01 A curriculum that captures the interests and heritage of the children

ERO's 2010 report Promoting Success for Māori students: School Progress concluded that schools needed to do more to promote success for Māori students. Improvement was sought in the achievement of Māori students, the presence of Māori students and engaging Māori students and communities. The report shared examples that show working with local hapu, iwi and marae increased Māori students engagement.

Leaders and teachers at Somerfield Te Kura Wairepo had recently implemented two major curriculum changes. The first gave all children ongoing opportunities to learn about their local history and express their identities. Leaders, teachers and trustees worked with a cluster of schools learn from each other and share the way they taught te reo, me ona tikanga and kaupapa Māori together in context. The second change came about by teachers at the school and in the cluster working as part of a global partnership to foster new teaching practices to help children learn in more depth.

In this narrative we share this school's approaches and strategies for promoting deep learning, focusing on the children's heritage and capturing their interests. We also outline how leaders, teachers and trustees work together across the school and a cluster to share and improve the responsiveness of their school's curriculum.

Curriculum decisions about planning implementation and assessment for inquiry units came from multiple sources. During the past three years teachers were involved in work to deepen children's learning, focus on their heritage and incorporate interest when planning an inquiry topic. To promote a more responsive curriculum, leaders moved away from having a three year plan in curriculum areas other than health and physical education. Their more flexible approach allowed them to better respond to the changing interests, strengths and needs of the children.

Some of their curriculum decisions came from working together with six other schools in the Kahukura Māori Achievement Collaboration (MAC) cluster. Principals and trustees shared practices, discussed programmes and whānau engagement. Lead teachers met regularly to work on or share major projects, celebrations, ideas and resources.

Focusing on children's heritage through a place based curriculum

Leaders aimed to improve the way they developed children's understanding of their local history. This focus was supported in part by the teachers' involvement in the MAC project and Hoaka Pounamu professional learning and development (PLD) that occurred before the schools joined the New Pedagogies for Deep Learning (NPDL) project. Their involvement in the project allowed them to share practices across the seven schools in their cluster and take a lead in this work.

As part of this focus, leaders also encouraged teachers to learn new ways of connecting with students and getting to know them as individuals.

Many changes occurred at Somerfield Te Kura Wairepo because of their ongoing curriculum review and development. Their review identified te reo Māori was often taught in isolation without any understanding about what children would learn over time. A small group of teachers worked together to lead the change to have te reo, me ona tikanga and kaupapa Māori taught together, in context. The small group, known as the Māori leaders, placed teachers in groups of three, with each in the group having different abilities and background. Teachers took time to find out their own histories and learned to express them in hui, mihi and pepeha. This helped them situate units of work and activities in contexts that Māori children could relate to. Teachers selected video clips and created resources and shared these with whānau and children.

Teachers modelled learning together through collaborative pedagogies. They sought to provoke children's curiosity about their past and give them opportunities to strengthen and express their identities. The leaders of the Māori programme felt teachers had to go through this collaborative learning before they could confidently follow any agreed progressions. Teachers continued to learn from each other and the first staff meeting each term still focused on related ongoing PLD.

Once the teachers' confidence grew, the Māori leaders developed clear progressions and detailed advice about programmes for children from Years 1 to 6. They wanted every child to learn about all aspects of the past, key to their environment. The school's place based topics are summarised and follow. They balance the local history with learning about science, social studies and technology.

Local Area Overview Plan

Purpose: To educate Somerfield Te Kura Wairepo students about our local area, our local Māori histories and stories, and give them experiences in making connections with the land and its people, over the course of their time at our school.

Year, Topic and Field Trip


Year 1

Opawaho te awa

Opawaho River

Harakeke weaving

In this unit students learn about the Opawaho River, they learn how Māori and early European settlers used it and the resources it brought. They learn how the waterway has changed over time and how we need to care for it.

Year 2

Te Tihi o Kahukura

Tamatea Maunga and the Port Hills

In this unit students learn about 'Ngā Kohatu Whakarekareka o Tamatea Pōkai Whenua' - the smouldering boulders of Tamatea Pōkai Whenua. They learn about the volcanic activity that formed Lyttelton Harbour and the history and stories.

