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School Developed Board Endorsed Courses – course proposal guidelines

A School Developed Board Endorsed Course (SDBEC) is any course not developed by the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) that is submitted to NESA for endorsement in Stage 5 for RoSA or in Stage 6 as Year 11 or Year 12 units. SDBECs may be endorsed for a maximum of four years.

The following guidelines cover:

2017 Timeline for endorsement

Before the school year begins

Late January: 2017 guidelines available to schools on the NESA website

Term 1

Week 1 – 27 January: Online applications open on Schools Online – Board Endorsed Course Proposals

Week 2 – 8 January: Reminder notice sent to schools with expiring SDBEC endorsements

Week 11 – 7 April: CLOSING DATE for submission of SDBEC proposals

Term 2

Weeks 1 to 10 – during May and June: Board Endorsement Panel considers proposals – decision notifications sent to schools electronically as decisions are made

Week 6 – 2 June: Final date for decision notifications to be sent to schools

Week 9 – 23 June: Final date for re-submission of deferred proposals

Term 3

Week 3 – 4 August: Final date for decision notifications to be sent to schools that have re-submitted an amended proposal

Week 4 – 10 August: Courses not endorsed by this date will lapse

Criteria for endorsement of School Developed Courses

A School Developed Course is one that is proposed by a school that addresses the identified local need of a group of students at that school. The need must be one that cannot be met by existing Board Developed Courses or Content Endorsed Courses.

Endorsement of a School Developed Course involves consideration and approval by the Board Endorsement Panel, comprised of Inspectors from NESA and their delegates. Course proposals are endorsed if they meet the criteria for endorsement.

All courses that are developed or endorsed by NESA must meet NESA’s requirements. These are based on recommendations in the NSW Government’s White Paper Securing Their Future (PDF 687kB).

Requirements for approval of School Developed Courses

Read about how these requirements are elaborated in the online application process below, in the guidelines for completing a School Developed Course application section.

Requirements for approval Criteria for endorsement

1 A clear rationale and statement of purpose for the course

1.1 establish specifically why students at the school need the course
1.2 provide a statement that clearly establishes why only this course can meet the needs of the students
1.3 the relationship of the course to existing courses with which it might overlap
1.4 evidence of a demand for the course.

2 A well-organised course structure appropriate to the units or hours of study being sought

2.1 number and length of modules, including whether they are mandatory or optional
2.2 indicative hours for modules of between 15 and 30 hours each in length
2.3 scope of modules appropriate to the course.

3 Identification of the learning outcomes that students are expected to achieve

3.1 provision of appropriate course objectives and outcomes
3.2 outcomes that describe what students should be able to know, understand and do as a result of the effective teaching and learning of the course.

4 A detailed explanation of the nature of the course content

4.1 modules that provide sufficient content for the hours indicated and link with the objectives and outcomes of the course
4.2 no significant overlap of content with existing Board Developed or Content Endorsed Courses.

5 Evidence that the learning outcomes are set at an appropriate standard

5.1 course content that contains a body of knowledge and degree of rigour appropriate to the stage for which the course is written.

6 Assessment plan overview

6.1 a list of assessment tasks to be undertaken and their relative weightings
6.2 an appropriate number and variety of assessment tasks.

7 Course evaluation tools to be used

7.1 evidence of the tools to be used to evaluate the course.

Group endorsements

Group proposals should be made under the leadership of a single school or a district or school system.

The applicant will need to list all the schools that wish to be part of the proposal. For instructions on how to add schools in a group proposal, see the step-by-step guide for applying via Schools Online (Administration), Section 4, Step 3 (open the eForm to commence your application).

The lead school also has the responsibility of ensuring that the principal of each of the other schools gives approval for the application to be made on their behalf. Additional member schools may be added to the group after submission of the proposal, with the permission of the Board Endorsement Panel. The principal of the lead school must contact granting permission for additional schools to be added. Multi-campus schools and colleges may use the group proposal option if more than one campus wishes to deliver the course.

Guidelines for completing a School Developed Course application

Applications for both new course proposals and renewals are submitted online via Schools Online (Administration) website. Applicants will need access to the Board Endorsed Course Proposals section of Schools Online (Administration) to complete the application. School principals or other authorised persons in schools can provide applicants with this access.

