Ninety percent of teachers and more than half of students are embracing the new Aotearoa New Zealand (ANZ) Histories Curriculum, according to a recent report by the Education Review Office. Despite this positive reception, schools encountered challenges in the inaugural year of implementing the curriculum, as highlighted in the report published on Thursday.

The ANZ Histories Curriculum, made compulsory for Years 1-10 in 2023, focuses on Māori history as the foundational history of New Zealand, colonization, the use of power, and relationships and connections between people. While all schools have begun teaching the curriculum, the report found discrepancies in content coverage and year levels. Many schools prioritized local histories, primarily focusing on Māori histories, rather than incorporating national and global contexts.

However, students expressed greater enjoyment and engagement when learning about New Zealand’s place in the world. Particularly, Māori and Pacific students showed higher levels of enjoyment compared to other ethnicities. Despite this, challenges were noted, including overwhelming teachers with the scale of change and the need for clearer expectations and resources.

Recommendations from the report include providing clearer expectations of curriculum content, offering more off-the-shelf resources for teachers, and providing additional support for teaching Māori history, acknowledging the challenges in engaging with local hapū and iwi.

Education Review Office deputy chief executive Ruth Shinoda emphasized the need for a more explicit curriculum and readily available resources to alleviate the burden on schools. She underscored the importance of connecting local, national, and global history to enhance student engagement and understanding.

Education Minister Erica Stanford echoed the need for clarity in the curriculum and acknowledged the imbalance created by history overshadowing other social science subjects like geography. Stanford pledged to reduce the burden on schools in developing curriculum documents and prioritize teachers’ focus on engaging lessons.

Overall, the report underscores the positive reception of the ANZ Histories Curriculum while highlighting the need for refinement and support to ensure effective implementation and student engagement.

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