North Sydney Public School

Towards the highest

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Conceptual Learning

What is Conceptual Learning?    

Conceptual Learning involves students engaged in quality learning experiences based around key concepts and central ideas rather than using the more traditional method of focusing on learning on topics. It provides aholistic and conceptual framework for designing integrated units of work, connecting learning with syllabus content, knowledge and skills and it also embeds the use of explicit teaching strategies reflective of the NSW Quality Teaching Framework.

Conceptual Learning integrates assessment of, for and through learning through the use of backward mapping and facilitates the integration of learning and effective assessment across a range of key learning areas. It promotes the intellectual quality of all students through providing deep and connected learning experiences. This model of programming engages students in higher-order thinking and facilitates the development of problematic knowledge.  Through this, students are supported in making meaningful connections and it facilitates the creation of rich and deep understandings of the world around us.


Whilst this model can be applied to all key learning areas, at NSDS the Conceptual framework is used to guide the collaborative planning and development of integrated units of work in the areas of human society and it's environment (HSIE) and science. Literacy forms a critical aspect of these units of work and is highly embedded into all Conceptual Learning programs. To ensure this can occur, teachers at the Dem, are given planning time each term where they work collaboratively to design engaging, student centred teaching a learning programs that embed the principals of this framework. Parents are encouraged to talk with their child at home to find out more about Conceptual Learning in the classroom.


How is does it work across the school?

The implementation of Conceptual Learning has continued to be a whole school focus since its implementation in 2009 and is monitored closely by the Conceptual Learning committee. This has involved the development of a whole school scope and sequence, with learning programs across the school being based on the concepts of; Heritage and Tradition, Freedom and Responsibility; Culture and Identity, Interrelationships and Adaptation, Energy and Movement, Change and Functionality, Product and Design and Transformation and Independence.

This scope and sequence has been designed to reflect the spiral nature of the curriculum and allows students to re-visit concepts and continue to build on and further develop their conceptual understanding through their K-6 journey. This spiral can be best explained through looking at learning through the stages.


EARLY STAGE ONE - students develop a PERSONAL perspective, thinking about me and my relationship with the immediate world around me.

STAGE ONE- students develop a LOCAL perspective, thinking about their families and communities and their relationships with each other.

STAGE TWO- students develop a NATIONAL perspective, thinking about their relationship with Australia and the country and culture they live in.

STAGE THREE- students develop a GLOBAL perspective, thinking about global relationships, connections and issues from an Australian viewpoint.


The Conceptual Learning committee continue to monitor this scope and sequence and it is currently under review in anticipation of the implementation of the new curriculum content. This term, the committee will also be conducting a small research project with our Year 5 students, to investigate how effective this scope and sequence has been in allowing students to make connections across the learning stages, through the use of concept maps.  It is anticipated that the results of this project will guide us in further refining teaching and learning programs.


For further information on the current Conceptual Learning unit of work that your child is engaged in this term, please read the term overview page or refer to your grade newsletter.