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Welcome to the NSW Curriculum website

NSW Curriculum
NSW Education Standards Authority

Learning across the curriculum

Learning across the curriculum content, including the cross-curriculum priorities and general capabilities, assists students to achieve the broad learning outcomes defined in the:

  • NESA Statement of Equity Principles
  • Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (December 2019)
  • Australian Government’s Core Skills for Work Developmental Framework (2013).

Cross-curriculum priorities

The Australian Curriculum cross-curriculum priorities develop students’ understanding of contemporary issues and the world around them.

The cross-curriculum priorities are:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures 
  • Asia and Australia's engagement with Asia 
  • Sustainability.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures cross-curriculum priority supports students to further develop their knowledge of the world’s oldest continuous living cultures. This priority encompasses the concepts of Country and Place, People, Culture and Identity.

Students are provided with opportunities to:

  • understand that contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and communities are strong, resilient, rich and diverse
  • explore a range of experiences and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and the links between identity, cultural expression, language and spirituality
  • understand the relationships Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have with places and their interconnectedness with the environments in which they live
  • deepen their knowledge and understanding of the importance of contributing to the ongoing development of a just and equitable society
  • learn about the continued roles played by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.

When planning and programming content relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, teachers are encouraged to:

  • involve local Aboriginal communities and/or appropriate knowledge holders in determining suitable resources, or to use Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander authored or endorsed publications
  • read the principles and protocols relating to teaching and learning about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures and the involvement of local Aboriginal communities.

Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia

The Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia cross-curriculum priority supports students to deepen their knowledge and understanding of the diversity of the region of Asia, Australia’s engagement with it, and how the peoples of Asia have contributed to world history and human endeavour.

Students are provided with opportunities to:

  • learn that the peoples of Asia are diverse in ethnic background, traditions, cultures, belief systems and religions
  • investigate how the countries and regions of Asia are diverse in geomorphic, atmospheric and hydrologic natural features
  • develop an appreciation for the place of Australia within the Asia region, including the interconnections of histories, economies, cultures, peoples and communities
  • explore how Australians of Asian heritage have influenced Australia’s history and continue to influence its dynamic culture and society
  • learn about important links that exist between Australia and Asia and how our interactions and partnerships help shape Australia’s economy and workplaces.


The sustainability cross-curriculum priority supports students to develop the knowledge, skills, values and worldviews necessary to contribute to a sustainable future.

Students are provided with opportunities to:

  • develop an understanding of ‘sustainability’ and how sustainable practices address the ongoing capacity of the Earth to maintain all forms of life
  • understand the necessity for natural resources to be managed responsibly to ensure that they are available for future generations
  • investigate how individuals and corporations can act in enterprising and innovative ways, with a commitment to ecological sustainability
  • become informed and responsible consumers and be able to take action to support a more environmentally and socially just world.

General capabilities

General capabilities encompass the knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours that assist students to live and work successfully. They deepen student engagement with subject-specific content.

The general capabilities are:

  • Critical and creative thinking 
  • Literacy 
  • Numeracy 
  • Ethical understanding 
  • Digital literacy 
  • Intercultural understanding 
  • Personal and social capability. 

Critical and creative thinking

The general capability of critical and creative thinking gives students the tools to examine the world around them, analyse their findings and reach conclusions using evidence.

This capability relates to the outcomes and/or content of each syllabus. Students are provided with the opportunity to harness a rich knowledge of each subject and apply their critical and creative thinking skills in a way that is specific to the subject.

Students are provided with opportunities to:

  • analyse and assess possibilities using criteria for judgement, construction and evaluation of arguments
  • use information, evidence and logic to draw reasoned conclusions and solve problems
  • learn to generate and apply new ideas
  • recognise the factors that influence people's perceptions and the impacts of these perceptions in a range of contexts
  • identify alternative explanations and possibilities.

In learning to think broadly and deeply, students use reason and imagination to direct their thinking for different purposes. 


Literacy involves students developing their understanding and application of knowledge and skills to communicate and comprehend effectively. Literacy is fundamental to a student’s ability to learn at school and engage in the world around them.

Students are provided with opportunities to:

  • access, understand, analyse and evaluate information
  • make meaning, express thoughts and emotions
  • present and interpret ideas and opinions
  • participate in activities in school and in their lives in constructive and meaningful ways
  • contribute to a democratic society through becoming ethical and informed citizens.

Across the curriculum, students are provided with opportunities to draw on their contextual knowledge to decide on the most appropriate ways to use and interpret language. Applying literacy knowledge and skills across the curriculum can enrich the study of all learning areas and help students develop a broader and deeper understanding of literacy. 


Numeracy involves understanding and applying mathematical knowledge and skills in a wide range of contexts. The application of mathematics across the curriculum enriches the study of other learning areas and helps to develop a broader and deeper understanding of numeracy.

A numerate person (Hogan, 2000) uses a blend of:

  • mathematical knowledge: concepts and skills within mathematics
  • contextual knowledge: to recognise and link mathematics to broader situations
  • strategic knowledge: to apply mathematics in situations and evaluate if the solution is reasonable.

