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Frameworks to expand and enhance Level One of the New Zealand Curriculum

These frameworks, or matrices, expand and enhance Level One of The New Zealand Curriculum in literacy and numeracy, following national matrices, and leading directly into Level One. Holistic learning progressions are set on a continuum, identifying the fine-grained progressions that some students with diverse needs make. They were developed by the Central Region Special Schools Cluster (CRSSC) from 2001.

Numeracy framework

PDF icon. The number framework (PDF 100 KB)

Structure of the matrices

There are two parts to the expanded curriculum frameworks or matrices, which use the analogy of a rocket.


  • Fuel 1–3, students are immersed in a language-rich environment in order to develop a sense of self, their place in space, and the shapes around them. They are provided with a range of opportunities to begin exploring their environment through sensory experiences.
  • Fuel 4–6, students are engaged in language-rich activities that provide opportunities to explore and make connections. They continue to develop the early concept knowledge and skills needed to make sense of measurement, their place in space and the shapes and images around them.


 These next three stages link directly into Level One.

  • In these stages students: 
    • are actively involved in a broadening range of learning experiences
    • demonstrate purposeful use of early concept knowledge, language and skills.

Background to the Level One curriculum frameworks

Central Region Special School Cluster (CRSSC) is a team of six special needs schools from Hawke's Bay, Wanganui and Wellington. From 2001, they worked together to improve meaningful assessment to inform teaching and learning for students working within Level One of The New Zealand Curriculum.

With help from Ministry of Education Extending High Standards Across Schools (EHSAS) funding, the schools in the cluster worked together to develop these frameworks, led by high-level facilitators in both literacy and numeracy. Lead teachers and principals met for their own workshops, and both groups combined at intervals to maintain a unity of purpose and understanding. The frameworks and matrices were tested and moderated extensively in and between the cluster schools, including using online moderation

The matrices were developed to help teachers identify the key features of learning, achievement, and quality in relation to each achievement objective. Teachers can use the matrices to place each student on an individual starting point, identify next step planning and teaching, and hold suitably high and realistic expectations for achievement.

Accompanying the matrices are exemplars, which make explicit the critical features of a student’s work, the important things to watch for, to collect information about and act upon.

The matrices and exemplars provide an assessment tool that is firmly grounded in the New Zealand Curriculum and formative in intent. They combine diagnostic and formative assessment and provide for summative assessment in reporting. This ensures the purpose of the CRSSC assessment tool is to:

  • assist student learning
  • identify students’ strengths and progress
  • assess the effectiveness of a particular instructional strategy
  • assess and improve the effectiveness of curriculum programmes
  • assess and improve teaching effectiveness
  • provide data that assist in decision making
  • communicate with and involve parents and whānau.

Background to literacy frameworks

In the previous New Zealand Curriculum English documents, there were clear separations between Viewing and Presenting and Interpersonal Speaking. In the current curriculum, the strands are woven together, encompassing oral, written, and visual forms of language. These are embedded within the Listening/Reading/Viewing and Speaking/Writing/Presenting strands.

The CRSSC Expanded English Framework indicators stemmed from the New Zealand Curriculum and have been informed by numerous other Ministry documents and handbooks. The theoretical perspectives of three related concepts – a developmental perspective, socialisation of learning, and the fact that children take multiple pathways of development – underpin the Expanded English matrix. The indicators reflect the understanding that student progress is negotiable and dynamic, not at fixed endpoints.

References and bibliography for the literacy frameworks

Ministry of Education, (2003). Effective Literacy Practice in Year 1 to 4. Wellington: Learning Media.

Ministry of Education, (2007).The Zealand Curriculum. Wellington: Learning Media

Ministry of Education, (2009a). Learning through talk: Oral language in Years 1-3. Learning Media: Wellington

Ministry of Education, (2009b). Learning through talk: Oral language in Years 4 to 8. Wellington: Learning Media

Ministry of Education, (2010). The Literacy Progressions: Meeting the Reading and Writing Demands of the Curriculum. Wellington: Learning Media


  • Borkowski, J.G., Schneider, W. & Pressley, M. (1989). The challenges of teaching good information processing strategies to disabled students. International Journal of Disability, 36(3), 169–185
  • Chi, M.T. & Ceci, S.J. (1987). Content knowledge: Its role, representation, and restructuring in memory development. Advances in Child Development and Behaviour, 20, 91–143.
  • Central Region Special Schools, (2003). Curriculum Exemplars: From teachers with students with diverse learning needs.
  • Kleinert, H. L., Browder, D.M. & Towles-Reeves, E. (2009). Models of cognition for students with significant cognitive disabilities: Implications for assessment. Review of Educational Research, 79(1), 301–326
  • McLinden, M. & McCall, S. (2002). Learning through touch: supporting children with visual impairment and additional difficulties. London: Fulton Publishers
  • Pressley, M. (2002). Reading instruction that works: The case for balanced teaching. New York: The Guilford Press.
  • Quest for Learning. Accessed 20th November from: http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/inclusion_and_SEN/SEN/pmld.asp
  • Sun, K.K. & Kemp, C. (2006). The acquisition of phonological awareness and its relationship to reading in individuals with intellectual disabilities. Australasian Journal of Special Education, 30(1), 86–99

Background to the numeracy framework

To assist in the assessment of numeracy, the CRSS cluster collaboratively created an extended Number framework and matrix that:

  • is inclusive of all learners
  • recognises progression and achievement
  • can be used for precise diagnosis to accurately assess, and to inform the next teaching and learning step
  • is a resource that is useful, functional, and valuable for teachers in all schools
  • links to the Key Competencies in the New Zealand Curriculum.

This expanded pathway enables the acknowledgment of the smaller steps many students make, allows for documentation of those steps, and recognises the significant achievement of many students with diverse needs in all school settings.

In developing expanded pathways for numeracy, the cluster-based its work on the following definition of numeracy:

‘To be numerate is to have the ability and inclination to use mathematics effectively – at home, at work and in the community.'

The cluster further defined number as: ‘The foundation that underpins all the mathematical strands.’