Changing priorities? The role of general capabilities in the curriculum

Publication Date



Curriculum development, Curriculum evaluation, Generic skills, Educational change, National curriculum


The inclusion of general capabilities as an outcome of education has been explicitly discussed globally from about the 1990s, predominately in the context of the changing skills required for employment. A selection of these skills is included as a dimension of the Australian Curriculum introduced in 2011. Their status was strengthened by ACARA in 2017 (curriculum version 8.3) to “standing ‘alongside’ and equivalent in structural terms to disciplinary subject areas” (Gilbert, 2018, p. 129). The interest in these capabilities is growing amongst education authorities. A UNESCO rapid assessment found that “almost 90 countries… refer to generic competences in their general education curricula” (Tedesco, Opertti & Amadio, 2013, p. 11). A scan of 152 countries for the Brookings Institution in 2017 showed that 117 countries (76 per cent) identify specific skills somewhere within their national policy documents, 71 (47 per cent) within the curriculum, and 58 (38 per cent) within mission and vision statements (Roth, Kim & Care, 2017; Care, Anderson & Gustafsson-Wright, 2016).

Place of Publication

Sydney, Australia


NSW Education Standards Authority

Geographic Subject

New South Wales


Article Location