New Zealand’s early childhood curriculum, Te Whāriki, was updated in April 2017. Te Whāriki: He whāriki mātauranga mō ngā mokopuna o Aotearoa is for use by all early childhood education services: Te Whārikia te Kōhanga Reo is for use in all kōhanga reo affiliated to Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust.

Since July 2017 early learning services have been supported to implement Te Whāriki through a programme of professional learning and development (PLD) including workshops, webinars and online resources provided by the Ministry of Education (the Ministry). ERO is undertaking a series of evaluations on the implementation of Te Whāriki: He whāriki mātauranga mō ngā mokopuna o Aotearoa.

This report follows two evaluations ERO published in 2018: Awareness and confidence to work with Te Whāriki and Engaging with Te Whāriki (2017). These earlier reports were a ‘temperature take’ of how leaders and kaiako in early learning services were beginning to work with the updated curriculum. The reports focused on their awareness, familiarity and confidence with Te Whāriki, and their involvement in PLD to support them to start to implement the updated curriculum document.

Below shows ERO's planned series of evaluations

Phase 1A

Awarness and confidence to work with Te Whāriki

How is the impletmentaion of Te Whāriki (2017) going?

  • awareness of update
  • accessibility/usefullness of PLD
  • awarness of online information and other resources to support 
  • barriers and challenges to implementation

Phase 1B

Engaging with Te Whāriki

How is the implementation of;Te Whāriki(2017)going?

  • awareness of update
  • accessibility/usefulness of PLD and resouces
  • how services are starting to thing about reviewing and planning their local curriculum
  • usefulness and use of learning outcomes
  • barriers and challenges to implementation

Phase 2

Preparedness to implement

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 an design their local curriculum
    • work with the learning outcomes to determine their priorities for childern's learning
  • confidence to implement;Te Whāriki

Phase 3

How well are services implementing;Te Whāriki <(2017)?

  • services focus on the learning that matters here
  • parents and whānau are engaged in thir child's learning
  • children's identity, language and culture is affirmed

The updated Te Whāriki (2017) reflects changes in theory, practice and early learning contexts that have occurred over the last 20 years. Specific changes include:

  • a stronger focus on bicultural practice, the importance of language, culture and identity and the inclusion of all children
  • reviewing the learning outcomes and reducing them to 20 outcomes to enable a greater focus on “what matters here” when designing local curriculum
  • setting out the links to The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marāutanga o Aotearoa to support children’s transition pathways and learning continuity.

The aspiration for children, bicultural structure, principles, strands and goals remain the same. (Te Whāriki Online)

ERO’s Engaging with Te Whāriki report stated that “while there are no recipes or templates for implementation, there are some clear messages in Te Whāriki that convey expectations beyond those required by the prescribed curriculum framework.” These include:

  • “That each service will use Te Whāriki as a basis for weaving with children, parents and whānau its own local curriculum of valued learning, taking into consideration also the aspirations and learning priorities of hapu, iwi and community”.(p.8)
  • “That kaiako will work with colleagues, children, parents and whānau to unpack the strands, goals and learning outcomes, interpreting these and setting priorities for their particular ECE setting.” (p.23).

ERO’s previous evaluations regarding awareness and engaging with Te Whāriki have identified variability in the understanding and practice associated with implementing Te Whāriki, both within early childhood education services as well as between services. 

This Phase 2 evaluation focuses on how well prepared leaders and kaiako in early learning services were to implement the updated curriculum. 

By preparedness, we mean leaders and kaiako:

  • engaging in PLD[1] to build capability and a shared understanding of Te Whāriki and the implications of this updated curriculum for their practice
  • implementing appraisal processes that support implementation
  • reviewing their service’s philosophy to align it to Te Whāriki
  • reviewing and designing their local curriculum to reflect the learning that is valued in their service
  • identifying their next steps for implementation.[2]  

The findings of this report are based on data gathered from 362 early learning services[3] reviewed by ERO in Terms 2 and 3, 2018. Figure 2 shows how this data‑gathering phase aligned with the timeline of Te Whāriki (2017).

[1] Professional learning and development includes professional learning opportunities provided by and occurring within the service, and from external sources.

[2] See Appendices 1 and 2 for the evaluation questions and rubric used to make a judgement about preparedness.

[3] See Appendix 3 for the sample characteristics. Please note the sample does not include Kōhanga Reo.