Implementing the NSW Syllabus Change

On 8th December 2022, the new Mathematics K-10 Syllabus was published on the NSW Curriculum Website. (NESA, 2022)

We’re here to support you in implementing the new curriculum with ease. Below you will find what you need to know, how it affects your classroom and planning and how you can bring the moving parts together.

What do we need to get ready?

Part 1. What You Need to Know

New requirements for planning topics

A major change - we now have more flexibility!

The new 3-10 syllabuses will be taught in schools in NSW schools from 2024. (NESA, 2023) but schools can plan and prepare to teach the new 3-10 syllabuses in 2023. (NESA, 2023)

NESA, 2023 states:

  • The Syllabus structure “provides flexibility for teachers in planning teaching and learning programs based on the needs and abilities of students.”
  • “The structure is intended to extend students as far along the continuum of learning as possible and provide solid foundations for the highest levels of student achievement. The structure allows for a diverse range of endpoints” for students.

Maths Pathway gives you even more flexibility!

With Maths Pathway you can run both the old and new syllabus with different classes, giving you the flexibility you need throughout the transition.

So we’re free to teach students what they need the most!

We no longer need to tick off every box for every student, but instead can focus on what each individual needs the most – even across multiple stages.

From NESA, 2023:

  • “Teachers can choose which content…to address, based on students’ prior learning, needs and abilities.”
  • “It is acknowledged that students learn at different rates and in different ways. There may be students who will not demonstrate achievement in relation to one or more of the outcomes for the Stage.”
  • “Teachers will need to address outcomes across different stages in order to meet the learning needs of students.”
  • Teachers are expected to judge “when students need to work at, above or below stage level in relation to one or more of the outcomes. This recognises that outcomes may be achieved by students at different times across stages.”

But there’s a catch: we must now demonstrate that students’ needs are being identified and met. This requires two things:

First, that data is gathered on students’ needs: “Teachers use formative and summative assessment to determine instructional priorities and the time needed for students to achieve expected outcomes.” (NESA, 2023). Research tells us to expect a 6-8 year spread of attainment in a given class (Grattan Institute, 2015).

Second, that instruction is adapted using that data, adapting differently for different students.

Here are some concrete examples from NESA, 2023:

  • A student “could be working on Stage 1 content in the Number and Algebra strand, while working on Early Stage 1 content in the Measurement and Geometry strand.”
  • “In Stage 2 or Stage 3, some students may not have developed a complete understanding of place value and the role of zero to read, write and order two-digit and three-digit numbers. These students will need to access content from Early Stage 1 or Stage 1 before engaging with Stage 2 content in applying place value to larger numbers and decimals.”
  • “In Stage 4 some students may not have developed a complete understanding of fractions, decimals and percentages and will need to access related outcomes from Stage 3.”
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At Maths Pathway we have a team of maths teachers and mathematicians, writing content that not only maps to the NSW curriculum but pulls from contemporary research in mathematics education and is rigorously tested, using a data-driven approach.

- Mati Papasimeon, Maths Pathway Head of Content Development

Part 2. Planning Topics

How will it affect my classroom?

So how do we plan a topic now?

The key is to select a focus for the topic, telling us the content to focus on – but bake in adaptability in the learning and teaching approach for that content.

Select the focus:

In the new Syllabus, a Topic has one or more “Focus Areas”. Each Focus Area provides a specific list of Content to target as part of a Stage, along with Outcome(s). Selecting Topics and their Focus Areas for a given course’s Scope and Sequence is discussed below.

Bake in adaptability:

Create and document a plan which allows all students to grow along a continuum, using the Topic’s Content as a focus. Students should all move closer to meeting those Outcomes, and go beyond if possible. This includes:

  • Relevant resources ready to go which span multiple stages to meet all students’ needs;
  • A specific plan for how data will be gathered to pinpoint student needs; and
  • A practical approach for deploying those resources to meet those pinpointed needs.

Want an example of a topic in full?

Download a free sample Topic Plan: Earning & Making Money

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We’ve put everything Maths Teachers and School Leaders need to know about the updates to the NSW Syllabus in one place. We’ll be keeping it updated so you’re getting the right information.

- Richard Wilson, Maths Pathway Co-Founder

Part 3. New Requirements for Scope & Sequence

Program builder update

Q: What about Program Builder?
This tool was available to teachers in NSW Schools to help create Scope and Sequence Documentation. Is it being updated for the new Syllabus? Should I wait for an update before I start planning?

A: Better not to wait – start planning anyway.
It’s not clear when or if an update will be available. The Program Builder website states “Program Builder will not support any new syllabuses.” This may refer only to the English K-2 and Mathematics K-2 new Syllabuses taught from 2023, or may cover the full K-10 Syllabus update.