Why are applications submitted online?

The submission of course applications moved to Schools Online (Administration) in 2012. The previous paper-based process has been brought into line with most other transactions that occur electronically between schools and NESA. Advantages of the new process include:

  • paperless application
  • faster and more direct (electronic) communication between schools and NESA
  • electronic capture and storage of course proposals, which means that:
    • if deferred, a proposal can be amended online and resubmitted immediately
    • when a course is up for renewal, it will be presented to the school electronically for updating and submission (no chasing up of previous submissions)
    • information within existing electronic school course documents can be copied and pasted into the electronic forms on Schools Online (Administration)
  • faster tracking and processing of applications by NESA
  • immediate notification of the Board Endorsement Panel decision to the applicant.

See the step-by-step guide for applying via Schools Online (Administration).

Electronic form (eForm) requirements

When a new proposal is created in Schools Online (Administration), an eForm will be generated for applicants to populate with course details. The appropriate eForm for each particular course will be linked to the proposal once it has been created (see the step-by-step guide).

The general requirements (see Notes at the bottom of this section) for both Stage 5 and Stage 6 course proposals are listed below. Further ‘tips’ for completing each of these sections are included in the online eForm.

Applicant details

  • name and contact details of the staff member submitting the proposal – this person will receive all correspondence regarding the proposal.

Course hours or study pattern

  • 100 and/or 200-hour course for Stage 5
  • 1 and/or 2 Unit in Preliminary and/or HSC for Stage 6.

Rationale and aim of the course

  • explanation of why the course being proposed is needed for the students at your school
  • why existing Board Developed Courses or Content Endorsed Courses cannot meet these needs.

Course structure overview

  • a list of the course modules and their indicative hours, including any optional or elective modules
  • modules need to be between 15 and 30 hours in duration.

Course objectives and outcomes

  • the objectives and related outcomes for the course as a whole
  • these will include ‘knowledge and skills’ (with related outcomes) and ‘values and attitudes’ objectives.

For guidance in writing course objectives and outcomes please refer to Board Developed Syllabuses available on the NESA website.

Content for each module

  • module title and hours
  • a brief description of the module
  • outcomes for the module selected from the course outcomes
  • content statements describing what students are expected to know and do as they work towards the outcomes.

Assessment plan

  • name and nature of each task (details not required)
  • weighting of each task (Stage 6 only).

Course evaluation

  • intended strategies for evaluating the course.

Principal’s declaration

  • approval from the Principal for course proposal to be submitted.


  • eForm requirements will vary depending on the course you are proposing
  • Stage 5 and 6 International Studies and Big History eForms are truncated versions of what is listed above
  • Stage 5 and Stage 6 Language eForms require some additional content such as grammatical items and language examples
  • Stage 5 and Stage 6 Life Skills eForms require a description of assessment strategies rather than a list of tasks.

Board Endorsement Panel determinations feedback

The following information is provided to assist applicants when completing course proposals:

Reasons for course proposals being DEFERRED

Deferred course proposals require minor amendments to meet endorsement requirements.

  • Insufficient content was provided. Where the Panel cannot determine from the detail of the content statements provided to what degree the course would overlap with courses developed by NESA and whether the content was adequate for the module duration, a proposal will be deferred.
  • The course content was insufficiently rigorous or did not relate to the course outcomes. Schools must demonstrate planning for student learning that will allow students to address the course outcomes in the context of the modules as submitted and that these outcomes are set at an appropriate level.

Reasons for course proposals being DECLINED

Course proposals are declined when major amendments are needed to meet endorsement requirements.

  • The course objectives, outcomes and/or content substantially duplicated those of an existing NESA course. Substantial duplication in a School Developed Course may occur if the proposal:
    • duplicates sections of a Board Developed Course or Content Endorsed Course
    • is a course that could be conducted under the optional section of a Board Developed Course.
  • The application was for a Stage 5 course in English, Mathematics or Science. NESA does not endorse Stage 5 courses in these learning areas.

Checklist for submitting an application

  • Ensure that the module/topic hours add up to at least the total hours of endorsement being sought.
  • Ensure that the module/topic names and hours in the Course Structure Overview match those in the Module Content sections.
  • If elective modules are included, ensure that the module explanation section is completed to clarify how these modules fit within the overall course hours.