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What is Numeracy?

Numeracy comprises the knowledge, skills, behaviours and dispositions that students need in order to use mathematics effectively in a wide range of situations. It involves recognising and understanding the role of mathematics in the world and having the dispositions and capacities to use mathematical knowledge and skills purposefully. Number, measurement and geometry, statistics and probability are common aspects of most people's mathematical experience in everyday personal, study and work situations. Equally important are the essential roles that algebra, functions and relations, logic, mathematical structure and working mathematically play in people's understanding of the natural and human worlds, and the interaction between them. Students are exposed to increasingly sophisticated and refined mathematical understanding, fluency, reasoning, modelling and problem solving. These capabilities enable students to respond to familiar and unfamiliar situations by employing mathematics to make informed decisions and solve problems efficiently.

What is the purpose of the Numeracy Learning Progressions?

The Numeracy Learning Progressions outline a sequence of indicators of increasingly sophisticated understanding and skills in numeracy. The Numeracy Learning Progressions can be used as a tool to facilitate a deeper understanding of numeracy development. They can be used to support all teachers in Victorian schools in developing a comprehensive view of numeracy and how numeracy skills develop over time. They support teachers to understand individual students' numeracy development, independent of curriculum area, and they can assist teachers in developing targeted teaching and learning programs.

Where did the National Numeracy Learning Progressions come from?

The need to develop national Literacy and Numeracy Learning Progressions was identified by all Australian education ministers in December 2015. The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), using key national and international research in the area of numeracy development, developed and tested the progressions from mid-2016 and they were published in late 2017. The Numeracy Learning Progressions are aligned to the Victorian Curriculum F–10: Mathematics.

For more information on the National Literacy and Numeracy Learning Progressions, visit Australian curriculum - National Literacy and Numeracy learning progressions


Understanding The Numeracy Learning Progressions

How are the Numeracy Learning Progressions related to the Victorian Curriculum F–10?

The Numeracy Learning Progressions are not a curriculum. For all curriculum information, please refer back to the Victorian Curriculum F–10.

The Numeracy Learning Progressions do not describe what to teach. They provide detail of how students become increasingly adept in particular aspects of Numeracy. Content Descriptions and Achievement Standards continue to be the focus for planning, programming, teaching, learning and assessment in relation to the Victorian Curriculum F–10.

Victorian Curriculum F–10: Mathematics

The Numeracy Learning Progressions build on the numeracy skills in the Victorian Curriculum F–10: Mathematics and support the application of numeracy within other areas of learning.

The Numeracy Learning Progressions are designed to help teachers develop a detailed and nuanced understanding of student numeracy development, especially in the early years, by outlining a set of steps within particular areas of numeracy learning. This can be particularly useful to guide teachers when planning interventions for their students’ numeracy learning, especially for students achieving above and below the age-equivalent expectations in Victorian Curriculum F–10: Mathematics.

Relation to other areas of learning in the Victorian Curriculum F–10

Numeracy underpins learning across the Victorian Curriculum F–10. While much of the explicit teaching of numeracy occurs in the Mathematics learning area, it is strengthened, made specific and extended in other learning areas as students engage in a range of learning activities with significant numeracy demands. The Numeracy Learning Progressions are designed to assist schools and teachers in all learning areas to support their students to successfully engage with the numeracy demands of the Victorian Curriculum F–10.

How can the Numeracy Learning Progressions be used?

The Numeracy Learning Progressions can be used in a variety of ways.


Numeracy is part of learning in many curriculum areas across the years of schooling. Paying attention to the numeracy demands of each learning area ensures that students’ numeracy development is strengthened so that it supports subject-based learning. The way the Numeracy Learning Progressions are used may differ between primary and secondary teachers and between subject teachers in the secondary context.

All teachers, especially teachers of Mathematics, can use the Numeracy Learning Progressions to:

  • support the identification of the numeracy capability of individual students within and across the Learning Progressions
  • support targeted numeracy teaching and intervention
  • provide targeted feedback to students about their learning within and across the progressions.

For teachers focussed on other areas of learning in the Victorian Curriculum F–10, the Numeracy Learning Progressions can:

  • support the development of understanding of the numeracy demands and opportunities within their learning areas
  • provide support for teaching subject specific numeracy.

Whole school

The Numeracy Learning Progressions are designed to enhance student learning, and are more beneficial when used as part of a whole-school strategy that involves professional learning and collaboration between teachers.

At a whole-school level, the Numeracy Learning Progressions can be used to:

  • enable collaboration in building a shared understanding of numeracy and numeracy development
  • promote and support professional learning in numeracy
  • provide a common language for discussing students' numeracy progress
  • focus explicit numeracy teaching and learning planning and implementation across the curriculum.

Numeracy Learning Progression Structure

Numeracy Learning Progression map

To support teachers to use the Numeracy Learning Progressions within Victorian schools, each Numeracy Learning Progression has been mapped against the levels of the Victorian Curriculum

F–10: Mathematics. For Numeracy, the subheading of each step has also been included to support teacher use. Teachers are advised to familiarise themselves with this map.

The Numeracy Learning Progressions map (docx - 99.34kb)

How are the Numeracy Learning Progressions structured?

The Numeracy Learning Progressions are organised in the three strands of the Victorian Curriculum F–10: Mathematics. These files are designed to be used as A3 documents.

What are the key features of the Numeracy Learning Progression?

Each Numeracy Learning Progression has a series of developmental steps that describe the progression of learning. Each Learning Progression has a 'span', indicating the placement and spread of learning across the levels of the Victorian Curriculum F–10: Mathematics. There is no set number of steps within each span nor do they start and end at the same time. For example, Quantifying numbers has 12 steps in a span from Foundation to Level 6 while Operating with decimals has four steps in a span from Level 4 to Level 7.

Each step within a Learning Progression has one or more indicators and is more sophisticated or complex than the preceding step. The indicators describe what a student says, does or produces. The indicators are not in hierarchical order within a step. The amount of detail in any step is not an indication of importance. A single indicator at a more sophisticated level in the progression may rely on a number of indicators being evident in earlier levels.

The steps do not describe equal or specified intervals of time in students' learning. They are designed to indicate the order in which students acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to be numerate. As learning can be very rapid in the early years of school, the initial steps within a Learning Progression tend to be more detailed than the later steps.

In many of the Learning Progressions, subheadings have been included to assist teachers by grouping indicators into particular categories of skills that develop over a number of levels. Not all subheadings appear in all steps within a Learning Progression. For publication purposes, Quantifying numbers is split into Parts A and B, but these form a single Learning Progression.

Some students will communicate using augmentative and alternative communication strategies to demonstrate their numeracy skills. This may include digital technologies, sign language, braille, real objects, photographs and pictographs. The focus of the Learning Progressions is on the development of skill and not the method of communication.

Birth to Level 10 Numeracy Guide

The Birth to Level 10 Numeracy Guide is a Department of Education and Training (DET) resource that has been developed to support numeracy development across the curriculum from Birth to Level 10.

This Guide and other DET resources such as FUSE numeracy resources and the Mathematics – curriculum companion can be accessed from DET's Victorian Numeracy Portal.


David Leigh-Lancaster, Mathematics Curriculum Manager

Phone (03) 9032 1690 or send an email