various individuals and refining our own arguments. I hope you can see that this approach transforms the focus of a text to having new understandings assimilated in the student's view of the subject and in some instances of the world and their texts.

Students and teachers are supported to experience the way that concepts apply to different texts, different types of texts, and then in turn shape their responding and composing experiences. It also gives the opportunity to reduce cognitive load as they are able to integrate learning and what may previously have been seen as unrelated aspects of English.

I hope that short example helps set the scene. In the example, we can see that the concepts enable knowledge to be transformative. New understandings are assimilated in students' views of the subjects and in some instances of the world. In that example, students can see that just because one module ends, it doesn't mean that knowledge is no longer relevant, we build on, and on.

This helps students see knowledge as transferrable. Concepts like narrative representation, code and convention, etc. apply to different texts, types of texts and responding and composing experiences, and this enables student integration. Students are supported to find connection and cohesion across the subject and integrate what may previously have been seen as unrelated aspects of English.

They know that their exploration of point of view, for example, in relation to a short story, is still going to be relevant when they think about the way we are positioned to respond to the point of view presented in digital texts such as film. It is a different way of thinking about point of view, but it builds connections.

From that we can see that there are a few essentials. It is essential that to explicitly teach the concept, students must know what they are learning and why. Take a narrow but deep focus. Structure your units and lessons around transferrable understandings, not the topic or the text or the theme. It is also vital to build upon prior conceptual learning to foster personal engagement and understanding.

In most modules in English Standard, you'll be able to explore most concepts. That doesn't mean you want to or have to, but in most cases, they will be there, and this provides excellent opportunities to make connections which enhance knowledge and understanding.

You might be wondering how you would go about doing this. They could construct a P-M-I (Plus, Minus, Interesting) chart for each form and you could model an example of this form. Ask them to focus on the codes and conventions or the features of the form, if you haven't introduced the language of codes and conventions yet. In pairs, students could identify what they like, dislike, and find interesting about each form and the way they represent characters in their examples.

For example, you probably explored character point of view representation and coding convention within a traditional novel study. Build on this in your first few lessons and ask students to map the character and plot development of the narrative within the novel so far and in the other texts that you have explored so far that year. Ask them to reflect on the similarities and differences between the way the story around the characters are told and the way the character's story is represented.

Many teachers approach the use of the concepts through the lens of refocusing and realigning existing module or lesson sequence and this is something that you may want to do in the lead up to the implementation of the new syllabus. So, you may like to refocus existing teaching program and scope and sequences for conceptual stage-based knowledge and or realign assessment strategies to reflect composing and responding processes and conceptual knowledge.

But you can also create new lessons or units of learning or opportunities for quality talk and discussions around texts, and you may wish to choose different texts that exemplify concepts as mentor texts for student writing.

As you evaluate your programs and you start taking a deep dive into the new syllabus once it is published, you may find the exploration of this structure and series of questions quite handy. What outcomes and the associated knowledge and skills have students mastered and where do you see the gaps?

We will be creating guiding questions from the Stage progression statement and thread it through the program. We will use related syllabus content points as it is already organized within the concepts booklet, and it is a great opportunity to deepen understanding of the concepts by creating teaching and learning activities in response to specific content.

In turn, we'll create classroom dialogue and activities using related syllabus content. And this approach to planning and organization then helps the learning and the language to become transferrable between stages.

So, as a flow chart, this approach may look something like this. One way to support that refinement and focus is to follow this approach. I'd like you to just take 30-60 seconds to read through this flow chart, and I'd like you to put one key idea for you that this flow chart instigates into the chat.

[See participant booklet ‘An approach to designing outcomes-based practice’ page 33.]

So, one thought or one standout into our chat.

Okay, I am wary that we are running very short on time, so I'm going to move on to the next slide but continue to feel free to add to the chat if you have thoughts or ideas.

So, NESA’s focus is identifying the knowledge and skills in the syllabus, but not pedagogy. This is where the learning processes and the activity verbs within the outcomes and content will play an essential role within our learning design. They will drive how our students will demonstrate knowledge and understanding they are developing.

Our concepts are our knowledge in English, our learning processes are the way that knowledge is acquired, the ‘what’ and the ‘how’.

We love this diagram as a nice display of the interrelated nature of the concepts and the processes.

We have the concepts at the top running across everything we do, the processes down the side layering in all of our teaching and learning structures, and this creates our transferrable knowledge and skills.

[Slide content – Image of woven fabric conveying the interplay of concepts and processes.


  • character
  • narrative
  • authority
  • point of view
  • perspective
  • style.


  • understanding
  • engaging personally
  • connecting
  • engaging critically
  • experimenting
  • reflecting.

End slide content.]

