Skip to content

A NSW Government website

Welcome to the NSW Curriculum website

NSW Curriculum
NSW Education Standards Authority

Syllabus development

Syllabus development process

Development of K–12 syllabuses

As part of the NSW Curriculum Reform, NESA has streamlined and refined the syllabus development process. Syllabuses describe the essential learning required in each subject, identify the knowledge and skills to be learnt, and provide opportunities for students to apply skills in each subject.

The new syllabus development process is based on evidence and allows for:

  • Quality assurance. Consistency of approaches to all syllabuses.
  • Accessibility. Information available and accessible for everybody.
  • The Australian Curriculum. Adopt and adapt where relevant.
  • Transparency. Clear governance structures, and public trust in the syllabus development process
  • Research and evidence. Practising teachers and academic experts provide start-to-finish syllabus development advice.
  • Currency. The new process ensures syllabuses remain contemporary.

Syllabus prioritisation

To prioritise NESA’s program of work, we have 3 categories of syllabus development. Syllabuses are categorised as one of the following:

  • major redevelopments
  • moderate revisions
  • minor changes.

The underlying processes and procedures for syllabus development vary in complexity based on the syllabus categorisation.


We engage with a range of stakeholders throughout the syllabus development process. The role of each stakeholder varies, but each plays a part in ensuring a high-quality, fit-for-purpose syllabus.

Stakeholder engagement

Syllabus development typically involves engagement with a wide variety of stakeholders, including:

  • teachers
  • subject experts
  • school sectors
  • professional associations
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • diverse learning groups (including disability, EAL/D, and gifted education)
  • unions
  • students
  • parent groups
  • community groups.

The following stakeholders are directly involved in quality assuring, endorsing and approving finalised syllabuses.

  • Technical Advisory Group (TAG): The TAG is an advisory group that provides expert advice and quality assurance of the outcomes and content of a draft syllabus. TAG members are selected based on their expertise. They may include academics or practising teachers with deep knowledge of their subject area, curriculum development and student learning.
  • Curriculum and Credentials Committee (CaCC): The CaCC is the NESA committee responsible for final endorsement of syllabuses. The CaCC also endorses syllabuses developed by schools and other education providers. To ensure a coherent relationship between Stage 6 syllabuses and award of the Record of School Achievement (RoSA) and the Higher School Certificate (HSC), the CaCC also approves rules, requirements and examination specifications for the HSC.
  • Minister for Education and Early Learning: Approves the final syllabuses for publication and implementation in NSW schools.

Phases of the syllabus development process

The K–12 syllabus development process is divided into 4 phases:

  1. Writing
  2. Consultation
  3. Approval
  4. Preparation and implementation.
An overview of the K–12 syllabus development process highlighting the 4 phases of syllabus and support material development. The 4 phases (writing, consultation, approval, and preparation and implementation) are highlighted, with short explanations of each stage's components. These are explained in full detail beneath the graphic.

Phase 1: Writing

At the end of this phase, draft syllabus documents are ready for public consultation.

Expert review 

Guided by the NSW curriculum reforms, NESA conducts a review of the existing syllabus and performance standards to identify strengths and areas for improvement. This review also considers:

  • relevant government recommendations and priorities
  • previous syllabus reviews and evaluations
  • content and sequencing
  • research, evidence and academic advice
  • assessment expertise and insights into K–12 assessment practices
  • alignment with the Australian Curriculum (where relevant).

Every NESA syllabus is quality assured by a TAG. The TAG is made up of subject experts who:

  • provide feedback on the review of the existing syllabus
  • affirm the directions for new syllabus development
  • provide expert advice throughout the iterative development of the syllabus.

NESA consults the TAG throughout the project to ensure syllabuses reflect evidence-based research and best practice.

Writing the draft syllabus

Select writers

NESA seeks recommendations from key stakeholders, including school sectors, unions and teacher professional associations, to form a pool of syllabus and support material writers. NESA uses a panel selection process to select writers from this pool based on merit. The number of writers appointed depends on the extent of redevelopment required.

A syllabus writing team includes a mix of teachers and subject experts. This team will have expertise in:

  • the subject, including experience in teaching the subject
  • Aboriginal Education (Aboriginal person with school-based experience as a teacher or academic)
  • diverse learning (including disability, EAL/D, and gifted education)
  • English as an Additional Language or Dialect (for English syllabuses)
  • Life Skills (for applicable Life Skills syllabuses).

Draft syllabus

Writers are guided by findings of the review to develop the first draft of the syllabus overseen by NESA subject matter experts.

