Introduction

New Zealand’s early childhood curriculum, Te Whāriki, was updated in April, 2017. The previous version had been in place just over 20 years. Te Whāriki (2017) reflects the changes in theory, practice and early learning contexts that have occurred over the last 20 years (MOE, 2017).

Early learning services are being supported to implement Te Whāriki through a programme of professional learning and development (PLD) starting with workshops across New Zealand, and online resources and webinars. A Ministry of Education (the Ministry) contracted PLD provider has appointed curriculum champions to work with pedagogical leaders in some early learning services, with a focus on improving curriculum implementation practice through professional inquiry and internal evaluation.

ERO is undertaking a series of evaluations focused on the implementation of Te Whāriki.  This first evaluation in the series, undertaken in 2017, explored how early learning services were engaging with the updated Te Whāriki, what support leaders and kaiako had accessed, the perceived barriers or challenges to implementation, and what further support leaders and kaiako needed in order to implement Te Whāriki.

This first evaluation report provides the Ministry and the wider early childhood education sector with a ‘temperature take’ on how early learning services are beginning to work with Te Whāriki, their involvement in professional learning and development, and the awareness leaders and kaiako have of the updated curriculum document. The data gathering for this evaluation happened at a time when Te Whāriki (2017) had just been published and the rollout of professional learning and development (PLD) had just begun. Leaders and kaiako in early learning services were starting to engage with PLD opportunities and to explore and unpack Te Whāriki.