Tips and Tricks to NESA Homeschooling

Are you wanting the security of following the a NESA homeschooling curriculum but don’t know how?

Do you worry about what you are expected to teach to maintain your NSW homeschool registration?

Let me walk you through strategies to help you navigate meeting NESA homeschool curriculum requirements and still stick to the way you want to educate your child. I’ll talk about interpreting the official government syllabus content and what that can look like in real life.  Then I’ll give you some ideas for gathering evidence to present as proof of learning when you go for reregistration.

If you are homeschooling in NSW then you need to use a NESA homeschooling plan. By that I mean your homeschool registration plan needs to be based on the NSW Curriculum. 

Nesa homeschooling

What is the NESA Homeschooling?

NESA homeschooling simply means a plan that complies with the NSW Curriculum.

The Australian Curriculum was introduced in 2012 for all schools in Australia and it’s goal is to standardise teaching outcomes around Australia. Schools in Queensland, Northern Territory, Canberra (ACT), South Australia and Tasmania have all followed the Australian Curriculum as laid out in the federal government website. New South Wales incorporates the Australian Curriculum into the NESA Syllabus, as does Western Australia and Victoria.

The  NESA Syllabus is the NSW wide school curriculum standard. When documenting your plan for registration the NESA Homeschooling information document states your plan  needs to be based on the NSW curriculum. You do not need to follow it identically. It needs only to be curriculum on the NSW syllabus.

The NESA Curriculum Is In Stages

Stage One: Foundation (Kindergarten) – Year Two | Ages 5-8
Stage Two: Year Three – Year Four | Ages 8-10
Stage Three: Year Five – Year Six | Ages 10-12
Stage Four: Year Seven – Year Eight | Ages 12-14
Stage Five: Year Nine – Year Ten | Ages 14 -16
Stage Six: Year Eleven – Year Twelve | Ages 16 -18

A new version of the NESA /NSW syllabus was released for English and Maths for Stage 1 (Foundation to Year 2) April 2022. The new version of K-2 needs to be followed from April 2023.

The rest of the English and Maths curriculum was release December 2022. This syllabus needs to be followed from 2024.

The remaining subjects – Science, history geography etc. have not yet been released but are due to be published online some time in 2023. No information is available yet on when those following a NESA homeschooling curriculum need to implement the other subjects

At My Homeschool we offer homeschool programs from Stage One to Stage Five (Year 10)

DIY NESA Homeschooling Plans

You can write your NESA homeschooling plan using these parts of the NESA syllabus:

  • NSW Syllabus Outcomes – what you are hoping to achieve.
  • NSW Syllabus Content – the subject content.

Please note: Some families used to plan using stage statements. However, the new NSW syllabus which is currently being released in stages and the new syllabus no longer has stage statements. Whilst some subjects still have old versions of the curriculum, and therefore still have stage statements, this type of planning will no longer be an option after the new syllabus is fully rolled out in 2023. So we no longer recommend using stage statements for planning.

We are not required to plan to the level of a school. Many learning plans are only a few pages long. I find the syllabus content is the best way to work out what is expected because the outcomes overlap and can be fairly vague. At My Homeschool we use both and give you a comprehensive scope and sequence to show to your AP on registration. 

Here is the official NESA stage statements planning tool. It includes stage statements and outcomes from Stage 1 to Stage 5.

Planning To The NSW Curriculum

Now because of the push by a few states, particularly NSW, families planning to home education in Australia have found that following the curriculum has become their principal concern.

This has meant that much of a NSW home educators’ planning time is spent trying to understand and replicate the content of the NESA Syllabus to their children in order to say to the powers that be, “I teach to the syllabus.” The content, and the sequence of teaching this content, hampers NSW home educators’ ability to develop their ideas on education because they have been forced to comply with this new standard. And as a result, the quality and suitability of the children’s education has suffered.

The overfull NESA syllabus has kept many homeschooling parents preoccupied as they try to sort out how to cram everything in to their children’s timetables. This has resulted in parents choosing quick fix solutions and ‘tick-the-box’ schoolish resources just because they have been marketed as complying with the NESA Syllabus. Some parents find their children are getting bored and missing out on rich educational opportunities. Their curriculum lacks the structure of a balanced education because it has now become about meeting a stage outcome, ticking a box, and teaching to a test.

There is a better way!

Top Tip For Understanding The NESA Homeschooling Syllabus

When you plan using stage statements you can register your NESA homeschooling plan as primary or high school. Therefore if you teach out of order to the NESA syllabus it doesn’t really matter. I have found most topics you want to teach will fall somewhere into the NESA syllabus. Also you should be aware, when you plan try to make sure you have included the following things into your homeschool NESA plan.

