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FAQs - The New Zealand Curriculum

FAQs - The New Zealand Curriculum

What is the purpose of the curriculum?

The New Zealand Curriculum sets the direction for teaching, learning and assessment in all New Zealand state and integrated schools It aims to provide all students with strong foundations for learning that encourage high levels of achievement and lifelong learning.

It sets out the expectations for what all New Zealand students will know and be able to do by the time they leave school. There are two partner documents: The New Zealand Curriculum for English medium teaching and learning, and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa for Maori medium teaching and learning.

Why is a new curriculum needed and what difference will it make?
The national curriculum must help today’s students to learn in a way that will prepare them for the world of tomorrow. In 2002, the Ministry’s Curriculum Stocktake Report identified that while many students are achieving at world-class levels, there are disparities among some groups. The new curriculum contributes towards all students having a strong foundation for learning, high levels of achievement, and a lifelong engagement in learning. It will encourage schools to put personalising learning into practice and support the aims of the government for students to stay at school longer, and attain higher levels of achievement.

How was the new curriculum developed?

More than 15,000 New Zealanders took part in face to face meetings and contributed online during the development and consultation process. The draft curriculum received international critiques from two prominent UK and Australian education research organisations, and over 10,000 submissions from students, parents, schools and educators. These responses were analysed by national and international education consultants and experts as well as Ministry personnel. Recommendations were reported to a reference group made up of representatives from the education sectors, and business and employers representatives who then made their own recommendations which contributed to the final curriculum document.

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How does the new curriculum differ from what was previously in place?
There is more emphasis on particular themes relevant to today’s society; it sets five key competencies needed for success in the 21st century; it raises the profile and status of learning a second language and of statistics within Mathematics; the Treaty of Waitangi is explicit in the overview, purpose, principles and values; and there’s recognition of the need for schools to work closely with communities to design relevant learning programmes.

What are the ‘values’ and what is their significance?
The values are: excellence; innovation, enquiry and curiosity; diversity; equity; community and participation; ecological sustainability; integrity and respect. The values acknowledge the influence and importance of respect, attitudes and understanding.

How will values be incorporated into school life?
The values are a guide for schools. It is expected that in consultation with their community each school will articulate the values that they model and encourage. Many schools already list their values in their charters.

What is the significance of bringing in key competencies?
The five key competencies – thinking; using language symbols and texts; managing self; relating to others; and participating and contributing: are capabilities that young people need for ongoing learning, and for working and contributing to their communities. Students will be challenged to use and develop these competencies across subject areas.

What is the significance of introducing the theme of sustainability into the curriculum and how will it be applied?
An understanding of the practices of sustainability is necessary for students if they are to become globally responsible citizens. Education about sustainability is internationally recognised as a prerequisite for economically and environmentally literate students.

What will the document mean for teachers and students?
The curriculum provides greater clarity for teachers, students and trustees by providing clear and simple statements about priorities, expectations and outcomes. It also details the type of teaching that helps students learn. There is well-documented evidence that things like encouraging reflective thought and action, and making learning relevant make a difference to student outcomes.

Why is the learning of a second language being added to the list of learning areas that are considered essential for a general education?
The curriculum gives greater status to learning a second language to enable students to participate more actively in New Zealand’s diverse and multicultural society and in the global community. All schools with students in years 7-10 should be working towards offering a second language.

The curriculum recognises English, te reo Maori and New Zealand Sign Language as appropriate for the language of instruction and for learning as a first or second language.

How does the curriculum fit with NCEA?
The curriculum provides the basis for ongoing development of achievement standards and the unit standards which are registered on the National Qualifications Framework that contribute to the National Certificate of Education Achievement.

How different is this document compared to the draft?
In response to feedback on the draft the following changes have been made. The purpose of the curriculum is explained in more detail. There is a greater focus on sustainability. The Treaty of Waitangi is more strongly reflected, recognising the bicultural foundations of our society and clear instructions to boards of trustees have been added.

How and when will the curriculum be implemented in schools?
Schools will be supported to implement the New Zealand curriculum over a three year period 2007 – 2010. Support for schools includes:

- the provision of information including post-launch workshops for principals and other staff members, resource packs and on-line resources for use in in-school and community workshops;
- support for learning communities facilitated by 100 sector leaders,to share and build on successful practices. This will include on-line communities. ;
- school-based support professional learning provided through School Support Services across all regions;
- research and development including a national programme of monitoring and exploratory studies to further develop the evidence base to inform schools practice.
- NCEA standards will be reviewed and aligned with the new curriculum by 2010.


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