Creating a Scope and Sequence requires us to define all the Topics through the year: their names, their length and their orders. We can do this once we know the set of Focus Areas for the whole year’s course.

To do this, we need to look at all Focus Areas within the Stage, then select the ones which make sense for this particular year’s course. This works a little differently for different year levels.

Click on the different Stages to see examples:

*Note: Stages 1, 2 and 3 are similar in structure, so only Stage 3 is shown here. Stages 4 and 5 are each quite different so they are each shown separately.

Stage 3 (Years 5-6)

Stage 3 contains:

  • Ten Focus Areas with names ending in an “A” (eg. “Additive Relations A”)
  • Ten Focus Areas with names ending in a “B”, but otherwise identical. (eg. “Additive Relations B”).

Within a given Stage, the A and B Focus Areas are a little different: “Part A typically focuses on early concept development. Part B builds on these early concepts.” (NESA, 2023).

Across multiple Stages, the same Focus Area name is usually used, but not always. Each Focus Area sits within a single Strand: Number and algebra; Measurement and space; or Statistics and Probability.

This can be visualised as follows:

nsw landing img 1

There is flexibility with how these form plans for any given year (NESA, 2023). However, one approach which could work in many contexts would be to create an “A” year and a “B” year, targeting Year 5 and Year 6 respectively.

Here is an example of how this would look:

nsw landing img 2
nsw landing img 3

Want an example of a topic in full?

Download a free example, providing full Scope and Sequence and Topic documentation, for Year 5 and Year 6:

Get in touch

Talk to us about how we can help your school transition to the new curriculum

Part 4. Bringing the Structure Together

What does it look like in a holistic way?

Working Mathematically

There is now a much simpler approach to Working Mathematically. There is a single Working Mathematically Outcome which spans the entirety of the K-10 Mathematics Syllabus, across all Stages and all Content:

“MAO-WM-01 develops understanding and fluency in mathematics through exploring and connecting mathematical concepts, choosing and applying mathematical techniques to solve problems, and communicating their thinking and reasoning coherently and clearly” (NESA 2023)

Mathematical Outcomes

Each Stage contains a set of Mathematical Outcomes. For example, Stage 5 contains the Outcome:

“MA5-FIN-C-01 solves financial problems involving simple interest, earning money and spending money” (NESA, 2023)

These Outcomes line up closely with the Focus Areas, which are what contain the actual content. There is often a one-to-one relationship between an Outcome and a Focus Area, but not always. Sometimes one Focus Area contains more than one Outcome, and sometimes the same Outcome maps to multiple Focus Areas.

We will see how to incorporate Outcomes into Topic Planning in an example below.

Life Skills Outcomes

Each Stage contains a set of mathematics Life Skills Outcomes. For example, Stage 5 contains the Life Skills Outcome:

“MA5-FIN-C-01 solves financial problems involving simple interest, earning money and spending money” (NESA 2023)

These Outcomes line up closely with the Focus Areas, which are what contain the actual content. There is often a one-to-one relationship between an Outcome and a Focus Area, but not always. Sometimes one Focus Area contains more than one Outcome, and sometimes the same Outcome maps to multiple Focus Areas.

We will see how to incorporate Outcomes into Topic Planning in an example below:

What does your planning look like in practice?

Topic Planning Example:

Here is an example of how a Topic could be planned, within a broader Scope and Sequence, tying this all together:

Step 1: Choose a name and duration for the topic.

We could create a topic called “Earning and Making Money” for Year 9 students, lasting 6 weeks.

We could select the Stage 5 Focus Area “Financial Mathematics A”.

Step 3: Record the mathematical “Outcomes” which align to that Focus Area. There is usually exactly one Outcome per Focus Area, and it shows on the left-hand side on the same.

We see that “Financial Mathematics A” lists the mathematical Outcome:
MA5-FIN-C-01 solves financial problems involving simple interest, earning money and spending money

We see that “Financial Mathematics A” lists the Life Skills Outcome:
MALS-FIN-01 demonstrates knowledge of money in everyday contexts

We see that “Financial Mathematics A” lists 12 dot-points of content. The first is: Solve problems involving wages given an hourly rate of pay including penalty rates for overtime, weekends and public holidays.

Step 6: Create and document a plan which allows all students to grow along a continuum, using the topic content as a focus. Students should all move closer to meeting those Outcomes, and go beyond if possible. This includes:

  • Relevant resources ready to go which span multiple stages to meet all students’ needs;
  • A specific plan for how data will be gathered to pinpoint student needs; and
  • A practical approach for deploying those resources to meet those pinpointed needs.

Want an example of a topic in full?

Download a free sample Topic Plan: Earning & Making Money.

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