Te Kete Ipurangi Navigation:

Te Kete Ipurangi

Te Kete Ipurangi user options:

New Zealand Curriculum Online navigation


Curriculum, pedagogy, environments

Teaching and learning that builds financial capability is a relevant context through which schools can meet the objectives and requirements of the national curriculum.

Effective pedagogy

Teaching and learning approaches: Cross curricular l Inquiry l Enterprise 

Evidence tells us that students learn best when teachers:

  • create a supportive learning environment
  • encourage reflective thought and action
  • enhance the relevance of new learning
  • facilitate shared learning
  • make connections to prior learning and experience
  • provide sufficient opportunity to learn
  • inquire into the teaching and learning relationship.

(The New Zealand Curriculum, p. 34)

Teaching and learning approaches

Cross curricular or thematic approach

Financial capability is not aligned to a specific subject area, instead it provides an authentic context for linking or integrating learning areas via a broad theme. Key competencies and values can be developed through the learning experiences involving decision making, goal setting, and planning for the future.

"Links between learning areas should be explored. This can lead, for example, to units of work or broad programmes designed to develop students' financial capability, positioning them to make well-informed financial decisions throughout their lives."

The New Zealand Curriculum, p. 39

Read about examples of successful cross curricular units based around real life experiences with specific learning outcomes designed to build students' financial capability.

  • At Brooklyn School students in years 5 to 8 participated in a classroom economic system supporting learning in English, mathematics and statistics, and social sciences.
  • At Otahuhu College year 10 students were given a 13 week course in personal financial literacy that covered mathematics, English, and social sciences with a strong literacy focus. 

The Ministry of Education's four financial capability themed books in the Figure It Out series use real life contexts and scenarios. The activities are integrated across the mathematics and statistics and social sciences learning areas.


“Inquiries based on students’ own interests and questions engage students.”

Social Studies/ Tikanga a Iwi Best Evidence Synthesis Iteration, 2008p. 182

Building students' financial capability works well using an inquiry approach. This approach enables students to ask and find answers to their own questions, make links to contexts which are meaningful and relevant, recognise choices they can make, and the potential consequences for themselves and/or others as a result of those choices. 

Taking the key concepts outlined in the financial capability learning progressions and using a social inquiry approach to build financial capability involves students:

  • asking questions, gathering information, examining relevant current issues, for example, analysing the issue of high interest, short term loans 
  • exploring and analysing people's values and perspectives, for example, comparing how the values and perspectives of members of the class affects their choices of how and why to fundraise 
  • considering the way in which people make decisions, for example, investigating how people’s culture and beliefs affects their financial decision making with regards to sharing money 
  • reflecting on and evaluating the new understandings they have developed and the responses that may be required, for example, setting a goal and creating a financial plan to achieve that goal after learning about budgeting.

Tawa Intermediate School students used an inquiry approach to develop financial capability through the social sciences and English learning areas.

"The inquiry approach encouraged values exploration, decision making, promoted conceptual understanding, and critical thinking which tied in perfectly with the financial capability framework and the direction we wished to explore."

Tawa Intermediate School

At Ranzau School students in years 1 to 6 participated in an inquiry supporting learning across technology, social sciences, and mathematics and statistics.

“Students have enjoyed being able to take control of their learning. Inquiry has enabled them to direct their learning in areas of interest to them and to extend themselves. For example students have been able to research a career of choice and investigate their own personal questions about finance.”

Ranzau School story

Social inquiry

A social inquiry approach to building financial capability considers the impact of financial decision making on the community and wider society. 

The social inquiry approach provides opportunities to integrate the four mechanisms and critical questions that facilitate learning for diverse students in social sciences as outlined in Effective pedagogy in social sciences/Tikanga ā iwi: Best evidence synthesis iteration (BES).

Selecting relevant contexts in which to build financial capability and exploring relevant issues will enable students to make connections across different learning areas, and with their communities. They will have opportunities to develop key competencies and explore and understand their own and others' values.

Students can then use these capabilities to assist them in considering the questions "so what?" and "what now?" if they wish to go further and take social action as part of the inquiry process.


Critical questions

Make connections to students' lives

How can we make this learning relevant and significant to all students in the class?

Selecting authentic and relevant learning contexts to build financial capability and explore relevant issues enables students to make connections across different learning areas, and with their communities. Students have opportunities to develop key competencies and explore and understand their own and others' values. 

Align experiences to important outcomes

What are we intending to achieve in this learning? How can we align learning to these outcomes based on what students currently know?

Effective assessment practices identifying students' prior knowledge help teachers design learning experiences that align with the desired outcomes. The financial capability progressions provide a framework for assessment. Read more about how Mangere School developed a profile of a financially literate year 8 student to help inform their financial capability teaching.

Build and sustain a learning community

How can we build relationships that promote joint participation in learning between students and teachers?

Issues relating to financial capability create rich opportunities for student dialogue which may assist in creating an effective learning community. 

Design experiences that interest students

What activities can we choose to motivate learning and make it memorable?

Selecting financial capability contexts that are relevant to the students' current lives is an excellent way to build motivation for learning. For example, if your school is holding a whānau hui or Pasifika event, involve students in planning the menu with a set budget, sourcing and buying the food, and preparing the meals for their families. 

(Building Conceptual Understandings in the Social Sciences: Approaches to Social Inquiry, p. 14, 2008)

“Students used a social inquiry approach to develop their understandings about financial capability in an authentic context. We wanted to focus on exploring and developing our values.”

Onehunga High School story


Financial learning and enterprise learning can (and are best to) happen simultaneously – one context reinforcing the other.

Enterprise education can provide engaging and authentic contexts, such as creating a business to develop financial capability concepts. Enterprising skills and attitude, combined with strong financial capability, are required to build entrepreneurship.

“Education for enterprise seeks to develop entrepreneurs, and its valued outcomes include leadership, innovation, and risk taking.”

BCUSS - Taking Part in Economic Communities

Financial capabilities enhance students' engagement in enterprise learning, and enterprise learning enhances students' engagement in building their financial capability.

Teaching financial capability in an enterprise context
Aorere College teacher Meriane Brown talks about the financial capabilities her students develop as part of Lunches for Less, the enterprise project her students are working on.

Published on: 20 Nov 2013