New Zealand’s early childhood education curriculum Te Whāriki has been updated for the first time time since it was first published in 1996. The early childhood education sector has welcomed the update, but some have voiced concerns about the level of funding earmarked for professional development for teachers to lead the updated curriculum.
The update to Te Whāriki better reflects the context of children’s lives in the 21st century, as well as changes in early learning theory and practice. Its unique bicultural framework has been strengthened with updated guidance for teachers, kaiako and educators who support young children’s learning across New Zealand’s diverse early learning services.
The updated curriculum has fewer learning outcomes – reduced from 118 to 20 - and better links early learning to the schooling curriculum. The update also makes explicit the unique curriculum pathway for children in kōhanga reo - Te Whāriki a te Kōhanga Reo. This indigenous curriculum complements the pathway for children in early childhood education services.
The Ministry of Education has committed $4 million dollars to professional learning and development for teachers, educators and kaiako who will lead on the updated curriculum. Support will include workshops, webinars and the appointment of local curriculum champions.
Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand (ECNZ) is pleased with the updated curriculum and the commitment to professional development.
"We’re heartened to see the commitment to biculturalism reflected front and centre. Also, the organisation is encouraged that $4m has been earmarked for professional development for the sector."
However, NZEI Te Riu Roa is not convinced that $4 million will allow every educator the resources and time needed to really understand the new document.
Early Childhood Council chief executive Peter Reynolds also had concerns that this was a "small amount that might not get the job done".
Education Minister Hekia Parata announced the release today, describing Te Whāriki as highly regarded here and internationally as "an empowering framework for early learning".
"New Zealand children start their education in quality settings, guided by a curriculum that supports teachers, parents and whānau to have a good understanding of their progress," she said.
"Children learn a huge amount in their first five years of life. They deserve the best education we can give them to ensure they grow up as competent and confident learners, strong in their identity, language and culture."
The Ministry of Education views the update of Te Whāriki as part of a wider change across the education system to support children’s personalised learning pathways within Communities of Learning | Kāhui Ako.
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