Review draft syllabus

To ensure a diverse range of perspectives on the early drafts of these syllabuses, a range of concurrent targeted reviews are conducted by:

  • Content and pedagogy experts (including TAG) focusing on content, including clarity and teachability, and sequencing
  • Diverse learning experts focusing on accessibility, inclusivity and diverse representations
  • Aboriginal Education stakeholders focusing on appropriateness and cultural safety
  • Assessment experts focusing on the assessability of outcomes and content
  • Practising teachers (where relevant) focusing on clarity and teachability.

NESA refines the draft syllabus based on the feedback from the targeted review and releases this version of the draft syllabus for consultation.

Phase 2: Consultation

In this phase, draft syllabus documents are made available to the public.

Different styles of engagement, both in person and virtual, are used to gather feedback from the diverse range of stakeholders in NSW. Where relevant, NESA is increasing online methods of consultation to ensure collected feedback reflects the metropolitan, regional and remote NSW population.

Public information and Have your say period

NSW syllabuses have strong community ownership due to public consultation and stakeholder engagement. The public information and Have your say period enables NESA to provide timely opportunities for all stakeholders to receive information about and provide feedback on the development of syllabuses.

The number and duration of Have your say periods varies based on the scope of syllabus redevelopment required.

Targeted feedback sessions with stakeholders

NESA conducts targeted consultation with key education stakeholder groups to collect feedback on draft syllabus documents.

The following groups are consulted for syllabus projects:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • Roundtable of principals’ associations, unions, and professional associations
  • Diverse learning groups
  • School sectors, students and teacher expert networks (TENs), where relevant
  • Subject-specific professional associations.

Other targeted feedback sessions are held with education stakeholders based on the level of syllabus redevelopment required, and where relevant.

Engagement report

Once all feedback has been collated and analysed, NESA produces an Engagement report outlining the overall themes.

Final draft syllabus and expert review

Writers refine the draft syllabus documents based on the feedback gathered during public Have your say periods and targeted consultation sessions. A final expert review by the TAG provides quality assurance before the approval phase.

Phase 3: Approval

At the end of this phase, teachers can access the approved syllabus and support materials and begin preparation for teaching.

NESA has a rigorous syllabus endorsement and approval process to quality assure the final syllabus package.

Syllabus endorsement

The NESA CaCC endorses the final syllabus. This endorsement acts as a recommendation to the Minister for Education and Early Learning to approve the final syllabus.

Ministerial approval

The Minister for Education and Early Learning approves the new syllabus for publication and implementation in NSW schools.

Syllabus publication

NESA publishes online the approved syllabus and package of support materials.

Phase 4: Preparation and implementation

In this phase, the new syllabus is available for teachers to start implementing in their schools. Teachers engage in professional learning.

Preparation and planning

NESA works with school sectors, teachers and professional associations to support implementation of the new syllabus. Development of support materials may continue during this period, depending on the level of redevelopment and change made to the new syllabus.


Schools start implementing the new syllabus.

Support materials

Essential support materials are developed alongside the syllabus and are typically published as part of the syllabus package. Further support materials may be developed and released after the publication of the syllabus, based on the need and complexity of change in the new syllabus.

Statement of values


The NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) is responsible for the provision of quality curriculum and other materials for Kindergarten to Year 12, the development of quality assessment and examination materials and awarding secondary school credentials, the Record of School Achievement and Higher School Certificate. NESA is also responsible for the registration and accreditation of non-government schools and home schooling, as well as maintaining and monitoring teaching standards, including teacher accreditation.

NESA acknowledges the central role of education for intellectual, physical, social, moral and spiritual development. It provides syllabuses and other materials that support students, schools, teachers, parents and other stakeholders in the interactive process of teaching and learning.

The following values are used by NESA to inform the development of syllabuses and other materials:

  • Excellence
  • Respect and responsibility
  • Equity and justice
  • Inclusivity
  • Environmental sustainability.

Supporting statements that explicate these values appear below.


NESA is committed to excellence and demonstrates this by:

  • acknowledging the learning potential of every student and providing a curriculum that engages and challenges them to maximise their talents and capabilities
  • placing a high value on the attainment of knowledge and skills, and enhancing students’ capacity for inquiry, rational discourse, creativity and analytical reflection
  • providing for high standards of achievement and enjoyment of learning through the promotion of quality teaching, learning and assessment practices
  • empowering students to plan, reflect on and adapt the way they learn and to develop positive attitudes towards learning throughout their lives
  • providing a continuum of learning to support key transitions by students into, within and beyond schooling, including further learning and employment
  • providing students with opportunities to develop and extend their use of the English language
  • promoting innovation in the use of current and emerging technologies.

Respect and responsibility

NESA is committed to respect and responsibility and demonstrates this by:

  • recognising students as active citizens and community members with a range of rights and responsibilities
  • encouraging responsibility and recognising the need for considered judgement and actions based on ethical considerations
  • enabling students to develop a positive sense of self-worth and self-awareness, and optimism about their lives and future
  • encouraging respect for others and an acceptance of students’ right to hold different views, opinions and beliefs
  • providing opportunities for students to explore, reflect on and further develop their personal values.

