Curriculum and assessment changes
It is critical our education system continues to evolve and remains focussed on delivering equitable and excellent outcomes for all Aotearoa New Zealand’s children and young people.
Note: The national curriculum and assessment programmes timelines are being reset to help manage the impact of COVID-19. The timelines outlined on this page are being updated and will be republished.
A five-year programme to refresh the New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa is underway, aimed at ensuring all ākonga experience rich and responsive learning.
- Resetting Timelines Frequently Asked Questions
- Changes and support
- Opportunities for engagement
- How the curriculum refreshes work with NCEA changes
- How the changes to curriculum and NCEA work with the Review of Vocational Education
- Indicative timelines (2021-2025)
- Support and resources
- More information and how to get involved
These changes will also honour our past and obligations to Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
At the same time, changes are taking place or have been proposed, for early learning and NCEA. The changes follow extensive engagement and consultation with the education sector, communities and learners throughout New Zealand.
We have developed a series of infographic timelines that illustrate key milestones for curriculum and assessment work occurring across early learning and schooling. They comprise:
These infographics are designed to provide clarity about when different pieces of work are scheduled. However, these timelines will remain flexible to meet any evolving demands and priorities within the sector.
We know you want assurance that support will be in place to help changes occur with minimum disruption and this will remain a priority for us.
Te Mahau (formerly referred to as Education Service Agency) will lead this work, engaging and partnering with the sector to support delivery of the changes as part of the Government’s agreed response to the independent review of Tomorrow’s Schools.
We have been asked for clarity on:
- the scale of changes and support available to make them successful
- opportunities for engagement
- how the curriculum refreshes work with NCEA changes
- how the changes to curriculum and NCEA work with the Review of Vocational Education.
1. What has been announced and why is it important for teachers and kaiako?
The timelines of the national curriculum and assessment work programmes are being reset to give early learning services, schools, kura, learners and whānau time for their involvement. Throughout 2021, early learning services, schools and kura have managed their way through significant COVID-19 uncertainty and disruption, and their wellbeing is a priority.
This will affect changes to requirements for using the full framework of Te Whāriki, The New Zealand Curriculum refresh, Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories, Te Takanga o Te Wā and the NCEA Change Programme.
There is no change to the scope of these areas of work, as they continue to work towards the same outcomes. These resets will ensure that those involved now have the time they need to engage and participate in these important changes to curriculum and assessment.
2. What does this mean for early learning services, schools and kura, especially those involved in pilots? What’s happening to the contributions they’ve already made?
The impact of the timelines being reset will vary across the different work programmes, however overall, there will be adjustments to help manage the associated workload.
Ministry teams will be in contact to follow up with those involved with more detail and support.
The scope of the work is staying the same and the contributions to-date are valuable and will be used.
3. How will resetting the timelines affect learners and ākonga?
The impact of resetting the timelines for learners and ākonga will vary across the different work programmes:
Te Whāriki – Expanding the legal requirements for using Te Whāriki – Early learning services already use Te Whāriki so there is no impact for learners and ākonga. This is an adjustment to the timing of consultation on gazetting the full framework of Te Whāriki to occur in 2022 rather than in late 2021, and extend the anticipated implementation timeframe to 2023, rather than 2022.
The New Zealand Curriculum refresh – The timings for these changes remain the same so there is no impact for learners and ākonga.
- Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories, Te Takanga o Te Wā – The timeline for implementation has been extended. Schools and kura will now be expected to implement the new content from 2023, rather than from 2022 as originally intended. The final content will be publicly released in early 2022. This means that those schools and kura who are well-placed to pick it up and use the content earlier than 2023 will have the option to do so.
- NCEA Change Programme:
The rephasing of the NCEA Change Programme means that:
- NZC Review of Achievement Standards (RAS) Level 2 assessments and standards will be piloted in 2024. NZC Level 1 secondary students taking part in the 2022 mini-pilots will move back into the existing NCEA Level 2 assessments and standards in 2023.
- Te Reo Māori NZC and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa (TMoA) wāhanga ako mini-pilots will run for three years. Selected schools will be asked to make a three year commitment to piloting the new standards and these students will not revert back to the existing achievement standards.
It is important to remember the scope of the work is not changing and they will still deliver significant benefit for our learners and ākonga across our curriculum and assessment settings.
