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Home > News > Professional Issues > Professional Issues Volume 7 > Queensland Senior Syllabus shake-up

Queensland Senior Syllabus shake-up

high_school_students_web_qual.pngA new system of senior assessment and tertiary entrance for Queensland schools to begin with students entering Year 11 in 2018 has significant implications for the work of senior secondary teachers.

Issue Snapshot

  • Schools will no longer be required to develop their own Work Plan. 
  • New syllabus documents for authority subjects to incorporate greater specificity of subject matter, its distribution across teaching units and assessment instruments.
  • More specialised ways for practitioners to contribute including reviewing and endorsing assessment instruments and marking of external assessment.
  • Resources and information to assist transition.
One of the most significant changes is that schools will no longer be required to develop their own Work Plan. New syllabus documents for authority subjects will, instead, incorporate greater specificity of subject matter, its distribution across teaching units and assessment instruments. This means that practising teachers have a limited window of opportunity to have input into the way that their subject will be implemented from 2018.


Phase 1 drafts of the new, higher-definition syllabus documents for 35 authority subjects (including 15 Australian Curriculum subjects) were released in May 2016 with thousands of teachers taking up the opportunity to provide Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA) with feedback.
Phase 2 drafts for these subjects will be released in late August and will include greater detail about assessment instruments and marking schemes. Our union will send reminders to members to ensure they log on to the QCAA website and review these documents.

In addition to the 35 subjects, new syllabus documents for a further 12 subjects has now commenced, with phase 1 drafts to be released shortly and complete syllabus documents expected by April 2017.

Further consultation is being undertaken in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Language, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Indonesian, Latin and Science 21. Members with an interest in contributing to redevelopment of these subjects are urged to contact QCAA directly.

To complement the new system, the QCAA are expanding their resources and information available to teachers detailing:

  • development of new higher-definition syllabus documents for authority subjects;
  • changes to the way in which school-based assessment tasks are reviewed and approved for use in schools; and
  • introduction of external assessment.

IEUA-QNT Assistant Secretary/Treasurer Paul Giles commended the Education Minister’s commitment that QCAA provide teachers with professional development, including time release, in relation to the new systems for assessment and tertiary entrance prior to implementation of the changes, and urged members to ensure that their school supports access to QCAA-provided training.

“The Queensland system is somewhat unique within a national, and international, context in that the cessation of external assessment in the 1970s was based on the premise that teachers are best able to judge the qualities of student work. To ensure that the re-introduction of external assessment, and other changes, do not erode the perceived and actual professionalism of teachers, it is imperative that teachers are well informed and given adequate specialist training relating to the requirements and expectations of the new system,” Mr Giles said.

Rather than the previous system of panel-based (“social”) moderation, where groups of skilled and experienced practitioners reviewed and verified assessment instruments developed and marked by their peers, the new system will introduce a number of more specialised ways in which practitioners can contribute, ranging from reviewing and endorsing assessment instruments to marking of external assessment. 

“The extent to which teachers take up the opportunity to influence and enact the changes will determine the extent to which the new systems enhance or erode teaching practice,” Mr Giles said.

In addition to the development of new syllabus documents, QCAA has also been trialling pre-endorsement of assessment tasks for a limited number of schools. The trials involve teachers uploading school-based assessment tasks to a central platform and receiving feedback from trained assessors. The cycle of uploading and revising assessment items proceeds to the point where the item is officially endorsed for use.

Mr Giles said our union will continue to update members on the progress of the syllabus documents and the opportunities to provide feedback. 

“It is vital that practising teachers take up the opportunity to review the documents prior to implementation in 2018.”

For more information, visit https://www.qcaa.qld.edu.au/senior/new-snr-assessment-te


Authorised by Terry Burke, Independent Education Union of Australia – Queensland & Northern Territory Branch, Brisbane.