Key competencies contribute to positive outcomes for learners

young girl with brown hair holds a pink marker over a page

Key competencies (KCs) are an important dimension of The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). They place students at the centre of teaching and learning.

Enduring change in society and the environment has implications for the kind of education young people require, and the focus for the teaching and learning they experience.

To successfully learn and deal with change, students must continue to build their knowledge and skills. They also need to explore how values influence thinking and action, and to actively build their competencies. All of these elements need to come together to enhance students’ interactions with others, their learning and wellbeing, and other aspects of their lives. Students require opportunities to: think; use language, symbols and texts; manage themselves; relate to others; and participate and contribute.

The New Zealand Curriculum states:
"The key competencies are both an end and means. They are a focus for learning – and they enable learning. They are the capabilities that young people need for growing, working, and participating in their communities and society." (2007, p. 38)

The OECD Education 2030 framework states that “students who are best prepared for the future are change agents. They can have a positive impact on their surroundings, influence the future, understand others’ intentions, actions and feelings, and anticipate the short and long-term consequences of what they do” (2018, p. 4).

The NZC key competencies do not sit in isolation. New Zealand’s education pathway from early to tertiary learning is designed to support children and young people to learn, build on, and use key competencies to be confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learners.

Figure 1: Competencies across education sectors

Te Whāriki The New Zealand Curriculum Tertiary
Confident, Connected,
Actively Involved 
Lifelong Learners
Exploration Thinking Thinking
Communication Using language, symbols and texts Using tools interactively
Well-being Managing self Acting autonomously
Contribution Relating to others Operating in social groups
Belonging Participating and contributing Operating in social groups

source: NZC, 2007, p. 42

Alongside this report, ERO has published a companion piece that provides the reader with a context and rationale for why key competencies are integral to successful teaching and learning. It is important that these two reports are read together.