Terms of Reference for the Curriculum, Progress and Achievement Ministerial Advisory Group


In December 2017, the Minister of Education, Hon Chris Hipkins, revoked Ngā Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori and National Standards, and asked the Ministry of Education to work with experts and stakeholders to develop an approach to assessment and reporting which is based on understanding progress across the curricula, including key capabilities for success in life, learning and work.

To understand progress, one needs to understand what is most important to be learnt. The national curricula set expectations for teaching and learning, and provide flexibility for local curricula to be designed and delivered in a way that meets the needs of the learners within early learning services, kōhanga reo, kura, schools or Communities of Learning | Kāhui Ako.

Assessment and aromatawai is important for understanding how individual learners are progressing in relation to curricula expectations. It assists teachers to plan learning opportunities that support each learner’s next learning step, including where more learning opportunities or additional support is needed. It also assists students’ and their parents’ understanding of progress and achievement.

There are a range of assessment tools available for understanding learners’ progress, but these do not cover the full breadth of the curricula and few provide teachers with a comprehensive picture of progress against a curriculum learning area or for students working long term in level 1. As well as having tools available, teachers need to make effective decisions about when and how to use these tools to support students’ progress without adding unnecessary workload.

We have a system-wide focus on ensuring that every child gets the necessary support and opportunities to learn, and to be successful in life, learning and work and to contribute to society. The achievement data shows that, despite pockets of improvement, the education system is not yet closing the equity gap. To address the equity gap, we need a system that reflects on student progress and re-focusses teaching, learning and system-level settings to better support all students’ progress across the curricula, especially for Māori, Pasifika, those with additional learning needs, and those that are disadvantaged.

The Role and Purpose of the Ministerial Advisory Group 

The Minister of Education (‘the Minister’) is establishing a Curriculum, Progress and Achievement Ministerial Advisory Group (MAG). This will be an expert group that provides advice to the Minister on strengthening the use of the curricula to understand student progress and achievement.


The advice of the MAG will help to develop a programme of work that builds teacher and leader capability to work with their students, parents, whānau and communities to:

  1. design and deliver local curricula that include learning opportunities that integrate knowledge, skills and key competencies in The New Zealand Curriculum, and Māori medium graduate qualities and characteristics in Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.
  2. personalise learning opportunities to meet the needs and aspirations of all students and their whānau, within an inclusive and culturally responsive learning environment.
  3. be data literate, understanding and acting on data/evidence for improvement, including making effective and efficient use of information in inquiry, planning and reporting, and sharing meaningful reports with students, parents and whānau.


The scope of the Curriculum, Progress and Achievement Ministerial Advisory Group is to provide advice on:

  • how to strengthen the design and use of local curriculum so that all children and young people progress and achieve across the breadth and depth of the national Curricula in years 1-10
  • how a stronger focus on student progress across the curricula can be embedded, including change management, implementation and capability building.

While the scope of the MAG is specific to curriculum, progress and achievement, its considerations will intersect with other workstreams such as the NCEA Review and the Education Workforce Strategy. The Ministry in their secretariat role will ensure the flow of relevant information and support the MAG to connect with other groups where appropriate.

Functions of the MAG

The MAG’s role is subject to these Terms of Reference.

The MAG will be:

  • a source of advice for the Minister
  • a critical friend and advisor to the Ministry
  • providers of a report synthesising themes arising from the wider engagement, as well as recommendations to inform the Minister’s work programme.

Advisors to the Minister of Education

The primary and paramount function of the MAG is to advise the Minister.

The MAG and its Co-Chairs may engage directly with the Minister but, typically, the MAG’s advice will be provided through the Ministry, as intermediary, at the Minister’s request.

Advisors to the Ministry of Education

As part of their role in advising the Minister, the MAG will provide support and advice to the Ministry to assist in their delivery of the Curriculum, Progress and Achievement work programme.

The Ministry, through the Deputy Secretary, Early Learning and Student Achievement, may ask the MAG to provide support and advice by:

  • contributing to, or reviewing, key documents prepared by the Ministry to support the process
  • providing advice on the structure and nature of engagement with stakeholders and the wider public.


Members of the MAG will be appointed by the Minister. The initial term of appointment will be until 20 December 2018 and reappointment is possible. The MAG will comprise 13 paid members drawn from a diverse cross-section of New Zealand society – two of whom will Co-Chair the MAG.

