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Setting the direction

Setting the direction provides guidance on what should be driving curriculum change at your school. It is a useful section for schools wanting to establish needs and priorities for the curriculum design and review process.

What are your priorities for student learning?

Know your learners.

The NZC states (p 37):

Curriculum design and review clarifies priorities for student learning, the ways in which those priorities will be addressed, and how student progress and the quality of teaching and learning will be assessed.

The ultimate aim of curriculum design and review is to clarify and address priorities for student learning. Schools needs to know who their learners are – their interests, aspirations, and learning needs. This is what should drive the direction of school curriculum change.

The beginning phase of curriculum design and review involves gathering evidence about students' needs. Collecting and analysing assessment data, listening to the student voice, and consulting with parents, families, and whānau are ways that schools can get to know their learners better. Once schools have used achievement and qualitative data to signal students' needs they could then begin a deeper inquiry into programme effectiveness and possible areas for change.

Questions you can use

  • What are our priorities for student learning (based on evidence)?
  • What knowledge and skills do we need, and what actions shall we take to improve student outcomes?
  • What has been the impact of our changes (based on evidence)?
  • Where to next? What are our priorities for student learning now?

Useful resources 

Identifying learning needs
This page from Systems of support on NZC Online offers a range of tools to support an inquiry into programme effectiveness.

Assessment Online
This website supports schools to gather, analyse, and use assessment information to improve students' learning and teachers' teaching.

Assessment tool selector
The assessment tool selector is a resource to help schools select the most appropriate assessment tool to suit their particular purpose. The selector gives you information about assessment tools most frequently used in New Zealand schools. 

National Standards
The National Standards set clear expectations that students need to meet in reading, writing, and mathematics in the first eight years at school. This section on NZC Online supports schools to use the National Standards to improve student achievement.

New Zealand Qualifications Authority – NCEA
This section of the NZQA website explains NCEA in depth and provides related links. 

From this page you will find NZQA quality assured assessment resources to support internally assessed Level 1, 2, and 3 registered achievement standards aligned with The New Zealand Curriculum.

School stories

Using data to inform teaching and learning
Principal John Bangma and Deputy Principal Jenny Washington discuss data driven decision making at Mairehau Primary School. Data at a whole school level is used to inform school development.

Student voice
Teachers from Tawa Intermediate School asked their learners what they wanted from their 21st century school. The responses they got led them to trial different approaches to teaching and learning to increase student engagement.

Survey your own students

The following questions have been derived from a case study that was carried out during the implementation stage of The New Zealand Curriculum. The questions can be used to find out your students' views on learning and the future. This information can guide the shaping of your school curriculum to ensure that you are meeting your students’ interests, aspirations, and preferred ways of learning. You can adapt and add to the questions to suit your school context.

Big ideas

Older students:

  • What is a successful person?
  • What would you like to learn now, so that you can more easily become that successful person?
  • What will you need to know?
  • What will you need to be able to do?

Younger students:

  • What do you want to be good at?
  • What do you want to be when you are older?
  • What things do you think you'll need to learn to do that job?

Curriculum areas

Older students:

  • What's your favourite subject and why?
  • What do you love about this subject?
  • What are you learning now that will help you in the future?
  • What else do you want to learn about this subject?
  • What is unique about this subject?

Younger students:

  • What subject do you like best? Why?
  • What school work do you like best?
  • What do you enjoy doing when you go to school?
  • Why do you like it?
  • What are you learning at school?
  • What is the most fun thing that you do at school?
  • Why do you think it's fun?

Your needs

Older students:

  • What helps you learn?
  • What advice would you give to teachers?
  • What makes a good teacher?
  • When your school work gets hard, what do you do?
  • Who do you ask?
  • Do you feel able to ask your teacher or your friends questions?
  • What do you do if they can't help you?

Younger students:

  • Do you like learning new things?
  • How do you learn new things?
  • What's your teacher like?
  • What does your teacher do with you in the classroom?
  • If you don't know how to do something, what do you do next?
  • Do you ask your teacher questions?
Setting the direction cogs. Leading change. Know your community. Know the curriculum. Know your learners.

Important considerations for curriculum design and review

Next – Know the curriculum 

Published on: 18 Apr 2014