Students are provided with opportunities to:

  • develop knowledge and skills to use mathematics confidently at the school level and beyond
  • develop the mathematical proficiencies of understanding, fluency, reasoning and problem-solving
  • apply their knowledge of mathematics in a variety of contexts and circumstances, choosing the appropriate mathematical concepts, and critically evaluating its use.

Ethical understanding

The ethical understanding general capability involves students reaching an understanding of ethical and moral concepts. Students build a strong personal and socially oriented ethical outlook. This helps them manage context, conflict and uncertainty, and to understand the impact of values and behaviours.

Students are provided with opportunities to:

  • examine relationships between values and ethics
  • consider the consequences of unethical practices
  • recognise influences on ethical behaviour
  • explore ethical perspectives and frameworks
  • engage with ethical situations or circumstances from real, virtual or imaginative worlds
  • make and reflect on ethical decisions.

Students are supported to understand the consequences of their actions and how to make ethical decisions in real-life contexts when undertaking research, working collaboratively and using digital technologies.

Students learn about the need to protect data and intellectual property, including Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property (ICIP). Students consider a range of perspectives and perceptions, and apply their ethical understanding to a variety of contexts, including digital citizenship.

Digital literacy

The digital literacy general capability encompasses the knowledge and skills students need to use digital tools and technologies to solve problems and work collaboratively at school and beyond.

Students are provided with opportunities to:

  • identify, select and use digital tools and technologies
  • become effective users of the digital tools and technologies available to them
  • learn about and apply new digital tools and technologies and adapt to new digital environments
  • use digital tools and technologies to efficiently create higher-quality work
  • protect and respect the safety of themselves and others in digital environments.

This capability develops an understanding of the impact of digital tools and technologies, online risks and their own digital identity. Students are able to communicate for a variety of purposes and exchange ideas, even when separated by distance. Students investigate data, curate information from digital resources and critically evaluate information they find online.

The skills students learn through digital literacy are used to plan and manage projects while understanding the ethical and legal responsibilities around ownership. They demonstrate responsibility and respect for others by protecting their own digital creations and crediting the content of others when appropriate. Digital literacy enables students to access and contribute to the world around them.

Intercultural understanding

The intercultural understanding general capability provides students with the opportunity to develop an understanding of the dynamic and variable nature of culture. They learn that their own cultures, languages and beliefs are part of the richness that cultural diversity brings to a range of contexts.

Students are provided with opportunities to:

  • reflect on the relationship between culture and identity
  • examine cultural perspectives and worldviews
  • demonstrate sensitivity and respect for cultural and linguistic diversity
  • respond to biases, stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination
  • develop communication and interpersonal skills that support intercultural understanding
  • adapt throughout intercultural exchanges.

Students are encouraged to reflect on their own and other cultures in ways that recognise similarities and differences, create connections with others and cultivate mutual respect.

Personal and social capability

The personal and social capability allows students to understand themselves and others. They learn to manage their relationships, lives, work and learning more effectively.

Students are provided with opportunities to:

  • manage themselves
  • relate to others and develop empathy
  • develop resilience and resolve conflict
  • establish and maintain positive relationships
  • collaborate
  • develop leadership skills
  • feel positive about themselves and the world.

Students are provided with opportunities to understand their personal qualities and areas of growth. They develop an emotional awareness, empathy and resilience in the face of setbacks.

Through developing personal and social capability, students build a strong sense of personal identity. They appreciate diversity and the importance of building caring and respectful relationships. Students develop an appreciation for the different insights and perspectives of their peers and community.

Additional priorities

The NSW curriculum also includes other important, cross-curriculum priorities:

  • Civics and citizenship 
  • Diversity and difference
  • Work and enterprise. 

These capabilities and priorities are incorporated in each syllabus throughout the curriculum as relevant.

Civics and citizenship

The civics and citizenship priority supports students to deepen their knowledge and understanding of the role and structure of government and the law, and their rights and responsibilities to be informed, responsible and active citizens.

Students are provided with opportunities to:

  • understand the role of local, state and federal governments
  • evaluate decisions made by governments and businesses and the possible impacts on individuals and the wider community
  • investigate their rights and responsibilities in relation to laws and democratic processes
  • consider how they can promote and exhibit ethical behaviour and responsible citizenship
  • value social justice and participation in democratic processes.

Diversity and difference

The diversity and difference priority refers to ability, ethnicity, cultural background, socioeconomic status, nationality, language, gender, sexual orientation and beliefs.

Students are provided with opportunities to:

  • learn about empathy and inclusivity
  • engage with a range of experiences and perspectives
  • contribute to creating a more equitable and socially just society
  • challenge stereotypical or prejudicial representations and perceptions
  • recognise their similarities with other people, better understand their differences and respect diversity
  • develop awareness, understanding and acceptance of diversity and difference in their personal lives, and within the local and global community.

Work and enterprise

The work and enterprise priority supports students to develop their enterprising capacity, including collaborative workplace skills, decision-making skills and effective communication skills.

Students are provided with opportunities to:

  • develop an understanding of the importance of enterprise
  • examine the nature of business, the variety of work and employment structures, and how the law and the economy have an impact on work and employment
  • solve a range of work, employment and enterprise-related problems
  • develop employment and enterprise skills, and entrepreneurial behaviours
  • examine diverse organisations, the roles of training and education, workplace issues, workplace legislation and the changing nature of work.