Te Kete Ipurangi Navigation:

Te Kete Ipurangi

Te Kete Ipurangi user options:

You are here:

Key competencies are clusters of capabilities


Key competencies are capabilities for living and lifelong learning.


New Zealand Curriculum

Each key competency is a cluster of capabilities. Capabilities are things students learn to be able to do.

Teaching for capabilities refocuses subject learning


In science, students explore how both the natural physical world and science itself work so that they can participate as critical, informed, and responsible citizens in a society in which science plays a significant role.


New Zealand Curriculum

How teachers think about the purposes for learning impacts on the opportunities they provide to develop students' capabilities. Weaving content knowledge and the key competencies together builds students' capabilities.

Teaching capabilities builds citizenship

The science learning area in the New Zealand Curriculum emphasizes developing learners' citizenship capabilities. The nature of science (NOS) strand explores ways science knowledge is created and used in the world, so you can build citizenship within this strand. Based on the nature of science strand,  five foundational science capabilities  have been identified. These are:     

These are things learners need to show they can do; their capabilities will be strengthened with practice.

Learners develop their capabilities when teachers use effective pedagogy

Learning is a social act, not just an individual one. The way you manage the learning context is important. Learners need practice and support to grow their capabilities. Students need to feel safe to take risks so they can grow their capabilities. They need to see good models of what you want. Three broad indicators of learning that supports the development of capabilities are:

  • creating space for learners to take the initiative in their learning
  • creating sufficient challenges to stretch and enlarge on their current capabilities
  • creating rich connections between the intended learning and learners' lives.

NZ Curriculum | Key competencies and effective pedagogy – Read teacher stories that show how a key competency focus is embedded in different learning areas, providing learning conditions that help learners stretch their current capabilities. 

Learners develop their capabilities when they have relevant opportunities to learn

  • Learners show they are capable by what they do – plan learning tasks which give them that chance. 
  • Learners need to know the purpose for learning – this helps them know why they are being asked to do specific tasks.

In a new context, it can be hard to sort out what might be useful. Opportunities to explore "messy" contexts and learning challenges will help learners stretch their current capabilities, which may not happen if you always plan and direct what to do and don't let them explore. Flexibility around an activity or lesson topic is key.

Reflection is important for developing capabilities

Reflection is an important part of being capable. Capable learners think about what knowledge and skills are required to achieve new challenges. They can then match these to their current abilities and learn more. This the intention of the New Zealand Curriculum.

More on key competencies

Thinking about thinking  In this video, Rosemary Hipkins, NZCER  talks about the "everywhere and nowhere" nature of thinking and how we need to look below the tip of the iceberg. 

The New Zealand Curriculum Online | Key competencies  has lots of resources about how to develop competencies and capabilities in leading, in teaching, and in learning.