Public consultation on options on expanding the legal curriculum framework for early learning to include the goals and learning outcomes of Te Whāriki: He whāriki mātauranga mō ngā mokopuna o Aotearoa early childhood curriculum ran from 7 July 2022 to 19 August 2022.
The feedback received from the online hui, online survey and submissions highlighted strong support for including the goals and learning outcomes of Te Whāriki within the legal curriculum framework, and even stronger support for gazetting te ao Māori interpretations of the framework of Te Whāriki.
A summary of the consultation feedback is provided below.
The Ministry of Education held four hui in July and August 2022 – two general and one each specifically for Māori medium and Pacific services. The hui were well attended (474 registrations) and highlighted the sector interest in the proposed te ao Māori interpretations of Te Whāriki.
The interest was not as strong in the online survey. There were 109 responses – three in te reo Māori and 106 in English.
The most represented service types among survey respondents were kindergartens (42%), education and care services (34%), and playcentres (6%). Forty-nine respondents (45%) identified themselves as kaiako, 37 (34%) as service owners or managers, and 9 (8%) as other. Eighty-four (77%) respondents identified as European/Pākehā/NZ European, 22 (20%) as Māori, 12 (11%) as Pacific.
Ninety respondents either agreed or strongly agreed with including the goals and learning outcomes of Te Whāriki in the legal curriculum framework (13 disagreed or strongly disagreed). Ninety-four respondents either agreed or strongly agreed with including te ao Māori interpretations of the framework of Te Whāriki (8 disagreed or strongly disagreed).
We received written submissions from Te Rito Maioha, NZEI Te Riu Roa, Te Rito Maioha, NZEI Te Riu Roa, Auckland Kindergarten Association and Montessori Aotearoa New Zealand (MANZ). These all-expressed support for including the goals and learning outcomes of Te Whāriki and te ao Māori interpretations of Te Whāriki within the legal curriculum framework for early learning.
For many respondents, including the goals and learning outcomes of Te Whāriki within the legal curriculum makes sense – they are already implementing the goals and learning outcomes of Te Whāriki, so this change will not make a difference for them. Some respondents believed that including the goals and learning outcomes will help clarify expectations around local curricula, improve consistency of quality of implementation across services, and facilitate a deeper connection with Te Whāriki in programmes.
Other respondents, however, expressed concern that including the goals and learning outcomes in the legal framework will lead to a narrowing of local curricula due to greater prescription, and that this change will lead to additional compliance costs for services and kaiako. Questions also came through about how the Ministry of Education and the Education Review Office (ERO) would assess services as meeting the relevant licensing and certification criteria related to the legal curriculum framework. Many respondents requested clear guidance from Te Tāhuhu / the Ministry and wanted reassurance that both agencies would take a consistent approach.
In the consultation, we proposed that the expanded legal curriculum framework would become a legal requirement from June 2023. However, feedback strongly came through about the need for the timeframe to be extended, due to factors such as the impact of COVID-19 and staffing shortages on services.
There was strong support for including te ao Māori interpretations of the framework of Te Whāriki. Respondents, including those from Māori medium services, believed te ao Māori interpretations of the goals and learning outcomes would make the bicultural foundation of Te Whāriki more visible and strengthen bicultural practice in services. Many respondents wanted the Māori interpretations of the goals and learning outcomes to be captured in print editions of the early childhood curriculum to uphold the mana of the words and to ensure access for all.
During the consultation, we proposed that services and playgroups would continue to be able to choose to use either the existing framework of Te Whāriki, te ao Māori interpretation, or both in their programmes to meet regulatory requirements. However, some Māori stakeholders highlighted that permitting services to draw on both pathways to meet regulatory requirements risks devaluing Māori language and knowledge. It could also incentivise services to pick and choose across both pathways, resulting in narrow or superficial implementation of both the Māori interpretations and the existing framework of Te Whāriki.
This relates to action 4.1 of He taonga te tamaiti – Every child a taonga: Early learning action plan 2019–2029. You can find out more about the plan at Kōrero Mātauranga.
On 21 April 2023, the Education Minister, Jan Tinetti, published a notice in the New Zealand Gazette that updated the legal curriculum framework for early learning.