Subjects and Programs


​Australian Curriculum


All staff at McDowall State School are teachers of literacy and consequently value key elements of explicit literacy teaching.  Learning and teaching in our classrooms, regardless of the year level or discipline, takes place through literate practices.  English has a significant role in the development of Literacy and the McDowall State School English programs, informed by the Australian Curriculum English, provide a framework for the systematic study of the English language.

The study of English encourages students to develop a range of literacy practices to help them become multi-literate, active and informed citizens who are able to participate as lifelong learners in a rapidly changing world. 


At McDowall State School, mathematics is an integral and highly valued component of the curriculum. Students identify and explore mathematics concepts through active investigation of real-life situations involving mathematics. They understand that mathematics can help them to make meaning of their world.

When learning about mathematics, students recognise that there are particular ways of working with concepts in mathematics. Students also recognise that there are particular facts and procedures required for knowing and understanding in mathematics. Students and teachers value mathematics as a way of investigating, thinking, reasoning and relating to real-life situations.

Mathematics is a way of making sense of the world. The mathematics Key Learning Area helps students to know about mathematics, know how to do mathematics, and know when and where to use it. All people need the capacity to make sense of and be critical about numerical information. To achieve this they need a disposition to think and act mathematically, and the confidence and intuition to apply mathematical concepts to explore and solve everyday problems that confront them.

Skills needed for mathematics include mental computation and deep understandings of how numbers work. They also require meta-cognitive/higher order skills such as reflection, analysis, estimation, justification, synthesis and communication skills. These skills are needed to describe each of these in appropriate language and format, and are learned through working mathematically. The ways of working will be used to provide guidance of what students will be expected to do.

At McDowall State School, mathematics is seen as a dynamic field of study. Students from our Preparatory Year to students in Year 6 will be led to discover the power and place of mathematics, both as a discipline, as it relates to learning in each of the other Key Learning Areas, and in our everyday encounters at work and play outside school.

Teaching mathematics at McDowall State School includes:

  • a balanced mathematical learning approach which consists of:
    • learning basic facts

    • applying basic facts and procedures to solve familiar problems

    • solving specific problems in novel situations

    • investigating issues and problem situations

  • differentiated learning to meet the varied needs of our students

  • embedding the effective use of information and communication technologies

  • focusing on all forms of computation (mental, written and technology-assisted)


Science is integral to the balanced curriculum that McDowall State School offers to all its students. A constructivist view of learning recognises that students actively construct their own cognitive understandings within a social context. In response, teaching takes account of students’ views, ideas and scientific explanations as well as their level of cognitive development. In this school curriculum program, teachers are encouraged to provide opportunities for their students to explore and challenge their own ideas.

Underpinning constructivist theories of learning is the view that meaning is actively constructed within the learner’s existing framework. As a powerful referent for teachers, it acknowledges that learners interpret ideas in terms of their prior knowledge and experiences. 

Science aims to ensure students develop:

  • a joy in science discovery by nurturing their natural curiosity
  • an appreciation of the dynamic nature of scientific knowledge 

  • the ability to challenge themselves to identify questions and formulate predictions

  • the capability to investigate the natural world and changes made to it using scientific methods and ethical considerations

  • perceptive responses to phenomena around them with increasing complexity

  • increasingly symbolic representations to model their understandings of the world

  • critical and creative thinking skills with evidence based justification of their ideas

  • scientifically literate communication processes including the capacity to evaluate and debate scientific arguments and claims, and apply new understandings 

  • an understanding of historical and cultural contributions to science as well as contemporary science issues and activities

  • an appreciation of the diversity of careers related to science


Australian Curriculum: History is a stand-alone subject with a discipline-based approach to inquiry and skills. The Australian Curriculum: History focuses primarily on Australian history within its world history context. Students identify, analyse and extract meaning from a range of sources, form conclusions about issues under study and test these against evidence and ideas from other historians.

When teaching History we draw on a rich collection of historical sources which increase in complexity. Students are provided with opportunities to engage in the "doing" of history, such as investigating historical sites, re-enacting historical events from differing perspectives or researching an aspect of historical significance.


The Australian Curriculum: Geography describes geography as “a structured way of exploring, analysing and understanding the characteristics of the places that make up our world, using the concepts of place, space, environment, interconnection, sustainability, scale and change.”

Australian Curriculum: Geography aims to ensure that students develop: a sense of wonder, curiosity and respect for places, people, cultures and environments throughout the world; deep geographical knowledge about their own locality, Australia, the Asia region and the world; and their capacity to think geographically, using geographical concepts. Using geographical inquiry methods and skills, Geography students learn to be competent, critical and creative citizens who can contribute to the development of an environmentally and economically sustainable, and socially just, world.

Last reviewed 30 June 2020
Last updated 30 June 2020