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Principles for curriculum decision making

To become familiar with the principles of The New Zealand Curriculum and to understand their purpose by:

  • reading and discussing the information about the New Zealand Curriculum principles
  • identifying ways that each principle might shape students’ learning and their experiences of the curriculum
  • identifying ways that your school could use the principles to make decisions about curriculum
  • discussing how you can ensure that your curriculum decisions come alive in every area of the school rather than being just words on paper.


Welcome the parents and families. Allow time for chat and perhaps offer refreshments.

Key messages

  • Each school shapes its own curriculum, based on the principles of The New Zealand Curriculum.
  • The principles of The New Zealand Curriculum put students at the centre.
  • The principles shape students’ learning.
  • All curriculum in New Zealand schools should be consistent with the eight principle statements.
  • Schools use the principles to plan and review their school curriculum.
  • The community engagement principle emphasises that the curriculum should have meaning for students, connect with their wider lives, and engage the support of their families, whānau, and communities.
  • Schools need to construct a curriculum that is consistent with the principles and they therefore seek the input and support of the students’ families, whānau, and communities.

Suggested approach

1. Whole group

Briefly describe the purpose of this workshop, linking it to the information about the The New Zealand Curriculum principles. Ask the participants to read the information on the principles then watch the video from Sylvia Park School. Each of the eight principles are evident in this video. You could turn this into a game of bingo where people identify each principle and call out when they have checked them all off.

Word icon. Principle bingo (Word, 41 KB)

Move into small groups, including both parents and teachers, to discuss the eight principles and how they can shape students’ learning.

2. Small group

If there are four or more groups, each group might choose to discuss only one or two of the principles and how these might shape students’ learning. The groups could then share their expertise with other groups when they rejoin the larger group (a jigsaw learning activity).

The group leader asks:

  • What examples have you seen of this principle in our school?
  • Is this principle given enough attention in our school? Why or why not?
  • Which of these principles are a priority for our school community?
  • How can we use this principle to help us make decisions about curriculum?

Record the group’s responses and suggestions.

3. Whole group

The group leaders report back to the larger group. They share examples of what each principle could mean for students and how each principle could be used in planning and reviewing the school’s curriculum. Provide opportunities for questioning and discussion.

Pose the questions these questions:

  • Would any of The New Zealand Curriculum principles be challenged by your community? If so, how could we make those principles the subject of constructive debate?
  • Which of these principles is likely to challenge us most? How could we begin to address this challenge?
  • How could we get this list of principles off the page, into our minds, and influencing how we view and construct our curriculum?

Identify principles that could be challenging for your school and brainstorm possible ways of addressing challenges.

Gather data

At the end of the workshop, invite group members to reflect on the experience. They could share:

  • their general response to the workshop
  • highlights of the workshop or problems that are priorities for them
  • matters that they would like the group or the school to consider.

Keep it short and simple – about 5 minutes is fine.

Farewell and follow-up steps

Thank the group for coming and remind them about any further planned workshops. This may involve a whakataukī, waiata, or karakia. Convey a sense of enthusiasm and appreciation of everyone’s input and commitment to ensuring that your school curriculum brings the principles alive for each and all of your students.

Allow time for people to chat and share informally.

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Published on: 01 Apr 2020