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Social sciences

Teaching time requirements

From the start of Term 1, 2024 school boards must ensure their school's teaching and learning programmes meet requirements for structuring teaching time for reading, writing and maths in Years 0 - 8. Specialist schools with students in Years 0 - 8 must ensure this from the start of 2025.  Kura with a specified kura board must ensure this from Term 3, 2024.

See Gazette Notice 2023-go5904 and Changes to legislative requirements for school boards on NZC Online.


Aotearoa New Zealand's histories and Te Takanga o te Wā

Understand the big ideas of Aotearoa New Zealand's history. Know national, rohe, and local contexts. Do thinking critically about the past and interpreting stories about it. The learning that matters.

From 2023, Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories and Te Takanga o Te Wā will be taught in all schools and kura.

Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories sits within social sciences in The New Zealand Curriculum. It is part of the social sciences learning area because it encourages learners to be critical citizens - learning about the past to understand the present and to prepare for the future.

In October 2022, a notice was issued in Te Kāhiti o Aotearoa | The New Zealand Gazette to make Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories a formal part of the national curriculum from 1 January 2023.

The notice can be found at Ngā tauākī Marautanga ā-Motu / National Curriculum Statements - New Zealand Gazette.

The 2007 social sciences curriculum expectations are set out below and remain in place. The Aotearoa New Zealand Histories expectations which have been added to these can be found here: Aotearoa New Zealand histories in the New Zealand Curriculum. (PDF)

Resources and support materials are available at Aotearoa NZ's histories.

Refresh of Social Sciences

The full Social Sciences learning area is being updated as part of the refresh of The New Zealand Curriculum.

While the new Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories curriculum content must be taught in schools there is no requirement for schools to implement the remainder of the refreshed te ao tangata | social sciences learning area until the beginning of 2026.

The refreshed Social Sciences learning area is available now for schools to explore in preparation.

Over the next three years, boards, principals, teachers and schools should become familiar with the content, so they can plan for how they will implement the new curriculum area, and begin when they are ready.

Learning area structure

Achievement objectives for social studies at levels 1–5 integrate concepts from one or more of four conceptual strands:

Identity, Culture, and Organisation – Students learn about society and communities and how they function. They also learn about the diverse cultures and identities of people within those communities and about the effects of these on the participation of groups and individuals.

Place and Environment – Students learn about how people perceive, represent, interpret, and interact with places and environments. They come to understand the relationships that exist between people and the environment.

Continuity and Change – Students learn about past events, experiences, and actions and the changing ways in which these have been interpreted over time. This helps them to understand the past and the present and to imagine possible futures.

The Economic World – Students learn about the ways in which people participate in economic activities and about the consumption, production, and distribution of goods and services. They develop an understanding of their role in the economy and of how economic decisions affect individuals and communities.

Understandings in relation to the achievement objectives can be developed through a range of approaches. Using a social inquiry approach, students:

  • ask questions, gather information and background ideas, and examine relevant current issues
  • explore and analyse people’s values and perspectives
  • consider the ways in which people make decisions and participate in social action
  • reflect on and evaluate the understandings they have developed and the responses that may be required.

Inquiry in the social sciences is also informed by approaches originating from such contributing disciplines as history, geography, and economics.

Learning based on the level 1–5 social studies achievement objectives establishes a foundation for the separate social science disciplines offered in the senior secondary school. At levels 6–8, students are able to specialise in one or more of these, depending on the choices offered by their schools. Achievement objectives are provided for social studies, economics, geography, and history, but the range of possible social science disciplines that schools can offer is much broader, including, for example, classical studies, media studies, sociology, psychology, and legal studies.

Published on: 08 Apr 2014