WelCom December 2023
A new Religious Education curriculum is being introduced to Catholic schools in New Zealand. By 2026 all primary and secondary schools will be using the new curriculum throughout their Religious Education teaching programmes. Colin MacLeod, Director/Kaitohu Te Kupenga – National Centre for Religious Studies, explains.
Catholic schools in Aotearoa New Zealand have a new Religious Education (RE) curriculum called Tō Tātou Whakapono Our Faith.
The National Centre for Religious Studies (NCRS), an agency of the NZ Catholic Bishops’ Conference and a part of Te Kupenga – Catholic Leadership Institute, has written the curriculum with the help of over 25 groups. The groups include diocesan Religious Education Advisers, Te Hokainuku (supporting Katorikatanga), a broad cultural community reference group, and our bishops.
By 2026 all Catholic schools will be using the curriculum throughout their RE teaching and learning and many schools have started already. Meanwhile NCRS is working hard to produce resource material for each curriculum level.
There were several reasons for producing the new curriculum.
1) Both the primary and secondary curricula were 20+ years old. While they had received significant revision over the years, teachers were calling for something new and more engaging, and that could speak particularly to the lives and experiences of young people in Catholic schools in Aotearoa New Zealand today.
2) There was a need for a single year-1-to-year-13 RE curriculum. There was no cohesion between the Primary RE curriculum and the Secondary Understanding Faith curriculum, which were completely different from each other. While primary and secondary students have different capacity, maturity, and needs, there was also opportunity to create a seamless flow for those who enter Catholic schools at age 5 and leave as 17- or 18-year-olds. At the same time, Tō Tātou Whakapono Our Faith is designed to provide appropriate entry and exit points for children who enter a Catholic school for the first time at year 7 or year 9, or who leave at the end of primary.
3) Increase knowledge supporting faith. RE must be of the highest quality because it is relevant to every child, irrespective of their personal faith stance, as ‘specific education in a body of religious knowledge, skills and values which forms a major part of the wider school curriculum and provides a learning platform from which the living-out of faith in families and the parish community may be understood and embraced’.1 Opportunity and support to encounter Christ is at the centre of every Catholic school, and the responsibility to nurture this – to grow and practice faith (Catechesis) – is supported by RE knowledge but is the whole school’s responsibility.
- The name ‘Tō Tātou Whakapono Our Faith’ captures two important elements in this regard: a) it is the sharing of our Church’s faith, without assuming (or judging) the faith of the young people in our schools, or their whānau, in the powerful Christian hope that; b) it will already be, or will soon be claimed, as ‘our faith’ by the young people as they experience their own Hīkoi Wairua Spiritual Journey.
Feedback is overwhelmingly positive from teachers and young people, largely due to the quality of the resources and the structure of the curriculum design.
While the new curriculum is still being developed, NCRS invites everyone to read more on our website www.ourfaith.nz and perhaps even incorporate some of the themes, cross-themes, and/or touchstones into your own parish or family life.
This new curriculum is a gift to the 66,000 young people in our Catholic schools each year, from broad discernment and wānanga across Aotearoa over several years. It is also a gift to the Catholic Church in New Zealand and a challenge for every Catholic to embrace the knowledge of our faith in new and powerful ways.
Please go to our website to read more about the new RE curriculum at www.ourfaith.nz or www.totatouwhakapono.nz
There are four main themes to be covered each year, referred to as:
Te Rama Whakapono the Light of faith:Learning about God
– Te Atua God
Learning about Scripture – Te Rongopai Good News
Learning about Church History – Ā Tātou Whakapapa
Learning about being Catholic (Sacraments, Catholic Social Teaching, etc) – Kia Noho Hāhi Being Church
Each theme involves five cross-themes, referred to as:
Te Rama Aroha, the Light of Love: God’s constant presence – Mana Tapu Grace
The Call to Holiness – Aroha Pūmau Holiness
The Wisdom of God and of the Church – Whakaaronui Wisdom
The Call to be People of Tika Justice
The Place of Īnoi Prayer
As young people journey through their religious education, they focus on eight Ngā Kōhatu Touchstones modelled in Jesus and his call to discipleship.
Aroha Mai Aroha Atu Loved
Oho Ake Inspired
He Iriiringa Called
He Wero Challenged