Year 3

Te Maunga me te Awa o

Ngāi Tūāhuriri

Maukatere and Rakahuri (Mt Grey and Ashley River)

In this unit students learn about our mountain and river for Ngāi Tūāhuriri iwi. They learn about the flora and fauna of the river and mountain and why Māori settled in Kaiapoi to use the rich resources they had.

Year 4

Mana Whenua Ngāi Tūāhuriri

Tuahiwi Marae

In this unit students learn about the establishment of Tuahiwi Marae after the iwi left Kaiapoi after it was sacked. They learn about the land being set aside for Tūāhuriri under the Treaty of Waitangi and the subsequent building of Mahunui, its life and then the building of 'Mahunui II'. They learn about powhiri and marae kawa.

Year 5 and 6

Te Kaiapoi Pā

Visit to Kaiapoi Pā site and entrance to Pegasus

In this unit students learn about the migration of Ngāi Tahu from the North Island. The establishment of Kaiapoi Pā by Moki and the roles people played on the Pā site. They learn how the Pā was set up and how it worked as the main trade site for the Canterbury area. They also learn about its eventual sacking by Te Rauparaha in 1831-1832 and the scattering of its people.

Each year children learn about and visit a different significant local site.

In the first year of the programme a key Māori leader took a leadership role in every team's local site visit.

In the second year, the Māori leader initially supported teachers on the visit, but withdrew from the visits in the third year.
Year 2 children on the field trip related to their place-based unit topic

While planning the units, the Māori leaders from the school met with a leader of their local runanga (Ngāi Tūāhuriri) to learn more of the local history, before meeting with whānau to further discuss ideas. The local area curriculum was fully shared and discussed at whānau hui held at least twice a year. One idea the whānau hui promoted was to have as many Māori parents as possible go with the children on the local site visits. Whānau also contributed resources to increase provision of te reo Māori through an extension te reo Māori programme that many children attended and enjoyed.

ERO spoke with a group of Year 6 children about the place based curriculum.

They enthusiastically shared the different activities they did at the Kaiapoi Pā led by teachers from their school or from the pā. Some told us about going with their parents to visit their marae in other parts of New Zealand. Children were also aware some of their teachers were learning alongside them.

People from the marae talked to us about the history and about their ancestors.

Everyone should know the history of their countries and the customs. I'm pleased I know more about this because later on I might need to go to a funeral or something else at a marae and I know what to do.

I like having the different experiences because I came from England and I need to know this.

All our teachers can teach us about these things because some teachers were taught more by other teachers and adults that were not teachers.

Year 6 children

Māori leaders from the school had shared their placed based curriculum with other schools in the cluster and sought ideas for a sixth topic they could plan for Year 6 children.

Working within a school's cluster to enrich their curriculum

Some of the inquiry learning planning started with the MAC cluster where teachers and leaders from across the schools shared what they were teaching and the resources they used. Resources from other schools were shared and developed further for the rest of the cluster.

While we were at the school, the school's leaders, teachers and others from the Kahukura cluster were in the process of developing an inquiry unit on social justice. The unit Kahukura - Change Makers focused on the occupation of thepacifist settlement at Parihaka in Taranaki.

The topic had links to their local community as some of the men arrested from Parihaka had been taken to the Addington Prison in Christchurch and Fort Jervois on Ripapa Island in Lyttelton Harbour, where they were supported by Ngāi Tahu people. One of the schools had already completed an inquiry into the historic events at Parihaka and suggested this as a likely topic.

However, once the cluster leaders decided to explore the knowledge skills and outcomes possible in this topic, they saw the potential for a major inquiry topic. They then agreed a framework for the first half of the unit and the NPDL leaders decided to focus on citizenship with a unit on change makers. The MAC lead teachers located a series of resources that they placed on their shared website. The chart below shows how the cluster and the school had combined the key knowledge ideas to contribute to deep learning.

Kahukura - change makers unit

Design for Deeper Learning

Key Question: As a citizen of the world how can I peacefully seek social justice to make a meaningful difference?

Some of the key knowledge ideas from the MAC cluster

>    The people of Parihaka passively resisted their lands being taken.

>    People and leaders of Parihaka were taken from their lands and their pā was invaded and sacked.

>    Reconciliation between the people of Parihaka and the crown for these events is still going on today.

