What's changing?

What's changing with the refresh of The New Zealand Curriculum, and what it means for you

What is changing with the refresh of The New Zealand Curriculum?

We're moving from:

The 2007 New Zealand Curriculum


Refreshed New Zealand Curriculum

Vision for Young People and purpose

A refreshed Curriculum Framework will be introduced. The Framework will include a whakapapa, a Vision for Young People - written by young people, for young people, and a purpose statement calling us to action with key shifts to ensure equity and inclusion for all ākonga.

Curriculum levels and achievement objectives

Designed to be cumulative - progressions replaces curriculum levels and achievement objectives with five phases of learning. Each phase of learning contains progress outcomes that describe what ākonga should Understand, Know, and Do at each phase of learning.

Learning areas, mātauranga Māori, key competencies, literacy and numeracy

The refreshed NZC will be organised around the same eight learning areas and key competencies from the 2007 Curriculum. Mātauranga Māori will sit at the heart of the learning areas - with key competencies, literacy, and numeracy explicitly woven into each learning area.


Your guide to the NZC Refresh
Download your guide to the NZC Refresh
Download your guide to the NZC Refresh

Te Mātaiaho: The Curriculum Framework

Mātai aho tāhūnui,                                       Lay the kaupapa down      

Mātai aho tāhūroa                                        And sustain it                   

Hei takapau wānanga                                  The learning here

E hora nei                                                      Laid out before us


Between 17 March – 12 May 2023 we are seeking feedback on the draft of Te Mātaiaho | The Curriculum Framework. The draft Framework can be found here:


There will be further opportunities to have your say on the Framework in term one 2023.

Gifted by Dr Wayne Ngata and members of our Rōpū Kaitiaki, "Te Mātaiaho" is the proposed working name for the Curriculum Framework and means “to observe and examine the strands of learning.” 

Te Mātaiaho brings to life the shifts required for ākonga to see themselves and their learning in the refreshed curriculum. Grounded in the power of observation, Te Mātaiaho weaves together all elements that will make up the whole of The New Zealand Curriculum. More than a Framework, Te Mātaiaho is a tool that navigates the future for our ākonga by honouring our past to enrich our present. 

What Te Mātaiaho includes: 

  • a whakapapa
  • a refreshed purpose statement calling us to action
  • a Te Tiriti o Waitangi statement
  • a refreshed Vision for Young People – written by young people, for young people.

Te Mātaiaho weaves in Understand, Know, Do: our progression-focused model – which develops the big ideas, contexts, and practices across the learning areas, and enables increasingly rigorous and complex learning.

Building on the 2007 Curriculum, Te Mātaiaho sets out a process of ongoing design and review of local curriculum. Because you know your ākonga - their voice, wellbeing, and aspirations the best. And you know your schools, their histories, contexts, and communities the best. Together, national and local curriculum provide the basis for ākonga to flourish and thrive. Te Mātaiaho also gives practical effect to the key competencies and values within the 2007 New Zealand Curriculum and how they can be woven throughout the learning areas.

Understand, Know, Do: A progression-focused curriculum

One of the really exciting things about the curriculum refresh is that we have looked at progression in a much more child-centred way. I think one of the things the previous curriculum lacked was some structure around the things that are most important, and ‘Understand, Know and Do’ provides that structure.”

- Barbara Ala’alatoa, Principal, Sylvia Park School

Over the course of the refresh of The New Zealand Curriculum – you will hear the terms “Understand, Know, Do” (UKD) and “progressions” used repeatedly. So what are UKD and progressions? Why are they needed? And what do they mean for you?

Put simply, this will be the model that moves us from an outcomes-focused curriculum to a progression-focused curriculum. It is designed to make it easier for teachers to create rich and responsive learning, and puts ākonga – their voice, wellbeing, and aspirations, at the centre of curriculum design.

Designed to be cumulative and increasingly complex – the progression approach replaces year levels and achievement objectives with five phases of learning (Y1-3, Y4-6, Y7-8, Y9-10, Y11-13). These phases of learning are the signposts that guide the learning pathway. Each phase of learning contains progress outcomes that describe what ākonga should understand, know, and do at each phase of learning.

Each of these elements has a separate but aligned focus. Students deepen their understanding of the big ideas (understand) as they explore the context (know) using critical practices (do).

When the three threads are woven together, they create the learning all ākonga should get the opportunity to experience - the learning that matters.

