Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Print this page

Diversity of Learners

The Australian Curriculum has been developed to ensure that curriculum content and achievement standards establish high expectations for all students. Every student is entitled to enriching learning experiences across all areas of the curriculum. Students in Australian classrooms have multiple, diverse and changing needs that are shaped by individual learning histories and abilities as well as cultural language backgrounds and socio-economic factors.

Students with Disabilities 

The objectives of the Australian Curriculum are the same for all students. The curriculum offers flexibility for teachers to tailor their teaching in ways that provide rigorous, relevant and engaging learning and assessment opportunities for students with disabilities.

Most students with disabilities can engage with the curriculum provided the necessary adjustments are made to the complexity of the curriculum content and to the means through which students demonstrate their knowledge, skills and understanding.

For some learners, making adjustments to instructional processes and to assessment strategies enables students to achieve educational standards commensurate with their peers.

For other students, teachers will need to make appropriate adjustments to the complexity of the curriculum content, focusing instruction on content different to that taught to others in their age group. It follows that adjustments will also need to be made to how the student’s progress is monitored, assessed and reported.

For a small percentage of students, the Foundation to Level 10 curriculum content and achievement standards may not be appropriate nor meaningful, even with adjustments. Most of these students have a significant intellectual disability. ACARA will develop additional curriculum content and achievement standards for this group of students in order to provide an Australian Curriculum that is inclusive of every learner.

In the interim, advice from DEECD about how to use the curriculum with students with disabilities is available here or from the DEECD website. Schools can also continue to use the VELS Students with Disabilities Guidelines (PDF – 615KB). These will be updated during 2013.

English as an additional language or dialect

Many students in Australian schools are learners of English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D). Learners of EAL/D are students whose first language is a language other than Standard Australian English and who require additional support to assist them to develop English language proficiency. While many EAL/D learners do well in school, there is a significant group of these learners who leave school without achieving their potential.

EAL/D students come from diverse backgrounds and may include:

  • overseas- and Australian-born children whose first language is a language other than English
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students whose first language is an Indigenous language, including traditional languages, creoles and related varieties, or Aboriginal English.

EAL/D learners enter Australian schools at different ages and at different stages of English language learning and have various educational backgrounds in their first languages. For some, school is the only place they use English.

The aims of the Australian Curriculum: Mathematics are ultimately the same for all students. However, EAL/D learners are simultaneously learning a new language and the knowledge, understanding and skills of the mathematics curriculum through that new language. They require additional time and support, along with informed teaching that explicitly addresses their language needs, and assessments that take into account their developing language proficiency.

A national EAL/D document is being produced that will support the Australian Curriculum. It will provide a description of how language proficiency develops, and will be a valuable reference for all teachers. It will allow mathematics teachers to identify the language levels of the EAL/D learners in their classrooms and to address their specific learning requirements when teaching, ensuring equity of access to the mathematics learning area for all.

In the interim, advice about how to use the curriculum with EAL/D students is available here.

Scroll to the top of the page