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NSW Department of Education and Communities

Curriculum support for NSW Public Schools

HSC English Area of Study: Belonging

Teachers and students, check out the interesting contributions from Matt Ottley and Nadia Wheatley about Belonging in the 2009 rap: Belonging Foundation, consolidation and revision rap supporting the HSC Stage 6 Area of study: Belonging (Term 1 2009).

HSC English Area of Study: Belonging resource list

Michael Murray, Chief Education Officer, English, NSW Curriculum and Learning Innovation Centre, introduces this resource list to support the HSC English Area of Study: Belonging.

The following resource list is comprised of texts that might be relevant to the Area of Study: Belonging for the Standard and Advanced courses and the Language Study within the Area of Study: Belonging, for the English as a Second Language (ESL) course, as prescribed in the new HSC English Prescriptions 2009–2012. It includes:

  • critiques of prescribed texts
  • texts which could provide insight into the concept of belonging
  • texts which might be suitable for students to use as ‘texts of own choosing’.

Most items in this resource list fall into the latter category. It is worth noting that the English Stage 6 syllabus requires that students must identify and use ‘texts of their own choosing’ to supplement the study of a prescribed text. The demise of the stimulus booklets has placed greater emphasis on students making appropriate choices about and effective use of their own texts. A perennial comment from HSC English markers is that how well students choose and use their own texts is a critical factor in determining the success of their performance in Section 3 of the first English paper.

This list will be of great interest to HSC English teachers and students and teacher librarians in high schools. In particular, teachers often call upon teacher librarians to suggest texts that might be suitable for use in the classroom and the school library is often the first port of call for students on the hunt for ‘texts of their own choosing’.

Some factors that might influence students in the selection of their own texts about belonging include:

·         Variety
The syllabus requires that students ‘draw their chosen texts from a variety of sources, in a range of genres and media’. If a student’s prescribed text is prose fiction, for example, then it is recommended that the student not seek prose fiction for the ‘texts of own choosing’ category. 

·         Compatibility
Each new text chosen and used by a student must work effectively with the prescribed text that is being studied in class and other texts already identified. Note that the connections between texts might consist of similarities or differences about what the texts have to say about belonging or the ways in which belonging is represented. Such connections help students to write the kind of integrated response that markers are looking for in Section 3 of Paper 1. Each new text added to the mix should bring another layer to the discussion and not just reiterate what is already evident in the prescribed text.

·         Relevance
Any text chosen and used must be relevant to the particular requirements for the study of Belonging delineated in HSC English Prescriptions 2009–2012. Note that while 2 Unit English students are studying Belonging, there is a different rubric for the ESL course as distinct from the common rubric for the Standard and Advanced courses. See HSC English Prescriptions 2009–2012 for more details: <>. 

·         Accessibility
Texts must be accessible to the individual student. James Joyce’s Portrait of the artist as a young man might be a terrific text about belonging but there is no point giving this book to a student who is not a good reader! There are always alternatives at hand. 

·         Sophistication
While acknowledging the importance of accessibility, students should also be reminded that choosing facile or simplistic texts will not help them to demonstrate the sophistication of discussion required for assessment tasks and the HSC exam. The sophistication of a text of own choosing might be derived from the range, complexity and even the problematic nature of ideas about belonging presented in the text or from the range and cleverness of techniques used by the composer to represent those ideas. 

·         Interest
Ultimately students should personally value the texts they have chosen for the study of Belonging. If these texts are not interesting to them then it is unlikely that they will be able to communicate a sense of the value of the text to the marker in the HSC exam. It is important, therefore, that teachers do not simply direct students to use a particular text, or worse, teach an additional text to the whole class with the expectation that all will use it.

The full Stage 6 Belonging resource list has been divided into the following categories of texts:

These are the categories used to classify texts in HSC English Prescriptions 2009–2012. Organising the texts in this way will be helpful to teachers and students familiar with the prescribed list and will help students in their search for texts in different categories to the category of their prescribed text.

Over time it is hoped that annotations will be added to the information provided about resources in the list. This extra information will assist all to find suitable texts more efficiently and effectively.

For sample units of work relevant to the Area of Study: Belonging see the English section of Curriculum K–12 website. A range of resources, including those for use with an interactive white board (IWB), is available in TaLe.

NSW Government teacher librarians please note:
This stage 6 Belonging list is also being delivered as a reading list for OASIS Web Enquiry and OLIVER Opac. It will automatically display matches for holdings at your school library.

References and further reading

Belonging Foundation, consolidation and revision rap supporting the HSC Stage 6 Area of study: Belonging

Belonging: HSC Area of Study. Standard and Advanced English, (2008)
Centre for Learning Innovation, NSW Department of Education and Training. Viewed 16 December 2008.

Belonging: HSC Area of Study. English (ESL), (2008)
Centre for Learning Innovation, NSW Department of Education and Training. Viewed 16 December 2008.

HSC 2009–2012 Prescription units of work and support materials: Standard, Advanced and ESL courses, (2008) English, Curriculum K–12 Directorate. Viewed 16 December 2008.

Murray, M. (2007) ‘Exploring the potential of graphic novels’, Scan 26(1), pp. 19–23.

Murray, M. (2008) ‘Sharing the fun: how teacher librarians can join English teachers on the adventure of the new HSC English Prescriptions’, Scan 27(4), pp. 43–45.



Thanks to Marion Silk (teacher librarian) and Cathy Sly (School Libraries and Information Literacy), Michael Murray (Chief Education Officer, English) and Prue Greene (Senior Curriculum Adviser English 7–12) from the NSW Curriculum and Learning Innovation Centre. Thanks also to teacher librarians across NSW, including Ruth Buchanan, Helen Lee, Alice Terry, Jackie Hawkes, Honor White, Bronwyn Jackson and Yvonne Louis.

This list is a collaborative project of the School Libraries and Information Literacy Unit and the English Unit, NSW Curriculum and Learning Innovation Centre.


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