Digital technology included in the New Zealand Curriculum

Digital technology included in the New Zealand Curriculum
Education Minister Hekia Parata announced this week that digital technology will be formally integrated into the New Zealand Curriculum.

Digital technology will be written into the curriculum under the technology umbrella, but the changes won’t happen until 2018.

Education Minister Hekia Parata says the change is part of the Government’s commitment to championing 21st century practice in teaching and learning. “It will ensure that we have an education system that prepares children and young people for a future where digital fluency will be critical for success.”

This is the first change to the curriculum since it’s introduction in 2007. The news was announced at the NZTech Advance Education Technology Summit in Auckland. The decision is the outcome of the Government’s Science and Society Strategic Plan.

One of the key initiatives of Curious Minds was to review the positioning and content of digital technology in the curriculum. “This step will support young people to develop skills, confidence and interest in digital technologies and lead them to opportunities across the diverse and growing IT sector,” says Parata.

From now until the end of 2017, the Government will consult with stakeholders, design new curriculum content and develop achievement objectives across the whole learner pathway. But reaction from industry representatives has been lukewarm so far.

Orion Health chief executive Ian McCrae says the changes are too minor, especially considering the six-year wait since the process began. “What the tech industry asked for is digital technology to be separated from woodwork, metalwork, cookery and sewing and to become a separate learning area. That hasn’t happened.”

McCrae says digital technology needs to become an academic subject on par with maths and physics.  

Orion Health is a health technology company. It frequently has large recruitment drives but struggles to find graduates in New Zealand with the right skill set, leading the company to look overseas to fill vacancies. “The pipeline to more top computer science graduates begins at secondary school, when young people make subject choices that will influence their learning path,” McCrae says.

Institute of IT Professionals (IITP) chief executive Paul Matthews says he is disappointed the broader changes needed in this area have been ignored. “While we welcome the introduction of digital technologies and computational thinking down to Year 1, and see this as an important step forward, our industry sees the lack of movement on the structure and position of digital technologies in schools a real lost opportunity.”

The organisation represents thousands of IT professionals in New Zealand and is involved in a large number of initiatives in the industry.

This week’s announcement follows a 12-month broad review with stakeholders from across the sector and seven months of deliberations by the Minister.