Stage 5 reading - Main idea and theme

Learning intention

Students will learn to identify the main idea and theme in a range of texts.

Syllabus outcome (2022)

  • EN5-RVL-01: uses a range of personal, creative and critical strategies to interpret complex texts
  • EN5-URA-01: analyses how meaning is created through the use and interpretation of increasingly complex language forms, features and structures
  • EN5-URB-01: evaluates how texts represent ideas and experiences, and how they can affirm or challenge values and attitudes

Syllabus outcome (2012)*

  • EN5-2A: effectively uses and critically assesses a wide range of processes, skills, strategies and knowledge for responding to and composing a wide range of texts in different media and technologies
  • EN5-3B: selects and uses language forms, features and structures of texts appropriate to a range of purposes, audiences and contexts, describing and explaining their effects on meaning
  • EN5-4B: effectively transfers knowledge, skills and understanding of language concepts into new and different contexts.

*Note: Visit the Leading curriculum K-12 website for more information on the syllabus implementation timeline.

National Literacy Learning Progression

Understanding texts

  • UnT9: reads and views complex texts (see Text complexity) (comprehension); identifies the main themes or concepts in complex texts by synthesising key ideas or information (comprehension); summarises the text identifying key details only (comprehension); draws inferences, synthesising clues and evidence across a text (comprehension); identifies techniques used to obscure author’s purpose (e.g. inclusion or omission of content) (comprehension); selects reading/viewing strategies appropriate to reading purpose (e.g. scans text for evidence) (process)

  • UnT10: reads and views complex or some highly complex texts (see Text complexity) (comprehension); interprets abstract concepts integrating complex ideas (comprehension); analyses how text features are used to support or conflate the point of view in the text (e.g. the strategic use of images such as a cartoon in an editorial) (comprehension); integrates automatically a range of processes such as predicting, confirming predictions, monitoring, and connecting relevant elements of the text to build meaning (process)

  • UnT11: reads and views highly complex texts (see Text complexity) (comprehension); judiciously selects and synthesises evidence from multiple texts to support ideas and arguments (comprehension); strategically adjusts the processes of reading and viewing to build meaning according to the demands of tasks and texts (process)

NAPLAN item descriptors

The relevant NAPLAN item descriptors are included in the resource, available for download on this page.

Task outline

Full task descriptions are included in the resource, available for download on this page.

Finding the main idea

Students apply the ‘Gather, Identify, Summarise, Top and tail’ (GIST) process to identify the main idea in a range of informative, persuasive and imaginative texts.


Students explore theme in texts and how theme may complement the main idea of the text.

Identifying the main idea within and across texts

Students compare and contrast information across texts and synthesize information. 


  • Teaching and learning

Business Unit:

  • Educational Standards
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