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iSTEM to be one of seven NSW Department of Education approved elective courses


The popular iSTEM course will become one of seven new Department of Education approved electives from the start of 2022. As part of the NSW curriculum reform, existing Stage 5 School Developed Board Endorsed Courses (SDBECs) will be phased out at the end of their endorsement period or at the end of 2022, whichever occurs first. iSTEM is one such SDBEC affected by the change.

From Term 1 2022:

  •  students continue to undertake 400 hours of elective courses in Stage 5
  • at least 200 of these hours must be Board Developed Courses, Content Endorsed Courses or VET Board Endorsed Courses which are credentialled on the RoSA
  • the remaining 200 hours of the mandatory 400 hours are either Board Developed Courses, Content Endorsed Courses, VET Board Endorsed Courses or NSW Department of Education approved elective courses.

The department will offer seven approved elective courses drawn from school developed courses that have both high enrolment rates and strong links to industry and higher education pathways:

  • Big History
  • Critical thinking
  • International studies
  • iSTEM
  • Outdoor education
  • Philosophy
  • Psychology

The seven department approved elective courses will provide a high benchmark for quality curriculum with the flexibility to meet the needs of students where they are at with their learning consistent with local community expectation.

The Curriculum planning and programming, assessing and reporting to parents K-12 policy standards set out the requirements for schools regarding the mandatory hours for additional studies (electives) in Stage 5 for NSW Department of Education schools.

Information about the NSW Department of Education approved elective courses will be available on the Curriculum Reform website shortly.

For further advice, contact the secondary curriculum team at