Equity and justice

NESA is committed to equity and justice and demonstrates this by:

  • encouraging students to develop knowledge, skills, values and attitudes based on principles of equity, social justice and reconciliation
  • promoting equity in society and before the law, and participation in democratic processes
  • encouraging students to participate actively as individuals and as cooperative members of a group
  • promoting contributions by all people to society regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, age, beliefs, socioeconomic status, location, sexuality or disability
  • enabling students to understand the causes of conflict and contribute to its peaceful resolution.


NESA is committed to inclusivity and demonstrates this by:

  • providing all students with opportunities to access the curriculum, to participate as active learners and to demonstrate achievement
  • valuing and promoting the participation of families and communities in students’ development and learning
  • recognising students as individuals who learn at different rates and in different ways
  • valuing and reflecting the unique and distinct place that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have in Australian society
  • embracing difference and diversity and promoting intercultural understanding
  • valuing the diverse cultures, backgrounds, experiences, abilities, religions, beliefs and lifestyles of people in Australia and the world.

Environmental sustainability

NESA is committed to environmental sustainability and demonstrates this by:

  • encouraging students to appreciate the complexity and fragility of the Australian and global biophysical environment
  • promoting rational, informed and sensitive consideration of the environment by students and across the community
  • promoting appreciation and awareness of the interdependence of all elements of the environment
  • encouraging interest and active participation in initiatives to promote sustainability and the preservation of natural and cultural environments and heritage
  • valuing biodiversity and recognising the need to preserve habitats and to protect all species
  • recognising the need for economic development while ensuring long-term environmental sustainability.

Statement of Equity Principles

The Statement of Values was endorsed by the former Board of Studies NSW in 2010. This Statement of Equity Principles serves to elucidate the Statement of Values from an equity perspective.

The Equity Principles and related Guiding Statements inform project and writing teams of syllabuses, support documents, examinations, assessment guidelines and other relevant educational materials produced by the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA).

The Statement of Equity Principles relates to the following strategic objectives of NESA:

  • to strategically review and update NSW syllabuses, courses and support materials that promote high standards of achievement for the full range of students from Kindergarten to Year 12
  • to develop and provide comprehensive assessment resources and advice to schools to ensure the consistent assessment and reporting of student achievement of standards from Kindergarten to Year 12
  • to promote relevant, flexible and inclusive pathways for student learning that enable the full range of students from Kindergarten to Year 12 to maximise their levels of attainment.

The Statement of Equity Principles acknowledges that students come from diverse cultural, linguistic, social, economic, geographic and family backgrounds. These include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, students with disability and students with language backgrounds other than English, including those who are learning English as an additional language. It also includes students from communities with low socioeconomic status, students from rural and remote areas, refugees, those at risk of disengaging from school and students who can be disadvantaged by various forms of gender stereotyping.

Students might be influenced by multiple contributing factors, in which case their needs in regard to access and participation could be quite complex. It is important that these needs be understood to ensure equitable learning outcomes for every student.

Whole-school approaches, where these principles are reinforced through all aspects of school life and involve the partnership of school communities, are more likely to succeed.

These are the foundations that will enable quality learning outcomes to be achievable by every student.

Equity Principles

1 Excellence

Syllabuses, support documents and other materials will:

1.1 challenge and engage all students to maximise their individual talents and capabilities

1.2 support quality teaching, learning and assessment practices

1.3 provide an explicit and flexible developmental continuum of learning for all students.

2 Respect and responsibility

Syllabuses, support documents and other materials will:

2.1 encourage every student to develop a positive sense of identity and self-respect

2.2 encourage all students to develop respect for the rights and dignity of all people in society

2.3 prepare all students to participate actively and responsibly as individuals and as members of society.

3 Equity and justice

Syllabuses, support documents and other materials will:

3.1 promote learning that prepares all students to participate in and contribute to a fair and just society

3.2 be free from, and reject, prejudice, discrimination and stereotyping on the basis of cultural and linguistic heritage, gender, age, beliefs, socioeconomic status, location, sexuality or disability

3.3 provide opportunities for cooperative approaches to learning and the peaceful resolution of any conflict that may arise.

4 Inclusivity

Syllabuses, support documents and other materials will:

4.1 promote education that is inclusive of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and the education of every student about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and their cultures and histories

4.2 be appropriate and relevant to the full range of students, so that every student can demonstrate achievement and experience success

4.3 acknowledge and value diverse cultures, backgrounds, experiences, abilities, religions and beliefs and promote students learning about the complexity of Australia’s diversity.