23 July 2024

Understanding curriculum accessibility and its impact on learning

Creating accessible materials, resources and assessments from the outset will provide a more inclusive learning experience for all your ākonga.

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Purpose of the guide

This guide provides strategies on how tumuaki and kaiako can ensure ākonga have equitable access to The New Zealand Curriculum

Inclusivity of learning and teaching practices:

  • benefits all learners by reducing barriers 
  • enables all learners to participate fully in the learning programme in a way that works best for them.

Who is this for?

The audience for this guide is all kaiako across the sector, from early years to senior secondary, including SENCO, RTLB, and Learning Support Coordinators.

This guide brings together examples of successful approaches that can be used as a resource for inclusion specialists.

What is curriculum accessibility?

The inclusion principle is one of eight principles in The New Zealand Curriculum that provide a foundation for schools' decision making. The inclusion principle calls for schools and teachers to deliver a curriculum that:

  • celebrates the diverse abilities, languages, identities, and talents of every individual
  • provides equitable learning opportunities 
  • recognises and meets the learning needs of all students.

Ensuring access, and participation for every learner requires kaiako and kura to proactively plan for learner variability, where barriers are minimised, and learning supports and flexibility are built into the environment at the outset.

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Students have access to equipment, words, and numbers to support mathematical language.

Source: Ministry of Education | Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga

Ministry of Education | Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga

Identifying and removing barriers

There is great variability in how our ākonga approach learning, navigate tasks, and interact with the environment on any given day or context.  

We know that our learners are:

  • motivated and engaged by different things
  • process information, make sense of, and interact with content in different ways
  • participate and express their thinking in different ways.

As every student learns differently, schools must create flexible, barrier-free learning environments for all students to become successful, lifelong learners.

As kaiako we need to surface potential barriers in the way we plan learning to ensure that ākonga:

  • have the tools and supports that work for them
  • are provided with flexible options rather than a one-size-fits-all approach
  • are able to adjust the content to suit their learning needs.

Universal Design for Learning guide provides more information »

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Potential barriers to learning can be hidden in the choices we make in these five areas.

Understand your learners needs

Use a process that is centred on the learner and allows for shared knowledge and collaboration.

Consider these factors:

  • culture, language, and identity
  • environments and spaces where the learning will happen (classroom, home)
  • medical or health conditions
  • knowledge of learner preferences, abilities, and interests
  • personal connections and relationships
  • wairua, wellbeing, and moral and physical health
  • individual learner goals and aspirations
  • useful technologies.
11752 [Make-informed-decisions-2-just-circles.png]

Source: Ministry of Education | Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga

Ministry of Education | Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga

Next steps

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  • Understanding curriculum accessibility