Most schools have responded well to the opportunity to design a curriculum tailored to their own students and communities. To a large extent, misgivings expressed by some schools in 2008 have been eclipsed by a greater understanding and appreciation of the intent of The New Zealand Curriculum.

At the time of ERO’s earlier investigation in 2009, some schools perceived that the process of preparing for implementation was too difficult. Leaders and staff in these schools often lacked sufficient knowledge of The New Zealand Curriculum because they had not used the available materials to support preparation. They needed someone to initiate, plan and lead.

By the end of 2009, ERO found that most schools knew what they needed to do and had made some progress towards implementation. Apathy and resistance were generally less apparent, and in many schools, curriculum change had gained a momentum that carried staff forward with enthusiasm and commitment.

In each of the ERO reports about preparations for giving effect to The New Zealand Curriculum leadership was the most critical factor in determining how organised schools were to manage such change. Effective leaders focused on how well teachers were promoting student learning by implementing effective teaching strategies aligned to The New Zealand Curriculum.

With change of such importance, it is essential that school leaders:

  • respond in a timely way to the need for change;
  • become familiar with all the supporting material and resources provided;
  • in collaboration with other senior leaders in the school, develop a plan of actions and specify timelines and responsibilities;
  • tell board members, staff, parents and whânau, students and community groups about developments, and keep them up to date with changes;
  • organise relevant and useful professional learning and development for teachers throughout the preparation process;
  • monitor how well agreed practices are implemented school-wide;
  • align school systems such as appraisal with new frameworks;
  • maintain a ‘spearhead’ role as professional leader; and
  • where appropriate, delegate some responsibilities to another leader or group, with reporting and accountability mechanisms in place.

This 2010 report shows that almost all schools were either giving effect to The New Zealand Curriculum or making good progress towards giving effect to it. The success factors that these schools had in common are:

  • strategic professional leadership;
  • collaborative staff; and
  • clear student focus.