Conclusion

This report poses some challenges for policy makers and the early childhood education sector. One of these challenges is about longevity of curriculum and at what point a curriculum should be reviewed or revised. There has been some discussion and debate about this in the sector with various views expressed about the need for a review of Te Whāriki.

The ECE Taskforce report indicated that the issue lay with implementation and not with Te Whāriki itself. The findings of this evaluation indicate that the issue may well lie with how services are working with the prescribed curriculum framework of principles and strands. Many services are not going beyond this framework in terms of working with the goals, dispositions and learning outcomes that are in the curriculum document. A review or refresh of Te Whāriki could provide an opportunity for the sector to engage in useful discussion about the purpose of curriculum and the nature of the framework and guidance needed to achieve this purpose.

Another challenge relates to whether there is sufficient coherence and alignment between the prescribed curriculum framework (currently the principles and strands of Te Whāriki), and the regulated Curriculum Standard and associated criteria. The Curriculum Standard requires services to “plan, implement, and evaluate a curriculum that is designed to enhance children’s learning and development through the provision of learning experiences, and that is consistent with any curriculum framework prescribed by the Minister that applies to the service.” The remaining wording of the standard describes the additional practices that must be reflected in the curriculum, and the criteria against which a service is assessed for licensing purposes. A stronger link between these aspects could provide more clarity for services about the requirements and lead to more effective implementation of the prescribed curriculum framework.

A final challenge is about having a non-prescriptive curriculum mandated through the prescribed framework of principles and strands that is reliant on the professional knowledge of those who implement it. This evaluation, and other national reports ERO has recently published,[19] signal the need for considering the provision of guidance and support to early childhood services to enable them to work with the full intent of Te Whāriki as part of their curriculum design and implementation.