How do Educators of Students with Disabilities in Specialist Settings Understand and Apply the Australian Curriculum Framework?

Peter Walker, Karyn Carson, Jane Jarvis, Julie McMillan, Anna Noble, David Armstrong, Kerry Bissaker, Carolyn Palmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Despite aspirations to be a world-class national curriculum, the Australian Curriculum (AC) has been criticised as ‘manifestly deficient’ (Australian Government Department of Education and Training, 2014 p. 5) as an inclusive curriculum, failing to meet the needs of all students with disabilities (SWD) and their teachers. There is a need for research into the daily attempts of educators to navigate the tension between a ‘top-down’ system-wide curriculum and a ‘bottom-up’ regard for individual student needs, with a view to informing both policy and practice. This article is the first of two research papers in which we report the findings from a national online Research in Special Education (RISE) Australian Curriculum Survey of special educators in special schools, classes, and units regarding their experience using the AC to plan for and teach SWD. Survey results indicated (a) inconsistent use of the AC as the primary basis for developing learning objectives and designing learning experiences, (b) infrequent use of the achievement standards to support assessment and reporting, and (c) considerable supplementation of the AC from other resources when educating SWD. Overall, participants expressed a lack of confidence in translating the AC framework into a meaningful curriculum for SWD. Implications for policy, practice, and future research are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-126
Number of pages16
JournalAustralasian Journal of Special and Inclusive Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Australian Association of Special Education (AASE) through the AASE Research Award.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018.


  • Australian Curriculum
  • special educators
  • learning objectives
  • students with disabilities
  • learning experiences


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