The Australian curriculum is organised around the interaction of three content strands and four proficiency strands.
The content strands are number and algebra, measurement and geometry, and statistics and probability. They describe what is to be taught and learnt.
The proficiency strands are understanding, fluency, problem solving, and reasoning. They describe how content is explored or developed, that is, the thinking and doing of mathematics. They provide the language to build in the developmental aspects of the learning of mathematics and have been incorporated into the content descriptions of the three content strands described above. This approach has been adopted to ensure students’ proficiency in mathematical skills develops throughout the curriculum and becomes increasingly sophisticated over the years of schooling.
Number and algebra
Number and algebra are developed together, as each enriches the study of the other. Students apply number sense and strategies for counting and representing numbers. They explore the magnitude and properties of numbers. They apply a range of strategies for computation and understand the connections between operations. They recognise patterns and understand the concepts of variable and function. They build on their understanding of the number system to describe relationships and formulate generalisations. They recognise equivalence and solve equations and inequalities. They apply their number and algebra skills to conduct investigations, solve problems and communicate their reasoning.
Measurement and geometry
Measurement and geometry are presented together to emphasise their relationship to each other, enhancing their practical relevance. Students develop an increasingly sophisticated understanding of size, shape, relative position and movement of two-dimensional figures in the plane and three-dimensional objects in space. They investigate properties and apply their understanding of them to define, compare and construct figures and objects. They learn to develop geometric arguments. They make meaningful measurements of quantities, choosing appropriate metric units of measurement. They build an understanding of the connections between units and calculate derived measures such as area, speed and density.
Statistics and probability
Statistics and probability initially develop in parallel and the curriculum then progressively builds the links between them. Students recognise and analyse data and draw inferences. They represent, summarise and interpret data and undertake purposeful investigations involving the collection and interpretation of data. They assess likelihood and assign probabilities using experimental and theoretical approaches. They develop an increasingly sophisticated ability to critically evaluate chance and data concepts and make reasoned judgments and decisions, as well as building skills to critically evaluate statistical information and develop intuitions about data.
Proficiency strands
The proficiency strands describe the actions in which students can engage when learning and using the content. While not all proficiency strands apply to every content description, they indicate the breadth of mathematical actions that teachers can emphasise.
Understanding
Students build a robust knowledge of adaptable and transferable mathematical concepts. They make connections between related concepts and progressively apply the familiar to develop new ideas. They develop an understanding of the relationship between the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ of mathematics. Students build understanding when they connect related ideas, when they represent concepts in different ways, when they identify commonalities and differences between aspects of content, when they describe their thinking mathematically and when they interpret mathematical information.
Fluency
Students develop skills in choosing appropriate procedures, carrying out procedures flexibly, accurately, efficiently and appropriately, and recalling factual knowledge and concepts readily. Students are fluent when they calculate answers efficiently, when they recognise robust ways of answering questions, when they choose appropriate methods and approximations, when they recall definitions and regularly use facts, and when they can manipulate expressions and equations to find solutions.
Problem solving
Students develop the ability to make choices, interpret, formulate, model and investigate problem situations, and communicate solutions effectively. Students formulate and solve problems when they use mathematics to represent unfamiliar or meaningful situations, when they design investigations and plan their approaches, when they apply their existing strategies to seek solutions, and when they verify that their answers are reasonable.
Reasoning
Students develop an increasingly sophisticated capacity for logical thought and actions, such as analysing, proving, evaluating, explaining, inferring, justifying and generalising. Students are reasoning mathematically when they explain their thinking, when they deduce and justify strategies used and conclusions reached, when they adapt the known to the unknown, when they transfer learning from one context to another, when they prove that something is true or false and when they compare and contrast related ideas and explain their choices.
Content descriptions
The mathematics curriculum includes content descriptions at each year level. These describe the knowledge, concepts, skills and processes that teachers are expected to teach and students are expected to learn. However, they do not prescribe approaches to teaching. The content descriptions are intended to ensure that learning is appropriately ordered and that unnecessary repetition is avoided. However, a concept or skill introduced at one year level may be revisited, strengthened and extended at later year levels as needed.
Sub-strands
Content descriptions are grouped into sub-strands to illustrate the clarity and sequence of development of concepts through and across the year levels. They support the ability to see the connections across strands and the sequential development of concepts from foundation to year 10.
Number and place value |
Using units of measurement |
Chance |
Fractions and decimals |
Shape |
Data representation and interpretation |
Real numbers |
Geometric reasoning |
Money and financial mathematics |
Location and transformation |
Patterns and algebra |
Pythagoras and trigonometry |
Linear and non-linear relationships |