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Content structure

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 subjects. Subjects offered will be determined by state and territory school authorities or individual schools.

The curriculum for each Arts subject includes:

  • a rationale and aims
  • an introduction to learning in the subject
  • band descriptions
  • content descriptions
  • content elaborations
  • achievement standards.


Content descriptions in each Arts subject reflect the interrelated strands of Making and Responding.

  • Making includes learning about and using knowledge, skills, techniques, processes, materials and technologies to explore arts practices and make artworks that communicate ideas and intentions.
  • Responding includes exploring, responding to, analysing and interpreting artworks.

Making in each Arts subject engages students’ cognition, imagination, senses and emotions in conceptual and practical ways and involves them thinking kinaesthetically, critically and creatively. They develop knowledge, understanding and skills to design, produce, present and perform artworks. To make an artwork, students work from an idea, an intention, particular resources, an expressive or imaginative impulse, or an external stimulus.

Students learn, develop and refine skills as the artist and as audience for their own work, and as audience for the works of others. Making involves practical actions informed by critical thought to design and produce artworks. Students independently and collaboratively experiment, conceptualise, reflect, refine, present, perform, communicate and evaluate. They learn to explore possibilities across diverse art forms, solve problems, experiment with techniques, materials and technologies, and ask probing questions when making decisions and interpreting meaning.

Part of Making involves students considering their artworks from a range of viewpoints, including that of the audience. Students consider their own responses as artists to interpretations of the artwork as it is developed or in its completed form.


Responding in each Arts subject involves students, as both artists and audiences, exploring, responding to, analysing, interpreting and critically evaluating artworks they experience. Students learn to understand, appreciate and critique the arts through the critical and contextual study of artworks and by making their own artworks. Learning through making is interrelated with and dependent upon responding. Students learn by reflecting on their making and critically responding to the making of others.

When Responding, students learn to critically evaluate the presentation, production and/or performance of artworks through an exploration of the practices involved in making an artwork and the relationship between artist, audience and artwork. Students learn that meanings can be interpreted and represented according to different viewpoints, and that the viewpoints they and others hold shift according to different experiences.

Students consider the artist’s relationship with an audience. They reflect on their own experiences as audience members and begin to understand how artworks represent ideas through expression, symbolic communication and cultural traditions and rituals. Students think about how audiences consume, debate and interpret the meanings of artworks. They recognise that in communities many people are interested in looking at, interpreting, explaining, experiencing and talking about the arts.

Relationships between the strands

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.


In both making and responding to artworks, students consider a range of viewpoints or perspectives through which artworks can be explored and interpreted. These include the contexts in which the artworks are made by artists and experienced by audiences. The world can be interpreted through different contexts, including social, cultural and historical contexts. Based on this curriculum, key questions are provided as a framework for developing students’ knowledge, understanding and inquiry skills.

Examples of viewpoints and questions through which artworks can be explored and interpreted

Examples of viewpointsAs the artist:
Sample questions students might consider when making artworks (as artists, performers, musicians etc.)
As the audience:
Sample questions students might consider as an audience (including critic, historian) when responding to artworks
Contexts, including but not limited to:
  • societal
  • cultural
  • historical
  • What does this artwork tell us about the cultural context in which it was made?
  • How does this artwork relate to my culture?
  • What social or historical forces and influences have shaped my artwork?
  • What ideas am I expressing about the future?
  • How does the artwork relate to its social context?
  • How would different audiences respond to this artwork?
  • What is the cultural context in which it was developed, or in which it is viewed, and what does this context signify?
  • What historical forces and influences are evident in the artwork?
  • What are the implications of this work for future artworks?
  • elements
  • materials
  • skills, techniques, processes
  • forms and styles
  • content
  • How is the work structured/ organised/arranged?
  • How have materials been used to make the work?
  • How have skills and processes been selected and used?
  • What forms and styles are being used and why?
  • Why did the artist select particular content?
Evaluations (judgments)
  • How effective is the artwork in meeting the artist’s intentions?
  • How are concepts and contexts interpreted by the artist?
  • How does the artwork communicate meaning to an audience?
  • What interpretations will audiences have?
  • philosophical and ideological
  • theoretical
  • institutional
  • psychological
  • scientific
  • What philosophical, ideological and/or political perspectives does the artwork represent?
  • How do philosophies, ideologies and/or scientific knowledge impact on artworks?
  • What important theories does this artwork explore?
  • How have established behaviours or conventions influenced its creation?
  • What philosophical, ideological and/or political perspectives evident in the artwork affect the audience’s interpretation of it?
  • How do philosophies, ideologies and/or scientific knowledge impact on artworks?
  • What important theories does this artwork explore?
  • How have established behaviours or conventions influenced its creation?
  • What processes of the mind and emotions are involved in interpreting the artwork?

Band descriptions

Band descriptions provide information about the learning contexts that apply to the content descriptions and achievement standards in each Arts subject. Band descriptions in the Australian Curriculum: The Arts also emphasise the interrelated nature of the two strands, Making and Responding.

Content descriptions

Content descriptions at each band in each subject describe the knowledge, understanding and skills that teachers are expected to teach and students are expected to learn. A concept or skill introduced in a content description in one band may be revisited, strengthened and extended in later bands as needed. Examples of knowledge and skills appropriate for students at each band accompany content descriptions.

Content descriptions in each Arts subject focus on similar concepts and skills that, across the bands, present a developmental sequence of knowledge, understanding and skills. The focus of each content description in Foundation to Year 6 expands into more specific content descriptions for Years 7 to 10 as presented in the table below.

Content descriptionFoundation to Year 6Content descriptionYears 7 to 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 Examining and connecting artworks in context

Content elaborations

Content elaborations are provided for each content description in Foundation to Year 10 as support material to illustrate content. They are intended to assist teachers in developing a common understanding of how the content descriptions might be interpreted in the classroom. They are not intended to be comprehensive content points that all students need to be taught.

Achievement standards

Across Foundation to Year 10, achievement standards indicate the quality of learning that students should typically demonstrate by a particular point in their schooling.

An achievement standard describes the quality of learning (the depth of conceptual understanding and the sophistication of skills) that would indicate the student is well placed to commence the learning required at the next level of achievement.

The sequence of achievement standards in each Arts subject describes progress in the subject, demonstrating a broad sequence of expected learning by the end of the band. This sequence provides teachers with a framework of development in the Arts subject.

The achievement standards for the Arts reflect the distinctive practices of each subject along with aspects of learning that are common to all Arts subjects. Subject-specific terminology and organisation reflect the essential characteristics of learning in each subject. The achievement standards also reflect differences in the nature and scope of the learning in each Arts subject, as well as the relationship between the interrelated strands, Making and Responding.

Achievement standards will be accompanied by portfolios of annotated student work samples that illustrate the expected learning and help teachers to make judgments about whether students have achieved the standard.


A glossary is provided to support a shared understanding of terminology used in particular ways in the Australian Curriculum: The Arts. Subject-specific definitions are provided where terms are used in more than one Arts subject and have differing definitions. Terms in everyday usage or used universally in an art form are not included in this glossary.

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