Te Kete Ipurangi Navigation:

Te Kete Ipurangi

Te Kete Ipurangi user options:

New Zealand Curriculum Online navigation



Blog archive

Whose voices help to shape your local curriculum?


Whose voices are being heard?

Whose voices are the loudest?

Whose voices are missing?

The New Zealand Curriculum encourages schools to seek out and listen to the ideas of students, parents, families, whānau, and the wider community when designing their local curriculum (The NZC, p. 37). In this way, the interests and needs of students, and the values and aspirations of parents and the wider community can influence decision making around teaching and learning. This blog provides ideas, questions, tools, and examples to help you design a local curriculum that reflects what is important to your community.

Student voice

Although student voice has traditionally been excluded from local curriculum development, there is growing recognition that students should be included in curriculum planning processes with their interests and needs forming the cornerstones of teaching and learning. Research suggests that student voice in curriculum design leads to greater engagement and achievement. Students who feel connected to the curriculum and whose passions, identities, and learning styles are reflected will have improved outcomes (Jagersma, 2010).

There is no one way to gather and give effect to student voice. Schools will use a variety of methods depending on their priorities, relationships, and circumstances.

Ideas on how to encourage students to share their views about teaching and learning:

  • Invite students to give feedback on your school vision and/or graduate profile and include their perspectives when refreshing them.
  • Use the Authentic Learning: Student Conversation Toolkit developed by Grow Waitaha to help facilitate a conversation about learning.
  • Ask students to share ideas on what they want to learn and develop contexts for learning around their ideas.
  • Have a suggestion box in your classroom for students to drop in ideas for learning, classroom management, systems, or processes.
  • Allow students to have input into your long term plans and unit plans.  
  • Keep learning contexts broad to allow for students to go in directions that interest them.
  • Follow an inquiry learning framework.
  • Create a questionnaire to find out how your students learn best.
  • Have a student council where students can discuss ideas for your school and make decisions.
Tawa Intermediate – Student voice.

School stories

Learners contribute to curriculum design – Manurewa Central School
This video describes how teachers at Manurewa Central School ensure that students have direct input into curriculum design.

Student voice – Tawa Intermediate  
This snapshot describes how Tawa Intermediate teachers asked their learners what they want from their school.

Guiding questions Ngā pātai ārahi

  • How do you enable your students to contribute to the design of your local curriculum?
  • How could your students have a greater voice in shaping local curriculum?
  • How do you give effect to your students’ ideas and interests in your curriculum design?

Parent and whānau voice

Having parent and whānau input into your local curriculum helps to ensure that learning at your school reflects the identities, values, and priorities of your community. In our diverse and multicultural nation it is important that all whānau voices are sought and that we strive hard to incorporate the aspirations of everyone in the teaching and learning that we deliver.

There is no one way to gather and give effect to the voices of parents and whānau. A school might use a range of approaches to suit the diversity of their families.

Ideas on how to encourage parents and whānau to share their views about teaching and learning:

  • Invite your parents and whānau to give feedback on your school vision and/or graduate profile and include their perspectives when refreshing them.
  • Run a curriculum workshop that focuses on curriculum design.
  • Develop a questionnaire for parents and whānau to find out their aspirations for their children and what is important learning to them – this sample list of questions could help you get started.

    PDF icon. Sample questions to gather parent and whānau voice for local curriculum design (PDF, 65 KB)

  • Hold a planning hui for your Māori whānau that follows tikanga Māori and explores what Māori achieving success as Māori looks like at your school. Your Māori whānau might like to determine the setting, timing, and agenda of the hui.
  • Host Pasifika fono for your Pasifika families to seek their ideas and priorities on teaching and learning. Ask your Pasifika whānau for input into the setting and design of the fono.
  • Organise a whānau and community consultation event seeking feedback on a range of themes – use the Paparoa Street School’s Festival of the Future resource for ideas and inspiration.

School stories

Making it our curriculum – Matakohe School
Matakohe school worked together as a community to redesign their school curriculum. Through listening to the values and aspirations of everyone, they have developed their own graduate profile with a set of competencies for all students to work towards.

Community and curriculum – Renwick School
This video describes how the staff at Renwick School worked with their parents, whānau, and students to write a school curriculum that reflected the vision and values of Renwick School and its place in the community.

Developing whānau priorities – Te Kura o Hiruharama
The staff, board, and whānau at Te Kura o Hiruharama went through a process to identify their priorities. This digital story explains the process and the outcomes of this exploration and how this has transferred into the life of the school.

Pasifika parent group leads learning – Rangikura School
This story explains the work of Rangikura Matua Pasifika (Pasifika parent group) in leading learning at Rangikura School.

