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Future focus principle

Future focus principle
"The curriculum encourages students to look to the future by exploring such significant future-focused issues as sustainability, citizenship, enterprise, and globalisation."

The future focus principle is one of eight principles in The New Zealand Curriculum that provide a foundation for schools' decision making. The future focus principle calls for schools and teachers to deliver a curriculum that:

  • explores future focused issues
  • encourages students to recognise that they have a stake in the future and a role and responsibility to help shape it. 
Hands holding globe.

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What is the future focus principle?
Robyn Boswell, National Director of Future Problem Solving, and Sarah Watts, Future Problem Solving teacher, answer the question "What is the future focus principle?".

Why the future focus principle is important?
Robyn Boswell, National Director of Future Problem Solving, asks us to look to the future with "hope not horror" and help our students to imagine and create the future that they want. 

Getting started with the future focus principle
Robyn Boswell, National Director of Future Problem Solving, and Sarah Watts, Future Problem Solving teacher, discuss some ways for teachers to get started with the future focus principle. 

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NZC Update 15 – The future focus principle
This NZC Update looks at the future focus principle and at resources to support its implementation. 

PDF icon. NZC update 15 (PDF, 943 KB)

Prompt - Mythbuster.

The future focus principle mentions sustainability, globalisation, citizenship, and enterprise as significant future focused issues. However, schools should not be limited to these four issues. 

The future focus principle is about supporting students to think about the future in a range of contexts and across all learning areas. 

When teachers are planning their topics or their enquiries, they should always be asking themselves how can we get a future focus into this? 


Future focus spotlight
This spotlight looks at the future focus principle, helping you design a curriculum around significant future-focused issues. Find short videos, group activities, and opportunities for personal reflection.

Futures thinking toolkit
The futures thinking toolkit provides a structured framework for developing students’ futures thinking skills.


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Oakura School – Homes for penguins
DOC approached Oakura School to see if students would be interested in constructing and placing boxes to encourage the little blue penguins to return to the area and nest.

Whangarei Girls’ High School – Being an enterprise school
Anne Cooper, the principal of Whangarei Girls’ High School, believes taking an Education for Enterprise approach to learning begins at the strategic level. Identifying the values and school culture you want to develop, and having specific goals for the development of an enterprise culture within these, are the first steps.

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Future problem solving
Teacher Sarah Watts tells us about the Future Problem Solving programme – a process where students consider issues that they may face in the future and explore possible challenges and solutions.

Future focus in the social sciences
Secondary teacher Richard Brudvik-Lindner explains how he uses a future focus to help students think about their learning in a different way. 

Education for enterprise – Lyall Bay School radio station
A radio station project at Lyall Bay School provided an engaging, real life context for students to develop enterprising attributes.

Education for Enterprise – Embedding enterprise in the curriculum at Kerikeri High
Kerikeri High School Enterprise Co-ordinator Chris Bell talks about engaging with real life projects that give students meaningful learning experiences and involve the community. Co-principals Joan Middlemiss and Elizabeth Forgie describe the enterprising initiatives that are embedded in their school curriculum.

Vision and values through Education for Enterprise at Whangarei Girls' High 
Staff at Whangarei Girls' High School recognise that Education for Enterprise is not just a learning context for the commerce department. Instead, students are developing enterprising attributes across the curriculum.

A whole school approach to Education for Enterprise at Waimea College
In 2008, Waimea College undertook a huge Education for Enterprise challenge where 300 students engaged in a two-day learning episode to create something innovative. This film describes one way that Education for Enterprise can be used as a context for teaching and learning.

Sustainability video collection
This video collection on Technology Online shows how schools are exploring sustainability through technology.


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Taking a "future focus" in education – What does it mean? Rachel Bolstad, 2011
This working paper explains why the FFI (Future-Focused Issues in Education) project looks at concepts in relation to 'future focus' in The New Zealand Curriculum: sustainability, enterprise, globalisation, citizenship. It introduces the notion of “wicked problems” – challenges characteristic of the 21st century that intertwine future-focused issues — and what these may mean for society and education.

What is future focussed education?
In this blog Wendy Kofoed shares some of the highlights of her recent sabbatical where she explores what a future focused curriculum might look like.

