Access keys | Skip to primary navigation | Skip to secondary navigation | Skip to content | Skip to footer |
Problems viewing this site

4.2 Delivery approaches to curriculum

On this page:

In Queensland, schools decide how senior curriculum will be implemented and delivered based on their specific context and the need to meet QCAA requirements for the certification of students in the school.

Schools may consider implementing flexible curriculum delivery approaches to the standard delivery for individual students, selected subjects and/or whole-school cohorts to enable flexibility for school communities.

All subjects offered by the school are entered in the Student Management application, where the standard delivery pattern (see below) is the default. A school must indicate its intention to offer a course of study through a flexible delivery option when entering a subject offering. Any variations to the standard delivery, including a variation to the sequence of assessment, must be completed as part of the subject offering by the date published in the SEP calendar.

For more information about flexible delivery options, see Flexibility in senior secondary schooling: Flexible Curriculum Delivery Working Group findings. For more information about subject offerings, see Section 13.2.5: Enrolments and results.

4.2.1 Standard delivery

In the standard delivery of a syllabus, it is typically expected that the learning program in the senior years is completed over two years — Years 11 and 12 — with Units 1 and 2 undertaken before Units 3 and 4 for General, Applied and Applied (Essential) syllabuses, and over one year for General (Extension) syllabuses. Each unit has been developed with a notional teaching, learning and assessment time of 55 hours, or a minimum 55 hours for Applied syllabuses. In line with sector or employing authorities’ policies and advice, students should begin their senior studies commensurate with their preparation and abilities to undertake the senior phase of learning.

4.2.2 Flexible delivery

Schools make decisions about curriculum delivery to meet the needs of their students. There are a range of options for flexible delivery of curriculum for subjects in schools and there may be overlap between options or variations within options.

For these reasons, all flexible delivery variations must be indicated in the Student Management application in the QCAA Portal when subject offerings are selected so the QCAA can ensure that:

  • the principal has approved the variations as required and considered the implications for the student, cohort and school
  • all students enrolled in Applied (Essential), General and General (Extension) subjects are administered endorsed assessment in Units 3 and 4
  • for endorsement, confirmation sample selection and external assessment arrangements, the QCAA is aware of when all students will begin and complete internal summative assessment and external assessment in any given year.

Approval requirement

The principal’s approval is required for schools to offer flexible delivery approaches, including variations to the sequence, start date or completion date. This approval indicates the school’s intention to offer a course of study through a flexible delivery approach so that the QCAA knows which schools and students are accessing and completing summative internal assessments and external assessments in a given year (see Section 13.2.5: Enrolments and results).

Before approving a flexible approach, the principal must consider:

  • providing students with all learning from the P–10 Australian Curriculum to ensure they have covered the foundational knowledge and skills required within senior syllabus documents
  • providing opportunities for students to make informed decisions around senior education and training (SET) planning, career and tertiary pathways and subject selections before beginning senior studies
  • the nature, ability, maturity, social needs and wellbeing of the student/s and the degree of support required, e.g. student study skills, organisational skills, independence. This may include consultation with guidance officers or other relevant professionals, e.g. psychologists, case workers, coaches
  • parent/carer support for the relevant alternative approach
  • the requisite knowledge and skills contained across senior syllabuses that may be required for successful completion of other senior subjects, e.g. Specialist Mathematics requires knowledge from Mathematical Methods; Chinese Extension requires knowledge from Chinese
  • the requirements for endorsement, confirmation and other QCAA quality assurance processes
  • the requirements surrounding the scheduling and administration of external assessment
  • the management and communication of pathway changes or subject changes.

Principals should also consider:

  • the additional demands placed on teachers, schools and systems, including greater demands in planning time, resource development and instructional design
  • the planning time required for consultation and communication with the school community
  • other factors, such as timetabling, staffing, resource development, students transferring to and from the school, the impact of implementation of revised or redeveloped syllabuses at the same time as teaching out existing syllabuses, and ongoing evaluation and management.

For more information, see Section 13: Administration.

Flexible delivery options

Options that impact on QCAA quality assurance processes

Options that do not impact on QCAA quality assurance processes

  • Variable progression rate — early entry and completion; accelerated, compressed or extended completion
  • Standalone delivery of Units 3 and 4
  • Alternative learning centres
  • Multiple cohorts
  • Combined classes — alternative sequences for General subjects, where available
  • Combined classes — differentiated concurrent instruction for General subjects; combined classes if required for 2019 and 2024 Applied subjects; Years 10 and 11 combined
  • Online delivery
  • Distance education
  • Partner, shared campus or shared school arrangements.

Variable progression rate

Variable progression encompasses variations to the start date, completion date and semesters taken to complete the course of study.

These strategies may be used for individual students with special requirements or for flexible delivery of particular subjects.

  • Early entry and completion — Schools may identify a student or group of students who are capable of starting a senior subject earlier than normal. These students may begin and complete some subjects before or by the year they are likely to be eligible for a QCE. For further information about opening a learning account, see Section 13.2.4: Students and registration
  • Accelerated completion — Some students may begin some senior subjects earlier, and when the school identifies the students as being able to do so, with principal approval, these students may complete a subject in a shorter time than normal.
  • Compressed curriculum — Schools may shorten the duration of the course from two years, and concentrate the learning into one year.
    • This is typically achieved by doubling the time students study a subject during the year of delivery. Summative assessment is undertaken during that year. Compressed courses may be offered annually for some subjects to support students wanting to spread their learning over two years; or in alternate years as a strategy for maintaining small enrolments with vertical candidature, i.e. students enrolled in the same class from different year levels.
    • Schools may deliver one or more subjects using a compressed curriculum model.
    • Timelines for compressed delivery, where they vary from standard delivery, are published in the SEP calendar.
  • Extended completion — Certain students may complete their senior studies over an extended time, for example, three years. This option requires students to complete an additional year of schooling. While summative assessments may be spread over this period, the Unit 3 and 4 pair for a subject must be completed within the same year, with the same subject cohort. For example, a student on a reduced timetable (e.g. an elite athlete or a student with disability) might complete Units 3 and 4 for some subjects in one year, and for other subjects in the following year (see Section 6: Access arrangements and reasonable adjustments (AARA), including illness and misadventure).

Standalone delivery of Units 3 and 4

In QCAA-developed four-unit syllabuses, learning is organised in two pairs of units. Each unit pair covers all syllabus objectives, i.e. Units 3 and 4 revisit all syllabus objectives experienced in Units 1 and 2.

For some students in some subjects, with the approval of the principal, Units 3 and 4 learning can be completed without having completed Units 1 and 2 learning. Students may elect to study only Units 3 and 4 and complete a subject by the end of Year 11. This option may have implications for a student’s eligibility for a QCE (see Section 2.1.3: Set pattern of learning).

Alternative learning centres

Across Queensland there are a number of main learning providers (MLPs) who administer curriculum and assessment to students and cohorts using flexible delivery options. These schools are recognised by the QCAA as alternative learning centres for the purpose of supporting quality assurance processes, for example, implementation of an ancillary common internal assessment (CIA) or multiple cohorts of a subject per year. Alternative learning centres may operate using a wide variety of strategies, such as online delivery, distance education, partner or shared campus arrangements or multiple cohorts. These flexible delivery options are not limited to alternative learning centres and may also be implemented by other schools.

Multiple cohorts

Some schools allow students to enrol into the complete course of study at multiple points across a year. This means that there can be more than one cohort completing the same subject at various points across a year, with each cohort at a different stage of learning, for example, a standard delivery plus a variable progression cohort, or four cohorts each beginning a subject in each school term across the year.

Schools offering multiple cohorts are required to meet timelines for QCAA quality assurance processes and external assessment.

Combined classes

Combined classes enable students from different year levels to be taught and assessed in the same class, using a variety of classroom management and instruction strategies. Schools may choose this approach to maintain breadth of curriculum delivery and/or to cater for subjects with small candidatures. There are different options available, but these are dependent on the type of subject being delivered.

Differentiated concurrent instruction— General and applied (Essential) subjects

Differentiated concurrent instruction for General and Applied (Essential) subjects occurs when students are timetabled into a combined class, but the teacher differentiates instruction for each group. Common themes or objectives may be used to guide instruction and/or lessons may be phased to split the direct instruction time for a year level.

Resources to support schools with concurrent delivery are available via the QCAA Portal for Essential English, Essential Mathematics and for General syllabuses.

Combined classes for Applied subjects

A cohort of students beginning the subject is timetabled into a combined class with a cohort of students who have completed the first two units. The students in a combined class study the same subject matter, with instruction for the group differentiated to match the stage of the course. The first two units studied are formative units, followed by two summative units, which may be Units 1 and 2 or Units 3 and 4. The assessment is differentiated and designed to match the conditions outlined in the syllabus for that stage of the course. Students who have commenced their study on a 2019 Applied senior syllabus and will be completing Units 3 and 4 in 2024, continue to follow the approved study plan for that subject. Where it is necessary for a school to implement a combined class in that subject, schools should select units from the 2024 Applied senior syllabus that best aligns with Units 3 and 4 in the school’s approved study plan. Schools who require assistance with adjusting their teaching and learning program for a combined cohort in 2024 are advised to contact the learning area for support.

Years 10 and 11 combined

Students are timetabled in combined classes to accommodate curriculum breadth.

