The outcomes have not changed much from the current syllabus to the new draft Geography syllabus, other than some minor phrasing. In the current syllabus there are 6 outcomes for both Stage 4 and 5, and the same applies for the new draft. GE4-3 - explains how interactions and connections between people, places and environments result in change, and GE5-3 analyses the effect of interactions and connections between people, places and environments have both been discarded. In place of them the following has been included for Stage 4: describes how Aboriginal Peoples interact with Country, and for Stage 5: explains how Aboriginal Peoples interact with Country.
I think that 4-2 and 4-3 could have been combined to create a new outcome, and 5-2 and 5-3 could have been combined. This would enable the outcomes to retain the meaning of the original outcomes and still allow for the inclusion of the new outcomes.
There have been some minor changes to the descriptions of concepts for each stage. The main difference is in the presentation of the information, which in the current syllabus is part of the K-10 Concepts Continuum, but in the new draft is just present in a page and a half of text. This is generally a positive change which makes it easier to read and understand.
Inquiry Skills and Tools
Both the Geographical Inquiry Skills and Geographical Tools have been presented in the new draft Geography syllabus as a list, rather than in the Geographical Inquiry Skills Continuum or the Geographical Tools Continuum. In these cases this is a negative change. Geography was introduced as a separate syllabus for primary students with the current K-10 syllabus. The continuums allowed teachers to know which skills and tools that students would know when they entered high school. At this stage the K-6 HSIE syllabuses haven't been released, so it is unclear whether Geography will still have a separate syllabus (I suspect not). Regardless, it would be reasonable to expect that students would cover some geographical concepts, skills, tools and content in a HSIE syllabus. As a high school teacher how can I know what skills and tools students already know in Year 7? High school staff could obviously conduct pre-testing, but the continuums provided some clarity and also provided a connection between primary learning and high school learning, providing opportunities for collaborative teaching and learning activities across schools.
My main concerns about this syllabus relate to the content. Firstly the "Thinking and working geographically" sections at the beginning of the content of each topic seem to be in the wrong place and don't tie closely enough to the content. In the current syllabus, the content is organised by dot point questions (mandatory) that provide dash point lists of subject matter (optional) that could be taught to provide more detail. In the new draft there are a series of dot points with directive terms that a too generic to tie in specifically with the content listed. These could be rephrased and placed more closely with the content that they relate to, or else left out for teachers to use their own discretion (drawing on sections at the beginning of the syllabus).
The content has been cut significantly to make it clearer which parts of the syllabus are mandatory (headings and dot points) and which parts are optional (in the footnotes). While I appreciate that this is to achieve a more streamlined, simple syllabus, this could have more easily been achieved by improving teacher professional learning around the parts that are mandatory and optional in the current syllabus. The syllabus now seems overly simplified.
Learning Across the Curriculum
When the Australian Curriculum documents were first released they included general capabilities and cross curriculum priorities.
In the NSW re-write of the Australian Curriculum, these were rebranded to Learning Across the Curriculum and included Cross-curriculum priorities (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, Asia and Australia's engagement with Asia, Sustainability); General Capabilities (Critical and creative thinking, Ethical understanding, Information and communication technology capability, Intercultural understanding, Literacy, Numeracy, Personal and social capability); and Other learning across the curriculum areas (Civics and citizenship, Difference and Diversity and Work and enterprise).
In the new draft syllabus, the old "Learning Across the Curriculum" will be known as "Capabilities and Priorities". It seems that this will include the other areas that NSW included in the current syllabus that were not in the Australian Curriculum, however there is insufficient detail at this stage to be sure. The new draft Geography syllabus does include a list of Capabilities and Priorities, nor does it include the coding of content that is included in the current syllabus to show where to include them. I would suggest that this area needs to be a little clearer - at the very least it needs to include a list of the Capabilities and Priorities.
Creating written texts
Geography easily lends itself to the inclusion of literacy and numeracy development. There are two sections of the new draft syllabus that describe the importance of teaching writing in Geography (page 5 and page 12). The written texts are specified as "descriptions, explanations, discussions, exposition and reports". As literacy is one of the General Capabilities, this seems like a bit of a double-up.
Key Inquiry questions
Key Inquiry Questions have been removed from the current syllabus. In the current syllabus the inclusion of outcomes, key inquiry questions and content is unnecessary. The removal of Key Inquiry Questions in the new draft Geography syllabus simplifies the topics and is a positive change.