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NSW Syllabuses



The Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards NSW (BOSTES) K–10 Curriculum Framework is a standards-referenced framework that describes, through syllabuses and other documents, the expected learning outcomes for students.

Standards in the framework consist of three interrelated elements:

  • outcomes and content in syllabuses showing what is to be learned
  • Stage statements that summarise student achievement
  • samples of work on the BOSTES Assessment Resource Centre (ARC) website which provide examples of levels of achievement within a Stage.

Syllabus outcomes in Geography contribute to a developmental sequence in which students are challenged to acquire new knowledge, understanding and skills.


Assessment is an integral part of teaching and learning. Well-designed assessment is central to engaging students and should be closely aligned to the outcomes within a Stage. Effective assessment increases student engagement in their learning and leads to enhanced student outcomes.

Assessment for Learning, Assessment as Learning and Assessment of Learning are three approaches to assessment that play an important role in teaching and learning. The BOSTES Years K–10 syllabuses particularly promote Assessment for Learning as an essential component of good teaching.

This diagram summarises the essential features of three approaches to assessment; assessment for learning, assessment as learning and assessment of learning.

Further advice on programming and appropriate assessment practice in relation to the Geography syllabus is contained on the BOSTES website. This support material provides general advice on assessment as well as strategies to assist teachers in planning education programs.

Assessment for students with special education needs

Some students with special education needs will require adjustments to assessment practices in order to demonstrate what they know and can do in relation to syllabus outcomes and content. The type of adjustments and support will vary according to the particular needs of the student and the requirements of the activity. These may be:

  • alternative formats for responses, for example written point form instead of essays, scaffolded structured responses, short objective questions or multimedia presentations
  • adjustments to assessment activities, for example rephrasing questions, using simplified language, fewer questions or alternative formats for questions
  • adjustments to the assessment process, for example additional time, rest breaks, quieter conditions, or the use of a reader and/or scribe or specific technology.

It is a requirement under the Disability Standards for Education 2005 for schools to ensure that assessment tasks are accessible to students with a disability. Schools are responsible for any decisions made at school level to offer adjustments to course work, assessment tasks and in-schools tests.

Further examples of adjustments to assessment for students with special education needs and information on assessment of students undertaking Life Skills outcomes and content can be found in support materials for:

  • Geography
  • Special education needs
  • Life Skills Years 7–10.


Reporting is the process of providing feedback to students, parents and other teachers about student progress.

Teachers use assessment evidence to extend the process of Assessment for Learning into their Assessment of Learning. In a standards-referenced framework, teachers make professional judgements about student achievement at key points in the learning cycle. These points may be at the end of a Year or Stage, when schools may wish to report differentially on the levels of knowledge, understanding and skills demonstrated by students.

Descriptions of student achievement in Geography provide schools with a useful tool to report consistent information about student achievement to students and parents, and to the next teacher to help plan the next steps in the learning process.

The A–E grade scale or equivalent provides a common language for reporting by describing observable and measurable features of student achievement at the end of a Stage, within the indicative hours of study. Teachers use the descriptions of the standards to make a professional, on-balance judgement, based on available assessment information, to match each student’s achievement to a description. The Common Grade Scale (A–E) or equivalent is used by teachers to report student levels of achievement from Stages 1 to 5.

For students with special education needs, teachers may need to consider, in consultation with their school and sector, the most appropriate method of reporting student achievement. It may be deemed more appropriate for students with special education needs to be reported against outcomes or goals identified through the collaborative curriculum planning process. There is no requirement for schools to use the Common Grade Scale (A–E) or equivalent to report achievement of students undertaking Life Skills outcomes and content.