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Curriculum design and review at Pomaria School

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Improved teaching and learning, greater community engagement, and enhanced student achievement are just some of the outcomes of Pomaria School's journey of curriculum design and review. In this story, the senior leadership team provide an overview of curriculum change. Values teaching, coaching and mentoring, teacher inquiry, goal setting, and community workshops are some of the initiatives that have been introduced. This film is the first in a series, designed to provide support and inspiration to schools that are in the process of reviewing their own curriculum.

Professional learning conversations

These questions and suggested actions encourage you to reflect on your own school context.

What does curriculum design and review look like?

This list of indicators helps to identify what curriculum design and review might look like in schools.

  • Discuss which of these indicators are evident in Pomaria School's story.
  • Consider the indicators and your own school context. Which indicators are highly visible at your school? Which indicators are emerging? Which indicators are absent?
  • Of the three indicator categories – makings connections, continuous improvement, and change as a community endeavour – which area do you feel is most strongly demonstrated at your school?
  • Looking ahead, which indicators might be useful to focus on further in your journey of curriculum design and review?


Kevin Choromanski

The important thing for you to realise is that everything is not seen in isolation, everything is connected so therefore with the design of the NZC around the curriculum needs of our community and children, we have approached that through a whole framework of curriculum mapping, tying it back to that whole vision around what our parents were asking for for their children around being 21st century learners, having technology, being effective citizens within our community and of course linking it to the values – and that’s what our parents have actually asked for. This in turn has led to us to implementing a process around coaching and mentoring, around effective practice within our classrooms, with our teachers, to get the whole process of self-efficacy around our teachers thinking about their practice, around how they can improve their practice to ensure that there are shifts that are occurring within their class, with their children. So it’s not a blaming game, it’s not deficit theorising, but it's rather the teachers looking at their own practice around how they can improve to enable shifts to occur within their class, with their children.

This in turn has led to a whole different outlook around how we have actually gone about instituting a goal setting exercise within our school, which is linked to our appraisal system. We have identified, through the assessment data, what the needs are of our school. The children in turn now have also gone and they have set their goals in relation to those targets as well, and we've then looked at how we have brought community support alongside to actually support those children in achieving those goals. We’ve done this through different initiatives where we’ve run different programmes within our school to support our parents and to empower our parents to give them the necessary skills to support their children.

Donna Nee

We probably started along this track, as a leadership group, about seven years ago. And what we were looking at was alignment and the values helped us to align – not just for the staff, but for the learners and the community – it gave us a really solid foundation to start with. So it was alignment of our values, it was alignment of the curriculum, alignment of good teacher practice. From that, just like a map, very, very fluid. It was very fluid. We were looking at through consultation through review with all stakeholders, a “Where to next?” and it’s just grown from there. It’s been very positive, actually, the journey. And it was good that everybody was on the same waka, everybody was moving forward together.

Sue Wilson

Before I came to Pomaria, I was an RTLB in a local cluster. The majority of referrals that we got from Pomaria were behaviour. Once the school took on board and moved forward, Donna and Kevin, and the school with the values programme, it then came predominantly learner based. It’s almost as if once that programme was embedded, the behaviours had changed to the point that curriculum design could be looked at. Because before that it was management of students, but now it was opening the curriculum to students who were willing and wanting and in an environment where they could learn. 

Donna Nee

When we talk about integrated and inquiry learning, to keep it sustainable we have a core group of teachers that changes every two years. They do a lot of review, based around the teachers’ reflections that come through the software that we use at our school. So we’ve got teacher voice and we’ve got student voice coming through on what’s actually happening in the classrooms. If we want to look at what a learning community looks like, I would say we’re pretty close to having a really successful learning community. I mean, all you need to do is walk into a classroom and listen to the learners and the language that they're speaking, the learning language, and also the excitement about learning. And that is what it’s all about; it’s about our learners. It’s also great to see, at any given time, on any given day, that we’ve got our whānau at school, being a part of this learning journey. I know that they feel welcome, they feel like they’ve got standing in this school, and they feel that we recognise, and we know just how important they are as part of this learning journey for their children. So I think that that’s been one of the most successful things if we’re talking about evidence, is just to stand back and look, at what happens in this school on a day-to-day basis.

Published on: 24 Oct 2014