ACARA have released their draft Mathematics Curriculum revision. With 6 strands, 144 content descriptors and 672 elaborations across F-6, there’s a lot to get stuck in to during the window for public review.  

We’ve simplified the changes into key takeaways, digestible in less time than it takes to make a cup of tea. 

Recap: Why is the review happening? 

  • The Australian Curriculum is subject to a review every 6 years
  • In June 2020, Australia’s Education Ministers agreed to commence the review, aiming to raise standards and better support teachers

What are the proposed changes?

  •  ACARA outline the aim of this review as ‘refining, realigning and decluttering the content’ to focus on ‘essential kowledge and skills’

Here’s how the prospective curriculum looks…

Content Structure and Key Themes

6 content strands 
Number, Algebra, Measurement, Space, Statistics, and Probability
13 Core Concepts

… categorised under 3 Core Concept Organisers; Mathematical structures; Mathematical approaches; and Mathematising, illustrated in ACARA’s content mapping visualisation below.  

*ACARA Consultation Curriculum – All Elements F-10

9 Key Considerations

… with the aim of developing students’ mathematical proficiency;

  • Understanding 
  • Fluency
  • Reasoning
  • Problem solving
  • Experimentation
  • Investigation
  • Mathematical modelling
  • Computational thinking
  • Computation, algorithms and the use of digital tools in mathematics
What’s different?
  • The three original content strands (Number and Algebra, Measurement and Geometry & Statistics and Probability) have been split into six
  • No sub-strands appear within the revised strands
  • All 6 strands are covered at each year levelFor example, probability is introduced via chance games at Foundation level
  • The former proficiency strands (Understanding, Fluency, Problem Solving and Reasoning) have been removed as key ideas. The core concepts aim to integrate the proficiency strands into the curriculum content itself.

Content Scope and Sequence

See the content breakdown (F-6) here, along with comparative information here.

What’s different?


1. More detailed descriptors and elaborations
  • Content descriptors are more comprehensive and use more technical language
2.  Emphasis on problem solving and inquiry based learning
  • Understanding and use of mathematical processes is a key theme running through content at all year levels
3. Real world context focus
  • Investigation is heavily focused towards real world contexts, rather than pure and abstract mathematical problem solving, particularly in the Space strand
4. Explicit cross curricular links
  • Cross curricular links, mainly Sustainability and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures, are explicitly embedded into descriptors
  • For example, in Year 3 – Number, ‘exploring hunting circles used by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to catch prey to investigate and represent different models of unit fractions based on different numbers of hunters between 1 and 5’ (AC9M3N04_E6)
5. Realigning and redistributing content
  • Some content has been brought forward, or pushed later;
    • Percentages is introduced in Year 5, rather than Year 6
    • Understanding ‘one half’ is covered in Year 2, rather than Year 1
    • Multiplication facts are not taught until Year 4. Foundations are introduced in the form of recognising patterns, eg. through skip counting, earlier in school
  • Some content is redistributed across strands
    • Money & Finance does not have a dedicated sub-strand, but rather connections to financial literacy are made in the main strands
  • Some content is removed altogether;
    • ‘Non-essential’ content, such as Triangular Numbers (previously Year 6)
    • Repetition across subjects, ‘Naming the seasons’ (removed from Year 2, covered in Year 1 science)

What’s the response been like so far?

The proposed changes have provoked conflicting viewpoints on how and why mathematics should be taught to our learners. 

Some field experts argue that the proposed ACARA curriculum is not decluttered, as was one of the main aims of the review, but is in fact the opposite.

In an open letter to ACARA, signed by over 140 professors, researchers, teachers and parents so far, several concerns are raised. These include the criticism that by prioritising real world context problem solving, the proposed curriculum ‘pointedly omits references to solving problems stemming from mathematics itself’, devaluing mathematics as a fascinating subject which should be appreciated in it’s own right. Furthermore, the letter challenges that the delaying and methodology of teaching of key topics such as multiplication facts hinders maths mastery, arguing further that emphasis on problem solving is only effective if students securely lay down mathematical foundations to develop fluency.

Others contend that the revised curriculum actually raises expected standards for students. Visiting the six content strands across year groups, it’s argued, helps students gradually progress in their understanding and knowledge of mathematics as a whole.

What’s next? 

 The curriculum is open for public consultation until July 8th 2021. You can review the curriculum changes here, and submit your thoughts via the survey. 

The final context changes are expected to be completed by September, in advance of the new Australian Curriculum going live early 2022.  

For reference:

* © Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) 2021 to present, unless otherwise indicated. This material was downloaded from the Australian Curriculum website (accessed 28th May 2021). It has not been modified. This material is consultation material only and has not been endorsed by Australia’s nine education ministers.

You are encouraged to check the Australian Curriculum website to ascertain whether this draft material has since been endorsed as Australian Curriculum material.

ACARA does not endorse any product that uses the Australian Curriculum Review consultation material or make any representations as to the quality of such products. Any product that uses this material should not be taken to be affiliated with ACARA or have the sponsorship or approval of ACARA.