ERO focused on how and how well the selected secondary schools achieved coherence in the senior curriculum. The basis for the evaluation was the premise that in these schools the NZC drives senior programme content and pathway planning, and that NCEA shows achievement from Level 1 upwards on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework.

We looked at how the schools offer students experiences that deepen their learning through providing meaningful pathways, and provide students with opportunities to develop their knowledge, values and competencies in the senior years of schooling. Assessment that shows how well students have developed their knowledge and skills was also critical, as an indication of their progress and achievement.

ERO found that of the 12 schools visited, a minority had planned and implemented senior learning programmes that related to the principles, values and competencies outlined in the NZC, and led to coherence in curriculum provision. Others were well on the way to full coherence, with some aspects still to be developed. Some schools were yet to put in place the necessary systems and practice to allow them to offer a senior curriculum that purposefully included all the components of NZC. In all these schools, ERO found elements of practice that were useful examples for other schools to consider.

The report findings are presented in three sections: section one discusses the degree to which schools provide coherence in the senior school curriculum; section two provides summaries of practices that exemplify how these schools brought about curriculum coherence. The third section discusses the issues and challenges schools identified as they tried to give due attention to both NZC and NCEA in their senior school curriculum.