Innovation traverses many organisational landscapes and inspires those who work there to use creativity to shape current and future practice and curriculum development. We wanted to learn more about what curriculum innovation was happening in the early childhood education [ECE] sector in Aotearoa New Zealand, and what inspired it. This research project explored the role of self-belief, relationships and context in curriculum innovation. Research data were generated through two phases using a combination of qualitative and quantitative methodologies. In Phase One, 193 participants took part in an online quantitative survey. Participants were representative of a wide range of early learning services in New Zealand including kindergartens, education and care centres, Te Kōhanga reo (total immersion in Māori language and values), Rudolf Steiner and Montessori. Phase Two (still underway) involves a qualitative Multiple Case Study of 10 ECE centres with a geographical spread covering numerous North and South Island locations. Initial findings have provided some early discoveries in relation to self-belief, relationships and contexts. Teachers show a desire to challenge what they see as outdated practices and co-construct new innovative approaches to teaching in the early years. Innovation enriches relationships for families, learners and teachers. Although innovation is welcomed in teaching contexts and leadership teams are supportive, practical realities such as time and a lack of resources, make it difficult for teachers to be innovative. The complexity of innovation is shared through teachers’ voices as they highlight new narratives on how innovation looks for 21st century contemporary early years education practices.
Joanne Alderson, Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, New Zealand
Fi McAlevey, Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, New Zealand
Muni Narayan, Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, New Zealand
Sarah Williams, Te Pukenga, New Zealand