An innovative approach to reimagining teaching and learning – Paparoa Street School
Paparoa Street School is working in innovative ways with students, whānau, staff, and the community to re-vision their shared purpose for teaching and learning. Principal Pene Abbie shares the journey they have been on, which has included the use of design hacks and the launch of the Festival of the Future. This story includes a planning and image set for schools who want to do something similar.

Guiding questions Ngā pātai ārahi

  • How do you enable your parents and whānau to contribute to the design of your local curriculum?
  • Are you capturing and listening to everyone’s voice?
  • How do you give effect to the ideas and aspirations of your parents and whānau?

Māori communities   

The voices of your wider community are important when designing local curriculum, in particular, the voices of your Māori communities. By inviting your Māori whānau, hapū, and iwi to co-construct your local curriculum you will be able to incorporate the tikanga, values, and histories that are important to them and in turn, ensure that the Treaty of Waitangi principle underpins teaching and learning at your place.

By building a partnership with your local mana whenua you may be able to work with them to develop a place-based curriculum that acknowledges the stories and histories relating to your school’s geographic location. Exploring local tikanga and the events that have shaped your community will instill a deeper sense of personal identity and belonging for every student.

Educationally powerful partnerships with your Māori communities lead to enhanced outcomes for all students and help to ensure that your Māori students can enjoy and achieve education success as Māori.

Ideas on how to begin building partnerships with your Māori communities to enable their voices to be heard:

  • Ensure that your school is a welcoming place for your Māori communities – can they see their culture, language, history, and tikanga represented and celebrated in your school?
  • Hold regular hui for you and your Māori whānau to talk and work together for the benefit of your Māori students.
  • Find out who the mana whenua are in your school community and what other hapū/iwi are represented in your school.
  • Attend Māori community events to build connections with your local iwi and learn from them.
  • Connect with and build a relationship with your local marae that might include a visit for your staff to  immerse them in te ao Māori.
  • Seek advice and consider introducing kaumatua whakaruruhau into your school governance team.
  • Consider networking with contributing and surrounding schools about their connections and strategies for connecting with Māori communities.

Supporting resources

Connecting with Māori communities: Whānau, Hapū, and Iwi
This resource outlines key messages from research and literature that relate to schools connecting with their Māori communities, including whānau, hapū, and iwi.

Looking at the Treaty of Waitangi principle
In this video, Wharehoka Wano discusses ways to get to know your Māori communities better and how to honour the Treaty of Waitangi principle in classrooms.

Te Takanga o te Wā – Māori History Guidelines Year 1–8
This resource provides a framework to support teachers to teach Māori history with their students. The content and context that you choose for your class could focus on building quality and collaborative engagement with your local iwi and hapū.

School stories

Engaging whānau through Māori graduation
Growing an educationally powerful partnership with whānau has been a key priority across the Mt Roskill campus. This film explains how the development of Māori graduation ceremonies has led to deeper community connections and growing pride in student achievement.

Working in partnership with Ngāti Tūwharetoa – Wairakei School
Schools in the Taupō area, including Wairakei School, have worked in partnership with Ngāti Tūwharetoa to ensure students learn about their iwi, its history, places, and stories.

A new environment, a new outlook – North East Valley School
North East Valley School took their curriculum planning to their local marae to explore the question – “When we’re developing our curriculum, do we really take into account the needs of the significant number of Māori children and their families in our school?”

Students participating in developing a cultural responsive environment – Broadfield School
Mike Molloy, Principal at Broadfield School, talks about the way the Broadfield community is committed to developing a culturally responsive environment that reflects Treaty obligations and New Zealand as a bicultural nation.

Guiding questions Ngā pātai ārahi

  • How can you build stronger connections with your Māori communities (whānau, hapu and iwi)?
  • How do you enable your Māori communities to contribute to the design of your local curriculum?
  • How is the body of knowledge that sits within your Māori community acknowledged and represented in your school?
  • What Māori stories and histories relating to your school’s geographic location are shared with your students?

E koekoe te tui, e ketekete te kaka, e kutu te kereru

The tui sings, the kaka chatters, the kereru coos

This closing whakatauki acknowledges diversity. The diverse bird songs can be viewed as the voices in our community. If we listen to all voices when shaping our curriculum we can be responsive to the priorities, preferences, and issues of all of our people.

Have you seen?

Leading local curriculum guide series
In order to support the progress of all students, the Leading Local Curriculum Guide series has been developed to deliberately steer your curriculum and assessment review and design decisions as you strengthen your local curriculum. It will support you to use tools to assess progress that is informative, and strengthen the partnerships you have with parents and whānau.

community engagement
curriculum design and review
māori achievement
student voice