When using progressions, assessment for learning is an ongoing process integral to teaching and learning. The progress outcomes  support teachers to purposefully use classroom observations and conversations (notice), ākonga work, and reliable assessment information to (recognise), and then respond to ākonga learning as they plan and modify what and how they teach to meet ākonga needs.

For an insight into how these changes will work in practice within an Aotearoa New Zealand’s Histories context, visit aotearoahistories.education.govt.nz

Weaving in foundational learning

Literacy & communication and maths are skills that our ākonga need to fully participate and engage with the world in and outside of their education, which is why the government has developed the Literacy & Communication and Maths Strategy . We don’t, however, want a focus on these foundational skills to lead to a narrowing of the curriculum or ākonga being taught these skills in ways that are disconnected from meaningful contexts. This is why the refresh pays explicit attention to literacy and numeracy in progress outcomes across the learning areas.

The respectful inclusion of mātauranga Māori is a deliberate feature of the Understand-Know-Do structure that helps ākonga understand a dynamic and evolving knowledge system unique to Aotearoa.

Literacy, numeracy, key competencies, and values are explicitly integrated within each learning area.

A Common Practice Model

Implementing the refreshed English and Mathematics & Statistics learning areas in your classrooms will be supported by the Common Practice Model

This model is part of the Literacy & Communication and Maths Strategy, which aims to lift educational outcomes for all ākonga in Aotearoa New Zealand. 

The two refreshed learning areas will be available for use in Term 2 2023. 

Mathematics & Statistics
Draft Mathematics & Statistics learning area
Draft Mathematics & Statistics learning area

Alignment with NCEA changes

The work of refreshing The New Zealand 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 New Zealand 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.

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 common practice model for Literacy & Communication and Maths will support teachers right through until year 13, supporting ākonga to be successful in the new co-requisites and beyond.

Background papers

The Ministry has commissioned and considered a range of papers developed by experts, alongside significant engagement with teachers and practitioners, to inform the approach to the refresh of The New Zealand Curriculum. These papers include formal research papers as well as targeted think-pieces, all developed as inputs to the refresh process. All of these resources are being used by writing and working groups to ensure that the refresh of The New Zealand Curriculum reflects current best evidence and practices in the field of education.

Below are several of these papers. Other papers will be uploaded here over the course of the refresh.

New Zealand Curriculum Refresh: Progressions Approach

The Ministry commissioned this paper to explore the design of a progressions framework within the context of a bicultural curriculum. The paper outlines the whakapapa of the current national curriculum including its approach to measuring learning and progress, the rationale behind a shift to a progressions approach, and explores an overarching model for a progression-focussed bicultural curriculum. It has been used by writing and working groups to inform the refresh of The New Zealand Curriculum.

Progressions Approach
Download NZC Refresh: Progressions Approach paper
Download NZC Refresh: Progressions Approach paper

Determining How Learning is Progressing – Options for Calibrating Teacher Judgements

This paper builds on an earlier paper that outlines the case for a bicultural progression-focussed curriculum. It discusses ways to support teacher, ākonga, and whānau decision-making about how learning is progressing. The paper also explores how to build bridges between the intentions expressed by a bicultural progression-focused curriculum, assessment, and classroom practice.

Calibrating Teacher Judgements
Download Options for Calibrating Teacher Judgements paper
Download Options for Calibrating Teacher Judgements paper

An Examination of the Curriculum-Levelling Construct

In February 2020, the Ministry of Education asked the New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER) to examine the curriculum-levelling construct that sits at the heart of The New Zealand Curriculum (Ministry of Education, 2007). A key goal of the research was to investigate, whether— and if so, how—the construct helps (or hinders) teachers and school leaders as they plan learning programmes and make judgements of student progress and achievement. This report provides an overview of the findings from the study.

An initial exploration of curriculum levels in Science and Mathematics and Statistics

This paper was commissioned to explore curriculum levelling in the Science and Mathematics and Statistics learning areas of The New Zealand Curriculum to support decisions about the need for greater curriculum clarity, especially around progression.

Curriculum Levels
Download Curriculum levels in Science and Maths and Stats
Download Curriculum levels in Science and Maths and Stats

Enduring competencies for designing science learning pathways

The framework outlined in this paper was collaboratively developed by a group of science curriculum experts. Its purpose is to inform current thinking about science learning, curriculum, and assessment, and to build a conceptual foundation that will help both the curriculum and Subject Expert Group teams keep their work aligned and coherent as their different work streams unfold and evolve.

Enduring Competencies
Enduring competencies for designing science learning pathway
Enduring competencies for designing science learning pathway