Members have been selected to participate based on the following criteria:

  • Contribution as curriculum and assessment thought leaders/experts e.g. involved in the development of significant papers such as ‘Directions for Assessment in New Zealand’ and ‘Rukuhia, Rarangahia’.
  • Contribution to significant curriculum design and implementation in New Zealand schools and classrooms.
  • Ability to understand that each level of the system requires data in order to improve.
  • Demonstrated commitment to equity and excellence across the education pathway
  • Credibility within the sector.
  • Commitment to the process and outcomes of the Curriculum, Progress and Achievement Ministerial Advisory Group.


The Co-Chairs will lead meetings of the MAG, unless otherwise directed by the Office of the Minister of Education, or otherwise agreed.

The Co-Chairs may also engage directly with the Minister, on behalf of the MAG.


Members of the MAG (including the Co-Chairs) are approved by the Appointment and Honours Committee. Members of the MAG affirm that they have provided all relevant and / or requested information relevant to the approval process, and that all information disclosed is true and accurate to the best of the knowledge of the MAG members.


Fees for members of the Group have been assessed in accordance with the Cabinet Fees Framework, according to Cabinet Office Circular (12)6. The Stakeholder Advisory Group falls within Group 4 (‘All other committees and other bodies’), and has been scored at 22 (Level 2).

Based on this, the Co-Chairs of the MAG will receive a per diem of $680. Members of the MAG will receive a per diem of $480.

In addition, Co-Chairs and members will be reimbursed for actual and reasonable travel, meal and accommodation costs.


Secretariat services for the MAG will be provided by the Ministry.


The MAG, and MAG members acting in that capacity, will not make media statements without the prior agreement of the Minister.

If the MAG are asked to provide comment on any issue relating to education by a third party (i.e. other than the Minister or Ministry), that MAG will forward the question or request to the Office of the Minister of Education, and to the Ministry of Education through the Assessment and Reporting mailbox: (AssessmentandReporting@education.govt.nz).


Meetings of the MAG will be held in Wellington. The MAG will meet up to ten times in its initial term. MAG members are expected to attend MAG meetings wherever reasonably possible. The MAG will meet when requested by the Minister, in consultation between the Co-Chairs and the Ministry, or at the discretion of the Co-Chairs.

The MAG will aim to achieve a consensus on the issues it considers, but is not required to do so.

The Ministry of Education will support the Co-Chairs to prepare meeting agendas where appropriate. The agenda and papers for meetings of the MAG will be circulated to MAG members six working days in advance of each meeting, and draft minutes will be circulated to MAG members no later than five working days after each meeting.

The Ministry has a budget to operate the MAG, including travel costs. The MAG and its members will not have an independent budget.

Contestability of advice

Both the MAG and the Ministry will provide advice to the Minister on the Curriculum, Progress and Achievement work programme in good faith, and with regards to the interests of the other. Where appropriate, the MAG and Ministry will provide the other with copies of relevant advice provided to the Minister.

Conflicts of interest

As part of the Appointment and Honours Committee appointment process, the members of the MAG disclose conflicts of interest relating to the MAG and the Curriculum, Progress, and Achievement work programme.

Members of the MAG who have a specific, real conflict of interest in relation to an issue or item will advise the Co-Chairs and recuse themselves from consideration of those issues or items.

If members of the MAG develop new, relevant conflicts of interest, whether real, potential or perceived, in the course of the Curriculum, Progress and Achievement work programme, they will inform the Ministry’s secretariat as soon as is reasonably practicable.

Key relationships

In addition to the Minister of Education and Ministry of Education, the MAG will have relationships with the Curriculum, Progress and Achievement Reference Group(s).

Unless otherwise agreed with the Ministry (in relation to the Reference Group), the MAG’s contact with these groups will be facilitated by the Ministry and Minister respectively.

It is expected that the MAG will engage in the process in good faith, and champion the Curriculum, Progress and Achievement work programme process with stakeholders.


The work of the MAG is confidential, unless otherwise agreed by either the Minister of Education or Ministry of Education as appropriate. Members of the MAG will maintain this confidence, and will not disclose information about the operations of the MAG to any person without the above agreement.

Curriculum, Progress and Achievement Ministerial Advisory Group members

Mary Chamberlain (Co-Chair) is a Director of Evaluation Associates and a respected education consultant. Ms Chamberlain has led the development of key educational initiatives within the Ministry of Education, for the OECD and throughout the sector. Her leadership of the creation of the New Zealand Curriculum, as well as National Standards for literacy and mathematics, positions Ms Chamberlain to provide critical insights into the development of an approach to progress and achievement.

