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Graduate profiles – a vision of future-oriented learners


Three graduatees.

The education world is changing rapidly. Schools face an emerging cluster of new ideas, beliefs, knowledge, theories, and practices related to 21st century learning or future learning. In response, many have created future focused visions that redefine learning, the learner, and the teacher.

Image above sourced from Flickr

Graduate profiles are one way that a school can communicate a shared understanding of what a future-oriented learner looks like. Graduate profiles describe skills, knowledge, and attitudes that students will need to develop in order to participate in a range of life contexts beyond school.

Graduate profiles and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa

Te Marautanga o Aotearoa (the curriculum document that supports Māori medium levels 1 and 2) summarises important qualities and characteristics of a graduate of Māori-medium education. Te āhua o ā tātou ākonga, or a graduate profile, as described in Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, is a collective vision for student learning that is shaped by whānau, hapū, iwi, and kura. High levels of educational and socio-cultural success, a wide range of life skills, and a wide range of career choices are promoted as important outcomes.

Some English medium schools have utilised the Māori philosophies and principles of Te Marautanga o Aotearoa to develop their own graduate profiles. 

Selwyn Primary School views the creation of a graduate profile and localised curriculum as a journey. This report documents their processes and challenges, and offers advice to others. Downloadable PDF in English.

Jan Tinetti from Merivale School and Sue Horne from Maungatapu School used both The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aoteoroa in their schools to guide teaching and learning. They incorporated the key competencies within their graduate profile.

Kia Aroha College uses Te Marautanga for its rationale, principles, attitudes/values, and to develop graduate profiles because it fits with their school philosophy and direction for their Māori and Pasifika students.

View the English translation of Te Marautanga o Aotearoa (select TMoA Whakapākehātanga)

Other examples of graduate profiles

Te Kura o Hiruharama “We did a lot of brainstorming and discussion in small groups. What does an ideal Hiruharama graduate look like? What sorts of skills do they need? What sorts of attributes do they have? What knowledge would they possess? What kind of person would they be?” Principal 

At Waioneke School the driving philosophy is built around developing the "Waioneke student".

Raumati South School has their graduate profile on their school website.

Matakohe School story

Student from Matakohe School.

Learn how Matakohe school consulted the local community, including feeder schools, to develop their graduate profile. 

Create a graduate or learner profile for your school

Have these examples inspired you to create your own graduate or learner profile? While there is no set sequence to follow, the following discussion activity can be used to kick-start the process.

What do you know about learning?

  • As a syndicate, curriculum department, or whole staff, brainstorm what you know about learning, in particular 21st century/ future learning. Invite your parent community to join in.
  • Compare your ideas to those presented in table 3 (page 15) from Supporting future oriented learning and teaching - a New Zealand perspective. These key principles synthesize a vast body of research on learning.
  • Identify similarities and differences between your ideas and these key principles.
  • Create a shared understanding of future learning and consider what this means for your learners.
  • Use your shared understanding to help shape the competencies that your students need for the future. Involve parents, family, whānau, and the community.

An invitation to share

Are you aware of other interesting graduate or learner profiles? Please email them through to [email protected] and tell us what is worth noticing.

future focus
Te Marautanga o Aotearoa