Five reasons why Jacaranda is the only choice for the new VCE Health and Human Development Study Design

This is a guest post by Andrew Beaumont, a Health and Human Development teacher at St Bede’s College, Mentone and VCAA assessor for 13 years. He is also the lead author for Jacaranda’s Key Concepts in VCE Health and Human Development series.

beaumont_andrew_headshotIn 2018, teachers will start implementing an exciting new Study Design for VCE Health and Human Development. Overall, the new curriculum takes a contemporary approach to exploring health and wellbeing, building health literacy and providing ways that students can engage with the world to promote the lives of all people and the environments in which we live.

In this blog post I will review the major changes in the new Study Design, provide a few easy tips for implementation, and share my top five reasons why Jacaranda’s new HHD series is the best resource for students and teachers alike.

Important changes in the new Study Design for VCE Health and Human Development


Compared to its predecessor from 2014-2017, the new Study Design incorporates significant changes that teachers need to be aware of. For example, the NHPAs, responsibilities of different levels of government, reasons why the SDGs are important, and the concept of global health are no longer a part of the Study Design. New concepts have been introduced, such as:

  • the focus on the dynamic and subjective nature of health and wellbeing and illness;
  • emotional and spiritual health and wellbeing;
  • various perspectives of health and wellbeing, including those of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders;
  • biological, sociocultural and environmental factors;
  • the Health Star Rating System;
  • food marketing;
  • healthy and respectful relationships;
  • the intergenerational nature of health and wellbeing;
  • opportunities and challenges presented by digital media;
  • issues relating to the use of emerging health procedures and technologies;
  • the importance of optimal health and wellbeing for individuals, countries and the world;
  • the prerequisites for health (as determined by the WHO);
  • the impact of specific risk factors on health status and burden of disease;
  • ‘old’ public health;
  • health promotion initiatives in relation to smoking, road safety or skin cancer (teachers can choose from these options);
  • Indigenous health promotion initiatives;
  • the impact of discrimination on health status and burden of disease;
  • implications of global trends on health and wellbeing;
  • key features of Sustainable Development Goal 3; and
  • ways in which individuals can take social action to promote health and wellbeing.

Implementation tips for teachers


Given the wide scope of changes, it’s possible that some teachers may feel overwhelmed. Here’s my advice to minimise the stress of the new Study Design:

  • Focus on the specifics of what the Study Design indicates should be taught, rather than go off on tangents that are not examinable.
  • Ensure any resources that are used in the classroom 100% reflect the new Study Design.
  • Remember that all aspects of the Key Knowledge and Key Skills can form the basis of assessment tasks so check that the resources adequately cover all of these points to ensure that students are not disadvantaged.

Why choose Jacaranda for the new VCE Health & Human Development Study Design


Available in November 2017, the updated Jacaranda Key Concepts in VCE Health & Human Development series is written to match the Study Design exactly and take in all changes. However, more than simply what students need to learn, the texts take into account how students learn best and structure the content accordingly. The result is a resource that teachers can feel confident in, and students can learn from—no matter their level. Here’s proof:

Reason #1: Provides 100% curriculum coverage, including new and important concepts

The single biggest change with the 2018-2022 Study Design is the focus on health and wellbeing, a concept that relates to the state of a person’s physical, social, emotional, mental and spiritual existence and is characterised by an equilibrium in which the individual feels happy, healthy, capable and engaged. The five dimensions are closely related and as a result, some examples of health and wellbeing outcomes can relate to more than one dimension. Emotional and mental health and wellbeing are two dimensions that are particularly closely related, but there are differences between the two.

What you can expect in the Jacaranda Key Concepts in VCE Health & Human Development series:

Each title includes a discussion of the differences between these dimensions to make these concepts clearer for students (see below).

What is the difference between emotional and mental health and wellbeing?

Another change is that the action areas of the Ottawa Charter now underpin the exploration of health promotion initiatives in a range of contexts.