Teaching futures thinking
This article explores the principles of teaching futures thinking and includes examples of student activities and teacher resources. 

NZCER - Futures thinking
This web page explains what futures thinking is and offers links to related resources and references.

17 signs you're a future driven educator
This blog post shares 17 characteristics of a future focused teacher. 

Oxfam: Education for Global Citizenship – A guide for schools
Education for Global Citizenship enables pupils to develop the knowledge, skills, and values needed for securing a just and sustainable world in which all may fulfil their potential.

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Dare to Imagine. What will the world look like in 50 years time?
The problems facing our world are so large that they demand disruptive thinking. It's time to challenge the status quo, and dare to imagine what we can do.

Education for enterprise introduction
Education for Enterprise (E4E) is about promoting an approach to learning – one that is real, relevant, and gives students responsibility for their learning. 

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Future Problem Solving New Zealand
This highly regarded and well-researched international educational program develops creative, critical, and caring thinking skills in students years 1–13. Students grapple with global and community issues, identify underlying problems, and create positive solutions to those issues.

LEARNZ virtual field trips for NZ schools
LEARNZ is a programme of free virtual field trips, taking students to remote places all over New Zealand, Antarctica, and beyond. Field trips have online video and audio feeds, activities, and assist NZ teachers to provide online experiences that are interesting, relevant, real, flexible, safe, and 21st century.

Find real time world statistics.


Education for sustainability
This resource helps teachers to engage students in learning about sustainability and to encourage them to act sustainably and contribute to New Zealand’s well-being. It makes connections between the learning areas, vision, principles, values, and key competencies of The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.

Enviroschools is an environmental action based programme where young people are empowered to design and lead sustainability projects in their schools, neighbourhoods and country.

Pūtātara – a call to action
Incorporating sustainability and global citizenship across the curriculum in Aotearoa New Zealand. This resource supports schools and teachers to develop learning opportunities that are place-based, inquiry-led, and focused on participation for change. 


Understanding New Zealand's Constitution
This set of teaching resources was prepared for the recent Constitution Conversation, and include facts, quizzes, conversation cards, and information about the topics under consideration. It is envisaged that the teaching and learning can be integrated into current classroom programmes.

BCUSS: Belonging and Participating in Society
This resource examines the concepts of belonging and participating in society. It considers why these concepts are important and explores ways to develop understandings about them through teaching and learning in social studies.

MYD: Youth Parliament
Youth Parliament is an opportunity for young New Zealanders to influence government decision-making as active citizens and have their views heard by key decision-makers and the public.

Social Sciences Online: Tax education and citizenship
The theme of citizenship can be embedded within a wide range of learning contexts, including taxation. This online resource has been designed as two units, using the social inquiry approach, for level 4 (year 7/8) and 5 (year 9/10) of The New Zealand Curriculum.


Education for Enterprise
The Education for Enterprise community provides information and resources that will help students develop the values and competencies they will need to participate and contribute locally and globally and meet the demands of a rapidly changing world.

BCUSS: Taking part in Economic Communities 
This book is about developing conceptual understandings in the social sciences and providing ways to develop students’ financial literacy in the context of a social sciences learning programme. 

NZ Senior Secondary Curriculum Guide: Business studies
Business studies sits at one end of the education for enterprise continuum. The guide includes useful information for schools designing effective programmes for Māori students of business studies, who have a unique cultural advantage in this learning area, and for all students who are using a Māori business as a case study. 

Young Enterprise
Young Enterprise offers a range of enterprise programmes and financial literacy resources that can be used by teachers throughout New Zealand. 


BCUSS: Being Part of Global Communities
This resource examines the concepts being part of global communities and globalisation. It considers why these concepts are important and explores ways to develop understandings about them through teaching and learning in social studies.

Edutopia: Global competence
Teaching young learners to take action for worldwide impact.

ASIA:NZ – Education

Information, resources, and professional development opportunities to help school leaders develop students with the skills and knowledge they’ll need to embrace future prospects in Asia.

Asia Society
Global competence is a crucial upgrade if our education system is to prepare the next generation for the knowledge economy.

Published on: 17 Apr 2020


Support packages are available for all eight curriculum principles: