A commitment from government, along with leadership and expertise from the early childhood education sector, has helped shape this updated early childhood curriculum. The findings in this report highlight that to realise the potential of this commitment more consideration needs to be given to bringing it to life in all services for the benefit of all children. Leaders and kaiako must engage with the updated curriculum as education professionals with a responsibility for implementation.
This report has identified considerable variation in how well prepared leaders and kaiako are to implement Te Whāriki. This is concerning, as we know from an ERO synthesis on early childhood curriculum implementation that “variability in curriculum understanding and practice impacts on the extent to which children are provided with equitable opportunities to learn in meaningful contexts and through rich and challenging experiences.”
Te Whāriki (2017) sets a challenge when it states “the intention is this update will refresh and enrich early learning curriculum for future generations of children in Aotearoa” pg. 7. This statement indicates an expectation for change. To do this requires leaders and kaiako in early childhood services taking a deliberate and in-depth look at Te Whāriki and their own practices and local curriculum.
The findings highlight the need to strengthen opportunities for kaiako to engage more deeply with Te Whāriki, with an emphasis on strengthening practice and pedagogy. With appropriate support and guidance, leaders and kaiako need to seek and create these opportunities through their own professional learning and discussions, in addition to external PLD. Such learning opportunities need to address areas leaders and kaiako continue to find challenging. These include:
Leaders and kaiako need to have more shared discussions and collective critical reflection about Te Whāriki and what it means for their teaching, their service, their children and the way they engage with whānau. Te Whāriki (2017) states “kaiako are the key resource in any ECE service” p.59. It emphasises the need for kaiako to work collaboratively with each other. This collective effort and responsibility is crucial to building in-depth professional knowledge of Te Whāriki and capability to provide a relevant, responsive and rich curriculum for all children.
ERO’s Engaging with Te Whāriki (2017) report identified that PLD on its own would not be enough to bring about improved understanding and practice. Strong pedagogical leadership was a necessary factor in curriculum implementation. Leaders have a crucial role in promoting the structures and conditions for kaiako to be well prepared to implement Te Whāriki.
Leaders need to plan for, and be purposeful and deliberate in, the ways they support kaiako to implement Te Whāriki. This was a key feature that made a difference in the well-prepared services. The not–prepared services lacked this deliberate approach and the collaborative PLD to build leaders and kaiako knowledge about implementing Te Whāriki (2017).
This findings of this report also raise questions about the ongoing responsibility for monitoring and responding to how well the sector is implementing Te Whāriki. It highlights a need for educations agencies, PLD providers, and leaders and kaiako in services to identify what is working well and what needs to be improved to ensure the successful implementation of Te Whāriki.
It is particularly crucial to:
ERO is continuing to evaluate early learning services as leaders and kaiako implement Te Whāriki and will be reporting further on implementation of Te Whāriki in 2019.
ERO’s new quality framework and associated indicators of what matters most in early childhood services align closely to Te Whāriki (2017). From the beginning of 2020, ERO will be evaluating quality using this framework and indicators.