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Curriculum project archives

This section contains information, records and links relating to the development and consultation phases of the New Zealand Curriculum Project between 2004 and 2007.

The NZ Curriculum (2007) is the result of one of the most comprehensive consultation processes undertaken by the Ministry of Education with more than 15,000 New Zealanders involved and more than 10,000 submissions received on the draft.

History of curriculum development

Prior to the comprehensive revision of the whole school curriculum in the 1990s, the curriculum was specified through more than a dozen syllabuses and guidelines. These were provided for subjects and in some cases aspects of subjects, such as handwriting. The documents were of different vintages (spanning 1961–1986), covered different year levels (forms 1–4, junior classes to form 2 etc), and were written in different forms.

Following a major public consultation on the curriculum in the mid 1980s (the Curriculum Review) the Department of Education began work on an overall framework for a revised school curriculum. However, the work did not proceed beyond a draft document (published 1988 as National Curriculum Statement: A Discussion Document for Primary and Secondary Schools (Draft)), being effectively sidelined by the reform of the administration of education in 1989 and by a change of government in 1990.

Curriculum development resumed in 1991, at first under the Achievement Initiative policy and from 1993 under the umbrella of The New Zealand Curriculum Framework (Ministry of Education, 1993).

The total revision of the New Zealand school curriculum began in 1991 in both English and Māori.

New National Curriculum Statements progressively replaced old syllabuses from 1992. They were published initially in draft form for consultation and trialling, then published in final form, and gazetted for mandatory implementation in years 1–10.

In 1996 the development and implementation of new statements was paused in response to widespread concern across the school sector about the pace and scale of change. New timelines for the curriculum were announced in July 1997 introducing a transition period of at least two years between the publication of a final statement and its mandatory application.

Developing the New Zealand Curriculum draft

Background, records, and references from all aspects of the development of the draft.

The Curriculum Stocktake

The Curriculum stocktake report to Minister of Education, September 2002 synthesised information from a wide range of sources.

The redevelopment of the New Zealand curriculum and te marautanga o Aotearoa is a result of the recommendations of the Curriculum stocktake report.

While this report found the structure of the current curriculum provided a sound framework for teaching and learning in New Zealand schools, it made a number of recommendations to revise the New Zealand Curriculum Framework Te Anga Marautanga o Aotearoa.

About the curriculum stocktake

Alongside the introduction of new curriculum timelines in 1997 came a promise that, following the publication of the full set of curriculum statements, a time of consolidation and reflection would occur. The last document produced was the arts curriculum in September 2000. The object was not to rush into revision of the curriculum, but to take stock of the previous decade's developments and their implications for teaching and learning, and to consider what they indicate for future curriculum directions.

The curriculum stocktake investigated a number of problems and issues associated with the New Zealand curriculum and its development which have been raised in and outside the sector. These were:

  • philosophical, epistemological issues
  • pedagogical issues
  • the capability of teachers to meet the demands of the curriculum
  • manageability issues (including crowdedness of the curriculum)
  • legal and official status of documents, including the status and nature of a foundation policy statement, and status of Māori statements
  • a lack of objective information about the translation of the curriculum at the school and classroom levels from policy into practice and effect on learning and achievement
  • issues of curriculum (learning materials) support: what kind, how much done by the Ministry or by commercial publishers, teacher associations, or teachers themselves?
  • the need for an agreed process for ongoing maintenance, review, and renewal of the curriculum, and the need to establish a clear future direction for curriculum development
  • the status of second language learning.

Key outcomes of the curriculum stocktake

  • An assurance of, and increased confidence in, the quality of the New Zealand curriculum as policy
  • A higher likelihood of effective implementation of the New Zealand Curriculum and therefore of improved outcomes for students
  • An agreed direction and process for the ongoing development of the New Zealand curriculum; in each case applying to the curriculum in English and in te reo Māori.

Recommendations from the curriculum stocktake

The recommended modifications to the current curriculum statements will build on the sound structure of the national curriculum. The suggested recommendations aimed to improve the national curriculum so that it better supported teachers and schools to achieve the high expectations set by national curriculum policy.

The stocktake made 11 recommendations on how the curriculum should be shaped to better meet the needs of diverse students (see executive summary of the Curriculum stocktake report for an overview of these recommendations).

In summary the stocktake recommended that:

  • essential learning areas are reviewed and refined and outcomes are clarified
  • the essential skills, attitudes, and values are revised and better integrated into the essential learning areas
  • more opportunities are provided for students to learn another language in years 7–10
  • there is a focus on supporting quality teaching and strengthening school ownership of curriculum
  • material is developed for parents and communities so that they know what students are learning at school and why
  • curriculum materials are developed to assist teachers to better meet the needs of diverse students
  • the links between outcomes, pedagogy, and assessment are more explicit in curriculum materials and professional development programmes.

Sources used for the Curriculum Stocktake Report

The Curriculum stocktake report to Minister of Education, September 2002 synthesised information from a wide range of sources, including:

-  critiques from international curriculum experts:

-  international and national assessment data:

-  4000 teachers (the National School Sampling Study): Teachers' experiences in curriculum implementation: General curriculum, mathematics and technology

-  meetings with a stakeholder reference group:

-  meetings with a range of other groups, including principals and the business sector

-  essential learning area meetings:

  • 31 May 2001, the Ministry of Education convened a meeting to discuss the implementation of Mathematics in the New Zealand Curriculum and Pāngarau i roto i te Marautanga o Aotearoa.
  • 26 June 2001, the Ministry of Education convened a meeting to discuss the implementation of Science in the New Zealand Curriculum, and Pūtaiao i roto i te Marautanga o Aotearoa.
  • 17–18 September 2001, the Ministry of Education convened two meetings to discuss the implementation of Language and Languages in the New Zealand Curriculum and Te Reo me Ngā Reo i roto i te Marautanga o Aotearoa. The first day focused solely on the curriculum statement for te reo Māori, whereas the second day brought together stakeholders with expertise in English, te reo Māori, and international and community languages.

-  a literature review: The effects of curricula and assessment on pedagogical approaches and on educational outcomes – Report prepared for the Ministry of Education

-  Ministry of Education ongoing work

-  submissions: The New Zealand Curriculum: An ERO Perspective, Education Review Office, 2001

Published on: 29 Apr 2021


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