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Relationship with the NZC

The New Zealand Curriculum states: (pg 37)

Curriculum in New Zealand schools is designed and interpreted in a three-stage process as:

  • the national curriculum - the New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa
  • the school curriculum - designed by schools based on the national curriculum
  • the classroom curriculum - interpreted by teachers aligned with the school curriculum

The New ZealandCurriculum is a framework within which schools develop the detail for programmes and approaches to learning. It sets broad expectations for all state and state integrated schools without being unduly prescriptive or restrictive.

Aligning your school curriculum with the New Zealand Curriculum

Curriculum alignment is about consistency, not sameness.

At one level it involves an appropriate match of curriculum components; at another, it involves interpreting components to express your school’s area of focus.

Individual schools will shape and present their curriculum in ways that reflect their intentions, preferences, ideas and understandings.

Some schools will emphasise integrated or enquiry approaches to programme design, teaching and learning, whereas others might choose to give individual areas their own distinct place and focus. Some will fuse values, key competencies and learning areas together at every point, while others might give separate treatment to particular aspects.

What is important is that all elements of the NZC are woven together to create a coherent whole to ensure the needs of all learners are being met.

Curriculum tool

Some schools have found this sheet helpful to guide this process of aligning school curriculum with the NZC.

PDF icon. Implications for practice (PDF, 79 KB)

Example of Alignment: Values

The NZC identifies eight values (Pg 10): excellence, innovation, diversity, equity, community ecological sustainability, integrity, and respect.

This list is neither exhaustive nor exclusive. Some schools add further values; others identify fewer values that may not match the wording of the NZC but have consistent intent. These schools can explain and show how their own statement of values accommodates those in the NZC.

Example of Alignment: Key competencies

The NZC establishes five key competencies and examples of associated actions (Pg 12): thinking,using language, symbols, and texts, managing self, relating to others and participating and contributing

It does not prescribe or require particular criteria or progressions for different stages of schooling. Your school might choose to identify specific progressions of development for a competency, or you may prefer to focus on a few well-expressed and overarching dimensions that constitute the broad intention and meaning of the competency in action.

The ability of your students to demonstrate the competency in a range of contexts – inside and outside school – will reflect the success of your chosen approach.

Example of Alignment: Learning areas – Science

The NZC states (Pg 28):

... a way of investigating, understanding, and explaining our natural, physical world and the wider universe. It involves generating and testing ideas, gathering evidence …

When you review the design of your school curriculum, and align it to the NZC the science statement will help you define your science programmes and learning intentions. Its intentions will determine student learning and achievement.

It will also help you develop learning contexts that make the best use of your school’s environment and resources.

Teachers will be able to choose achievement objectives that support and clarify learning activities that link with your school’s ‘big picture’ learning intentions or goals.


The New Zealand Curriculum provides a framework that sets the direction for learning and teaching in New Zealand's English medium schools.

The principles of the New Zealand Curriculum embody beliefs about what is important and desirable in your school curriculum.

The direction of the New Zealand Curriculum guides the direction of the school's curriculum.

Published on: 18 Mar 2009