4. What are the changes to each programme?
Key changes to requirements for using Te Whāriki
- Action 4.1 of the He taonga te tamaiti | Every child a taonga (the Early Learning Action Plan) is to Gazette the curriculum framework, Te Whāriki, to support engagement with the principles, strands, goals and learning outcomes when designing local curricula.
- Consultation on gazetting the full framework of Te Whāriki was set for 2021, with a view to implementing the full framework as a legal requirement for early childhood education services from 2022.
This timing of the consultation will be adjusted to occur in 2022 instead, and the anticipated implementation timeframe will be extended to 2023.
Key changes to The New Zealand Curriculum refresh
The reset will help schools, kura and teachers to manage their workloads and recharge, as well as provide more time for them to be involved as they get ready to adopt the refreshed curriculum from 2026 onwards.
- Testing of the vision for young people and the Social Sciences learning area draft content will now take place in term 1, 2022.
- The refresh of the English and the Mathematics & Statistics learning areas will happen in 2022, supporting the upcoming mathematics and literacy strategies.
- The update of the Science learning area moves from 2022 to 2023, with the Arts and Technology learning areas also refreshed in 2023.
- The refresh of the Learning Languages and Health & Physical Education learning areas moves from 2023 to 2024.
- Changes to other parts of the NZC which underpin it being refreshed as a ‘bicultural and inclusive’ curriculum will all be progressed in 2022, rather than being spread through to the end of 2023. This includes a refreshed Vision for Young People.
- The phasing of the development of the Record of Learning has been aligned to the refresh of the curriculum, with the first release planned for 2024.
Redesign of Te Marautanga o Aotearoa (TMoA)
- There is no change to the phasing of the redesign of Te Marautanga o Aotearoa as the phasing of learning areas will be aligned to the redesign process around the Te Tamaiti Hei Raukura conceptual framework.
Key changes to Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories (ANZH) and Te Takanga o Te Wā (TToTW)
- The timeline for the public release of the ANZH and TToTW final content will be moved to early 2022. Schools and kura will now be expected to implement the new content from 2023, rather than from 2022 as originally intended.
- This means that those schools and kura who are well-placed to pick it up and use the content earlier than 2023 will have the option to do so.
- During 2022 schools and kura will be supported to access resources they need to be ready to teach the new content from 2023.
- The adjustment to timing means that schools will be able to use the new ANZH content in the context of the refreshed Social Sciences learning area for the NZC.
Key changes to the NCEA Change Programme
To ensure the NCEA change programme and the sector readiness are aligned, the NCEA planned pilot approach will change. However it is crucial that, in 2022, the sector can test and refine the new Level 1 subjects.
- The NZC and TMoA pilots planned for 2022 will be replaced with Level 1 mini-pilots that have fewer schools participating.
- NZC Level 1 (full) pilots will take place in 2023, instead of 2022, with full implementation by 2024. Level 2 pilots will take place in 2024 with full implementation by 2025. Level 3 pilots will take place in 2025 with full implementation by 2026.
TMoA mini-pilots will also take place for Level 2 subjects in 2023, and Level 3 subjects in 2024.
- Literacy and Numeracy | Te Reo Matatini me te Pāngarau pilots will continue as planned in 2022. The implementation of the corequisite in 2023 is subject to sector readiness, and we are preparing to make a decision (implement or defer) in mid-2022.
- The Te Ao Haka programme will not change and pilots will commence in 2022.
The infographic timelines capture work occurring out to 2025. They show that changes are not happening all at once and will occur over time in partnership with the sector.
There will be opportunities throughout the planning and implementation of these changes for elements to be rephased and/or reprioritised if needed.
At the same time this work is happening, Te Poutāhū | Curriculum Centre is being established within the new Te Mahau.
The work programmes outlined in these timelines are being designed in consultation with the sector, and that collaborative process and partnership will continue.
To help you see this, we have produced an infographic that shows the different sector working groups that have been established or engaged to work with us.
The work of refreshing the National Curriculum and delivering the NCEA changes are well aligned. We are working collaboratively with the secondary sector and communities on both the curriculum and NCEA changes.
The National Curriculum underpins all learning. The curriculum refresh aims to update and provide clarity about the big ideas and the expected learning within each learning area from Years 1 to 13. The curriculum refresh will also acknowledge that senior secondary students:
- engage with more specialised learning framed around subjects,
- can access vocational learning and assessments, and
- are beginning high-stakes national assessments and working towards qualifications.
