For the first time in 16 years, the NSW Education Standards Authority (formerly the Board of Studies) has given the HSC program a huge overhaul that is set to come into action next year for Year 11 students. By 2019, the new program will be active for Year 12 students.

The main reasoning behind the overhaul is that the NSW ESA wants to better prepare Year 11 and 12 students for uni. Often, uni students tend to complain about how school didn’t set them up well enough for university study and it takes a lot of getting used to when adjusting to the different standards of work. The proposed changes have focused on moving away from the context and more onto the solid facts where possible. For example:

  • Students will be spending much more time studying theories in science units rather than learning about specific scientists. There will also be more emphasis put on maths, especially in sciences such as physics and chemistry.
  • More complex topics will be introduced in math classes, such as financial maths, calculus and statistics. Students will also learn about how technology can be applied in these contexts.
  • History has had some changes which shift away from Western history and onto Asian history, which will be compulsory to study along with indigenous issues in history units. European history (including WWI and WWII) will still remain in the syllabus but won’t be the only topics students must study.
  • In English units, the amount of texts that can be studied will be reduced but more time will be spent studying texts in order to understand their meaning and why they are being studied. More emphasis will also be placed on grammar, spelling, vocabulary and other writing skills in order to prepare students for work or further study.

In all units, the NSW ESA has recognised that theory should be linked to the ‘real world’, so learning about how the unit content links to the workplace or life is an important factor that will be looked at in classes. This is thought to better prepare students for once they leave school, regardless of which pathway they choose to take.

Are these changes good or bad? Is there anything else you wish they would change? Feel free to leave your thoughts and discuss the changes in the comments with other students!