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Design and Review (archived)

The New Zealand Curriculum states (Pg 39):

A school’s curriculum is likely to be well designed when:

  • Principals and teachers can show what it is that they want their students to learn and how their curriculum is designed to achieve this.
  • Students are helped to build on existing learning and take it to higher levels. Students with special needs are given quality learning experiences that enable them to achieve, and students with special abilities and talents are given opportunities to work beyond formally described objectives.
  • The long view is taken: each student’s ultimate learning success is more important than the covering of particular achievement objectives.

This process requires leadership, direction and time. It involves clarifications and explorations that will inform good decisions. Review is central to strengthening curriculum design and practice at every stage of the development.

Curriculum Tool

This sheet provides more information and starter questions:

Word icon. Curriculum design and review - getting started (Word, 531 KB)

Design and Review: Focus on learners

The focus of the New Zealand Curriculum is on students and their success.

Therefore a well designed curriculum will have as a starting point a clear understanding about what you, as a community, want to achieve for your learners.

It will drive the decisions you make about organising learning and enable you to evaluate the impact of your changes on your learners.

This will be informed and guided by the New Zealand Curriculum which provides the framework and sets the direction for student learning.

Curriculum Tool

Vision for our students: Some schools have found this sheet helpful to direct discussions on learner profiles

Word icon. Developing a vision for our students MR (Word, 2 MB)


Design and review: an inclusive process

School curriculum design and review should be thought of as a broad process that is led by the school but that involves listening to and taking account of the ideas and concerns of students, families, whānau, and the wider community.

These different groups will look to the school to guide their understanding of the document’s key messages – particularly those that involve shifts in direction or emphasis.

Therefore a clear understanding of the intentions of the New Zealand Curriculum as well as the values and expectations of the community are important aspects of this process.

Community engagement is one of the eight principles in the New Zealand Curriculum.

 Related Information

The Curriculum Implementation Case Studies: Theme Eight - Engagement with parents and community provides information from schools on how they have approached engaging with parents and community, activities used and how this information has been incorporated into their school curriculum.

The nature of communication activities


Design and review: building on what is

As policy and practice constantly seek to understand and reflect the complex work of schools, teaching and learning, now and into the future, it is reasonable to expect that curriculum should be kept under review. This does not mean regularly changing everything, but making changes when and where they are justified and sensible.

Curriculum change should build on existing effective practice and aim to maximise the use of local resources and opportunities.

Curriculum Tool

Department readiness matrix: NZC Some schools have found this sheet helpful to identify where they are and to identify future directions.

Word icon. Department readiness matrix for NZC RB (Word, 43 KB)

Related Information

The Curriculum Implementation Case Studies: Theme Five - Flexibility for school-based curriculum developmentprovides information from schools on how they have approached reviewing and building on existing school practice.

Building on a solid foundation

Design and review: action

School curriculum design and review involves more than writing a set of statements about the scope and sequence of learning. This process involves

  • Inquiring into student’s needs
  • Inquiring into the school’s current effectiveness in meeting those needs
  • Determining and reaching agreement on the conditions for learning that could strengthen the impact of school’s programmes and practices.

Curriculum tools

From the NZC to school curriculum, an implementation pack sent to all schools, provides further elaboration and tools to assist with this process.


A possible framework for review

A useful way to organise the revision of your school’s curriculum is to use the four main goals that guided the scope and direction of the revised national curriculum. These are:

  1. Rationalisation of learning outcomes
    This focus requires a ‘big picture’ view, with priorities that are widely supported and accepted for the rich learning they can offer.
  2. Teaching and learning
    The impact of curriculum is dependent on the quality of teaching.
  3. School ownership
    If your school has a strong sense of ownership over curriculum decisions, it is more likely to commit to those decisions. Ownership of decisions about the scope and direction of curriculum reaches a higher level when students themselves have a voice.
  4. Community engagement
    Engagement is a way of informing discussion and debate, shared understandings and mutual support among those who share responsibility for students’ educational and social well-being.

Curriculum Tools

This sheet provides more information and guiding questions:

Word icon. A possible framework for curriculum design and review (Word, 539 KB)

Published on: 21 Mar 2009