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Special Education Needs – Years 11–12

We’ve now updated this information, and you can find it over on our new website: Special education

Higher School Certificate Requirements

PowerPoint opening slide
HSC requirements for students with special education needs – key messages (PowerPoint)
Also available in PDF format
The key messages provide a summary of HSC requirements and curriculum options for students with special education needs including information about ‘What’s new?’, ‘What’s next?’, and ‘What’s the same?’.
Published 15 January 2010

Frequently asked questions

What are the Stage 6 Life Skills courses?
Stage 6 Life Skills courses provide a curriculum option for the small percentage of students with special education needs for whom the regular outcomes and content are not appropriate. These courses have Board Developed status and can be used to meet the requirements for the award of the Higher School Certificate.
Each Life Skills course comprises a 2-Unit Preliminary course and a 2-Unit HSC course.
Who can access Life Skills courses?
The Board expects that most students who will access Life Skills courses will have an intellectual disability. Life Skills courses are for the small percentage of students for whom it may be determined that the regular Board Developed or Board Endorsed courses are not appropriate.
Before deciding that a student should access a Life Skills course, consideration should be given to other ways of assisting a student to achieve regular course outcomes. This assistance might include adjustments at the school level and/or special examination modifications.
Decisions about curriculum options for students with special education needs should be made in the context of collaborative curriculum planning with the student, parent/carer and any other significant individuals in the student's life.
For more information on the collaborative curriculum planning process see ACE website 7005.
Where can I find the Life Skills courses for Stage 6?
The Stage 6 Life Skills courses can be found on the Board's website
or
contact Customer Service at the Board of Studies NSW on (02) 9367 8178 or fax (02) 9262 6270 or by email to service@bos.nsw.edu.au
What Life Skills courses are available in the Creative Arts learning area in Stage 6?
The reviewed Stage 6 Creative Arts Life Skills Syllabus (2009) contains five courses:
  • Creative Arts Life Skills
  • Dance Life Skills
  • Drama Life Skills
  • Music Life Skills
  • Visual Arts Life Skills
From 2010, students can undertake one or more of the five Stage 6 Life Skills courses from the Creative Arts Life Skills Syllabus.
What Life Skills courses are available in the Technology learning area in Stage 6?
The new Stage 6 Technology Life Skills Syllabus (2010) contains seven courses:
  • Technology Life Skills
  • Agriculture Life Skills
  • Design and Technology Life Skills
  • Food Technology Life Skills
  • Industrial Technology Life Skills
  • Information Processes and Technology Life Skills
  • Textiles and Design Life Skills
Commencing in 2011, Year 11 students can undertake one or more of the seven Stage 6 Life Skills courses from the Technology Life Skills Syllabus.
When will the Stage 6 Human Society and Its Environment Life Skills courses be available and what are the course options?
The new Human Society and Its Environment Life Skills courses will be available to Year 11 students in 2012 and Year 12 students in 2013.
The Stage 6 Human Society and Its Environment Life Skills Syllabus (2010) contains eight courses:
  • Human Society and Its Environment Life Skills
  • Aboriginal Studies Life Skills
  • Business and Economics Life Skills
  • Citizenship and Legal Studies Life Skills
  • Geography Life Skills
  • History Life Skills
  • Society and Culture Life Skills
  • Studies of Religion Life Skills
Commencing in 2012, Year 11 students can undertake one or more of the eight Stage 6 Life Skills courses from the Human Society and Its Environment Life Skills Syllabus.
What if a student at my school wants to study a Religion or Language Life Skills course?
Schools may develop courses for students with special education needs for Religion in Stages 5 and 6 and in a Language in Stage 6. School Developed Courses are submitted to the Board for endorsement.
Other courses designed for students with special education needs will not be endorsed as the Board provides Life Skills as an appropriate pathway for those students.

