Meeting the demands of a new curriculum philosophy: A study of the challenges of curriculum implementation for small rural schools in New Zealand
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Permanent link to Research Bank record:https://hdl.handle.net/10652/1421
This study investigated the implementation of New Zealand’s revised National Curriculum (NZC) in small rural schools to determine how the specific contextual factors of these schools impacted on curriculum design, implementation and change. This curriculum represents a new educational philosophy for New Zealand schools and one that, for many schools, requires a fundamental change in current school practices and beliefs. Qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with principals and teachers of seven small rural schools and with leadership and management advisors. These were designed to understand participant’s perceptions of the NZC, the contextual conditions of their schools, the processes utilised for curriculum design, implementation and change, the support available, and how contextual factors impacted on curriculum. The findings revealed that the contextual conditions of these small rural schools impacted on NZC implementation in many ways, creating both opportunities and challenges. Close staff and community relationships aided successful collaboration in collective curriculum design and implementation, small staff teams worked together as effective professional communities, these communities were focused on developing capacity for shared reflection and inquiry to improve learning, schools improved practice through shared professional learning, and small rural principals exerted a significant impact on learning at every level of the school system. However, small staff teams were considered to limit exposure to new ideas and staff turnover was considered a considerable barrier to sustaining curriculum change. These findings suggest that small rural teachers, principals and communities are united in a collaborative commitment to providing better learning opportunities for their students.