ERO's findings

  • All schools in the sample have not yet fully implemented the key competencies as outlined in The New Zealand Curriculum.

  • Most commonly, key competencies were not deliberately taught or evaluated.

  • Leaders and teachers were uncertain how key competencies can contribute significantly to students’ agency in their learning/wellbeing.

  • The teaching of key competencies was not evident in more than a quarter of schools ERO visited.

Most schools with Years 1 to 8 students (72 percent) had begun to support students to use key competencies to enhance their learning/wellbeing

Figure 3: Schools are yet to fully implement key competencies.

A bar chart show the 4 phases of implementing Key Competencies. For No evidence of KCs, a white bar goes to 28%. For Phase 1: Learning about the nature of KCs, an orange box goes to 50%. For Phase 2: KCs and learning to learn, a green box goes to 22%. For both Phase 3: Integrating KCs into learning areas and Phase 4: KCs and action competence, purple bars are at zero.

The teaching of key competencies was not evident in 28 percent of New Zealand schools with Years 1 to 8 students

In 50 percent of New Zealand schools with Years 1 to 8 students, teachers, children and community were learning about the nature of key competencies

  • There was variability in how schools and teachers interpreted the role of KCs and their place in localised curricula. (localising curriculum)
  • ‘Managing self’, ‘participating and contributing’ and ‘relating to others’ were often present in these schools, but ‘thinking’ and ‘using language, symbols and texts’ were missing. (localising curriculum)
  • Most of these schools emphasised KCs as a means to enhance student behaviour rather than promote student self-regulated learning. (setting conditions)
  • There was uncertainty whether school values successfully promoted student use of KCs in their learning/wellbeing. (setting conditions)
  • Evaluation about the effectiveness of the implementation of KCs was sometimes done. There was little reporting to the board about ways students were supported to use KCs in their learning/wellbeing. (evaluating effectiveness)

Key competencies were used to support children as capable learners in 22 percent of New Zealand schools with Years 1 to 8 students

  • These schools had begun to develop ways to include the KCs explicitly and meaningfully in their curriculum. (localising curriculum)
  • Teachers and leaders in these schools used the KCs to develop school-wide strategies that involved all students in their learning. (setting conditions)
  • Students were able to talk about ways they used the KCs to enhance their learning/wellbeing. (setting conditions)
  • In a few of these schools, students had opportunities to contribute meaningfully to how they managed their learning. (setting conditions)
  • Evaluation about the effectiveness of the implementation of KCs was sometimes done. There was little reporting to the board about ways students were supported to use KCs in their learning/wellbeing. (evaluating effectiveness)

More can be done by schools to enhance student use of key competencies

While 72 percent of the schools were developing student use of key competencies, more can be done to realise the intentions of the NZC. The following areas for development are worth considering when localising each school’s curriculum.

The key competencies need to feature explicitly in teaching and learning practice through:

  • deliberate teaching that supports students to use KCs across all learning areas
  • opportunities for students to use KCs in open-ended explorations about problems that have no obvious right answer but nevertheless require our attention
  • inclusion of two overlooked KCs, ‘thinking’ and ‘using language, texts and symbols’. (localising curriculum and setting conditions)

School leaders should gauge the quality and worth of initiatives designed to promote key competencies by:

  • determining ways students could be better supported to use KCs as self-regulated learners and develop their metacognitive strategies
  • considering ways to integrate KCs into learning areas and support students to use them to construct knowledge (NZCER’s Phases 3 and 4)
  • reporting to their boards and parents/whānau about the implementation of KCs and their contribution to student success in learning/wellbeing. (evaluating effectiveness)

girl with red hair in a plait points to a book page of another girl

The following table, Making the most of key competencies, outlines what is happening in some schools at a surface level. It also provides possibilities for moving to a deeper use of key competencies to support learners and illustrates this endeavour with examples of good practice.