Each school develops and implements a curriculum in accordance with the requirements of The New Zealand Curriculum. Over the past few years, the curriculum has been alarmingly politicised, with “woke” ideology embedded in NZ schools through both curriculum and teacher training. The language used in media reporting over the weekend on a refreshed curriculum, especially around modernising science has educators reeling. I spoke with some Secondary Science teachers to get feedback on how educators are feeling about the draft curriculum. 

Here are some of their comments: 

“It reads like a political document written by Labour-appointed bureaucrats. There is very little genuine science, even less content that covers 'hard sciences', including Physics and Chemistry. There is some coverage of Earth Science and climate change. Climate change itself is mentioned more times than almost every other science concept discussed. Stating this is simply a 'draft' isn't a defence; this document shows the direction that curriculum designers wish to direct us, and this direction should concern parents, educators, and anyone who doesn't want to see NZ's standards fall even further internationally.“

Teaching Primary for almost 20 years I have witnessed the decline of the science taught, yet even at the Primary School level, we ensured we created a sense of ‘wonder’ in the minds of children when encouraging them to explore the world around them. This new refreshed ‘draft’ curriculum starts in Year One with concepts such as infectious disease and water, but those same concepts are still being taught about in Year 13. I see nothing about topics such as Chemistry or Astronomy, yet in the current curriculum both those concepts are brought in at levels one and two. 

Compare the two very different headings for the big ideas, from both the current and the draft documents starting with the current,

Students will  Understanding about science; Investigating in science; communicating in science; and participating and contributing

to the 'refreshed' Draft curriculum

Students will Understand;  Know; Do

Then the Achievement Objectives 


Living World: Life Processes, Ecology, Evolution

Planet Earth and Beyond: Earth systems, Interacting systems, Astronomical systems

Physical World: Physical Inquiry and physics concepts

Material World: Properties and changes of matter, Chemistry and society


Historical and contemporary

The Earth system 

Biodiversity and resilience

Food, energy, and water nexus 

Dynamics of infectious disease

Very different objectives!

Science Teachers that I consulted considered that the “direction” the authors want to take will be no different from the introduction by Ministry bureaucrats of so-called Modern Learning Environments. The majority of teachers questioned the new curriculum’s effectiveness and had other concerns, but those concerns fell on deaf ears. The plan was already determined, and “consultation” with teachers was only for show. 

The Science teacher goes on to say that the document frequently weaves mythology and cultural knowledge into the curriculum. These concepts are better placed in History and Social Studies. 

Every teacher I have personally consulted has asked the question, “ where is the science?” There is very little direction given for coverage of the basics and fundamentals that students need to build on. This curriculum expects students to be able to evaluate and discuss scientific issues without foundational knowledge. This is totally inappropriate and indicative of the fact that the academics who wrote this haven't consulted widely or have ignored the advice of the teachers in the classroom. Again many are absolutely mortified at this draft and most have called for it to not be released at all. 

To add to this, in a recent interview the Education Minister could not give assurance that her advisory team was instilling confidence in school leaders, many who have rejected the refreshed NCEA, planning their own qualifications instead. When school leaders reject the government's direction, and teachers are up in arms about the content required to teach, we should be very concerned about what is happening for the next generation of learners and question if they will be equipped with a sound education.

New Conservative will ensure that school boards and leaders have control over their curriculum and the direction their parent community want to take.

New Conservative will scrap the draft refreshed curriculum promulgated under the current Labour government, and put more emphasis on knowledge and skills as well as real science over political ideology. 

New Conservative will return the development of the curriculum back to school leadership and local communities, who we can trust to provide students with the very best education opportunities


Helen Houghton

Leader New Conservative