Although teachers are enjoying teaching about New Zealand’s histories, new research from the Education Review Office (ERO) has found they are overwhelmed by the scale of the changes needed.

Schools are finding developing their curriculum challenging and time-consuming, often struggling to understand what is required and not having the key skills needed.

“We welcome the work schools are doing to teach New Zealand’s histories but recommend that clearer expectations are provided about what needs to be covered to ensure all areas of the curriculum are taught,” Ruth Shinoda, head of ERO’s Education Evaluation Centre, said in a statement.

“Teachers and schools also need a more explicit curriculum and more ‘off the shelf’ content that they can use,” Shinoda adds.

ERO also found that not all of the content is being taught yet.

Many schools are prioritising local histories rather than national events, and schools are also teaching less about how New Zealand’s histories link with global contexts.

“It is important that histories are linked to global contexts and ERO found that students are more than twice as likely to enjoy ANZ Histories when they are learning about New Zealand’s place in the world,” Shinoda says.

Parents have been supportive of the curriculum, with two-thirds seeing learning about New Zealand’s histories as being useful for their child’s future.

Just over half of students have reported enjoying learning about New Zealand’s histories.

Chris Abercrombie, PPTA Te Wehengarua president, says the new curriculum is very important, particularly as it has a big focus on New Zealand and Māori history – something which was missing for more than 160 years.

“You talk to people from other countries and they have a deep, well-formed knowledge of their history – they know very much who they are and where they are going in the world,” Abercrombie said in a statement.

“Yet, up until only last year the unique history of Aotearoa New Zealand was not part of what we were required to learn at school. The vast majority of New Zealanders know a great deal more about European or American history than their own.

“It’s really important for children and young people to learn about the history of Aotearoa New Zealand to get an understanding and sense of where we are at in Aotearoa New Zealand today, how we got here and the challenges that lie ahead of us.”

Abercrombie agrees teachers need more support to make the curriculum as fantastic as it can be, and hopes the ERO’s recommendations are implemented.