  • This strategy is most commonly implemented for subjects that are an elective in Year 10 and that students are likely to continue in Years 11 and 12, such as languages. Year 10 students may complete Year 10 studies with Year 11 completing Units 1 and 2. Students are then supported to complete their summative assessment in Year 12 in a standalone class.
  • If a student completes assessment for Units 1 and 2 in Year 11 and assessment for Units 3 and 4 in Year 12, as usual, there is no variation to the standard delivery and schools do not need approval for registration.
  • If students, having acquired the requisite knowledge and skills to begin the senior phase of learning early, decide to take two years to complete Units 1 and 2, beginning in Year 10, the principal must approve the registration of a variable progression — extended completion.
  • For more information about Year 10 learning options and advice, see the QCAA website at

Alternative sequences

Alternative sequences are a defined subject offering in Student Management, which can be offered as a flexible delivery option to the parent General syllabus in low candidature combined classes. Alternative sequences provide developmental courses of study consisting of four units where the subject matter and assessment described in the units is undertaken by students either as formative or summative studies. In the final two units studied, students will undertake summative assessment. Formative and summative units are defined in the syllabus for each year of implementation and may differ from the standard sequence of the parent General syllabus.

An alternative sequence has the same objectives, underpinning factors, pedagogical and conceptual frameworks and subject matter as the parent General syllabus, to ensure comparable complexity and challenge in learning and assessment.

There are 13 General syllabuses with an alternative sequence.

General syllabuses that offer alternative sequences
  • Agricultural Science
  • Ancient History
  • Biology
  • Design
  • Drama
  • Geography
  • Legal Studies
  • Modern History
  • Music
  • Physical Education
  • Physics
  • Specialist Mathematics
  • Visual Art

An alternative sequence has the same objectives, underpinning factors, pedagogical and conceptual frameworks and subject matter as the parent General syllabus, to ensure comparable complexity and challenge in learning and assessment. However, the alternative sequence for a subject identifies the course of study and assessment program that must be followed as outlined in the Course overview section of the syllabus. Schools may not vary the delivery order of units, commencement unit, sequence of assessment in a unit or assessment techniques specified in the alternative sequence.

The General subject and its alternative sequence are alternatives and only one may be delivered to a student cohort. If the school has selected alternative sequence as the subject offering in Student Management, the alternative sequence resource must be followed when implementing the subject. See Section 4.2.2: Flexible delivery. School principals seeking access to view the alternative sequence resource should email

Before deciding to choose the alternative sequence, as a subject offering, schools may need to consider the implications for students transferring into or from their school.

Once a school has begun implementing the alternative sequence with a cohort, they cannot change to the General syllabus subject offering midway through the course and vice versa.

With each new cohort, schools must ensure that they are beginning the alternative sequence with the correct unit.

The alternative sequence for a subject identifies the course of study that must be followed in the Course overview section of the syllabus. Schools may not vary the delivery order of units, commencement unit, sequence of assessment in a unit or assessment techniques specified in the alternative sequence. Each year’s commencement units are specified in the table below.

Pattern of units to deliver at the start of each alternative sequence subject offering

Commencement year

Alternative sequence subject offerings must start delivery with the following units (commencement units)
2023 Alternative sequence units 1 and 2
2024 Alternative sequence units 3 and 4
2025 Alternative sequence units 1 and 2
2026 Alternative sequence units 3 and 4
Commencement units continue in the same pattern, that is, Units 1 and 2 in odd years, and Units 3 and 4 in even years.

Alternative sequences and resources to help schools implement an alternative sequence subject are available to registered schools via the QCAA Portal.

Online delivery

Enrolling Queensland students in online courses is an approach that may be used to broaden a school’s curriculum offerings. Online courses may be facilitated by a distance education provider or by schools (or school clusters) developing local online solutions. Some of the approaches listed below will require schools to identify the MLP or learning provider, and to be familiar with their responsibilities regarding assessment. For internal assessment, schools must ensure that the integrity of assessment is maintained, and that they are able to implement authentication strategies. The responsibilities for external assessment are outlined in Section 10.1: External assessment roles and responsibilities and Section 6.3: Roles and responsibilities for AARA.

Students may complete online study during regular timetabled lesson/s, as after-school or before-school instruction to suit individual student needs, as private study moderated by a tutor at key junctures, or through a delivery strategy that is a combination of some or all of these strategies.

Online delivery strategies may include:

  • distance education
  • shared school arrangements
  • school providers
  • internal school arrangements — subjects that cannot be delivered during the normal school day may be delivered through classes timetabled ‘offline’, recorded lessons, online tutorials, and online resources and activities.

Distance education

Distance education providers support the learning of Queensland students who are:

  • geographically isolated
  • travelling or temporarily residing overseas
  • travelling in Australia or Australian waters
  • unable to attend the local school for medical reasons
  • home-schooled using distance education
  • accessing subjects not otherwise available to them.

Partner, shared campus or shared school arrangements

Schools may choose to broaden their curriculum offerings by partnering with other schools to offer variations to delivery such as:

  • delivery in the same geographical area — students attend classes at the partner school
  • online delivery — one school delivers a course to a number of students at different campuses. The school offering a course in this way may or may not be a distance education provider.

When a student undertakes learning with more than one learning provider, schools and learning providers need to ensure that:

  • the student is enrolled in a subject by their MLP or another learning provider
  • each learning provider is familiar with the requirements for
    • registration and administration of the external assessment as necessary (see Section 13: Administration)
    • other quality assurance processes for the subject, such as endorsement, confirmation or at quality assurance review.

Back to top