Enduring understandings about citizenship for deeper learning

> Change can be brought about by peaceful means.

> People participate individually and collectively in response to community challenges and have consequences for communities and societies, past, present and in the future.

> I am a citizen of the world. I can make a meaningful difference. I seek social justice. 

Although the seven schools in the cluster approached the teaching in different ways, a common theme derived from the Parihaka learning: "I am a citizen, I can make a difference” which drove the direction of learning in all schools.

The planning was not completed when we were at the school, however rubrics were already developed that identified how well children considered global issues and how well they used technology for learning. Teachers would use these as part of their planning and assessment.

A key feature of the MAC cluster was the level of involvement of boards of trustees in understanding and supporting curriculum decisions. Twice a year trustees the MAC cluster attended meetings. In the most recent combined meeting, they looked at the Parihaka unit to discuss why schools should focus on this topic. About 60 trustees from the cluster attended the meeting, where a person from Parihaka talked about their history and the links to Christchurch.

They also watched a documentary Tatarakihi - The Children of Parihaka. We spoke with a trustee who told us about the recent meetings.

Most of the things from our history children learn have been influenced by Ngāi Tahu stories but this one has a place in our history because of the people coming to Addington and Ripapa Island.

When The Children of Parihaka documentary stopped, there was silence in the room. We were supposed to ask questions but there were none because it was so powerful. Later though we talked about how come we didn't know this from our own history. It is important our children hear and know our history.

When we come to these cluster meetings, it is good to drop conversations about competitions for school rolls and focus on curriculum. Together we have done professional development about cultural competencies and Māori values too.


Deepening learning

One of the key goals of the cluster was to provide children with a creative and responsive curriculum. All of the schools in the cluster supported this goal through their involvement in a global partnership working with Michael Fullan and Maria Langworthy from the Victoria State Government. The partnership aimed to foster new pedagogies for deep learning (NPDL) in schools and leverage the power of digital technologies.

The New Zealand Curriculum and the school's SMART Values, which exemplify the key competencies, guided Somerfield Te Kura Wairepo's curriculum. The key competencies are also closely related to the six underlying concepts of the NPDL framework, which are:

The Six Cs

SMART Values

> Collaboration

> Socially adept

> Critical thinking

> Motivated

> Creativity

> Articulate

> Citizenship

> Resilient

> Communication

> Thinkers

> Character


Leaders agreed that many of the pedagogies introduced were good, but they're not necessarily new practices.

They acknowledged the key area of change was extending the ability to form partnerships with students in mastering new learning.

When developing inquiry learning unit plans, teachers also deliberately planned for each of the four quadrants from the NPDL framework shown below (new Pedagogies, learning partnerships, leveraging digital and learning environment). Some of the key threads the school focused on included:

>   shifting to more of a learning partnerships with children

>   developing a place based local curriculum

>   enriching their curriculum through working with the wider community.

Teachers worked together to weave together the school's SMART Values and the key competencies. An example of the weaving of one of the school's values and the key competencies is above.

More information about New Pedagogies for Deep Learning can be found using this link. You can find the diagram3 below using this link.

Increasing learning partnerships with children

Teachers used a collaborative inquiry cycle they have developed that encouraged them to focus on developing students capabilities with the Six Cs. The cycle began with students undertaking a simple assessment to identify their developing capabilities with the Six Cs.

Teachers designed a pre-assessment activity and used rubrics from the NPDL framework to determine where individuals and the class in general, were on the continuum as shown below. The rubrics had two further categories (accelerating and proficient) not shown here.


Limited evidence



Communicating in different ways

I need help to communicate what

I found and learned in my task.

I am beginning to put together different pieces of my thinking in one clear message.

I am beginning to integrate multiple issues and perspectives into my message.


I have trouble communicating my learning in a clear and substantive way.

I am beginning to express my thinking and learning in different ways, such as through images, and other visuals, music, and spoken words, for example in film or digital presentations.

I regularly use several modes of communication to get my message across in the best way.

In the pre-assessment activity, teachers highlighted to the children the problem of litter at school, and asked the children to creatively prepare to help draw awareness and reduce the problem. Almost all of them choose to prepare a poster. Teachers identified that many students were at the 'emerging level'.

The intention was to determine each child's increasing proficiency using the same rubrics at the end of the unit.

