Elements of a scope and sequence

Required elements of a scope and sequence and an explanation of what each element means.

'Scope' of learning in relation to the syllabus outcomes to be addressed

The learning/unit of work identifies the breadth, extent or range of syllabus outcomes carefully selected to move student learning forward.

Syllabus outcomes are the key reference points for decisions about student learning, progress and achievement.

For Kindergarten to Year 6, schools must plan, program, teach and assess to syllabus outcomes in a stage.

Whole-school curriculum planning supports decision making about which syllabus outcomes will be addressed for each calendar year. For example:

  • A large primary school has four classes for Stage 1 – two Year 1 and two Year 2 classes. All students are working towards achieving Stage 1 syllabus outcomes. When developing scope and sequences, staff will engage in whole school curriculum planning to decide which syllabus outcomes will form the educational program for Year 1 classes and which outcomes will be selected for Year 2 classes.
  • A small school with a composite K-2 class will need to make decisions about the range of Early Stage 1 and Stage 1 syllabus outcomes selected to form the educational program.

'Sequence' of learning in relation to the syllabus outcomes to be addressed

The specific order, repetition and arrangement of syllabus outcomes that promotes the meaningful transfer of learning from one concept to another.

Sequencing syllabus outcomes is important in planning for effective teaching and learning that requires professional knowledge of:

  • students and how they learn
  • syllabus content and how to teach it.

Due to the nature of learning, schools should provide opportunities to revisit outcomes over the stage or year. This approach reinforces and builds upon prior learning.

Whole-school curriculum planning and decision making ensures smooth continuity of learning for students as they transition from one stage to the next – for example, from preschool to kindergarten (Early Stage 1) or from Year 4 (Stage 2) to Year 5 (Stage 3).

Effective sequencing also allows schools to:

  • incorporate significant school/community events
  • provide equitable access to resources across the school
  • address related key ideas and concepts within one key learning area across the stages of learning in a strategic and coordinated manner
  • address related key ideas and concepts from multiple key learning areas in a strategic and coordinated manner
  • avoid unnecessary duplication of content.

Duration of the learning

The length of time allocated to the learning/unit of work designed to move student learning forward.

Time is a critical factor in developing adequate depth of student understanding in relation to syllabus outcomes.

NESA’s time allocation guide and the department’s policy standards provide recommendations for the appropriate amount of time to be spent on each key learning area in an average week. This can be useful in guiding whole school decision making about the duration of learning in all key learning areas.

The duration is fluid and is adjusted to meet the needs, interests and abilities of students.

Duration can be represented in a scope and sequences in different ways. There is no single ‘correct’ approach to representing duration. Examples of how duration of learning can be represented in scope and sequences include:

  • semester-based
  • term-based
  • weekly or fortnightly sprints
  • five-weekly cycle

Syllabus outcomes addressed through the learning and related outcomes (from other KLAs) if the teaching program is integrated

The scope and sequence may include syllabus outcomes from other key learning areas. When choosing syllabus outcomes, schools should ensure authentic teaching and learning underpins this selection.

For example, a geography/history scope and sequence may address specific skills about timelines and graphing. This could also include relevant mathematics syllabus outcomes to show authentic learning opportunities.

Elements of a scope and sequence © 2019 NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales.


  • Teaching and learning

Business Unit:

  • Educational Standards
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