How does the Year 11 and 12 curriculum work?

The Year 11 and 12 curriculum is taught as courses. These courses are completed as semester units. The courses have different levels of difficulty.

Students choose a range of courses to meet the requirements for a WACE.

The courses are divided into List A and List B. List A includes courses from The Arts, Languages and Humanities and Social Sciences. List B includes courses from Mathematics, Science and Technology. English courses are found in List A.

Choosing courses from both List A and List B ensures breadth in the WACE. This means students are exposed to a range of learning areas in Years 11 and 12. Breadth is a requirement for achieving the WACE.

The Year 11 and 12 courses build on the Pre-primary to Year 10 curriculum and align with the same eight learning areas.

Courses and programs

Students come from diverse backgrounds and have varying needs. They may be interested in university study, have a specific vocation in mind that will involve further education and training, or intend to enter the workforce after leaving school. For this reason, Western Australia offers a wide range of options for students in Years 11 and 12 with courses that provide multiple pathways to university, training and employment.

Students can choose their courses from a range of course and program types.

There are five course types. ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank), General, VET (Vocational Education and Training) industry specific and Foundation courses contribute to the WACE. There are also Preliminary courses. Preliminary courses do not contribute to the WACE.

Endorsed programs and VET programs, including VET qualifications, can also be studied in Year 11 and Year 12 and may contribute to a WACE. VET industry specific courses all include a VET qualification but students may complete VET programs outside of the Authority’s courses. More information is available in the VET section of the Authority website.

ATAR courses+

ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank) courses are offered at Year 11 and Year 12. There is a syllabus for each year. The Year 11 syllabus covers Units 1 and 2, and the Year 12 syllabus covers Units 3 and 4. Students complete Units 3 and 4 as a pair of units.

Year 12 ATAR courses are examined by the Authority. Students sit ATAR course examinations at the end of Year 12.

ATAR courses are designed for students who are aiming to go to university.

General courses+

General courses are offered at Year 11 and Year 12. There is a syllabus for each year. The Year 11 syllabus covers Units 1 and 2 while the Year 12 syllabus covers Units 3 and 4. Students complete Units 3 and 4 as a pair of units.

The Authority does not examine General courses. However, the Authority uses externally set tasks (ESTs) in Year 12 to ensure marking by teachers is fair across the state. The ESTs are set by the Authority and are compulsory. Each EST is worth 15 per cent of a student’s school-based assessment for a General course.

General courses are designed for students who are typically aiming to enter further vocational training or to enter the workforce after they leave school. Students may be able to use some General courses as part of an alternative pathway entry to some university courses.

VET industry specific courses+

VET industry specific courses enable students to count their VET achievement as a WACE course. Units 1 and 2 are paired to make the Year 11 course. Units 3 and 4 are paired to make the Year 12 course. The units cannot be split. A student who completes only one semester of a VET industry specific course will not be able to use the course towards their completed unit count.

Foundation courses+

Foundation courses are offered at Year 11 and Year 12. There is a syllabus for each year. The Year 11 syllabus covers Units 1 and 2, and the Year 12 syllabus covers Units 3 and 4. Students complete Units 3 and 4 as a pair of units.

The Authority does not examine Foundation courses. However, the Authority uses externally set tasks (ESTs) in Year 12 to ensure marking is fair across the state. The ESTs are set by the Authority and are compulsory. Each EST is worth 15 per cent of a student’s school-based assessment for a Foundation course.

Foundation courses are designed for students who have not demonstrated the minimum standard for literacy and/or numeracy before Year 11 and are likely to need significant support to do so before the end of Year 12.

Preliminary courses+

Preliminary courses are offered at Year 11 and Year 12. There is one syllabus for both years that contains four units. A unit may be completed in a semester or over a year.

Preliminary courses are designed for students who have been identified as having a learning difficulty and/or an intellectual disability. These courses provide relevant options for students who:

  • cannot access the ATAR, General or Foundation course content with adjustment and/or disability provisions
  • are unable to progress directly to training from school
  • require modified and/or independent education plans
  • have been identified as having a recognised disability under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and meet the above criteria.

Note: Preliminary courses do not count toward to the WACE.

Endorsed programs+

An endorsed program offers learning through activities not covered by WACE courses. Each endorsed program consists of a series of lessons, classes and/or activities designed to lead to the achievement of a common goal or set of learning outcomes. Endorsed programs can be delivered as part of the school curriculum or as extra-curricular activities.

Endorsed programs can be offered by a school, community organisation or private provider. All endorsed programs must be endorsed by the Authority. Examples of endorsed programs include extra-curricular learning, such as cadets, Duke of Edinburgh Awards and off-campus enrichment programs, and workplace learning.

VET qualifications+

VET qualifications allow students to access nationally recognised vocational education and training (VET). VET builds skills and knowledge in and for the workplace. Students may use VET qualifications to count towards the WACE as unit equivalents.

Year 11 and 12 syllabuses

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