A refreshed New Zealand Curriculum will support ākonga on their pathway into senior secondary years and beyond by creating better connections between curriculum learning areas at the earlier years and subject-specific learning at the later years. This will create a continuous learning experience for ākonga to develop the foundation they need for success throughout education, and in national qualifications.
The National Curriculum Refresh and the NCEA Change Programme are progressing in tandem, and the changes are being phased in over the next four to five years. Several important changes are already being implemented but we know that meaningful change takes time. Throughout this period, we are committed to ensuring all ākonga have fair assessments based on their learning to date.
In 2020, prior to decisions on the National Curriculum Refresh, the Ministry commissioned experts to create prototype curriculum ‘big ideas’ and purpose statements. These were developed to guide the development of new achievement standards for NCEA, by providing more detail than was available in the existing essence statements and learning area sections of the New Zealand Curriculum.
These prototypes have:
- informed the standards that are being publicly consulted on
- provided the basis for each learning area update, and for how significant learning is identified and described for each of the subjects derived from that learning area
Across both the curriculum and NCEA, we are working towards having most of the new content available by the end of 2023, with iterative releases each year leading up this (the following timeline has more detail on the timing of this work). A phase of trialling and refinement will continue beyond this.
Further changes to some of the new assessment standards within NCEA subjects might be needed over time to strengthen the alignment with the national curriculum, and to reflect evolving teaching and learning practices. These will be done over time, as part of ongoing review and maintenance of the qualification.
The Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE) is creating a strong vocational education system that is fit for the future of work. Schools and kura remain crucial to the future of vocational education, including providing students with opportunities and support to navigate their learning pathway and progress towards their goals.
Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga | The Ministry of Education, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA), and the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) are working together to ensure the RoVE supports schools, kura, and tertiary education organisations to be better linked to each other and to the world of work. We are also working to align the implementation of the RoVE changes with the changes to NCEA and the National Curriculum.
RoVE is currently focused on establishing the new entities and systems that will set standards and deliver vocational education going forward, including Workforce Development Councils, and Te Pūkenga – New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology. This work will be ongoing until the end of 2022, as the new entities plan their priorities, work plans, and offerings. In the meantime, our priority is ensuring that disruption to schools, kura and students is minimised.
For schools and kura, our message is simple: keep seeking opportunities to grow and expand your vocational education options. The unit standards you use will still be available. The Vocational Pathways will continue to be maintained. The partnerships you already have will continue, or you will be supported to partner with new organisations as transitions occur.
From 2022 onwards, the Ministry will work with the new organisations to help them strengthen the vocational options available to your schools, kura and students. Over time new standards, products and services will be made available to expand the opportunities available to your students. This will include the phased introduction of changes to the Vocational Pathways and implementation of the Vocational Entrance Award, from 2023 onwards subject to Ministerial decisions later this year.
Please find links below to the infographic timelines that illustrate key milestones for curriculum and assessment work, and an infographic showing the different sector advisory and reference groups that have been established or engaged to work with us:
- Sector Reach, advice and input – curriculum and assessment work programme and advisory groups [PDF, 189 KB]
Associate Minister of Education, Jan Tinetti, outlines the benefits of the refresh in this video.
Tēnā koutou katoa
We signalled back in September 2019 that we were working on improving the national curriculum for schooling, Te Marautanga o Aotearoa and The New Zealand Curriculum. I’m excited to announce today the process and timing for updating the curriculum over the next five years, beginning with Aotearoa New Zealand’s Histories.
I know parents want more certainty about what their tamariki will learn in schools and kura, and that the curriculum should also focus on wellbeing, identity, language and culture.
Learners want to learn from a curriculum that is meaningful to them and their whānau.
Teachers want to be clear about what their students need to learn, how they are making progress, their strengths and where support is needed. A record of learning that travels with students will capture this information consistently.
Since 2019, when Minister Hipkins first signalled the need for change, the Ministry has been working with people from the education sector and wider communities to really understand how to make the improvements we need to ensure our students succeed.
We’ve been looking carefully at the current curriculum in order to be clearer about the knowledge, skills and capabilities learners need to progress through their schooling.
While COVID impacted progress in 2020, we have been able to build momentum with implementing professional learning development priorities to better support schools to develop their local curriculum. We have also established curriculum leads to strengthen curriculum support at the Ministry’s frontline. These roles will start to work in schools in term 2 this year.
