Achievement challenges

Achievement challenges are shared goals that are identified and developed by a Community of Learning | Kāhui Ako based on the needs of its learners.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Principals and tumuaki 
  • Boards
  • Communities of Learning | Kāhui Ako
  • Teachers and kaiako

This guidance supports Communities of Learning | Kāhui Ako to identify and develop achievement challenges or refresh their existing achievement challenges.

About achievement challenges

Kāhui Ako should set between 3-5 achievement challenges. These should be related to, or derived from, the National Curricula and can include preconditions necessary for achievement such as hauora | wellbeing and student engagement.

Achievement challenges should be focused on the things that the Kāhui Ako consider will make the most significant difference to all the children and young people and help them to achieve the outcomes in the New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.

New Zealand Curriculum(external link)

Te Marautanga o Aotearoa(external link)

Identifying achievement challenges

Communities of Learning identify achievement challenges that are a priority for their community. Achievement challenges should be common to all or most of the schools within a community, but may be apparent in different ways in different schools, along the learning pathway.

The following questions may be helpful starters:

  • What is our vision of success for our students?
  • What are the common challenges across our Community of Learning?
  • What do we know about possible reasons for these challenges and how do we know?
  • What support will be needed and what resources are available to help?

Understanding links and reasons for the challenges will help define your achievement challenges and set out your goals and objectives towards addressing them.

Endorsement of achievement challenges

Once the achievement challenges have been identified and a high level plan for addressing them has been developed, the boards of each of the schools need to agree to them and sign a memo of understanding. Staff members, parents, family and whānau should all be involved in the achievement challenge process.

Achievement challenges need to show:

  1. The evidence for why each challenge has been chosen: That is, the inquiry process that led to identifying the learning need, and how this relates to the outcomes sought in the NZ Curriculum and Te Marautanga.
  2. The story about what will happen to make progress against each challenge. That is, your high level plan of the actions you will undertake to make progress against each challenge.
  3. How it will be known that progress is being made against each challenge. That is, the data you have collected, or intend to collect, to establish the current state; the assessment tools you will use to measure progress.

The below documents provide guidance for Kāhui Ako that are identifying achievement challenges.

Completed achievement challenges then need to be submitted to your Director of Education for endorsement. Endorsement enables a Community of Learning to access the full range of resources available to them to support the important job of tackling the challenges.

Refreshing achievement challenges

Achievement challenges and their action plan are a living document and should evolve and grow with the Community of Learning.

We expect Kāhui Ako to formally refresh their achievement challenges and high level plan when their original plan ‘expires,' or if the Community of Learning decides to make significant changes to their achievement challenges and high level plan (for example changing a focus area). A formal review or refresh is an opportunity to reflect on progress so far, evaluate the evidence in light of the work a Kāhui Ako has been doing and refine the approach as required.

If one or more achievement challenges are changed we recommend that a summary of the actions you took to address each challenge, the progress you made, and the rationale for why you have decided to change focus will be included. Ideally this would again include a consultation process so that the voices of key people can be considered as part of the process.

We have developed guidance to help you when you begin reviewing and refreshing your achievement challenges. You may also consider using the development maps to help assess the progress you have made as a Kāhui Ako.

When achievement challenges are refreshed, a copy needs to be sent to your local Ministry advisor for review and approval by the Director of Education. Once approved, we will replace the original achievement challenge with the refreshed version.

All Kāhui Ako are able remove National Standards and Ngā Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori from their achievement challenges if they want to do so in a formal refresh.

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