Sex, identity on high school agenda


HIGH school students will be asked to interrogate different theories about gender as part of a new Queensland elective science subject, psychology.

The psychology course is one of six new subjects on offer to Year 11 and 12 students from this year, as part of the transition away from the overall position (OP) to an Australian tertiary admission rank (ATAR).

The subject, versions of which are already popular in other Australian states, requires students to examine the difference between biology-based ideas of gender - where you are born male or female - and other more fluid social and developmental theories of gender roles.

It also requires students to examine the different ways a person's media consumption or schooling impacts the way they understand the world.

Psychological concepts of gender will be explored in the new subject.
Psychological concepts of gender will be explored in the new subject.

Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority chief executive Chris Rider said the new Queensland Certificate of Education provided a good opportunity to modernise the curriculum and offer new subjects relevant to the 21st century.

In addition to psychology, senior high school students will also now be able to take courses in design, engineering, literature, food and nutrition and digital solutions.

Mr Rider said new subjects such as design offered much scope for critical and creative thinking, communication, collaboration and teamwork - which are major cross-curriculum skills promoted in the Australian curriculum.

Mr Rider said the move to introduce psychology had been driven by its popularity interstate, with the QCAA anticipating a strong take up of the subject.

"Psychology's interdisciplinary approach may also appeal to those students who want to learn about scientific principles, but outside of traditional science subjects," Mr Rider said.

"The topics in the syllabus such as the role of the brain, human consciousness and sleep, emotion and motivation, and social psychology are really interesting to students in this age group."

English Teachers' Association of Queensland president Fiona Laing said early feedback indicated there would also be a strong take-up of the new literature subject.

"Many schools have allowed students to study English and literature concurrently; this is a great opportunity for students who are particularly talented in English to maximise their engagement with the subject," she said.

"If we are to judge by the take-up of the equivalent subject in other states, we could expect that around a quarter of the number of students choosing English will also choose literature, or nominate literature as well as English."

Queensland Teachers' Union president Kevin Bates said more support was needed for teachers as they began teaching the new subjects.

"The QTU believes it is essential that the QCAA and the Department of Education continue to provide professional learning, resources and support for teachers both to prepare for the new syllabuses and also in the ongoing implementation of both the new syllabuses and the new assessment regime," he said.