Seizing the opportunity
In 2010, The New Zealand Curriculum comes into effect. What does this mean for schools?
very New Zealand school now has the flexibility to scope, design and shape its curriculum to suit its students and help them achieve the vision of becoming confident, connected, actively-involved, life-long learners.
It is important that students see the relevance of what they are being taught; are empowered to make connections with their own experiences and knowledge; make the links within and across the learning areas; and engage with the rich learning opportunities that their local environment provides.
This is what The New Zealand Curriculum is all about.
The NZC puts students at the centre and encourages each school to be responsive to its own students and community, to engage and develop lifelong learners.
This means there will be differences in how and what each school teaches so learning is meaningful and beneficial.
The national curriculum provides the direction for developing a school’s curriculum – and is described in two documents: Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, for Māori-medium schools and settings, and The New Zealand Curriculum for English-medium schools.
Together, the two documents will help schools give effect to the partnership that is at the core of Te Tiriti o Waitangi/the Treaty of Waitangi.
Schools will base their teaching and learning programmes on the NZC from 2010 and Te Marautanga from 2011.
The Education Gazette spoke to New Zealand Curriculum project manager Chris Arcus, to find out what schools need to know regarding the NZC at this stage.
Where do schools need to be by February 2010 in giving effect to The New Zealand Curriculum?
All schools need to do a couple of key things – they need to design and implement a school curriculum and they need to teach using an evidence-based inquiry cycle that informs what they do and monitors the impact of those decisions.
Each school’s vision for its students will be in keeping with that of the NZC and the eight curriculum principles will be used as the framework for all curriculum decision-making.
Schools, with their student and parent communities, will have identified their values, including those outlined in NZC, and have decided how these are part of the daily life of the school.
Each school’s curriculum will provide multiple opportunities for students to develop the key competencies in a range of learning contexts.
Schools will pay close attention to students’ literacy and numeracy progress and achievement to ensure they can access the breadth and depth of the curriculum. The National Standards for Years 1 to 8 are designed to sharpen this process.
In secondary schools, alignment of the NCEA with the vision and outcomes of the curriculum is a key focus.
What’s really helping schools in their implementation process?
Effective leadership is key. School leaders are taking a planned and strategic approach to make sure all teachers are on board and are developing shared curriculum understandings and practices.
Many schools are making good progress through professional development opportunities connected to the curriculum.
Schools are finding the NZC document, colleagues in their own and other schools, the NZC Online and Key Competencies websites, printed support materials from the ministry, and external expertise all really valuable. Effective leadership pulls all these threads together.
What are the big ideas about professional knowledge and practice that teachers need to focus on?
Teaching as inquiry is really about asking:
- what is important and worth teaching?
- what are the student’s current strengths, needs and experiences?
- what approaches and strategies are the best routes to developing specific skills, concepts or attitudes?
- what happened as a result, how do we know, and therefore what are the next steps for teaching and learning?
In the classroom and across the school, teachers will be ensuring that students have opportunities to develop the key competencies and integrate the values through the school curriculum.
Should a school’s curriculum design and review be finished by February 2010?
No. Curriculum design and review is a cyclic process. Over time, students, communities, and their respective strengths and needs will change; so each school’s curriculum will need to change too.
Curriculum implementation as a process is also informed by deepening understanding and ongoing inquiry about what is working (or not) for different students and why.
How will schools evaluate how effective their curriculum is?
It is teaching and learning in action in the classroom and school that indicates whether a school’s curriculum has been well-designed.
Evaluating curriculum effectiveness will involve the ongoing use of evidence of student achievement and engagement across the curriculum.
The NZC gives guidance on how assessment can be used to improve student learning and teacher practice. The National Standards provide key reference points to evaluate whether students are able to access learning across the curriculum.
ERO’s approach to reviewing curriculum
Basing teaching and learning programmes on The New Zealand Curriculum is a requirement of every state school from the start of 2010. The Education Review Office will seek assurance during its reviews of schools, through attestation from the board of trustees and principal, that The New Zealand Curriculum is informing teaching programmes.
Since July last year, ERO has been monitoring in every school review how ready the school is to implement the new curriculum.
This readiness is reported in individual school reports and aggregated in national evaluation reports to inform the Ministry of Education about trends during the implementation phase.
From 2010, as part of education reviews, ERO will use a range of indicators to evaluate the school curriculum and its alignment to The New Zealand Curriculum. These indicators will be available on ERO’s website (www.ero.govt.nz) from October 2009. ERO will be interested in the shared expectations schools have for student achievement and progress, what schools know about student outcomes, and how well school systems align to The New Zealand Curriculum.
From The New Zealand Curriculum
“Each board of trustees, through the principal and staff, is required to develop and implement a curriculum for students in Years 1-13:
- that is underpinned by and consistent with the principles set out on page 9;
- in which the values set out on page 10 are encouraged and modelled and are explored by students;
- that supports students to develop the key competencies set out on pages 12-13.”
Use the NZC as your guide
The NZC outlines requirements on page 44, including the need to provide all students in Years 1-10 with effectively taught programmes in the first seven learning areas, and in Years 7-10 to ‘‘work towards offering opportunities’’ in learning languages as well.
In these areas schools will need to select achievement objectives in response to identified student interests and learning needs.
Further guidance on designing and reviewing the school curriculum is given on pages 37-42 of the NZC.