For more information on submitting a course proposal refer to the document
Guidelines for Course Proposals
Revised September 2013

How should Life Skills courses be implemented?
Decisions about the best way to implement a Life Skills course for a student or students should be made at the school level.
For further information about school planning, see ACE website 7006.
Do students need to address all of the outcomes and content in a Life Skills course to satisfactorily complete it?
No, it is not necessary for students to address or achieve all Life Skills outcomes or complete all of the associated content. Selection of Life Skills outcomes and content should be based on the needs of the individual student as part of the collaborative curriculum planning process.
How do I go about entering a student in one or more Life Skills courses in Stage 6?
The school enters the student in the appropriate course(s) via Schools Online, at the time Preliminary and HSC entries are made.
What are the requirements for the Higher School Certificate for students undertaking one or more Stage 6 Life Skills courses?
To qualify for the Higher School Certificate, students must have a Preliminary pattern of study comprising at least 12 units and an HSC pattern of study comprising at least 10 units.
Students with special education needs can meet the requirements for the Higher School Certificate using a combination of Board Developed courses, Board Endorsed courses and Board Developed Life Skills courses.
Life Skills courses have indicative time of 240 hours, with 120 hours being in each Year of Stage 6. Each Life Skills course contributes two units towards a student’s pattern of study. To be eligible for the credential of the Higher School Certificate, students must also satisfy the course completion criteria (see ACE website 7007).
How long can a student with special education needs take to complete their Higher School Certificate?
Students may accumulate courses towards the Higher School Certificate for up to five years. There is no time restriction on accumulation of Preliminary courses.
Students who are accumulating courses will receive a cumulative Record of Achievement for each calendar year of study. This lists all Preliminary or HSC courses satisfactorily completed at the time of issue.
Students undertaking one or more Life Skills courses towards the HSC will also receive a Profile of Student Achievement for each calendar year of study, indicating the outcomes achieved in each Life Skills course for that year.
More information on accumulation of Preliminary and HSC courses can be found in the ACE website 8036.
How should I assess Life Skills outcomes in Stage 6?
Students should be assessed on their achievement of outcomes identified in the planning process.
Students can demonstrate achievement in a number of ways and across a range of environments (eg school, home, community). Assessment should reflect the student's ability to generalise the knowledge and skills to a range of adult environments.
Evidence of achievement can be based on assessment for learning (such as observation during teaching and learning or work samples) or assessment of learning (assessment tasks specifically designed to assess achievement at particular points).
For more information, see the ACE website 7008.
What credentials do students undertaking one or more Life Skills courses receive for the Higher School Certificate?
An outline of Higher School Certificate credentials for all students, including those undertaking Life Skills courses, can be found on the Board’s website.
From 2011 the Higher School Certificate Profile of Student Achievement will be issued by the Board of Studies NSW, using information entered by schools on Schools Online.
What is the Profile of Student Achievement?
The Profile of Student Achievement is a record of the Life Skills outcomes students have achieved, either independently or with support. From 2011, Stage 6 data will be collected via Schools Online, and the Higher School Certificate Profile of Student Achievement will be issued by the Board of Studies NSW.
More information, including how the Higher School Certificate Profile of Student Achievement is generated, is available on the Board's website.
Do Life Skills courses have HSC examinations?
No, Stage 6 Life Skills courses do not have HSC examinations. Life Skills courses cannot be used in the calculation of a student's Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR).
What are the options for a student with special education needs accessing a Vocational Education and Training (VET) course?
Students with special education needs may access a VET Industry Curriculum Framework course in one of two ways:
  • by undertaking the course under regular course arrangements, or
  • by undertaking selected units of competency within the course that have been identified through the collaborative curriculum planning process.
For more information, see:
Are students undertaking only Life Skills courses required to satisfactorily complete the HSC: All My Own Work program?
No, from 2010 students undertaking only Life Skills courses in Stage 6 are not required to complete HSC: All My Own Work.
The HSC: All My Own Work program is optional for these students.
Every other student undertaking Preliminary or HSC courses must complete the HSC: All My Own Work program (or its equivalent) before the submission of students’ Preliminary or HSC course entries.
For some students with special education needs, schools may decide to devise an appropriate equivalent of the HSC: All My Own Work program.
For more information, see the HSC: All My Own Work website or contact the Senior Curriculum Officer, Special Education on (02) 9367 8148.
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