Using the general capabilities

It is important to consider that:

  • the general capabilities are an integral part of the Australian Curriculum
  • the general capabilities are not an alternative curriculum to the learning areas but can support access to and progress through the learning areas
  • through a focus on the general capabilities of Literacy, Numeracy and Personal and social capability in particular, students with disability can access teaching and learning programs drawn from age-equivalent learning area content that is relevant to their individual learning needs
  • additional levels were developed at Level 1 for Literacy, Numeracy and Personal and social capability to be inclusive of all students. One additional level was developed at Level 1 for both Numeracy and Personal and social capability, and four additional levels for Literacy. The Literacy capability begins with a description of the skills and understanding of students with an unintentional level of communication, and this description does not need to be repeated in the other capabilities.

Using the Literacy capability to personalise learning

Literacy involves students:

  • developing the knowledge, skills and dispositions to interpret and use language confidently for learning and communicating in and out of school, and for participating effectively in society
  • listening to, reading, viewing, speaking, writing and creating oral, print, visual and digital texts, and using and modifying language for different purposes in a range of contexts
  • understanding how the English language works in different social contexts, and critically assessing writers’ opinions, biases and intents, assisting the students to make increasingly sophisticated language choices in their own texts.

Literacy is important for students with disability because:

  • a focus on literacy is considered essential for all students, regardless of ability
  • the ability to communicate enables learning across the curriculum, the school day and life outside of school
  • language, verbal or non-verbal, is critical for the development of literacy skills
  • in many cases, developing literacy skills supports the development of communication skills and vice versa; this is the case for students who use augmentative and alternative communication as well as for students who use speech to communicate.

The Literacy continuum is organised in six elements:

  • Comprehending texts through listening, reading and viewing
  • Composing texts through speaking, writing and creating
  • Text knowledge
  • Grammar knowledge
  • Word knowledge
  • Visual knowledge.

The elements of Comprehending and Composing represent the processes of receptive and expressive language which can be applied across the whole curriculum.

The Comprehending and Composing elements of the Literacy continuum describe early literacy skills in the first four levels of the learning sequence (Levels 1a–1d), with a particular focus on communication. Level 1a begins with unintentional communication, progressing to intentional symbolic communication at Level 1d. Level 1e begins to focus on the application of literacy skills.

Considerations when using the Literacy continuum:

  • Each level on the Literacy continuum can apply to students at any point in their schooling.
  • Any literacy skills, knowledge, behaviours and dispositions identified as focus learning for a student with disability must be delivered through teaching and learning programs drawn from age-appropriate learning area content.
  • The focus of teaching for students operating within Levels 1a – 1d is to extend the range of communication functions the student can consistently express with increasing independence across the curriculum and school day, and to create literacy opportunities that are appropriate to students’ communicative abilities.
  • Although literacy is presented as a continuum of learning, some students move slowly between levels or may remain at one level of the continuum throughout their entire schooling. This must not restrict their entitlement to progress through the Australian Curriculum by accessing rigorous, relevant and meaningful teaching and learning programs drawn from age-appropriate learning area content.
  • The presence of a disability does not by itself mean that a student needs adjustments that specifically emphasise the Literacy continuum.
  • Some students who have a disability may be communicating at a level that is commensurate with their year of schooling even if their mode of communication is not speech.
  • Students who cannot rely on speech to communicate require augmentative and alternative communication strategies to access and participate in the curriculum and meet their literacy needs, as well as their learning needs in other areas across the curriculum.
  • Principals, schools and teachers, in collaboration with the student and their family, should seek specialised advice, including speech pathology, in determining how best to support a student’s communication skills.

Using the Numeracy capability to personalise learning

Numeracy involves students:

  • recognising and understanding the role of mathematics in the world
  • developing the dispositions and capacities to use mathematical knowledge and skills purposefully
  • increasing their autonomy in managing everyday situations.

Numeracy is important for students with disability because:

  • calculating and estimating and the development of number sense enable students to deal with numbers encountered in everyday life
  • understanding patterns and relationships helps students make sense of and describe change
  • using fractions, decimals, percentages, ratios and rates helps students understand practical matters such as fuel consumption, mobile phone packages and mortgages
  • using spatial reasoning helps students learn to navigate and make sense of their surroundings
  • understanding statistical information helps students to develop skills supporting self-determination, including setting goals and using graphic means to show progress
  • measurement assists with time management, estimating capacity of containers and following a recipe.

The Numeracy continuum is organised in six elements:

  • Estimating and calculating with whole numbers
  • Recognising and using patterns and relationships
  • Using fractions, decimals, percentages, ratios and rates
  • Using spatial reasoning
  • Interpreting and drawing conclusions from statistical information
  • Using measurement.

Each element of the Numeracy continuum begins at Level 1a, which describes the beginning of numeracy development with a focus on the language of numeracy in everyday contexts. Level 1b begins to focus on the application of numeracy skills.

Considerations when using the Numeracy continuum

  • The Numeracy continuum does not replace the role of the Mathematics learning area for students with disability.
  • Teachers can identify specific numeracy skills, knowledge, behaviours and dispositions that a student needs to develop in relation to their individual learning needs and plan for opportunities to develop these across the curriculum and throughout the school day.
  • The skills, knowledge, behaviours and dispositions at the beginning of the Numeracy continuum assume that students are able to communicate with intent. For students who have an unintentional level of communication, teachers should refer to the beginning of the Literacy continuum to identify a focus for learning. This does not exclude the student from the Numeracy general capability, but rather places the learning focus on communication.

Using the Personal and social capability to personalise learning

Personal and social capability involves students:

  • recognising, understanding and labelling their own emotions, values, strengths and capacities
  • managing and regulating their own emotions and behaviour, and persisting in completing tasks and overcoming personal obstacles
  • perceiving and understanding other people’s emotions and viewpoints, and showing understanding and empathy for others
  • forming strong and healthy relationships, and managing and positively influencing the emotions and moods of others.

Personal and social capability is important for students with disability because students with well-developed social and emotional skills:

  • find it easier to manage themselves
  • relate to others
  • develop resilience and a sense of self-worth
  • resolve conflict
  • engage in teamwork
  • feel positive about themselves and the world around them.

The Personal and social capability continuum is organised in four interrelated elements:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-management
  • Social awareness
  • Social management.

Each element of the Personal and social capability continuum begins at Level 1a, which describes the development of awareness of self and others. Level 1b moves on to describing the skills or actions to accompany those understandings about self and others.

Considerations when using the Personal and social capability continuum:

  • Teachers can use the Personal and social capability continuum to identify particular skills, knowledge, behaviours and dispositions that a student needs to develop in relation to their individual learning needs and plan for opportunities to develop these across the curriculum and throughout the school day.
  • The Personal and social capability continuum does not provide the context for learning. Teaching and learning programs are developed from age-equivalent learning area content through which teachers may specifically target the development of personal and social capabilities.
  • Each level on the Personal and social capability continuum can apply to students at any point in their schooling.
  • The skills, knowledge, behaviours and dispositions at the beginning of the Personal and social capability continuum assume students have a sense of self and are able to communicate with intent. For students who have an unintentional level of communication, teachers should refer to the beginning of the Literacy continuum to identify a focus for learning. This does not exclude the student from the Personal and social capability continuum, but rather places the learning focus on communication.