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Syllabus development process

The NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) is committed to a syllabus development process that provides opportunities for consultation, establishes achievable timelines and ensures quality syllabuses. 

The process, using a project management approach, involves four phases:

  1. Syllabus review
  2. Writing brief development
  3. Syllabus development
  4. Implementation.

Revisions and amendments to syllabuses undertake a compacted version of these phases.

Major features of the process are:

  • Advice is sought at key points from teachers, significant individuals and organisations. In particular, professional teacher associations play an important role.
  • NESA appoints Board Curriculum Committees to assist with monitoring and quality assurance. These committees report directly to  NESA on the quality of the material produced by project teams and ensure the integrity of the syllabus development process.
  • A project manager employed by NESA manages the syllabus development project, establishing consultative networks, managing consultation, and drafting and revising syllabus documentation. Project teams will comprise various personnel from NESA as well as external writers.
  • NESA maintains a register of writers from which project writers are appointed. To be considered for appointment as writers, teachers from all syllabus areas with demonstrated writing expertise can submit an expression of interest to NESA. Advertisements for expressions of interest appear from time to time in the Bulletin e-newsletter. Enquiries can be made to the Principal Project Officer, Curriculum and Assessment Standards, tel: (02) 9367 8274. 

Read about each phase:

Download an overview of the Syllabus Development Process

Download the Syllabus Development Handbook

See also:

Phase 1 – syllabus review

Purpose: A review of the existing syllabus provision and a plan for the redevelopment of the syllabus.

Following consideration of relevant data, NESA determines whether a review of the existing syllabus provision will be conducted. This phase will typically involve:

  • establishment of the project plan, which includes consultation and a timeline informing schools of the project plan, including the timeline for consultation
  • establishment of a Board Curriculum Committee to monitor the syllabus development process and provide advice throughout the project
  • evaluation of the existing syllabus against the syllabus criteria approved by NESA
  • consultation with teachers and key groups regarding the existing syllabus and the general directions for syllabus development
  • research, including a review of literature and practice in Australia and overseas
  • recommendation by the Board Curriculum Committee to NESA of the broad directions for syllabus development in response to the review finding
  • NESA endorsement of broad directions for syllabus development.

Outcomes

  • Information provided to schools about the consultation and timeline for syllabus development.
  • Endorsement by NESA of the broad directions for syllabus development.

Phase 2 – writing brief development

Purpose: The development of a writing brief for the draft syllabus that takes account of the broad directions established during the syllabus review phase.

This phase will typically involve:

  • preparation of a draft writing brief by the project team, taking into account information from consultation and research undertaken (if applicable) during the previous phase
  • widespread consultation on the draft writing brief, involving: – teachers – key groups, including professional associations and school systems – the Board Curriculum Committee – other relevant NESA committees
  • preparation of a report that identifies issues emerging from the consultation and the action to be taken in response to those issues
  • modification of the draft writing brief in response to consultation feedback consideration of the amended draft writing brief by the Board Curriculum Committee for recommendation to NESA
  • submission of the draft writing brief, consultation report and Board Curriculum Committee recommendation to NESA for endorsement
  • submission of the endorsed writing brief to the Minister for Education
  • dissemination of the endorsed writing brief.

Outcome:

  • A writing brief, noted by the Minister, which provides the detailed blueprint for the development of the syllabus and against which the final syllabus is judged.

Phase 3 – syllabus development

Purpose: The development of the syllabus package as defined by the project plan.

This phase will typically involve:

  • preparation of a draft syllabus and initial support materials by a project team, according to the endorsed writing brief
  • draft syllabus available for consultation to:
    • teachers – key groups, including professional associations and school systems
    • the Board Curriculum Committee
    • other relevant NESA committees
    • interested members of the public
  • preparation of a report that identifies issues emerging from the consultation and the action to be taken in response to those issues
  • modification of the draft syllabus in response to consultation feedback
  • development of initial support materials, as specified in the syllabus package
  • consideration of the amended draft syllabus by the Board Curriculum Committee for recommendation to NESA
  • submission of the draft syllabus, consultation report and Board Curriculum Committee recommendation to NESA for endorsement
  • submission of the syllabus to the Minister for Education for approval
  • publication of the consultation report, syllabus and initial support materials
  • communication to schools in relation to the publication and implementation of the syllabus and initial support materials
  • briefing of school authorities, teacher training institutions and professional teacher associations to effect handover of the syllabus for implementation in schools
  • development of additional support materials, as specified in the syllabus package
  • publication of additional support materials, if required
  • communication to schools in relation to the publication of additional support materials.

Outcomes:

  • A syllabus approved by the Minister.
  • Publication and distribution of the syllabus package.

Phase 4 – implementation

Purpose: Implementation of the syllabus is conducted by schools. The role of NESA in this is the ongoing collection of data on the use of the syllabus and related resources to ascertain whether the intentions of the syllabus are being achieved.

This phase will typically involve:

  • collection, collation and analysis of data on the use of the syllabus
  • collection, collation and analysis of data on the use of related resources, such as interactive online syllabuses, support materials and Program Builder
  • identification and recording of issues that need to be taken into account in subsequent syllabus revision
  • evaluation of syllabus provision presented to NESA.

Outcome:

  • Data on the use