Okay, if you'd like to learn more about the English textual concepts, there are many resources available in our Statewide Staffroom. Under the message board channel, you can navigate to the previous check-ins tab and here you'll find recordings of sessions including broad introduction to the English Textual Concepts and learning processes resources and follow-up recordings focused on perspective character intertextuality and narrative.

Many of the lesson sequences created for learning from home were also conceptual as other Stage 6 phases sequences. Moving into the new syllabus, all programs should be approached conceptually.

Okay, I'm going to skip over this chat point just because I know that we are very short on time.

Okay, so, as English teachers we know change. This change will be the 7th significant syllabus-related change in high school English in 20 years. Each new syllabus brings with it opportunities to learn, stretch our thinking and practice, and revitalize our approaches. Our approach to change and our way of thinking about it will significantly impact our practice.

Our message to teachers is we know you are busy, and we are here to help. So, the support provided will include professional learning resources and advice. So, we'll be working on sample programs, lesson plans, and some of these may include resources that outline the changes in content knowledge and the requirements of the new syllabus. It could also mean resources and or professional learning guiding changes to teaching practice in your classroom.

You can start the process and engage with reform in a range of ways. The QR code on screen will take you to the department's Curriculum reform website, which is well worth adding to your favourites.

The English curriculum team and the Statewide Staffroom, as part of the department are here to support New South Wales government schools, teachers, and leaders. We will continue running and promoting consultation sessions.

In consultation with teachers and leaders from across New South Wales, we will be developing a range of curriculum support materials. We will promote these and run live PL events through the Statewide Staffroom. There are already resources being released by the department for English K-2 and planning for curriculum reform, and the department supports schools through providing professional learning, teaching and learning resources and advice to schools.

I'm just going to add in a point here as well that even though we're presenting through the Statewide Staffroom today, as I've mentioned, we have representatives who are presenting to 2 different networks and the English curriculum team is always willing to support networks that exist. So, if you are part of a network, in your local area and you would like our support, please feel free to email us, to reach out to us and we'll see what we can do to support you in a face-to-face session as well as online.

Okay. All schools will be supported to implement the new syllabuses. Principals receive funding for curriculum reform teacher release, some principals receiving funding for curriculum reform teacher release in 2022 were emailed in Term 4 2021. The department is developing a comprehensive suite of resources and professional learning and will continue to develop resources to support schools to implement new syllabuses.

The links to the resources on the screen now are provided in the resource booklet and check back during the term in Week 4 and 8 to see the most recent releases.

[Links on screen:

End of slide content]

The department also has a short video explaining the curriculum reform professional learning approach using microlearning on the curriculum reform website.

So, microlearning, if you're not sure what it is, it's professional learning modules that last for around 20 minutes, often less. They're skills-based lessons, so, learning new platforms, procedures, frameworks. They're small, highly focused chunks, so, a single learning outcome per lesson. They are quick answers to specific problems. So, they’re dip in, dip out learning. They're engaging and accessible on all devices using a variety of formats. They can direct the user to other self-guided learning and resources and they're available on demand on any device.

As mentioned earlier, the department will be providing resources and support rolled out in phases, which includes:

  • sample scopes and sequences for Year 7-10
  • units of work for Year 7-10
  • sample assessment activities – both formative and summative
  • annotated student work samples
  • ongoing Statewide Staffroom support
  • opportunities for co-development of resources and,
  • there will also be local curriculum advisors available for support.

NESA has established a Canvas learning management system to deliver accredited professional learning for the new syllabuses.

[NESA Professional learning]

At this stage, there is a course titled New South Wales Primary Curriculum Professional Learning, 7 modules are planned. The first 3 general overview English K-2 and mathematics K-2 modules are available at the moment, and we are assuming that 7-10 will come as well.

And finally, networks will form a vital part of curriculum reform and there are a range of networks available including curriculum networks and the Curriculum Reform Communities (CRC). All schools across New South Wales have the opportunity to become involved in Curriculum Reform Communities. Individuals, and faculties also have the opportunity to connect with or start if they don't already exist, curriculum networks like the ones I mentioned earlier.

So, Curriculum Reform Communities, CRC, were established to provide consistent and equitable support across New South Wales. This includes to assist teachers with New South Wales curriculum reform to complement not to replace existing curriculum networks such as school-initiated KLA teacher networks or small school networks, and to connect schools with up-to-date information, support and resources on how to implement and teach the new curriculum.

The purpose of the CRC is to support schools to enact curriculum reform to improve student learning outcomes, and they have 3 goals which are:

  • Equipping K-12 leaders to lead curriculum reform that is contextualized and relevant.
  • To develop a productive space that is a central source of information for K-12 CRC leaders.
  • To establish positive ongoing relationships between mentors, CRC leaders, and school coordinators.

