General capabilities (Version 8.4)


The general capabilities play a significant role in the Australian Curriculum in equipping young Australians to live and work successfully in the twenty-first century.

In the Australian Curriculum, capability encompasses knowledge, skills, behaviours and dispositions. Students develop capability when they apply knowledge and skills confidently, effectively and appropriately in complex and changing circumstances, in their learning at school and in their lives outside school.

General Capabilities in the Australian Curriculum

In the Australian Curriculum, the general capabilities are addressed through the content of the learning areas. General capabilities are identified where they are developed or applied in the content descriptions. They are also identified where they offer opportunities to add depth and richness to student learning via the content elaborations, which are provided to give teachers ideas about how they might teach the content. Icons are used to indicate where general capabilities have been identified in learning area content descriptions and elaborations.

Teachers are expected to teach and assess general capabilities to the extent that they are incorporated within learning area content. State and territory education authorities will determine if and how student learning of the general capabilities is to be further assessed or reported.

General capabilities materials are presented to help teachers develop a shared understanding of the nature, scope and sequence of the general capabilities in the Australian Curriculum and to help teachers plan for students’ development of the general capabilities in school and classroom learning programs.

The materials for each general capability include:

  • an introduction that describes the nature and scope of the capability, its place in the learning areas and its evidence base
  • organising elements and sub-elements that underpin a learning continuum
  • a learning continuum.

Learning continua have been developed for each capability to describe the relevant knowledge, skills, behaviours and dispositions at particular points of schooling. Within each of the capabilities, specific behaviours and dispositions have been identified and incorporated into each learning continuum as appropriate.

Using the learning continua

Personalising learning

Students need opportunities to develop capabilities over time and across learning areas. What is learnt in the early years supports all subsequent learning. The learning continua map common paths for general capability development while recognising that each student’s pace of development may be influenced by factors such as their prior experience, sense of self in the world and cognitive capacity.

Learning continua typically, but not exclusively, align with years of schooling. Stages in each learning continuum are labelled from Levels 1 to 6 to emphasise that the continuum presents a sequence of learning independent of student age.

For Literacy, Level 1 is divided into five sub-levels: 1a, 1b, 1c, 1d and 1e. Levels 1a–1d represent the development of early literacy skills with a particular emphasis on communication. For Numeracy, Level 1 is divided into two sub-levels: 1a and 1b; to represent the progression from early numeracy to numeracy skills. For Personal and Social capability, Level 1 is divided into two sub-levels: 1a and 1b. Level 1a describes the development of awareness of self and others and Level 1b describes the skills or actions to accompany those understandings about self and others.

For more information on using the general capabilities continua to personalise learning for students for whom English is an additional language or dialect, students with disability and gifted and talented students see Student Diversity.

Viewing on the website

Each general capability learning continuum is available online in two views:

  • expected learning across the levels in a table format
  • expected learning for each level in turn, in text format .

Users can also see which general capability elements and sub-elements are addressed in the content description by selecting the capability icon.

General Capabilities in the Australian Curriculum