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Vision in the local curriculum

In a school I've been working in, they wanted to revisit their school vision, their model for learning and basically reimagine what and how they teach. We started by gathering our collective beliefs about learning, so we could reshape our vision and localised curriculum.

One Google document with statements about beliefs about learning and one Google spreadsheet to talley the responses and make a bar graph to see what statements are most commonly agreed to.
  1. Introduce the 20 belief statements and ask everyone to read through all the statements and then tick 12 statements that believe in or agree to most. Some statements might be hard to tick towards the end. No names - anonymously.
  2. Gather the sheets and redistribute amongst the staff
  3. Read one statement at a time and ask staff to put their hand up if there is a tick on their sheet
  4. Count the hands-up and add total to each statement in Column B of the Excel spreadsheet - this is an electronic collation (best displayed on Data projector)
  5. Once all the statements have been read and tallies entered, select columns A20 - B20, and choose a column bar graph. This will create a visual graph showing what everyone agrees to most. 

Graph of beliefs

What does this exercise tell us?
  • Coming together to share our beliefs about learning helps us to recognise our practice
  • What we observe in classrooms is often a reflection of our teacher beliefs about learning (and teaching)
  • Sometimes our beliefs are in conflict with our classroom practice
  • Collating our collective beliefs about teaching and learning can create opportunities for lots of further thinking and reflection and ask more questions.
Beliefs about learning is an important pillar to help us plan for contexts and practices as part of our learning culture. Another way to find common ground about beliefs about learning is to openly ask and discuss


What is your definition about what learning is?


How do children learn most powerfully and deeply?


What’s possible, what are kids capable of?

This leads onto..What shared understandings need to be in place in order for us all to have a relevant, informed conversation about curriculum design?


This can result in further questions around:


  • Shared vision/ mission - what do you want your students to be and do
  • Shared understanding of learning - different perceptions about what counts.
  • Role of the learner
  • Role of teacher
  • Shared understandings of success eg. “what does success for all” mean
  • What is important to measure?
  • An understanding of how the world is changing
  • An understanding of what’s now possible in classrooms
Our beliefs about learning 1

Our beliefs about learning 2

Parents could also undertake the beliefs about learning sheet as well.

Bringing the vision alive: To help feed into rich conversations about curriculum design, we also collected whānau voice in a Google form about:

  • What are the hopes, dreams and aspirations you have for your child? (or yourself as student)
  • What do you want them to act, know, do, be? (grow up to do/be)
  • What do you think your child needs to learn and why?
  • What are your concerns for their learning?
  • What are your concerns for their future?

And asked the students:

1.    What do you want to know locally?
2.    What do you want to know nationally?
3.    What do you want to know globally?
4.    What are your biggest concerns?
5.    What are your interests?
The children are also asked 5 questions about the ways that they learn:
1.     What activities do you the most?
2.     What activities do you learn the most from?
3.     What makes your learning fun?
4.     What would you most like to be able to do again?
5.     How can the teachers improve the way they teach?
Questions taken from Rick Whalley's blog, Developing school curriculum.
This has subsequently fed into our vision development, values and principles work and localised curriculum design. ie: Based on the whānau feedback and student input, we no longer wanted 'excellence in our value statements as this added more perceived pressure on learners where it wasn't needed.

Also love the following from Grow Waitaha
  • Conversation script (pdf) – Prompts to support leading a learning conversation with students.

  • Curriculum cards (pdf) – Short descriptions of the New Zealand Curriculum learning areas and key competencies in child friendly language.

  • Image pack (pdf) – Photographs that can be used to prompt discussion about different types of learning.

Also see:

Who's sparking up your localised curriculum? (VLN)

Design thinking and curriculum design (edSpace)