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What's next

Children in shadow image from curriculum.

Many of the schools in this study were well underway with their exploration of NZC. Because they had an already established school culture for collaboration and professional learning, the case study schools were in a good position to engage with the messages in the revised curriculum. The consensus amongst these school leaders was that, where such a culture does not already exist, its development will need to take place hand-in-hand with teacher, school, and community discussions about the intent of NZC, and the development of practices that could support its enactment and achievement.

Many of the schools in the study were actively exploring the front end of the curriculum. This has provided a rich opportunity for engaging professional conversations at the whole-staff level, especially conversations across curriculum boundaries in secondary schools. However, the next challenge is to link this exploration with the “back end” or learning areas of NZC. Questions such as the relationship between values, principles, and key competencies and the achievement objectives in specific learning areas were a concern for some principals, but not yet all. Help in this area would be timely.

At the time we visited, school leaders’ and teachers’ attention in some schools was already turning to the learning areas. There are questions about what the new curriculum will mean for school schemes and curriculum implementation plans. Some schools were further developing their inquiry and/or integrated approaches or approaches related to one or two curriculum areas, but most had yet to fully map out their new approaches. It is likely that this process will be iterative and it will take some time to develop planning models for how this might be accomplished. Alongside the curriculum questions, assessment and documentation practices were also seen as being in need of realignment. Schools were actively pursuing this agenda using their own resources and local networks. They would welcome exemplars and models to feed into this process. Actions and decisions in this area will be a focus for the second round of field work.

Further time set aside for communities, schools, and teachers to explore curriculum implementation was also seen as essential. The recently announced teacher-only days for 2009 will help here. We will investigate how principals plan to use this time as they build on their considerable achievements to date.

Published on: 23 Apr 2009