By Elizabeth Fabri
THE NSW Higher School Certificate (HSC) syllabus has undergone its first major update in 16 years which will see a renewed focus on writing and grammar skills and core subjects such as maths, science and history.
Part of the NSW Government’s Stronger HSC Standards reforms announced last year, the 19 new Stage 6 syllabuses released by the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) will encourage more HSC students to take up traditional subjects in favour of the perceived ‘easier’ subjects, through a more contemporary approach to learning and strategies such as common marking scaling. The calculus-based maths syllabuses was still yet to be finalised.
Prior to its release, the syllabus received feedback over a four year development and consultation period from more than 7000 teachers, students, academics and industry associations.
NESA chairperson Tom Alegounarias said the new syllabuses would provide HSC students with a richer learning experience, and provide time for students to engage with subjects in more depth and to develop a greater mastery of knowledge and skills.
“The 19 new syllabuses ensure the currency, reliability, continuing integrity and international reputation of the HSC,” Mr Alegounarias said.
Catholic Education Commission NSW (CECNSW) director Brian Croke said the new syllabuses would make core subjects, like maths, more appealing to students.
“New Mathematics STEM pathways in Years 9 and 10, for example, will prepare more students for success in the study of calculus and statistics in Year 11 and 12 courses,” Dr Croke said.
“These new syllabuses will allow students to study courses most appropriate to their ability.
“This will help ensure continued high participation rates particularly in Physics, Chemistry and Maths at a time when more students are completing Year 12 than ever before.”
“These new syllabuses will allow students to study courses most appropriate to their ability. This will help ensure continued high participation rates particularly in Physics, Chemistry and Maths at a time when more students are completing Year 12 than ever before.”
Dr Croke said a 2014 University of Sydney study of participation in NSW HSC STEM subjects found a decline between 2001 and 2013 in students who undertook at least one maths and one science subject.
“The proportion of students going on to study the HSC without any Maths tripled from 3.2 per cent to 9.7 per cent, with a big drop in 2 unit Maths (down from 16.8 per cent of students to 11.4 per cent).
“We need to improve the way we teach these subjects to address those declines and maintain high participation rates, while ensuring rigour and confidence in the NSW curriculum.”
The new syllabuses will be taught to Year 11 students from 2018 and Year 12 students from 2019.