Change Kete: Meaningful Student Involvement and Authentic Curriculum

By Judy Bruce

Want to learn more about student involvement and authentic curriculum? We have curated some resources to support your journey. These are taken from the Tārai Kura Change Kete 2021.

Meaningful student involvement 

When ākonga have the opportunity to meaningfully engage in all areas of school life then they are able to develop future focused skills. We know that one of the most powerful ways to invite engagement in learning experiences is to involve ākonga in the learning and curriculum design, yet in many schools in NZ and around the world, there is a glaring inequity around who determines the goals of education. Therefore, to keep ākonga at the centre it makes sense for leaders to consider: To what extent do, or might, the perspectives of your ākonga inform the design of your local curriculum and school planning and policy? 

Key Ideas | Whakaaro 

  • Meaningful student involvement requires educators to have strong pastoral, pedagogical and curriculum content knowledge/skills. 
  • “Education is not an affair of ‘telling’ and being told, but an active and reflective process.” ~John Dewey 
  • Meaningful student involvement isn’t a student choice ‘free for all’, but rather the deliberate intention of educators and leaders to listen to and act on student voice, ensuring there are built in mechanisms for ongoing student feedback and review. 
  • Infusing ākonga interests and aspirations into your local curriculum will amplify engagement, leading to improved and valued learning outcomes. 
  • Empowering students requires 3 things: student voice, student agency & opportunities for leadership. 

Authentic Curriculum 

Aspirationally, a truly authentic curriculum will align with the New Zealand Curriculum and/or Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, honour the bicultural heritage of Aotearoa and be localised, inclusive and flexible in order to meet the varied needs of the ākonga in your school. An authentic curriculum will provide multiple pathways for ākonga to experience success and to see themselves represented so it is relevant to them and their whānau. An authentic curriculum will: 

  • invite agency through a balanced provision of teacher led, student led and co-constructed learning opportunities; 
  • contain a strong culture of assessment as learning; and 
  • have intentional and scaffolded opportunities for ākonga to collaborate with each other. 

Ideally, curriculum, pedagogy and learning pathways will be developed, prototyped and co-designed with the learning community (ākonga, educators, whānau and mana whenua) to ensure that ākonga experience learning that matters. It is essential for school leaders to consider: To what extent does, or might, your school ensure that teaching and learning is authentic and meaningful for your ākonga? 

Key Ideas | Whakaaro

  • Deliberate and flexible design generates opportunities for student voice, agency and leadership which is vital in facilitating an authentic curriculum for all ākonga in an inclusive and purposeful manner. How you prioritise the development of assessment literacy of educators and ākonga is a key component of this. 
  • Involving mana whenua in reciprocal engagement when it comes to your curriculum will generate a place based approach and localised content that is unique to your school community and tūrangawaewae. 
  • Local Curriculum’ is currently a national MOE PLD priority. There are an abundance of resources on TKI, and PLD providers can assist your school on this development (or review) journey. 
  • Having an evaluative and review process in place will promote authenticity in your curriculum, also ensuring that the school is continuing to explore innovative learning practices and new approaches. 

Access links to our curated resources on the Meaningful Student Involvement and Authentic Curriculum themes in the attached PDF.  


Student Involvement and Authentic Curriculum_Change Kete Excerpt   PDF, 422.5 KB