  • Incorporate Indigenous history and literature into your reading list most years
  • Include more Asian studies in your history lessons in high school
  • Teach environmental science within geography in high school.
  • Give lessons in using technology

Comparing the Australian Curriculum and NESA Syllabus

I was contacted by a homeschooler who told me at her registration visit that their homeschool NESA assessor said they must use the NSW Curriculum and not the Australian Curriculum to plan. Whilst I knew this perception was prevalent it got me thinking – what is the actual difference between the these curriculum documents and would an assessor in NSW even know if I planned according to the Australian Curriculum or the NESA syllabus?

This led me on a search to find out what the actual differences were and if they really mattered.

What’s the Difference Between the Terms ‘Curriculum’ and ‘Syllabus’

‘Curriculum’ refers to the overall content that is presented – the big picture. In this case everything taught in all subjects from Foundation to the end of high school along with teaching ideas and goals.

‘syllabus’ is more specific referring to particular subjects and it’s usually more descriptive – the details.

The NESA syllabus has much more information to absorb than the Australian Curriculum.

The Content is Similar

There is not a lot of difference in the content however not all state subjects have an Australian Curriculum equivalent.

Within the WA curriculum and NESA syllabus, Australian Curriculum (ACARA) codes are referenced and matched.

For example the NESA Syllabus for English Key shows how they reference the Australian Curriculum content codes and the NESA Syllabus codes.

Look at the Western Australian Curriculum and you will also see all the ACARA codes. 

Main Differences – Outcomes and Order

In the Australian Curriculum Technology and Design is embedded across the curriculum rather than a specific part of the science curriculum.

In the math curriculum there is also a slight difference in the higher grades on when certain concepts are taught such as simultaneous equations.

In most cases the Australian Curriculum’s learning content has been rephrased into an assessable NESA Syllabus outcome by adding a verb to the content statement like: identifies, describes, explains or demonstrates. This slight difference is a philosophical one about children being tested on their knowledge rather than a teacher just making sure she taught it – this theoretical debate is one for academics and teachers and home educators needn’t worry about it.

Here is an example shown from NESA Syllabus Science Stage 2 – Physical World

  • NSW Outcome Syllabus – Code ST2-7PW: identifies ways heat is produced and that heat moves from one object to another
  • Australian Curriculum Content – Code ACSSU049 : Heat can be produced in many ways and can move from one object to another.

See how the difference is just in the phrasing.

The Australian Curriculum is divided into four general stages whereas NSW is divided into six stages:

  • Foundation to Year 2 (which is Stage 1 NSW)
  • Year 3 to Year 6 (which is Stage 2 and 3 in NSW)
  • Year 7 to Year 10 (which is Stage 4 and 5 in NSW)
  • Year 11 and Year 12 (which is Stage 6 in NSW)

The Australian Curriculum is written in grades/years even though the curriculum is actually still based on the concept of teaching students in stages.

At times one NESA outcome can meet a few Australian Curriculum content requirements. For example in the NSW Syllabus for English Stage 2

NESA OUTCOME: Uses effective handwriting and publishes texts using digital technologies (NSW Syllabus Code EN2 -3A) meets four codes in the Australian Curriculum:

  • Year 3 – ACELY1684 – Write using joined letters that are clearly formed and consistent in size (or begins cursive)
  • Year 3 – ACELY1685 – Use software including word processing programs with growing speed and efficiency to construct and edit texts featuring visual, print and audio elements
  • Year 4 – ACELY1696 – Write using clearly-formed joined letters, and develop increased fluency and automaticity (or becomes confident with cursive)
  • Year 4 – ACELY1697 – Use a range of software including word processing programs to construct, edit and publish written text, and select, edit and place visual, print and audio elements

The Australian Curriculum Achievement Standards are almost the same as the NESA Stage Statements. They both use the same content and both have an outcome based approach that describes the learning expected in each subject’s stage or year. However the Australian Curriculum gives a little more instruction on the content.

The Australian Curriculum has general stage statements for each stage; this is not the same as the NSW stage statements.

The NSW Syllabus spends more time explaining the depth to which content is to be covered. Whilst these can be helpful, if you need clarification, you are not required to use these elaborations when planning.

What a relief and blessing for homeschool families to have all the nitty gritty details of daily homeschool and homeschool registration designed for us. It is wonderful to see how simple registration can be.

Michelle you have created a method for recording that oozes simplicity and that is what we all want. Michelle and Jo you are a very present listening ear and help on the My Homeschool forum and your advice is all about making homeschool work for each one. I have absolute freedom in how I use this resource.

I have not followed the schedule as is but have felt encouragement from you to make it work for my busy family lifestyle, quirks and passions. Year 5 is helping our ten year old to move into written narrations and I have found Our Sunburnt Country broken into small chunks with a notebook page for each reading, is so simple and achievable. My daughter's confidence in writing has grown in the first term of using My Homeschool following this very natural method.

Thank you Michelle and Jo, for your commitment to making homeschool simple. What a blessing you are. Kindest Blessings Renelle x

Renelle from NSW

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