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Introduction to the report

What this project is about

The schools we are working with

The research process

The eight themes

What this project is about

This project is a two-year qualitative research study commissioned by the Ministry of Education to build a rich understanding of the challenges of giving effect to The New Zealand Curriculum in a range of different types of schools.

The schools we are working with

Schools involved in this study from the very start were identified by the MOE as ‘early adopter’ schools, already known to be working towards implementation of the New Zealand Curriculum by late 2007. All the primary school leaders were members of one of three Principals’ Professional Learning Groups (PPLG) with a focus on some aspect of curriculum implementation. The secondary schools are clustered in one geographic region and were identified with the help of MOE and researcher networks. For the second year of the project some low decile primary schools and some area schools have been added to increase the diversity of the sample. No results from these schools are included in this report of the first year.

The research process

In the first year the field visits focused on whole-school processes that typically began with each school’s journey towards giving effect to NZC. The principal, another school leader, a BOT representative and a sample of teachers were each interviewed separately and school documentation relevant to these conversations was collected. Researchers toured the school to get a feel for the context but the study does not involve actual classroom observations. Rather the focus is on understanding how the teachers and school leaders understand the curriculum, and how they think that understanding translates to practice. Individual school case studies were prepared using common headings and a cross-case analysis was then carried out. The results of that analysis are reported here.

People involved in the study

The research partners are NZCER and the University of Waikato. All of the following people have contributed to the field work and the writing of the case studies on which this overarching discussion is based: Rachel Bolstad, Sally Boyd, Ally Bull, Beverley Cooper, Bronwen Cowie, Jenny Ferrier-Kerr, Rosemary Hipkins, Anne Hume, Paul Keown, Clive McGee, Anne Mckim, Judy Moreland, Michele Morrison, Merilyn Taylor, and Russell Yates.

The eight themes

This milestone report presents eight themes identified from the case studies of the 2008 schools that took part in the Curriculum Implementation Project.

Once the individual case studies had been completed the core research team discussed emergent themes. Eight were identified:

  • The sense that schools are making of The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC)
  • Principal leadership is key to success
  • The nature of professional learning activities to date
  • Exploring the “front end” of the curriculum
  • Flexibility for school-based curriculum development
  • The move to an integrated curriculum and inquiry learning
  • The time needed for implementation
  • Engagement with parents and the community.

Each was then elaborated more fully by one or more members of the team. Following that, the lead authors synthesised these various reports to produce the completed document.

The themes discussed here were seen as key to understanding the current implementation context, and helpful to the Ministry of Education for determining next steps. Although each theme is presented separately, in fact they overlap and interact with each other. For example, the approaches school leaders used to guide directions at their school, and to develop a professional learning culture, set the scene for the professional learning which occurred as schools explored their vision for students and the new curriculum. Likewise, the recent professional learning school leaders and teaches had engaged in provided a foundation which influenced the approaches school leaders took to the new curriculum and how they interpreted the contents.

Published on: 15 Apr 2009


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