New ways to know the world

Joanna Stella holding a workshop.

Curriculum changes: CEO Education Officer Joanna Stella holds a workshop.

After 23 years big changes are underway in the Primary school syllabus.

In 2016 the first of the two new subjects that will make up HSIE (Human Society and its Environment) Key Learning Area – or KLA – will be implemented in Primary Schools.

It’s part of a continuation of the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals of December 2008 where all state and territory education ministers, in conjunction with the then Federal Education Minister Julia Gillard, agreed to a new national set of goals for education in Australia.

HSIE was launched in NSW schools in 1982 with the replacement of two programs: Investigating Social Studies (K–6) Curriculum Policy Statement (1982) and General Religious and Moral Education Curriculum for Primary Schools (1964).

It’s been described as: “the key learning area in which students develop knowledge, understandings, skills, and values and attitudes about people and their social and physical environments” (Human Society and its Environment K-6 Syllabus, 2006).

“I guess the big change here is that traditionally in Primary schools, we’ve taught a generic learning area known as HSIE – now in Primary for the first time we have a specific History and a specific Geography syllabus that focus on concepts and skills based on the enquiry approach,” said Peter Kelaher, Education Officer at the Catholic Education Office (CEO).

“For the first time we’re looking at History and Geography K to 10,” said Mr Kelaher.

“There’s a genuine continuum which wouldn’t have been the case with the old HSIE.”

CEO Education Officer, Joanna Stella, said there’s going to be emphasis on the more disciplined approaches to History and Geography.

“This will create potential for integration between History and Geography with other subjects,” said Mrs Stella.


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