Strengthening curriculum: inquiry maths

Published: 04 Sep 2017
Professional capability
Evaluation indicators
Improvement in Action Te Ahu Whakamua


“It builds confidence in children’s own ability, their own view that they can become active problem solvers.”

An analysis of achievement data and a desire to introduce more culturally responsive pedagogies into the classroom were triggers for introducing an inquiry -based approach to the teaching of mathematics at Manurewa Central School.

Key messages:

  • Internal evaluation showed that students did not see themselves as good mathematicians and could not always articulate their mathematical understandings
  • Mixed ability groupings of learners develop deeper mathematical understanding through inquiry and problem solving
  • Teachers co-construct problems with colleagues and consider all the misconceptions learners may have, building their own mathematical understanding
  • Leaders model changing practice through active participation in professional learning and application in the classroom

Things to think about:

  • To what extent does an analysis of data and information influence approaches to curriculum and teaching in your school?
  • How well does your pedagogy support ‘learning to learn’ capabilities?

The evaluation indicators this video illustrates

  • Domain 4: Responsive curriculum, effective teaching and opportunity to learn 
    • Evaluation Indicators 
      • Effective, culturally responsive pedagogy supports and promotes student learning
      • Students learn, achieve and progress in the breadth and depth of The New Zealand Curriculum and/or Te Marautanga o Aotearoa 
  • Domain 5: Professional capability and collective capacity
    • Evaluation indicators 
      • Systematic, collaborative inquiry processes and challenging professional learning opportunities align with the school vision goals and targets
      • Access to relevant expertise builds capability for ongoing improvement and innovation

This video is part of a series

This video is part of the series Improvement in Action Te Ahu Whakamua. We created this series to inspire schools with examples of success in action. These examples highlight the benefits of fulfilling the evaluation indicators we use to review schools.

Remote video URL

Our journey with Inquiry Maths really came from student voice. It came out that our students surveyed from Year 4 to 6 didn't see themselves as good mathematicians. They were good at basic facts. They had a good understanding of the number system. But when we looked at the application of number, the data analysis showed they were less secure in problem-solving and deeper level thinking.


There was discussion about a place being available on the Inquiry Maths PD. So, we read the Best Evidence Synthesis as a senior management team, and we gathered a bit more knowledge about how Inquiry Maths fit into the New Zealand curriculum, and what the pedagogical base was for that PD. We were looking at being culturally responsive, and that had come through our student wellbeing review that we did in 2014. And we had got programmes in place, like Tamatoa Te Aho Tapu, but we hadn't done anything that really focused on culturally responsive pedagogy.




And when you're ready, read through the problem again, and off you go.


What was really exciting about the Inquiry Maths programme, is that it relied on learning as inquiry. They weren't being taught how to do, they were doing in order to learn. The pedagogy of the Inquiry Maths excites us, because it fits within our pedagogical shift, and we're moving for in the future.


Just write that out again, and then have a chat about how you're going to solve that. When we decided to focus on this approach, to make staff feel confident, we actually went into the classrooms ourselves, and had a go, because we wanted to make sure we could practice what we preach.