New Zealand’s early childhood curriculum, Te Whāriki, was updated in April, 2017. Te Whāriki (2017) reflects the changes in theory, practice and early learning contexts that have occurred over the last 20 years. This includes updated context, language, examples and implementation advice. Other key changes in the updated Te Whāriki are described on Te Whāriki online as follows:

A stronger focus on bicultural practice, the importance of language, culture, and identity, and the inclusion of all children.

The learning outcomes have been reviewed and condensed to twenty to enable a greater focus on “what matters here” when designing local curriculum.

Links to The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa have been set out to support children’s transition pathways and learning continuity. The overall structure has been streamlined for easier navigation.

The aspiration for children, bicultural structure, principles, strands and goals remain the same. In this way Te Whāriki remains a unique and visionary framework for lifelong learning.

Since July 2017 early learning services have been supported to implement Te Whāriki through a programme of professional learning and development (PLD) starting with workshops, and online resources and webinars. The Ministry of Education (the Ministry) contracted a PLD provider who appointed curriculum champions to work with pedagogical leaders in over 700 services across a variety of service types, with a focus on improving curriculum implementation practice through professional inquiry and internal evaluation. This PLD was undertaken between July 2017 and June 2018.

ERO is undertaking a series of evaluations focused on the implementation of Te Whāriki from mid-2017 until the end of 2019.

ERO’s planned series of evaluations

Phase 1a: Awareness & confidence to work with Te Whāriki

Terms 3-4, 2017
How is the implementation of Te Whāriki (2017) going?
•awareness of update; accessibility/usefulness of PLD
•awareness of online information and other resources to support
•barriers and challenges to implementation.

This report was published in July 2018.

Phase 1b: Engaging with Te Whāriki

Term 1, 2017
How is the implementation of Te Whāriki (2017) going?
•awareness of update
•accessibility/usefulness of PLD and resources
•how services are starting to think about reviewing and planning their local curriculum
•usefulness and use of learning outcomes
•barriers and challenges to implementation.

Phase 2: Preparedness to implement

Terms 2 & 3 2018
How well prepared are services to implement Te Whāriki (2017)?
•engagement in PLD
•steps being taken by leaders and kaiako to:
•decide ‘what matters here’
•review and design their local curriculum
•work with the learning outcomes to determine their priorities for children’s learning
•determine their next steps.
•confidence to implement Te Whāriki.

Phases 3a-e: Titles TBC

Term 4, 2018 and Terms 1-4 2019

How well are services implementing Te Whāriki (2017) to strengthen the following areas:

•services focus on the learning that matters here
•parents and whānau are engaged in their child’s learning
•children’s identify, language and culture is affirmed
•every child experiences a rich curriculum
•pathways to school and kura are personalised.

As noted in ERO’s first report Awareness and confidence to work with Te Whāriki (2017) the Ministry has identified the following areas that need to be strengthened. These are the focus for Phase 3a-e:

  • Every child experiences a rich curriculum
  • Services focus in the learning that matters for their children and whānau
  • Children's identity, language and culture is affirmed
  • Parents and whānau are engaged in their child's learning
  • The education system supports personalised pathways to schoo and kura

The first report in the series Awareness and confidence to work with Te Whāriki (2017), published in July 2018 was based on data from 290 early learning services. In this report ERO found:

  • leaders and kaiako reported a high degree of awareness of, and growing confidence to begin to work with, Te Whāriki

  • confidence to work with Te Whāriki to support Māori children to enjoy educational success as Māori was not as high with 31 percent of services indicating they were not at all confident, or somewhat confident to work with Te Whāriki to support Māori learners

  • uptake of PLD was high with 81 percent of services having accessed PLD

  • barriers to services beginning to implement Te Whāriki were time and leader/kaiako knowledge and understanding of the curriculum.

Next steps for services included opportunities to meet and engage in professional discussion, unpacking and making sense of Te Whāriki, ongoing and targeted PLD, and revisiting their curriculum through in-depth internal evaluation and inquiry.This second evaluation report focuses more specifically on the steps leaders and kaiako were taking to decide ‘what matters here’, review and design their local curriculum, and work with the learning outcomes to determine their priorities for children’s learning. Te Whāriki notes:

Te Whāriki provides a framework of principles, goals and learning outcomes that foregrounds the mana of the child and the importance of reciprocal and responsive relationships. This framework provides the basis for each setting to weave a local curriculum that reflects its own distinctive character and values. p.7