General capabilities

General capabilities are a key dimension of the Australian Curriculum. They encompass knowledge, skills, behaviours and dispositions that, together with curriculum content in each learning area and the cross-curriculum priorities, will assist students to live and work successfully in the twenty-first century. They play a significant role in realising the goals set out in the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (MCEETYA) 2008 that all young people in Australia should be supported to become successful learners, confident and creative individuals, and active and informed citizens.

The Australian Curriculum includes seven general capabilities. These are:

  • Literacy

  • Numeracy

  • Information and communication technology capability

  • Critical and creative thinking

  • Personal and social capability

  • Ethical understanding

  • Intercultural understanding.

For further information on the general capabilities and to access learning continua, visit the Australian Curriculum website and select the menu under the F−10 Curriculum tab.

General capabilities in the learning areas

In the Australian Curriculum, general capabilities are addressed through the learning areas and are identified wherever they are developed or applied in content descriptions. They are also identified where they offer opportunities to add depth and richness to student learning in content elaborations.

General capabilities materials for schools and teachers

ACARA has published a set of general capabilities materials on the Australian Curriculum website as a resource to help teachers:

  • develop a shared understanding of the nature, scope and sequence of the general capabilities in the Australian Curriculum

  • confirm their understanding of intended learning wherever general capabilities are identified in learning area content descriptions and elaborations

  • plan for and guide students’ development of the general capabilities in school and classroom learning programs.

The materials for each general capability are in three parts:

  • an introduction that describes the nature and scope of the capability, its place in the learning areas and its evidence base

  • organising elements that underpin a learning continuum

  • a learning continuum that describes the knowledge, skills, behaviours and dispositions that students can reasonably be expected to develop at particular stages of schooling.

Development of the general capabilities materials

First published in 2010, the general capabilities materials were developed to inform the writing of learning area curriculum (Foundation Year 10) and to ensure the strong and coherent inclusion of the general capabilities in the Australian Curriculum.

General capabilities materials have been developed by writing teams with expertise in the particular capabilities in consultation with the General Capabilities Advisory Group , together with advice from academics, focus groups of teachers and curriculum experts from state and territory education authorities and from a national consultation process. The materials build on significant state and territory initiatives and practice, and are informed by national and international research.

View the composition of the General Capabilities Advisory Group (PDF 60 KB)

Consultation on general capabilities materials

General capabilities materials were revised in 2011, following national consultation conducted between June and August 2011. ACARA received 367 responses nationally to the online questionnaire and 43 written submissions. The final report is now available. The report on the consultation is available.

View the General Capabilities Consultation Report (PDF 1.13 MB)

Future work

Work associated with general capabilities is ongoing. Future work includes:

  • additional exemplification of the general capabilities in the learning areas

  • investigating the possibility of developing one or more additional levels for personal and social capability focusing on the learning of students with disability

  • monitoring and reviewing the materials as additional learning areas are developed and approved by ministers for implementation in schools

  • revision of the ICT capability in conjunction with the development of the Australian Curriculum: Technologies

  • following completion of all learning areas, a review of the extent to which general capabilities have been addressed in the curriculum.