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Components of a school curriculum (archived)

The New Zealand Curriculum document states: (Pg 37)

Your school curriculum will have a clear statement about what your school community deems to be important for your students and will set out detail on how you are intending to achieve this. It will also reflect the intent of the New Zealand Curriculum.

What makes up a school curriculum?

A school curriculum can be thought of in the following two ways; in one sense as the documentation outlining a plan for learning and teaching and in another important sense a curriculum is about what actually happens in classrooms and other teaching - learning settings.


The practised curriculum

Sometimes what actually happens in classrooms and other teaching-learning settings will clearly reflect what is formally described in your curriculum document. At other times these connections may be less obvious, yet justifiable.

The practised curriculum will be guided by the school's:

  • vision for its students developed in keeping with that of the New Zealand Curriculum and the eight principles which will be used as the framework for all curriculum decision making
  • values identified with student and parent communities, including those outlined in the New Zealand Curriculum, and used as part of the daily life of the school
  • framework for providing multiple opportunities for students to develop the key competencies in a range of learning contexts.

Related information

Curriculum design and review area provides more information

The documented curriculum

Schools currently have a variety of documents they use to assist with setting and monitoring goals, the day-to-day running of the school and an overview of future plans.

The format and detail of documents vary from school to school, but all have the common purpose of identifying student's learning needs, detail on how these will be met, and information on how the school will monitor their success in meeting these.

Schools are required to submit a school charter to the Ministry.

When designing a school curriculum it is a good opportunity to revisit school documentation with the following three questions in mind:

  • what documentation do we need?
  • who is it for?
  • what is the purpose?

The important understanding is that what actually impacts on student learning amounts to curriculum in practice. It is desirable that there is a good fit between the documented curriculum and the practised curriculum. The quality of curriculum as seen in action will be the true measure of the documented version.

Lester Flockton


The New Zealand Curriculum document states (Pg 37):

All New Zealand students, regardless of where they are situated, should experience a rich and balanced education that embraces the intent of the national curriculum.

Curriculum tools

Some schools have found this chart helpful when they are thinking about what makes up a school curriculum.

Word 2007 icon. Components of a school curriculum (Word 2007, 507 KB)


 Related Information

This area provides links to some school web pages with examples and information on their school curriculum.

Examples of school curriculum

Published on: 24 May 2009