Introduction to Yr 9 Subjects

Introduction to Yr 9 Subjects

An overview of core requirements for students


In Year 9 at Barker, all students are required to study certain disciplines considered to be essential for effective living in a modern society. The core subjects for Year 9 are English, Mathematics, Science, HSIE, Christian Studies and Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE). In addition, three elective subjects must be chosen in Year 9.

Further information about the core subjects can be found below.


Director of Curriculum Strategy: Philip Mundy


Year 9

Core Subject Requirements
Christian Studies

In Year 9 we take as our theme: “Being Human”. Students wrestle with ways in which Christianity may contribute to their understanding of what it means to be human. There is an exploration of what might be identified as the fundamental needs of humans, including consideration of the importance of community. Students are encouraged to reflect on their own beliefs and convictions about God, human relationships and the purpose in life.

There is also a study of ethics in which personal and relevant moral issues are examined. Students explore Biblical teaching about compassion for others and then creatively design a product to be used by people in need in the local community. Year 9 concludes with an exploration of rites of passage in life, including important rites in the Christian faith.


The English course in Year 9 (Stage 5) is designed to provide educational opportunities that engage and challenge all students. Through responding to and composing a wide range of texts in context and through close study of texts, students will develop skills, knowledge and understanding in order to:

• Speak, listen, read, write, view and represent

• Use language and communicate appropriately and effectively

• Think in ways that are imaginative, interpretive and critical

• Express themselves and their relationships with others and the world

• Learn and reflect on their learning through their study of English

Students in Years 9 (Stage 5) undertake the study of a wide range of texts. This includes the study of novels, poetry, Shakespearean drama, film as text and short stories. The content includes a variety of spoken, print, visual, media and multimedia texts, drawn from radio, television, film, newspapers and the internet. The selection of texts gives students an experience of a widely defined range of Australian literature and other Australian texts, including those that give insights into Aboriginal and multicultural experiences both in Australia and overseas.

These texts include:
• Literature from other countries and times
• Cultural heritages, popular cultures and youth cultures
• A range of social, gender and cultural perspectives
• AA and A classes also undertake a range of extension tasks

Information and communication technologies are also closely embedded in the syllabus. Key competencies include:
• collecting, analysing and organising information
• communicating ideas and information
• planning and organising activities
• working with others and in teams
• problem-solving
• using technology

Furthermore, the course continues to develop key student skills in speaking, listening, reading and writing, as well as the development of students’ visual literacy skills. The rationale for English is that language helps shape our understanding of ourselves and our world, and that through responding to and composing texts, students learn about the power, value and art of the English language for communication, knowledge and pleasure.


All students are required to study Mathematics over Years 9 and 10. There are three levels of study within Mathematics, called 5.1, 5.2 and 5.3. These levels are designed so that students will cover the mandatory content for Mathematics during these two years, as well as prepare them for their chosen Mathematics course of study during Years 11 and 12.

In September, after the Year 9 Readiness task (Assessment 2), the Mathematics Department will place each Year 8 student in the Year 9 level that best suits their mathematical ability and performance at that stage of their schooling, and enable them to have the highest chance of success in Year 9 and future years. A letter will be sent home in September communicating this placement in Mathematics 5.1, 5.2 or 5.3, although class streaming within these levels will still be dependent on final Year 8 marks at the end of the year. Should parents/students wish to request a different level of Mathematics, they may contact Mr Hanlon (Head of Mathematics) after the final Semester 2 examinations in November to discuss a potential adjustment

5.3 Mathematics: This level is appropriate for those students who possess an advanced level of mathematical intuition. It has been designed for the highly capable Mathematics student who shows a real aptitude for Mathematics and a significant ability to problem solve in unfamiliar contexts. As a guide, around 30% of all NSW Year 9 and 10 students study at this level, while about two-thirds of Barker students choose this level.

The nature and format of the 5.3 level enables students to learn the mathematical principles required for the study of any one of the three courses in Year 11 and 12, namely: Mathematics Standard, Mathematics Advanced or Mathematics Extension. The 5.3 level is a Barker College prerequisite for the Year 11 Mathematics Extension course. The 5.3 level is strongly recommended only for students who gain either an Achievement Grade A or B at the end of Year 8 at Barker College. Even highly capable students who do not apply themselves appropriately can find this level a significant challenge and a real struggle. Students and parents who wish to choose this level against the Mathematics Department’s recommendation should realise the vast majority of students who have done so have struggled to cope, lost confidence and generally performed poorly.

Topics studied at the 5.3 level include rational numbers, real numbers, consumer arithmetic, probability, algebraic techniques, coordinate geometry, graphs, data analysis, measurement, trigonometry, deductive geometry, functions, logarithms, curve sketching, polynomials and circle geometry. 

5.2 Mathematics: This level is an appropriate level of study for those students who possess a reasonable level of mathematical intuition and ability. As a guide, around 50% of all NSW Year 9 and 10 students study at this particular level, while about one-third of Barker students choose this level. The nature and format of this level enables students to learn the basic mathematical principles required for the study of either the Mathematics Advanced or the Mathematics Standard courses in Years 11 and 12.

The topics studied at the 5.2 level include rational numbers, consumer arithmetic, probability, algebraic techniques, coordinate geometry, graphs, data analysis, measurement, trigonometry and geometry.

There are fewer topics at the 5.2 level and these are covered at a slower pace and in less depth than at the harder 5.3 Mathematics level, while still providing an appropriate preparation for either of the two Year 11 2 Unit Mathematics courses. Hence, the 5.2 level is strongly recommended for those students who gain either an Achievement Grade C, D or E, or a Course Mark lower than 70% at the end of Year 8 at Barker College.

