This is the third in a series of three evaluations of schools’ preparations for giving effect to The New Zealand Curriculum. The three reports are based on evidence gathered by the Education Review Office (ERO) during education reviews conducted from Term 3, 2008 to Term 4, 2009. The previous two reports were completed in January and September 2009.

In the September 2009 report on schools’ preparations for implementing The New Zealand Curriculum, ERO identified curriculum leadership, monitoring and self review, and use of available resources as the most important factors in making progress. ERO concluded that the next priority for school leaders was to give effect to The New Zealand Curriculum in their school organisation, thereby promoting student learning through effective teaching.

In this evaluation, undertaken in Terms 3 and 4 2009, ERO investigated school leaders’ progress with organising teaching and learning to give effect to The New Zealand Curriculum, and implementing effective teaching strategies. Overall, schools continued to move towards implementing The New Zealand Curriculum.

This study showed that most schools were in a good position to give full effect to The New Zealand Curriculum in February 2010. They had responded positively to the opportunity to designing a curriculum that would match the needs of their students and communities. Many had:

  • increased their understanding and appreciation of the intent of The New Zealand Curriculum;
  • Successfully consulted a range of groups in the school’s community;
  • effectively reviewed their vision and values and integrated these, along with key competencies, into planning and teaching;
  • comprehensively reviewed school curriculum documentation, before developing achievement objectives in each learning area and making connections between them across the curriculum;
  • made progress with aligning their school systems, policies and procedures to The New Zealand Curriculum; and
  • engaged staff in implementing teaching strategies that further promoted student learning.

Seventy six percent of schools were either already giving full effect to the curriculum or were making good progress towards giving effect to new school and classroom curricula, by the end of 2009. Only three percent of schools had not yet begun to make any preparation to give effect to the curriculum. In these schools leaders appeared not to have recognised the need to change and felt that the challenges were beyond their control, or someone else’s responsibility to address.

Schools that were already giving effect to new school curricula aligned to The New Zealand Curriculum had focused professional leaders. These leaders used robust review processes to identify what needed to improve and strategically managed curriculum change. They worked collaboratively with teachers to ensure expectations of, and support for, teachers were well understood for each development priority and stage. The positive influence of leaders modelling their own actions as learners was also evident.

Another key feature was the centrality of the learner. More school leaders were listening to the students’ views as part of curriculum consultation, review and design processes. Many teachers put learner-focused strategies into practice.

An important aspect of progress since the previous ERO report was that more teachers were using student achievement information to reflect on the effectiveness of their teaching.