Currently, there are over 1080 school coordinators representing 891 schools. The virtual CRC is supporting anyone across the state who cannot get to a meeting in person. CRCs meet once a term and provide comprehensive updates relating to curriculum reform. Communicate with your principal to identify whether there is already a CRC coordinator in your school.

If you want to be involved and your school doesn't already have a coordinator, there is a very easy process to complete. You can access this CRC map that is on the screen to locate your closest CRC and nominate to be a school coordinator to represent your school and these links are available in the resource booklet.

[See ‘Accessing a CRC’, page 38 of the participant booklet.]

School-based curriculum networks – I'm aware that a lot of people need to leave and if you need to leave, the rest of this session will be recorded. I've got about 3 slides left.

School-based curriculum networks are also a wonderful way to connect with colleagues from outside your own school context, but still within your local community area. These networks allow for teachers to work together with the specific local contextual knowledge that informs the curriculum decisions of your area while still being exposed to different ideas and approaches.

We have worked with many curriculum networks who have utilized a range of approaches, and these include:

  • Working collaboratively to co-develop resources or offering support through sharing resources.
  • Widening the support network, experience and expertise that teachers can draw on to ask questions about texts or approaches to teaching.
  • Taking part in corporate marking by setting the same trial HSC exam questions.
  • Creating English Extension 2 student groups for support and wider feedback networks.
  • Smaller branches to support staff who may be the only person in the role at their school, such as head teachers, beginning teachers, EAL/D teachers.
  • Professional development through committee involvement, many hands make light work.

These practices can be extended into the period of curriculum reform by working across local networks through engaging and acting and embedding the new syllabus to support effective and sustainable curriculum implementation.

In regards to how else we can support you, if there's anything else that we can do to support you, please feel free to send us an email or to leave a message in the English Statewide Staffroom and we will do our best to provide what support we can.

Which brings us to the end of our session.

I'd really appreciate it if our attendees could take the time to fill out our evaluation survey via myPL and in particular if there's any help or support or questions or additional professional learning that you want specifically, put it into that evaluation survey because we use that to plan what we present through the Statewide Staffroom, what resources we develop.

We'd finally like to take the opportunity to let you know that we have some upcoming Statewide Staffroom events. In Week 5, we'll be holding a ‘Student teacher and head teacher voices for refining practice’ session where we will draw on the experience and expertise of teachers and students across the state in refining practice through meaningful evaluation for ongoing improvements in student learning and professional practice and in Week 9, we'll be holding a ‘Whole school and whole class reading culture’ event, examining pedagogical approaches to reading in preparation for the incoming syllabus.

So, thank you all for joining us, as mentioned earlier, we'll collate any responses to questions asked in the evaluation and share these ideas in the coming days by posting a link to the message board thread of the Statewide Staffroom. We appreciate your company and collegiality and if there's any way we can be of further assistance, please don't hesitate to reach out.

In the chat now you'll also find our email address [], and also the direct link to our Statewide Staffroom, not that you need the direct link to the Statewide Staffroom because we're all here in the one place.

If you know of any other colleagues who have not yet joined the Statewide Staffroom, please feel free to forward the link to them or if you go into the members tab of the Statewide Staffroom, you can add them directly and it will come through as a direct request, as a member request for us to approve.

So, I've been Mark McDonald. I'm your Relieving English Curriculum Support Advisor for 7-12. You'll see the rest of our team's lovely faces on the screen ahead of you. Our job is to support you as English teachers around the state so, if there is anything that we can do, please let us know.

Thank you everybody for your attendance today.

[End of transcript]

The session was designed to support English teachers and leaders as they transition into a period of curriculum change. The English curriculum team 7-12 share strategies to support teachers and faculty leaders in their preparation and planning for English curriculum change.

Please note that this resource is intended for use while curriculum reform is in the syllabus writing and consultation stages. This resource was written between draft one and draft two of the English syllabus 7-10 (July, 2022). If this resource and the associated recording are no longer current in the curriculum reform cycle, the English curriculum 7-12 team may decide to remove it and the recording from the webpage.


The following structure guides the session:

  • understanding – introduction to curriculum reform and changes in English
  • connecting – exploring the similarities and differences: English 2012 and English 2022
  • exploring – the Textual Concepts and the ways they can revitalise unit planning
  • resourcing – exploring where to access support and professional learning
  • applying – planning for changes in English curriculum and evaluating current practice
  • networking – understanding how to become involved in a Curriculum Reform Community.

Related resources


This accredited professional learning is connected to the domains:

  • Professional engagement – Standard 6 – Engage in professional learning
    • 6.2 - engage in professional learning and practice.
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