In 2021, we’re going to work with the sector on the new framing of both Te Marautanga o Aotearoa and The New Zealand Curriculum to ensure that it’s clear what our learners need to know, understand and do in order to be successful now and in the future.
An example of the proposed changes to the national curriculum can be seen in the draft curriculum content for Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories and Te Takanga o te Wa. This year draft content is being trialled so it is ready to be taught in schools in 2022.
Alongside the curriculum changes, the Ministry has been working with educators, whānau and young people about a more holistic approach to a record of learning that will travel with learners throughout their learning. A digital record of learning will be collaborated generated so that parents, whānau and teachers have a comprehensive tool to understand progress. This will start with a focus on literacy, numeracy, social wellbeing, te reo matatini, pāngarau and He Tamaiti Hei Raukura. Trialling will begin later in 2021.
During 2021-25, we will be strengthening Te Marautanga o Aotearoa in partnership with whānau, hapū and iwi will continue to ensure marau ā-kura reflects the vision and aspirations that whānau have for their tamariki to form the basis of their marau ā-kura. This means Te Marautanga o Aotearoa will recognise a broader definition of success and equip all learners with the essential knowledge, skills and values to operate confidently in te ao Māori and the wider world.
The important shift for Te Marautanga o Aotearoa is to address equity, trust and coherence through integration of He Tamaiti Hei Raukura as the underpinning framework that recognises tamariki and rangatahi as uri whakahere (as a descendant), tangata (as a person), puna kōrero (as a communicator), and as an ākonga (as a learner). Te Marautanga o Aotearoa will continue to embody te ao Māori and will be strengthened to reflect a more authentic and indigenous curriculum.
Learners and whānau will, therefore, be able to see themselves reflected in their learning and future pathways.
For The New Zealand Curriculum, during 2021-25 we will refresh each learning area and develop supports to ensure effective implementation. We’ll be working to reduce the large number of achievement objectives we have in the current curriculum and develop a smaller number of progress statements to make sure our learners are reaching the milestones they need to. This year we will start with the social sciences learning area in order to support the implementation of the Aotearoa NZ histories in 2022.
We will design a truly connected curriculum by bringing together the key competencies with the learning areas. Up until now, teachers have been left to navigate the key competencies, bringing them to life within learning areas. Our refreshed New Zealand curriculum will bring these together, making it easier for teachers and engaging for learners.
We need our curriculum to be clear and support the design of high quality marau ā-kura and local curriculum – striking a balance between the learning that is important nationally and learning that reflects the rohe.
I know we need to support teachers to successfully put these changes in place. That’s why we’re committed to a collaborative process of co-design.
Some of you will be very keen for more detail on all the changes we are making and how you can be involved. You can get more information for each curriculum on the Ministry website. There’s plenty more detail of what will be reviewed and when, so keep checking back as we progress. You’ll also be able to have your say there.
During my time in education, my work in dual medium schools gave me an understanding of the changes needed in the curriculum. I agree with the need for change and am eager to support a refreshed Aotearoa New Zealand curriculum that is bicultural, easier to use and ensures clarity and consistency for our teachers.
So, exciting times ahead and a lot of work to do! I know student success is at the heart of why teachers come to work every day. We can’t do this without you!
This curriculum refresh will touch on all areas, including foundational learning such as literacy and mathematics for English-medium pathways and te reo matatini and pāngarau for Māori-medium pathways. We are now working on new strategies for these foundational areas from early learning through to Year 13.
It’s essential that teachers and kaiako have the right tools and know how to implement the refreshed national curriculum framework so that they can design rich and relevant learning experiences for all ākonga.
New resources will be developed to support teaching and learning, including leadership guidance and sets of teaching and learning materials for teachers.
Curriculum leads will support leaders and teachers to use the refreshed national curriculum and to design their marau ā-kura and local curriculum.
In 2020, new priorities for regionally-allocated professional learning and development were implemented to support teachers to provide responsive and rich learning experiences for all ākonga.
Strengthened Networks of Expertise will also provide vital support for teachers and leaders. Collaborative inquiry is one of the most powerful ways to influence change and practices that best support teaching and learning. Positive change can come about for individual learners, their communities and at a system level.
Much of the thinking for the curriculum refresh is currently being piloted in the draft Aoteaora New Zealand’s histories curriculum content. The changes will build on each other iteratively across the five-year refresh journey so preparing for the implementation of Aoteaora New Zealand’s histories will support getting ready for the wider refresh. See what supporting resources are already available to get you started.
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