Curriculum planning for every student – advice

Advice for teachers to support curriculum planning for every student in every classroom.

Our sample learning sequences and units are provided as a starting point for teachers to contextualise learning for their students. Students are more likely to experience success if they are engaged, can access the curriculum, and are able to demonstrate their learning in a way appropriate to their needs.

In NSW classrooms there is a diverse range of students including:

  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students
  • students learning English as an additional language or dialect, including speakers of Aboriginal English.
  • high potential and gifted students
  • students with disability.

Some students may identify with more than one of these groups, or possibly all of them. There are no ‘average’ students.

Celebrating and planning for diversity

Watch Celebrating and planning for diversity (2:48).

By recognising diversity and ensuring the cultural safety of our students, we can plan proactively to optimise learning opportunities for everyone.

[upbeat music]

We are privileged to have rich student diversity in every classroom in NSW public schools.

Our students are learning in a wide range of contexts and settings including metropolitan, regional and rural and remote schools, and at times, learning from home.

They have a diverse range of abilities, interests, aspirations, learning needs and experiences and come from many different cultural, family and socio-economic backgrounds that may influence the way they engage and learn at school.

Our students may be Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, they may be learning English as an additional language or dialect, they may have a disability or they may be high potential or gifted students.

Some students may identify with more than one of these groups, or even all of them.

The reality is, there is no average student in our classrooms. When we design for the 'average' student, we really design for no one.

By understanding and appreciating learner variability we can plan learning experiences that are flexible and provide opportunities for all learners to engage with curriculum.

Designing ‘to the edges’ of learner variability means we design for everyone.

All students require access to curriculum as well as learning experiences that meet their needs and support them to aspire to, and achieve, their personal best.

It is important to plan, program, teach and assess using evidence-based practices that cater for the full range of students.

When planning flexible teaching and learning experiences, it can be useful for teachers to consider some guiding questions such as:

‘What options will I provide for every student to access relevant and challenging content?’

‘How will I provide options to engage and motivate my students?’ and ‘How will I provide different ways for students to respond and express what they know?’

By recognising diversity and ensuring the cultural safety of our students, we can plan proactively to optimise learning opportunities for everyone.

So, when reviewing your own practice, ask yourself, ‘What does this look like in my classroom?’, ‘How will I celebrate and plan for diversity so all students can shine?'.

[upbeat music fades]

[End of transcript]

Planning and teaching strategies

Knowing your students and how they learn is critical when planning for the learning needs of all students. When teachers proactively plan teaching and learning experiences from the beginning, they support all students to access and engage with the curriculum.

High expectations, quality teaching practices and effective learning environments enable teachers to optimise learning for every student. Maintaining intellectual challenge while providing appropriate levels of support maximises students' potential to achieve learning outcomes. A strengths-based approach to planning teaching and learning experiences enhances learning for the full range of students.

Planning strategies

Planning strategies could include:

  • assessment of prior knowledge to inform teaching and learning
  • opportunities to build background knowledge for learning tasks
  • identifying assumed cultural and linguistic knowledge in teaching and learning experiences and resources
  • planning enhancements to support students access the content
  • selecting relevant resources to ensure students see their lived experience, cultural backgrounds, perspectives and interests represented
  • selecting resources and texts that represent a range of voices, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors
  • identifying the cultural and language demands of tasks and scaffolding the prior learning required for these particular learning tasks
  • opportunities to empower student choice to ensure learning is authentic, incorporates student strengths, or interests, and is accessible for every student
  • multiple options for students to demonstrate their learning, including choice of communication modes and the products students are asked to create
  • incorporating digital technologies to enhance engagement, provide multiple options for students to access the curriculum and demonstrate their learning
  • ensuring inclusive language is used in selected resources, delivery of teaching and learning experiences, between peers and in assessment tasks.

Teaching strategies

Teaching strategies could include:

  • recognising students may use more than one language for learning, including Standard Australian English, home languages, or other non-standard dialects of English
  • encouraging students to use their preferred language, to support learning, based on the context of the task and available support
  • ‘designed-in’ scaffolding to support learning Standard Australian English alongside curriculum content and preferred language use
  • explicit teaching of key vocabulary, including subject-specific language
  • multiple opportunities to engage with, and use, vocabulary in context
  • opportunities to learn ‘on Country’ and about Country
  • using culturally responsive teaching strategies and intentionally creating a culturally safe learning environment
  • providing appropriately challenging learning experiences for all students
  • presenting content in more than one way (message abundancy), providing flexibility for students to access content and varying the pace of learning.

Inclusive practices

The principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and differentiated learning can provide useful frameworks for curriculum planning. Implementation of inclusive practices in planning, programming and assessing, supports learning for the full range of students.

When planning teaching and learning experiences, or developing teaching resources, it is important to remember to make them accessible for every student. Content and presentation affect how easily and efficiently learners process the information. We want learners to be able to easily read content and absorb it so that they focus on its purpose.

Here are some simple tips to ensure you produce useful, user-focused content:

  • Use simple language (or plain English) to present content
  • Reduce the use of capital letters
  • Choose fonts, letter size and spacing to make the content easy to read.

Read more about accessibility basics.

Inclusive practices align with the department’s strategic policies, including:


Professional learning

For more curriculum planning strategies and resources to optimise learning for every student, enrol in Curriculum planning for every student in every classroom (AC00180) in MyPL.


  • Teaching and learning

Business Unit:

  • Curriculum and Reform
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