What you can expect in the Jacaranda Key Concepts in VCE Health & Human Development series:

The ability to make one link between an action area and health promotion in the given scenario may not be enough to secure full marks. That’s why we have included a range of links between the relevant concept and each action area to ensure that students will be well equipped for exam questions targeting these dot points.

Reason #2: Addresses key knowledge and skills

This Study Design will engage students and provide them with knowledge and skills that they can use in their everyday lives to explore, analyse, evaluate and act in relation to health and wellbeing, and human development, in individual, national and global contexts. In particular, key skills form an essential component of any VCE Study Design and are particularly important in the new HHD course, as the curriculum now focusses more on application. Students who are competent in key skills invariably receive higher exam and study scores.

What you can expect in the Jacaranda Key Concepts in VCE Health & Human Development series:

The new Jacaranda texts provide comprehensive coverage of all key knowledge and key skills. The structure is designed such that students thoroughly explore each concept in the new Study Design first, before engaging in activities to consolidate and assess their knowledge. The amount of content in each section is manageable, so students don’t have to read an excessive amount of text before being able to reflect on and apply their knowledge. This is hugely beneficial since too much text before active engagement with the concepts can result in key points becoming lost.

Despite their importance, key skills are often neglected in Health and Human Development resources. That’s why the Jacaranda texts not only integrate key skills throughout the chapters, but specifically address every single one in the Chapter Review section, providing advice and specific practise for each.

Reason #3: Provides the flexibility to choose

Teachers and students have ample choice in the new Study Design. Here are a few examples:

  • In Unit 3, the dot point relating to the role of public health in improving population health provides teachers with the choice of exploring smoking, road safety or skin cancer.
  • In Unit 4, the Study Design lets students choose the program(s) relating to one of the SDGs that they feel confident with. Alternatively, they can be guided by their teacher’s advice.

What you can expect in the Jacaranda Key Concepts in VCE Health & Human Development series:

As these decisions can change from year to year, the new Jacaranda texts address all options identified in the Study Design, or a range of options if none are suggested in the Study Design. This approach provides much-needed flexibility and ensures that students are adequately prepared, regardless of the topic explored in their class.

However, as a result, there are some chapters whereby only a fraction of the content will be necessary to teach the required concept, based on the choices that you make as a teacher.

Don’t let the total page count throw you off!

Skin cancer health promotions interventions

Reason #4: Engages students

These days, it’s not just about the words in the text. Visuals help in the retention of key concepts and many students (and increasingly, teachers) regularly employ information technology as a tool to assist their learning.

What you can expect in the Jacaranda Key Concepts in VCE Health & Human Development series:

The new Jacaranda texts are highly visual, but each use of a graph, chart or other graphic has been carefully scrutinised to ensure that it adds an element to the concept in question and/or assists in developing key skills. While it can be tempting to fill a text with visuals such as data, infographics, flow charts and tables, many do not focus on a key concept within the course and can actually contribute to confusion for students. Worse, if they are too complex, they can be a source of frustration.

The new editions also continue to make use of contemporary digital resources and build on the base established in the previous editions. This provides students with opportunities to extend their knowledge and skills by engaging with videos, interactivities and links to relevant content on the internet.

Reason #5: Enables differentiation

Students come to us with a range of abilities and all should be catered for.

What you can expect in the Jacaranda Key Concepts in VCE Health & Human Development series:

The titles maintain the structure of scaffolding content, questions and activities to ensure that students of all abilities can achieve success and realise their potential.

To clarify, the intention is not that students complete every question and activity—rather, providing a range ensures that higher achieving students can extend themselves, while providing opportunities for success for all students.

I hope this summary was helpful. If you have any questions about the new Study Design or the Jacaranda series, you can always reach out to me at amb@stbedes.catholic.edu.au. To get a sneak peek at the new editions, make sure you register for sample chapters here.

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