5.1 Mathematics: This level is an appropriate level of study for those students who possess a basic standard of mathematical intuition and ability. As a guide, around 20% of all NSW Year 9 and 10 students study at this particular level, while a handful of Barker students find themselves most suited to this level.

The 5.1 level allows students to complete the requirements for the study of Mathematics during Years 9 and 10. The nature and format of this level also enables students to learn the basic mathematical principles required for the study of the Mathematics Standard course in Years 11 and 12. However, this level is not sufficient preparation for the study of the Mathematics Advanced course.

The topics for the 5.1 level include rational numbers, consumer arithmetic, probability, algebraic techniques, coordinate geometry, data analysis, trigonometry, perimeter and area. The small number of topics at the 5.1 level are covered at a slower pace and in less depth than in the harder 5.2 Mathematics level. Despite this, the 5.1 level can still provide an appropriate preparation for the study of the Mathematics Standard course in Year 11.

The 5.2 and 5.1 Mathematics levels can be good options for students to regain confidence.  Indeed, a student who completed 5.1 in Years 9 and 10 recently came 2nd at Barker in the HSC Mathematics Standard course.


The study of Science in Year 9 uses science inquiry to develop science knowledge and understanding through learning experiences set in relevant contexts. Students undertake practical experiences in most lessons where they develop skills in, and understanding of, the process of Working Scientifically. Students will also develop knowledge and understanding about the nature, development, use and influence of science, as well as scientific concepts, ideas and principles related to the Chemical World, Earth and Space, the Living World and the Physical World. The topics of study in Year 9 include:

• A Well Coordinated Machine
• Are Mobile Phones Dangerous
• No Planet B
• Small Things Make a Big Difference
• Electricity at Work
• Waves
• Stars

The assessment of the course is through a variety of tasks including practical tests, topic tests and examinations.


In Stage 5 (Years 9 and 10), all students must also complete one year of Mandatory History and one year of Mandatory Geography. The table below indicates how this will take place, depending on the House group that your child is in. The School also offers History (Elective) and Geography (Elective) courses in addition to these mandatory courses. Students can choose to study these electives regardless of which year they are taking Mandatory History and Mandatory Geography.


Study Pattern


Study Pattern


Year 9
Mandatory History

Year 10
Mandatory Geography


Year 9
Mandatory Geography

Year 10
Mandatory History


Mandatory History

The Stage Five Mandatory History course helps provide an understanding of Australian history and our relationship with the rest of the world.
By exploring the origins of the slave trade and its effects on Africa, the new world and individuals, we establish an understanding of the movement of peoples and slavery over time.

The First and Second World Wars then become the focus as students consider Australia’s contributions and our role in the quest for global stability. In tandem with this is the challenge of Changing Rights and Freedoms in Australia and the United States. The course also explores international relations during the Cold War with a particular study of the Vietnam War which segues into analysis of Whitlam’s role in this era.
Students conduct individual historical research on a topic of their choice, and have a range of opportunities such as visiting speakers and excursions.

Students are encouraged to think about the important historical concepts of evidence, causation, and change over time as well as significant substantive concepts such as democracy, communism, and citizenship. In doing so, the course equips students for further study in History in the senior years and for life Beyond the Mint Gates.

Mandatory Geography

At the conclusion of studies in Stage 5 Mandatory Geography students should understand:

• the diverse features and characteristics of a range of places and environments
• processes and influences that form and transform places and environments
• the effect of interactions and connections between people, places and environments
• perspectives of people and organisations on a range of geographical issues
• management strategies for places and environments for their sustainability
• differences in human wellbeing and ways to improve human wellbeing

Students will focus upon four main units of learning:

Sustainable Biomes
• What are the main characteristics that differentiate the world’s biomes?
• How do people use and alter biomes for food production?
• Can the world’s biomes sustainably feed the world’s population?
• What strategies can be used to increase global food security?

Human Wellbeing
• What makes human wellbeing a geographical issue?
• How can the spatial variations in human wellbeing and development be measured and explained?
• What are the economic, social and environmental impacts of variations in development and human wellbeing?
• How do governments, groups and individuals respond to inequalities in development and human wellbeing for a sustainable future?

Changing Places (urbanisation, migration, refugees)
• Why has the world become more urbanised?
• How does migration impact on the concentration of people into urban places?
• How does urbanisation change environments and places?
• What strategies are used to manage environmental change in urban places to enhance sustainability?

Environmental Change and Management
• How do environments function?
• How do people’s worldviews affect their attitudes to and use of environments?
• What are the causes and consequences of change in environments?
• Why is an understanding of environmental processes and interconnections essential for sustainable management of environments?

The course is supported by a field trip to Sydney’s CBD featuring a session atop Sydney Tower and a visit to the finger wharf in Woolloomooloo, an optional tour to Timor-Leste and the Winter Sleepout.


Personal Development, Health and Physical Education aims to develop young people’s capacity to manage personal health, to achieve movement potential and to think critically about health and physical activity issues. This will enable them to be an advocate for health and physical activity. This subject will develop and challenge students through a holistic and integrated approach to health and associated issues. Students will participate in class work and physical activities to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to understand, value and lead a healthy lifestyle. Strands covered include:

• Self and Relationships
• Movement Skill and Performance
• Individual and Community Health
• Lifelong Physical Activity