Key findings

In this second evaluation report we have continued to focus on awareness of Te Whāriki (2017) and what leaders and kaiako in early learning services were doing as they began to engage with the updated curriculum. We gathered the data for this report when services were six to nine months into accessing professional learning and development (PLD) to support implementation.

We continue to see a high level of awareness, with most services reporting they are aware of the updated Te Whāriki, however less than half of the 167 services had begun to engage with it. Leaders and kaiako reported a high level of uptake of PLD with 82 percent of the services having accessed some form of PLD. This high level of engagement in PLD and commitment to becoming familiar with Te Whāriki is commendable. ERO will be interested in how PLD is supporting implementation over the next 18 months. Future evaluations will focus on how PLD is supporting leaders and kaiako to engage more deeply with Te Whāriki and respond positively to the expectations in the updated curriculum. ERO will be interested in the impact of this PLD in improving quality and achieving equitable outcomes for all children.

ERO found variability in the extent to which leaders and kaiako understood the concept of reviewing and designing (weaving) their local curriculum based on their decisions about ‘what matters here’. While some were beginning with a review of their philosophy, many leaders and kaiako were unsure about what to do and where to start. Reviewing and designing a local curriculum requires leaders and kaiako to work collaboratively with parents and whānau and the wider community to determine their curriculum priorities.

The findings also highlight wide variability in understanding and practice in working with the 20 learning outcomes as part of assessment, planning and evaluation. At a basic level, leaders and kaiako were using the learning outcomes as an additional component in documentation. In assessment they were often added, ticked off or tagged as an end point. Te Whāriki sets out the learning that is valued as part of the curriculum framework through the 20 learning outcomes. Working with these learning outcomes requires a shift in thinking and practice from working with the goals in Te Whāriki (now positioned as goals for kaiako), to unpacking these outcomes in terms of what they mean for the children at their service and for their local curriculum.

As we reported in Awareness and confidence to work with Te Whāriki (2017) confidence to work with Te Whāriki to support Māori children to enjoy success as Māori was and continues to be an area where services were needing further support. Leaders and kaiako need to explore and discuss their understanding of, and commitment to, supporting Māori children to experience success as Māori. Te Whāriki provides useful guidance to do this.

The barriers and challenges in this evaluation largely reflect those reported previously, with the main barriers to implementation related to time and variable levels of kaiako understanding within a service. The findings also highlight other barriers that include PLD challenges, lack of leadership capability, changes to teaching teams, getting parents and whānau involved, and internal evaluation capability and capacity.

We recommend that leaders and kaiako in early learning services use the findings of this report as a catalyst to:

  • engage more deeply with Te Whāriki to build a shared understanding of expectations associated with reviewing and designing their local curriculum
      • “What are our curriculum priorities? What really matters for the children in our service?”
  • unpack and discuss the learning outcomes in Te Whāriki as part of their planning, assessment and evaluation processes
      • “What do these learning outcomes look like in terms of children’s progress and learning in our service?”
  • explore and discuss their understanding of, and commitment to, supporting Māori children to experience success as Māori
      • “What do we know and understand about kaupapa Māori theory?” What expertise do we have to increase our understanding of practices that enable Māori children to experience success as Māori?
  • identify their next steps and priorities for PLD
      • “What are our next steps as we engage with Te Whāriki? What support do we need to take these steps?”

Appendix 3 has a table summarising the key findings.

ERO is continuing to evaluate the implementation of Te Whāriki with the next report focusing on preparedness to implement. This will be published in early 2019.