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Pädagogische Konzepte

Das frühpädagogische Konzept Te Whariki

Frühpädagogische Fachkräfte in Neuseeland legen besonderen Wert auf die Beobachtung und Dokumentation. In dem Lehrprogramm Te Whariki ist die Methode verbindlich festgelegt. Das Konzept Te Whariki wurde 1996 in Neuseeland eingeführt und 2016/17 grundlegend überarbeitet. Die Professorin für Pädagogik, Claire McLachlan, war an der Überarbeitung beteiligt. Sie erklärt die Besonderheiten und die Veränderungen, die das Programm für die Frühpädagogik brachte. Das Interview im Original:

Benigna Daubenmerkl

Since more than two decades you are working with Te Whariki to assess progression and continuity in early learning. How is the outcome of Te Whariki in daily work?

Claire McLachlan: There have been significant challenges to the implementation of Te Whariki, which was arguably the key reason that the curriculum was revised in 2016-2017. The curriculum is a broadly framed competence curriculum, using Bernstein’s definition, which is both a strength and a weakness. Some centres have embraced the flexibility that the curriculum offers in terms of supporting diversity of focus and curriculum delivery, while others have struggled to implement all principles, strands and goals of the curriculum in a coherent way. Successive Education Review Office reviews have revealed a number of challenges for centres and for teachers and found that in some cases centres offered a selective curriculum – in particular they focussed on wellbeing and belonging, which is not a bad thing, but they tended to overlook opportunities to support communication and exploration, which is really alarming.  A taskforce commissioned by the Minister of Education in 2014 recognised these challenges and said that implementation had been “subject to drift”, particularly in relation to the bicultural elements of the curriculum. This review by the Advisory Group on Early Learning, AGEL - Ministry of Education, 2015, was the driver for the commissioning of the 2016 revision.

What are the most important points in the concept of Te Whariki?

In the revision, the gazetted parts of the curriculum remain unchanged. These are the principles, strands and goals. See the link below where these are explained.


Assessment is a main principle of the Te Whariki-program. How did Te Whariki change assessment in early childhood learning?

There is a shift in assessment focus in the 2017 revision. In 1996, the key focus was on minute by minute assessment. I have included some excerpts from a paper published last year - McLachlan, 2018 - that show this difference.

The original version of Te Whāriki - Ministry of Education, 1996 - had this to say about assessment: "The purpose of assessment is to give useful information about children’s learning and development to the adults providing the programme and to children and their families. Assessment of children’s learning and development involves intelligent observation by experienced and knowledgeable adults for the purpose of improving the programme. Assessment occurs minute by minute as adults listen, watch and interact with a child or with groups of children. These continuous observations provide the basis of information for more in-depth assessment and evaluation that is integral to making decisions on how best to meet children’s needs. In-depth assessment requires adults to observe changes in children’s behaviour and learning and to link these to learning goals. Assessment contributes to evaluation, revision and development of programmes." (p. 29)

There is further advice on avoiding comparisons between children and to be wary of generalising from snapshots or individual pieces of information.

The revision has a stronger focus on assessment, as this argument and the quotes from Te Whaariki suggest.

The lack of clarity around assessment and the difficulties that teachers were facing in using the recommended approaches to assessment were motivation to reconsider the guidance given. One of the responsibilities of kaiako, teachers, in the update is to be “attentive to learning and able to make this visible through assessment practices that give children agency and enhance their mana” (Ministry of Education, 2017, p. 59). The opening statement reads as follows:

"Assessment makes valued learning visible. Kaiako use assessment to find out about what children know and can do, what interests them, how they are progressing, what new learning opportunities are presented and where additional support may be required." (MoE, 2017, p. 63)

Within this statement is the indication that teachers will know what the valued learning is. Elsewhere in the document, it is made clear that valued learning is the 20 learning outcomes, along with the aspirations for the child of parents and whānau. The update also more explicitly explains that assessment will be both spontaneous and planned, as the following quote indicates:

"Assessment is both informal and formal. Informal assessment occurs in the moment as kaiako listen to, observe, participate with and respond to children who are engaged in everyday experiences and events. It leads directly to changes in the teaching and learning environment that will help children reach immediate and longer-term goals. More formal, documented assessment takes place when kaiako write up observations of children’s engagement with the curriculum. They may also take photographs, make audio or video recordings and collect examples of children’s work. By analysing such assessment information, gathered over time, kaiako are able to track changes in children’s capabilities, consider possible pathways for learning, and plan to support these” (p. 63)

