Nature of general capabilities

In the Western 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, both in their learning at school and in their lives outside school. The encouragement of positive behaviours and dispositions underpins all general capabilities. Within individual capabilities, specific behaviours and dispositions have been identified and incorporated into each learning continuum as appropriate.

General capabilities comprise an integrated and interconnected set of knowledge, skills, behaviours and dispositions that students develop and use in their learning across the curriculum, in co-curricular programs and in their lives outside school.

While each of the capabilities covers a particular body of learning, it should be noted that some knowledge, skills, dispositions and behaviours are shared across capabilities. In some cases, a particular aspect of one capability is covered in another, for example, the application of social and ethical protocols in the use of digital technologies is included in ICT capability, and effective communication in social interactions is included in Personal and social capability. In other cases, to avoid undue repetition, some aspects common to several capabilities are identified in the capability where the strongest representation occurs, for example, empathy is identified in Intercultural understanding even though it is also an important aspect of Personal and social capability.

When combined in learning area contexts, general capabilities enhance and complement each other. For example, students require literacy skills and ICT capability to communicate effectively across all learning areas. They apply intercultural understanding and personal and social capability when they challenge stereotypes and prejudice in texts and interactions with others.

It is important to recognise that the capabilities are intended to be 'general' and operate across the whole curriculum. More 'specialised' knowledge and skills will be detailed in learning areas, particularly in relation to literacy, numeracy and information and communication technology.

Students in Australian schools bring different world views, histories and abilities to their learning. This means that some aspects of the capabilities may be interpreted and enacted in different ways. For example, the world views of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples inform Personal and social capability by drawing on responsibilities and relationships within cultural knowledge systems that connect the personal, through kin and community, to land, sky and waterways.