The new syllabus is currently being taught to students. Teachers and students will encounter several significant changes. Topics such as motion in two dimensions, wave properties of light and thermodynamics, which have not been part of the NSW syllabus since 2000 , have been reintroduced. Mathematical rigour has also been increased: the number of mandated equations has risen from 40 to 82 . In addition, students must carry out fifteen hours of depth studies in both Years 11 and 12. Depth studies involve “any type of investigation/activity that a student completes individually or collaboratively that allows the further development of one or more concepts found within or inspired by the syllabus” . They represent a significant novel addition to the syllabus. Best Matriculation School in Kumbakonam
Elements have also been removed from the syllabus. Students are no longer required to discuss the social and historical context of scientific discoveries, or the implications of technologies for society and the environment. Along with the increase in mandated equations these changes imply a marked decrease in the degree to which students will be expected to answer essay-style questions. Optional topics, which had previously allowed teachers to specialise in an area of study, have also been removed. This means that medical physics, geophysics and semiconductors no longer appear in the syllabus. References to superconductors, which were previously discussed qualitatively, have also been removed.
These changes pose a number of new challenges for both teachers and students. They require teachers to deliver, and students to learn more advanced mathematical skills. They also require teachers to guide students as they design, carry out and report on individual or group research on topics and concepts not explicitly covered in the syllabus. Teachers must also assess these research reports.
In addition, some teachers will have to deliver content that they have not formally encountered in their own education, as reports illustrate that 20% of current physics teachers are not physics-trained , and the syllabus now contains concepts that have not been taught in NSW schools for 20 years.
It is therefore likely that teachers will require support in order to deliver the new curriculum successfully . This is particularly the case in rural, regional and lower socioeconomic areas, where physics teachers are less likely to have studied the subject at tertiary level and experience a range of other barriers compared to their metropolitan counterparts . Physics classes in these schools already tend to be smaller than in other schools and there is a risk that such schools may not be able to offer the new physics syllabus to students, either because of a critical drop in student numbers or because no suitably qualified teacher is available . However, unlike the introduction of the K-10 Australian Curriculum, no additional funding has been made available to assist teachers and schools in making the transition. Therefore, support from universities and other institutions, particularly in rural, regional and low socioeconomic areas, is a social equity issue .