Teachers then used progressions from the rubric and worked with the students to design authentic learning tasks related to a real challenge. During the implementation phase, children also used digital technologies to deepen their learning. Finally, teachers and the students used a variety of evidence to see the level of achievement in relation to the learning progressions. They also determined some teaching improvements they could make in the future.

One recent inquiry focused on developing the Six Cs through a technology inquiry. The Year 5 and 6 children developed learning resources for Year 2 children. They had to find out what the Year 2 children were interested in and then design a learning tool to support their specific learning need.

During the assessment activity, all Year 5 and 6 children went to the hall. They saw a large circle with snake lollies in the middle. Together they had to design something to collect the snakes and bring them out of the circle. Teachers were able to observe such things as children's perseverance, ability to adapt, problem solving and leadership skills. Students then used rubrics to complete a peer assessment about their buddy's communication and technology skills.

During the design phase the Year 5 and 6 children worked in pairs and interviewed the Year 2 children and people from their families to find out more about the children's interests and strengths. They recorded their interviews on iPads and sketched their emerging designs.

The Year 5 and 6 children regularly used online journals as they modified their designs to respond to feedback from the Year 2 children, their buddy and their teacher. They became aware of the needs of others through the constant opportunities to seek and respond to feedback. Later the children were able to describe the process and what they had learned.

It was quite hard when they were trying to decide on ideas because they told us what they like, but they didn't tell us what to improve on, so we didn't know if we should keep it that way or if we should make changes.

I think we have improved a lot and we have been talking to people we haven't seen much. We are communicating with them and they don't really know how to explain it.

We learned how to think in a different way, if we came up with our first idea, it wasn't always our best idea so we had to keep coming up with more.

It was fun doing it this way, we got to experience more things, new things, new words - that really long word - metacognition - ooowh,

I never knew what it meant before.

Year 5 and 6 children

Including children's perspectives in inquiry unit planning

One aspect of planning teachers were developing involved including children in this phase of the inquiry unit. Year 5 and 6 children focused on communication, which is one of the six underlying concepts of the NPDL framework. Teachers met with a focus group established to hear children's ideas as part of their planning for the topic. When teachers shared their initial ideas, the children suggested an entirely different direction - that they focus on communication about problems and issues experienced at school and suggested some likely issues. As part of the unit plan teachers then integrated the students' ideas into the communication inquiry unit that explored parts of visual arts, drama, dance, English and social studies curricula.

When we met with the focus group of children involved in the planning, they explained their involvement and perspectives:

The teachers shared a little slideshow of their ideas. We talked about their ideas and decided to think about communication to solve problems at school. We suggested one or two types of problems.

It is better doing it this way, as the teachers now know more about what the kids are interested in.

We were also told that we could possibly end up with something that would become our school's production next term. Some of us are now working on skits about communication to solve a problem.

We have also been improving our persuasive writing.

Year 5 children

When ERO spoke with a group of children, they were about halfway through the inquiry topic. They told us many different ways they were now communicating messages and were working on a variety of problems they wanted to address, such as bullying and looking after sports gear used at lunchtime. When we asked if they could tell us more about deep learning, they told us their teachers expected them to think of more than one idea because your first idea is not always your best idea. They were expected to aim for 10 ideas. Some children showed us all 10 of their ideas.

One boy focused on communicating the harm done when you steal something, as his skateboard was stolen last year.

1. NCIS (crime theme)

2. News hub *

3. Funny moments

4. Scripts

5. Music video *

6. Motorway patrol

7. Rap

8. Chorus

9. Myth busters

10. Pop music *

* He had selected three to investigate further.

School leaders skilfully used a variety of resources to capture all aspects of The New Zealand Curriculum in the inquiry topics that were part of the school's curriculum. Their school values and aspects of NPDL matched the Values and Key Competencies. The Principles were included through the work with the MAC cluster, the board, whanau, the place based curriculum and the NPDL. Teachers integrated the relevant learning areas and achievement objectives across their inquiry topics. Teachers also worked collaboratively to learn or develop the knowledge and pedagogies needed to fully engage students. They were also clear about what skills children were developing and how well they were progressing.

Adapted from New Pedagogies for Deep Learning (NPDL) Design Protocol © 2014