Aligning 7-10 with the new VCE English and EAL Study Design

Before beginning this article, I need to point out that I absolutely do not recommend turning the 7-10 curriculum into a “mini VCE”, or a funnel that only points students towards the senior certificate. There are many varied pathways students can take through secondary school, and the VCE is only one of them. When I see scope and sequence that replicate the VCE all the way down (such as essays and analysing argument in Year 7, or the new Crafting and Creating Texts units making an appearance in Year 8) I worry about the message we’re sending to students.

That being said, there is a logical sequence to the entire 7-12 curriculum, and there are elements of the VCE which can be broken down and taught along the way. That doesn’t mean copying the Study Design, but it does provide an opportunity to map the 7-10 curriculum to the Key Knowledge and Skills required at the top end.

Opportunities for alignment

When identifying places to align the 7-10 and 11-12 curricula, always start with what your students need. I believe that every faculty needs a strategy, and that the vision and purpose for that strategy should be highly contextualised to your cohort. This might mean that academic results and high achievement are a consideration throughout. It may mean that a large part of your student body will turn towards the VM subjects rather than VCE English. You may have a large EAL community, or a high proportion of students with disabilities, learning needs, or other barriers to accessing the senior curriculum. Whatever the nature of your cohort you will need to carefully consider the opportunities for aligning your junior and middle curriculum to the VCE.

I’m focused on the VCE English and EAL Study Design here because that accounts for roughly 80% of the total cohort of students. It will be worth taking these ideas and applying them to the Vocational Major VCE Literacy Study Design if that is relevant to your cohort.

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Teachers as Writers: Classroom Modelling PL – October 24th @ 4pm

The mapping process

Here’s a process for mapping the 7-10 against the VCE Study Design

  1. I find it useful to begin by filtering the Victorian Curriculum for English down to just 7-10. This link will take you straight to a filtered page. Most heads of faculty will be familiar with the Curriculum Mapping Templates. These aren’t particularly useful in the early stages, but they do serve as a handy audit tool at the end of the scope and sequence process.
  2. In a separate window, open up the VCE English and EAL Study Design and head to the Key Knowledge and skills.
  3. Copy and paste the Key Knowledge and Skills into a separate document, with the VCE KK and KS in the left column of a table. If you can’t face the idea of all that copy/pasting (and let’s face it, you can’t), I’ve included a PDF template below where I’ve done just that.
  4. Work through the 7-10 curriculum and match the knowledge and skills to the content descriptions. Remember, you’re not trying to make a carbon copy of the VCE – you’re identifying the main knowledge and skills required, and deciding how and when to teach and develop those skills.
  5. Use this template in your discussions around scope and sequence.

Key knowledge and skills mapping template

I’d recommend printing a copy of this template on A3 and using it with your faculty or 7-10 team to identify places to match the VCE Study Design to the 7-10 Curriculum:

Key points for discussion

Using the template, discuss the following:

  • Where are the obvious overlaps with key knowledge and skills which are delivered all the way through? For example, “appropriate conventions of syntax…Standard Australian English” is featured throughout. You don’t have to map these to every single place – just be aware that they are core skills required throughout.
  • Where are the overlaps between the Units? I’ve included every Unit and Area of Study in the template for the sake of completion, but there are many similarities between the KK and KS, so you don’t need to repeat yourself. For example, once you’ve identified the skills required for Unit 1 Area of Study 2 Crafting Texts, you can anticipate that the same skills are required for U3 AoS 2 Creating Texts.
  • How do the KK and KS align with the 7-10 curriculum? In the notes section of the template, identify specific places where these skills can be taught.
  • Build 7-10 Units around the skills, taking into consideration your school context. Examples below.

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Here are a few examples of where the KK and KS match the 7-10 descriptors. For each example I’ve suggested which knowledge and skills match, and the kind of activity which may address/develop those skills:

Example 1

Level 10 Expressing and developing ideas: Analyse and evaluate the effectiveness of a wide range of sentence and clause structures as authors design and craft texts (VCELA472)
VCE English Unit 1 AOS 2 Key knowledge: the power of language when deployed by an author to achieve their aims
VCE English Unit 1 AOS 2 Key skills: employ and experiment with vocabulary, text structures and language features for effective writing
ACTIVITY: Analyse a short mentor text, identify key language features, and produce a new original text in the same style

Example 2

Level 9 Literature: Explore and reflect on personal understanding of the world and significant human experience gained from interpreting various representations of life matters in texts (VCELT437)
VCE English Unit 1 AOS 1 Key knowledge: personal and analytical writing in response to a text
VCE English Unit 1 AOS 1 Key skills: plan and develop personal and analytical writing about a text, including the use of appropriate metalanguage to discuss vocabulary, text structures and language features

ACTIVITY: Brainstorm the text-to-self and text-to-world connections from a text studied in class

As you can see in both examples I have avoided creating a “mini VCE” unit – these activities could slot neatly into other more suitable units in 7-10, such as a Year 9 text study, or a Year 10 creative writing unit.

The end of the mini-VCE

I’d love to see an approach like this replace the tendency to just replicate VCE in 7-10. I understand that mirroring the VCE units is more straightforward and that most students will eventually undertake the VCE, but most is not all. There are also many great elements of the 7-10 curriculum which might be missed if the focus is too much at the top end. For example, there are many more opportunities in 7-10 to study multimodal texts and to explore speaking and listening outcomes than in the VCE.

The next time you’re curriculum planning or redeveloping your English cope and sequence, consider taking an approach like this rather than making a mini-VCE in Years 7-10. You’ll still address the required skills, but your overall curriculum will be much more engaging and inclusive.

If you would like to talk about getting support for your faculty in designing, developing, and documenting your scope and sequence, get in touch:

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