This quote and the guidance that follows shows that teachers are expected to use a range of methods to assess how children are making progress over time. Although observation is still a valuable tool, it is not the only tool, and teachers need to use a greater range of data gathering strategies to identify valued learning and ‘make learning visible’. Teachers will not be able to assess progress over time unless they use both planned and spontaneous assessment and this is a shift from the previous “minute by minute” guidance from 1996. Informal assessment thus leads to immediate changes to pedagogies, resources utilised or the organisation of the learning environment. Formal assessment is used much more deliberately to identify if children are learning across all the strands of the curriculum and if children need support to achieve any specific learning outcomes. This will of course also mean that teachers are unable to be selective about curriculum, as ERO, 2013, identified, and will need to ensure that children do get opportunities for learning in all strands. This approach also requires centres to have a system for gathering data over time and for reflection on how the information is used for curriculum planning over the short, medium and long term. The next section will look at some ways in which teachers might think about assessment within the revised curriculum framework.

How did the program change early education in New Zeeland?

Prior to the release of Te Whaariki in 1996, there had been a great deal of diversity of practice in NZ ECE settings. Prior to 1985, kindergartens were under the management of the state sector and the Department of Education (now Ministry of Education) and the child care centres were governed by the Department of Social Welfare. Following a restructure, both systems came under the same governance and signification policy and funding changes were made. The development of Te Whariki and its release in draft form in 1993 was the first time that the various ECE services had come together with a curriculum development and common advice on how to support learning and development in young children. This was revolutionary for the sector and in many ways helped to unite the sector in a way it had never been before. The introduction of external review by the Education Review Office was another new development for the sector and their reviews have provided valuable insights into how the sector was coping with implementation of the curriculum. For an excellent summary of key reports across the 2006-2016 period, I suggest you look at the following report.


There are further reports also available about how the sector is engaging with the revised curriculum too.

The term Te Whariki reflects the importance of cultural diversity in the program. How are Maori values and ideas reflected in the program? Can you explain this with one or two examples?

The curriculum has two pathways: one indigenous and one bicultural. They are seen as two curriculum pathways of equal status.

The indigenous pathway was written in consultation with the Te Kohanga Reo Trust, who oversee all the licensed Kohanga Reo in New Zealand. Kohanga Reo are a total immersion Maori language ECE programme. In these ECE centres, children are only spoken to in Maori and children experience many traditional approaches to learning. The mission of these total immersion centres is to help preserve the Maori language and culture. Families who enrol their children in Kohanga reo and experience the indigenous curriculum pathway commit to honouring Maori approaches to child rearing and to speaking te reo Maori in their own homes. This is a big commitment for some parents, who may not be fluent in the Maori language and so have to learn Maori in order to be able to converse with their children. This situation is changing over time, as more children become fluent and learn in Maori immersion Kohanga reo and primary and secondary schools (Kura kaupapa). There are also Maori immersion tertiary institutions called Wananga, which are essentially universities and polytechnics.

The bicultural pathway involves ECE teachers enacting the principles, goals and strands and ensuring that children have experience of the language and culture of the indigenous people of New Zealand. This means in practice that ECE teachers need to work on their knowledge of te reo Maori and to use it in their practice with children. They also need to acknowledge the traditions and the customs of the Maori people in their teaching of the curriculum. This has been made explicit in some of the 20 learning outcomes, particularly in relation to children developing a sense of belonging, of caring for the place and understanding of their relationship with the local community. There are some nice initiatives underway in many communities, for instance, where children and their teachers look after a local area of native bush, river or lake. The children will learn about the history of the place from a Maori elder, who will tell them about any local legends related to the place and the children may learn about the flora and fauna of the area. They are also likely to learn about conservation of the area and how they can be involved in making sure that the place remains safe for future generations. The work of Dr Lesley Rameka in relation to these sorts of ideas are particularly valuable. I have included a link to some of her research below.


Von Benigna Daubenmerkl • 08.10.2019

Professor Claire McLachlan

Claire McLachlan, Professorin für Pädagogik, war die an der Überarbeitung von Te Whariki 2016/17 beteiligt. „Vor der Einführung von Te Whariki war die Praxis der frühen Bildung in Neuseeland sehr uneinheitlich“, erinnert sie sich. „Die Entwicklung von Te Whariki und der Maßnahmen zur Lern-Unterstützung in der frühen Bildung war revolutionär und trugen dazu bei, die frühe Bildung in einem bislang unbekannten Maße zu vereinheitlichen.“

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