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The Australian Curriculum: The Arts covers each of the five arts subjects – Dance, Drama, Media Arts, Music, and Visual Arts – across bands of year levels:

  • Foundation to Year 2
  • Years 3 and 4
  • Years 5 and 6
  • Years 7 and 8
  • Years 9 and 10.

The curriculum is based on the assumption that all students will study the five arts subjects from Foundation to the end of primary school. Schools will be best placed to determine how this will occur. From the first year of secondary school (Year 7 or 8), students will have the opportunity to experience one or more arts subjects in depth. In Years 9 and 10, students will be able to specialise in one or more arts subject. Subjects offered will be determined by state and territory school authorities or individual schools.

Teachers in schools are the key to providing students with rich, sustained, rigorous learning in each of the subjects in the arts. The arts industry complements the provision of the Arts curriculum in schools through programs and partnerships. The industry increasingly provides specialist services for schools, as appropriate, through experiences such as visiting performances, demonstrations and exhibitions, artists in residence, teacher professional development and access for students and teachers to specialised facilities in galleries, concert halls, theatres and other arts venues.

The curriculum for each arts subject includes:

  • a rationale and aims
  • the structure for learning
  • band descriptions
  • content descriptions
  • content elaborations
  • links to statements about student diversity, general capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities
  • sequence of achievement
  • glossary.

In the Australian Curriculum, The Arts is a learning area that draws together related but distinct art forms. While these art forms have close relationships and are often used in interrelated ways, each involves different approaches to arts practices and critical and creative thinking that reflect distinct bodies of knowledge, understanding and skills. The curriculum examines past, current and emerging arts practices in each art form across a range of cultures and places.

Each subject focuses on its own practices, terminology and unique ways of looking at the world.

In Dance, students use the body to communicate and express meaning through purposeful movement. Dance practice integrates choreography, performance, and appreciation of and responses to dance and dance making.

In Drama, students explore and depict real and fictional worlds through use of body language, gesture and space to make meaning as performers and audience. They create, rehearse, perform and respond to drama.

In Media Arts, students use communications technologies to creatively explore, make and interpret stories about people, ideas and the world around them. They engage their senses, imagination and intellect through media artworks that respond to diverse cultural, social and organisational influences on communications practices today.

In Music, students listen to, compose and perform music from a diverse range of styles, traditions and contexts. They create, shape and share sounds in time and space and critically analyse music. Music practice is aurally based and focuses on acquiring and using knowledge, understanding and skills about music and musicians.

In Visual Arts, students experience and explore the concepts of artists, artworks, world and audience. Students learn in, through and about visual arts practices, including the fields of art, craft and design. Students develop practical skills and critical thinking which inform their work as artists and audience.

The Australian Curriculum: The Arts Foundation – Year 10 enables exploration of the dynamic relationships between arts subjects. This can involve students making and responding to artworks in traditional, contemporary and emerging forms, using materials, techniques and technologies from one arts subject to support learning in another. In this twenty-first century arts curriculum, students explore innovative and hybrid art forms which extend and challenge art making and combine practices of two or more art forms.

Within all arts subjects, design facilitates the creative and practical realisation of ideas. Design thinking is a fundamental strategy in the experimentation, refinement and resolution of an artwork and takes into account logical, critical and aesthetic considerations. Many different words describe design within the arts, such as choreographing, narrating, devising, constructing, composing and sculpting. Design connects the different art forms so that they inform each other, providing possibilities for students to create innovative and hybrid forms of art.

Although Dance, Drama, Media Arts, Music, and Visual Arts are described individually in The Arts, students need opportunities to study and make artworks that feature fusion of traditional art forms and practices to create hybrid artworks. This learning involves exploration of traditional and contemporary arts practices from different cultures, including works from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures as suitable to community and cultural protocols. Such works might:

  • combine performance, audio and/or visual aspects
  • combine processes typical of the different arts subjects
  • involve other learning areas
  • exist in physical, digital or virtual spaces
  • combine traditional, contemporary and emerging media and materials
  • be created individually or collaboratively.

Relationship between the strands of making and responding

Making and responding are intrinsically connected. Together they provide students with knowledge, understanding and skills as artists, performers and audience and develop students’ skills in critical and creative thinking. As students make artworks they actively respond to their developing artwork and the artworks of others; as students respond to artworks they draw on the knowledge, understanding and skills acquired through their experiences in making artworks.

The strands inform and support each other. When developing teaching and learning programs, teachers combine aspects of the strands in different ways to provide students with learning experiences that meet their needs and interests. The curriculum provides many opportunities for integration of learning between arts subjects and with other learning areas.

Content descriptions

The focus of each content description in Foundation – Year 6 expands into more specific content descriptions for Years 7–10 as presented in table 2 below.

Table 2: Content descriptions for F–6 and 7–10 in the Australian Curriculum: The Arts
Content description Foundation – Year 6 Content description Years 7–10
1st Exploring ideas and improvising with ways to represent ideas 1st Exploring ideas and improvising with ways to represent ideas
2nd Manipulating and applying the elements/concepts with intent
2nd Developing understanding of practices 3rd Developing and refining understanding of skills and techniques
4th Structuring and organising ideas into form
3rd Sharing artworks through performance, presentation or display 5th Sharing artworks through performance, presentation or display
4th Responding to and interpreting artworks 6th Analysing and reflecting upon intentions
7th Responding to and interpreting artworks
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