Supporting improvements in science teaching crucial for New Zealand tamariki

New reports, published today by the Education Review Office (ERO), highlight the importance of high-quality science teaching for improving outcomes in science for New Zealand tamariki.

“The release of these new science reports is timely as recent national and international research shows that New Zealand students are not achieving as well in science we would like,” says Ruth Shinoda, Head of ERO’s Education Evaluation Centre.

“Only 20 percent of Year 8 students are achieving at the level we would expect, and studies show that our Year 9 and our 15-year-old students’ performance in science has declined. This is concerning and indicates an urgent need to strengthen science teaching in New Zealand.

“These new reports draw on the good work teachers and educators are already doing to engage learners with science, to provide practical actions all schools and services can take to improve science teaching.”

The three reports cover science teaching from early childhood up to Year 11 and provide clear guidance for how science teaching can be strengthened for these different learner groups.

“Across all age groups we found that being deliberate about how we teach science is incredibly important. Educators need to plan to teach science in a way that ensures children grow their science skills, understand science fundamentals and have a strong knowledge base that creates a passion for science.

“We know that deliberate planning for opportunities to develop children’s understanding of science, can make a big difference, particularly in the early years,” says Ms Shinoda.

“For secondary school leaders, we recommend taking a fresh look at science programmes across all year levels with the aim to actively encourage more students to continue with science in senior school.

“It is crucial that we support children and students to develop their critical thinking and science literacy, so that they understand the world around them and can contribute positively to the future.

“Covid-19 has showed us how important science is and with science-related issues such as climate change and vaccines increasingly impacting on society, it is essential that we have high quality science education. We are pleased to see that science education is a priority for the New Zealand Curriculum refresh in 2022.

“ERO’s new reports are all about strengthening the teaching of science and we hope they are a useful resource for science educators across New Zealand. I would encourage all school and service leaders to consider the guidance in these reports and how it could support their own approaches to teaching science,” said Ms Shinoda.

The three reports are:

  • Science in the Early Years: Early Childhood and Years 1 – 4
  • Shining a Light on Science: Good Practice in Early Childhood Services
  • Growing Curiosity: Teaching Strategies to Engage Years 5 – 11 Students in Science.


Series Summary- Science in New Zealand schools and early childhood services

You can read a summary of all three of the reports here.


Read the three Science reports


Practical guides

These reports are accompanied by short practical guides to support educators strengthen the teaching of science. These guides are listed below: