Local and culturally focused curricula enhance student learning

A new ERO report reveals a characteristic of schools doing well is a curriculum that focuses on the school’s own priorities and values, and the strengths, needs and interests of its students.

Keeping children engaged and achieving through rich curriculum inquiries is the latest in a series of reports by ERO on teaching strategies that work. These reports are based on observations ERO made in 40 primary schools selected from across New Zealand where achievement levels were at or above the national standard.

This report shares some of the strategies and approaches used by five of these schools that were improving achievement through rich curriculum inquiries. It also shares some of the curriculum-based strategies used in classrooms to raise achievement in literacy and/or mathematics.

Chief Review Officer Nicholas Pole said New Zealand prides itself on its child-centred approach to learning.

“ERO has highlighted these schools because they exemplify how being innovative with curriculum design, taking into account the cultures, interests and potential of their students, can equip young people to enjoy future success.

“Including aspects into the curriculum that are particularly significant to school communities helps ensure that learning has meaning for students and is supported by their families and wider community.”

ERO found each of the five schools had systems in place to ensure students engaged in learning activities that were integrated with local priorities. Each had termly inquiries focused on a selected topic that would help children build their knowledge across the learning areas on The New Zealand Curriculum.

School leaders and principals were found to play a key role in planning, coordination and ongoing review of the school’s curriculum. They gave priority to learning that responded to children’s cultural heritage and encouraged use of community and other resources to explore contexts from student cultures.

“Schools need to take a flexible approach to curriculum design, and no longer rely on static long-term plans that are less likely to engage their current students and cater for their strengths, needs and interests,” Nicholas Pole said.

Read Keeping children engaged and achieving through rich curriculum inquiries.