Answers to Common Curriculum Questions

Issue 0715_Cambridge studentsissue1815-kidsart-musicart_in_croydon

The following questions have arisen at the Foundation Breakfasts I have held over the past few months. I thought it would be helpful to share the questions and answers with the whole community. If you have a question please email

Why does PLC Sydney have students study Music in Year 7 and Art in Year 8? Why aren’t they done in both years?

The requirements of NESA are quite strict for Years 7-8. There are mandatory hours for many subjects. This means that the overall curriculum can be varied but shallow. We wanted to address this. When we studied Art and Music each year students only had three lessons per fortnight of each subject. The continuity of learning was lacking. We decided to study each more intensely for a single year. Thus students now have six lessons of Music in Year 7 and six of Art in Year 8. The results have been very positive. We also supplement classrooms learning with Art clubs and Musical ensembles. Students can select Art and Music as electives in Years 9-12.



What are Cambridge courses?
Cambridge is the world’s largest non-government provider of curricula. They have approximately four times the number of schools as the IB. PLC Sydney uses Cambridge courses in a number of ways:

  1. In Years 9-10 we have added Cambridge Physical Sciences (ELECTIVE) to allow students with a keen interest in Science to study the subject in greater depth. Students choosing this elective gain extra opportunity to study Physics and Chemistry in the middle years. They have six extra lessons of Science per cycle.
  2. In Years 9-10 we have added Cambridge Physics and Chemistry (ELECTIVE). This is for very able students. This enables students with a strong aptitude to learn at a very high level.
  3. In Years 9-10 we have added Cambridge Mathematics (CORE). Students in the ‘A’ Mathematics class learn both NESA Mathematics and Cambridge Mathematics simultaneously. This further develops their understanding of this subject.
  4. In Years 9-10 we have added Cambridge Global Perspectives. This enables students to learn how to frame research questions and to respond to them. It connects our students to others overseas.
  5. In Years 9-10 we have added Cambridge Technology. This is an advanced coding course.
  6. In Years 9-10 we have added Cambridge History. This enables our students to engage with areas of History not covered by the NESA course – a more global perspective.
  7. In Year 11 we have added AS General Studies. This enhances students’ ability to think critically, argue a case and be attuned to current affairs.

Do we offer other courses?

  1. In Years 9-10 we offer Vivid English, assisting students who need to upskill their use of academic English ready for the senior years.
  2. In Years 9-10 we offer Theology and Philosophy, assisting students to gain a deep and rich understanding of how to think philosophically, how to ask the right questions, how to develop logic and rhetoric and to consider metaphysical questions, and questions of civic life.
  3. In Year 11 we offer UNSW Computer Science, First Year Introductory course.
  4. In Year 11 we offer University of Sydney American History.
  5. Post school we offer Made in Tuscany Academy Fashion Design and Manufacturing course in Florence Italy.

Why don’t we currently offer the IB?
The IB is an effective course which suits some students. PLC Sydney has a strong commitment to a very broad curriculum. The IB is a resource heavy course which means a school of our size must sacrifice many things to adopt it. For a school of 1280 the sacrifice of other wonderful learning is not justified. In Languages for example, PLC Sydney offers five languages, each at three to four levels. Schools offering the IB that are our size offer significantly fewer languages at fewer levels. This would be repeated across a range of subjects. Since the IB offers no advantage in providing access to overseas universities (more students entered overseas universities with the HSC than the IB in recent years) and its relationship to the HSC in terms of final result is mixed, it has not been adopted. If ever we became a school of, say, 1550, we could maintain our breadth of offering and add a credential like the IB, or Cambridge ‘A’ levels. The HSC is a versatile and effective credential. 


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