The new digital technologies curriculum content: progress on implementation

An Education Review Office (ERO) report released today on the progress of the implementation of the Digital Technologies (DT)|Hangarau Matihiko curriculum has found teachers need greater support to implement the new content.

“Technology is shaping how we work. Our children and young people need to be prepared to work and participate in tasks increasingly needing specific technological skills, knowledge and capabilities”, said Chief Review Officer Nicholas Pole.

A recent Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report notes that 40 percent of jobs created between 2005 and 2016 in OECD countries were in digitally intensive sectors.

The Digital Technologies (DT)|Hangarau Matihiko curriculum content introduces additional technology areas for growing skills in computational thinking and designing digital outcomes. The expectation, set by government, is that all schools should be implementing in this curriculum area for all students in Years 1-10 from the beginning of 2020.

This new curriculum content is not about teaching students how to use digital devices, it aims to give them an understanding of the computer science principles and programmes that underpin the design of digital technologies.

In September 2018, ERO interviewed leaders from 221 schools (a 10% representative sample of all English-medium schools) to find out how well-prepared schools were to implement the DT curriculum content.

At that stage only 7% of schools felt they had sufficient knowledge and skills to start implementation. While most others (95%) felt somewhat confident to start working with the content by January 2020, there were several barriers to progress. These included the current capabilities of New Zealand teachers to work in this area and challenges to schools accessing appropriate specialist training, advice and tailored support.

Schools making most headway (10-13%) were already working with their staff to familiarise them with the requirements, sharing readings, accessing external PLD from a variety of sources, and often had someone who ‘championed’ the DT curriculum content in the school.

“This new curriculum content is highly ambitious given the current capabilities in the sector and the support that schools have currently to grow that capability.

“While some schools are doing really exciting work in the digital space, this is complex and challenging curriculum content and we found that the teaching workforce needs a lot more support to work in this area. A system-wide approach is needed to grow more specialists in this area who are confident to work alongside schools," said Mr Pole.

Findings of ERO’s report were shared with the Ministry in December 2018 and they have used these to make improvements which have been actioned this year. The Ministry have informed ERO that they have refined their programme of support for the implementation of the Digital Technologies curriculum content. This has included a refocussing of the Kia Takitū ā-Matihiko | Digital Readiness Programme for both English medium and Māori medium settings to ensure teacher and kaiako have more direct support about what to teach and how to teach it.

This refinement includes more explicit support for in-school or in-kura champions, and support for leaders in curriculum planning tasks. They have: extended their Digital Technologies contracts to include Year 9-10 students; commissioned new curriculum support materials to clarify what is being changed and why; re-shaped the Technology on-line web-site so that Digital Technologies and resources developed by teachers and contracted providers are more easily accessible for teachers and worked to increase visibility of the Digital Technologies & Hangarau Matihiko programme.

ERO will continue to monitor the implementation and effectiveness of this critical area of the New Zealand Curriculum.  An upcoming ERO report involving six case studies will provide specific insights into the approaches which schools are adopting in their implementation of the DT curriculum content.

Read It's Early Days for the New Digital Technologies Curriculum Content