Guidance on localising the curriculum

Issue: Volume 97, Number 21

Posted: 21 November 2018
Reference #: 1H9ojF

Guidance is coming for teachers and leaders in regards to curriculum, progress and achievement for use in the January teacher-only days. A main focus of this guidance will be on local curriculum.

In this piece we look at how Paekākāriki School has created their own ‘Local Barefoot Curriculum’ through effective hui with their community, and how they developed the rich opportunities for learning that have resulted.

Paekākāriki School Local Barefoot Curriculum development

“Our community has been clear about what they want for their 21st-century children: a focus on creativity, science, the arts, and caring for the environment. And above all, they want their kids to be happy.” Principal Julia Bevin of Paekākāriki School.

The beginning of the Paekākāriki School Local Barefoot Curriculum and Barefoot Learner Progressions began with the series of hui with students, parents and the wider community in late 2015. Although there weren’t any surprises, it provided clarity to Julia and her team.

Students supported to take local environmental action

Observing the local marine environment led to student action in their local community to help to eliminate plastic bag use.

“Earlier in the year we had a marine reserve trip to Kāpiti Island, which had a safe action component. After closely inspecting the impact of pollution on their local marine reserve environment, the students became more consciously aware that plastic doesn’t break down, they decided to make the issue their focus for their independent learning Year 8 project,” says Rachel McMullen, teacher at Paekākāriki School.

Students Bella Morgan and Sophie Corbett talk about the steps they have taken to eliminate plastic bag use in their local community.

“I remember seeing people go to the dairy and just throwing their single-use plastic bags into the rubbish,” says Bella.

“We wanted people to think differently about plastic and we wanted to stop the amount of plastic in Paekākāriki,” says Sophie. “We thought about writing a letter to the local council, but decided to keep it local.”

The students wrote a letter to the dairy owners requesting a switch from plastic bags and asked community members to sign it, donated material bags from their families, set up a koha box, fund-raised over $1,000, and spoke on local radio to raise awareness about the change they were attempting to make in their community

Sophie says, “The dairy owners welcomed hearing what the community wanted and they said they had been thinking of making the move anyway. The owners then went on to secure a sponsor of material bags and returned the funds back to the school.”

“Community members have been extremely supportive and continue to donate more bags to the local shop,” Rachel adds.

The girls are now working on a design brief to erect sustainably built picnic tables for the school using the returned funds – the tables will provide messages to future students to stay non-plastic in Paekākāriki. “We want to keep the message alive!” Sophie concludes.

Rachel, their teacher on this project, says, “Behind the scenes, evidence of their learning is being mapped against our Barefoot Local Curriculum. We saw this as an environment action, and choice and voice initiative. The real skills learnt in this project include oral language, safe use of technology, independent and autonomous student agency and loads more.

“The students blog weekly and we formally provide written feedback through our student management system – this can be viewed in real time by the students and their parents. At the end of the day though, our Board of Trustees and parents want to see evidence of progress against the key competencies.” 

Bella and Sophie’s story is an example of a ‘Rich Opportunity for Learning’ as they were supported to:

  • Understand their community as a system
  • Apply their learning in authentic contexts
  • Experience belonging to the wider community
  • Learn from and with role models
  • Be recognised for their contributions as community members. 

The school’s big question for developing teaching and learning

What wicked problem or rich question based on an important local theme would engage the children?

What specific knowledge, values, and key competencies do we want the students to draw from and develop?

Prompt questions for students

What are some of the environmental contexts in our local community?

What is something you can help with?

What do you already have a sense of social justice about?

How did Paekākāriki School facilitate the rich opportunity for learning?

Wicked problem: what is the impact of pollution on our marine reserve?

Response: they went on a school trip to Kāpiti Island and observed the impact of pollution on the marine reserve.

After the marine reserve experience, the students then came up with their independent learning project on what they could do to stop using plastic in their local community. 

Guidance coming soon for school leaders and teachers

Curriculum support guide

This guide will present the most useful resources and tools available to support teaching and learning through quality local curriculum design, assessment and aromatawai practices, and reporting to students, parents and whānau. Available on Curriculum Online(external link)  from January 22 2019, and will be sent directly to schools from 28 January.

Facilitated support

From Term 1 in 2019 in all regions, there will be facilitated workshop support for schools and kura to develop local curriculum.

Get ready for your next teacher-only day

The Ministry suggests school leaders use the guidance material to aid discussions with staff on your chosen area of focus at your January teacher-only day, and at your planning days throughout the year.

‘Spotlighting’ quality local curriculum design in practice

Throughout 2019 the Ministry want to ‘spotlight’ quality local curriculum design in practice. If you want to tell your story contact:

Help shape the future of learning in Aotearoa

The Ministerial Advisory Group on Curriculum, Progress and Achievement has developed nine emerging ideas to better support learners in years 1 to 10. Chairperson Mary Chamberlain says the ideas aim to “build on the great practice that exists in our schools and kura. We want to support leaders and teachers as they design rich opportunities to learn, and respond to their students’ progress in learning that matters.”

Make sure you have had your say, visit the Education Conversation website(external link)  

A quality local curriculum is made up of four pou (pillars):

  • Providing rich opportunities for learning
  • Building coherent pathways
  • Enabling relationships for learning
  • Strengthening collaborative inquiry

Have you heard?

The Local Curriculum Design Toolkit | Rapua Te Ara Tika(external link) will be available soon to schools, kura and kahui ako to review and co-design a local curriculum with their community. The toolkit presents four pillars as being part of a quality local curriculum, and gives you and your community a way of building a shared understanding of what you value in your patch of Aotearoa. 

A responsive local curriculum is one of nine emerging ideas from the Minister’s Advisory Group for Curriculum, Progress and Achievement. Learn more about what they say about Emerging ideas videos(external link) 

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 1:23 pm, 21 November 2018

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