Associate Professor Georgina Stewart (Co-Chair) is an Associate Professor of Education at Auckland University of Technology. Her research centres on the nexus between language, knowledge, culture and education. Associate Professor Stewart brings her expertise in Kaupapa Māori and science education to the role, as well as her background in the philosophy of education.

Charles Darr (assessment expert) is a senior researcher and manager of the Assessment, Design, and Reporting team at the New Zealand Council for Educational Research. Mr Darr led the project team that developed the Literacy and Numeracy for Adults Assessment Tool and the psychometric programme that supported the development of the Progress and Consistency Tool (PaCT). His content knowledge will help inform the development of a robust progress approach. Mr Darr is also on the NCEA Ministerial Advisory Group.

Laura Hawksworth (Māori medium) is the Principal of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Tōku Māpihi Maurea. She is a leading tumuaki in Māori medium and has successfully lead Tōku Māphi Maurea for a significant period of time. Ms Hawksworth has contributed to the development of Te Marautanga o Aotearoa and is a lead practitioner in the use of Te Waharoa Ararau (Māori medium equivalent of the Progress and Consistency Tool (PaCT)), and in particular in pāngaru (mathematics).

Professor Margie Hohepa (aromatawai expert) is the Associate Dean, Māori at the University of Waikato, where she teaches in Māori education undergraduate and graduate courses. Her iwi are Te Māhurehure, Ngāpuhi and Te Ātiawa. Professor Hohepa has taught in primary school and kōhanga reo settings. Her field of research is also Māori education, framed by Kaupapa Māori, with a particular interest in Māori medium education. Recent research projects have focused on Māori medium initial teacher education and on kōhanga-kura transitions.

Sonia Johnston (English medium and Pasifika education) is the Principal of Roscommon School and is an Executive member of the Graduate Diploma in Teaching English in Schools to Speakers of Other Languages programme at Auckland University, President of Manurewa Principal’s Association 2018 and an active member of New Zealand Pasifika Principals Association (NZPPA). Ms Johnston has also presented on the topics of Pasifika education and bilingual education.

Rangimarie Mahuta (Māori medium) is a longstanding lead practitioner at Te Wharekura O Rakaumanga School. In her kura, she leads work in understanding progress and achievement across the kura from years 1 to 13. Ms Mahuta has contributed to the development of Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, NCEA qualification design, development and implementation; and is highly respected by her colleagues within the Māori medium sector. As a fundamental part of her community, Ms Mahuta is often asked to consider how our education system should be more considerate of local knowledge and stories, and how these should be incorporated into school and local curriculum development and implementation.

Sarah Martin (English medium) is the Foundation Principal of Stonefields School in Auckland. Ms Martin has taught in, and held, various senior leadership positions. Her facilitation work includes the numeracy project and curriculum exemplar development. Ms Martin’s practice focuses on the integration of inquiry learning, e-learning, future school environments, competencies and teacher effectiveness.

Liam Rutherford (dual-language medium) is a teacher at Ross Intermediate School. He has been involved with a number of projects including the introduction of 1-1 devices. Mr Rutherford has an interest in internet based classrooms, personalising learning, student activism, and real life learning. He is an active member of the Digital Technologies and Hangarau Matihiko (Curriculum) Change and Enablement working group and the National Digital Technologies and Hangarau Matihiko curriculum implementation professional learning and development allocation panel. Mr Rutherford is the primary representative on the National Executive of the NZEI.

Associate Professor Claire Sinnema (curriculum expert English medium) is an Associate Professor of University of Auckland who has carried out multiple national evaluations, including of the implementation of New Zealand’s National Curriculum (2010), and of the Teacher-Led Innovation Fund (2017). Associate Professor Sinnema has served on numerous reference, advisory and expert groups for national education bodies and has carried out research and development related to Government initiatives in New Zealand, South Australia, Wales and Norway.

Distinguished Professor Graham Hingangaroa Smith (Mātauranga Māori expert) is a Māori education thought leader at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi and is current Principal Investigator of Te Pae Tawhiti: Māori Economic Development. His iwi are Ngāti Apa, Ngāti Kahungunu, Kai Tahu and Ngāti Porou. Professor Smith has been the CEO and Vice Chancellor of Te Whare Wānanga O Awanuiārangi: Indigenous-University.

Professor Jeff Smith (curriculum expert) is Professor and Associate Dean (Research) in the College of Education at the University of Otago. For 29 years he was on the faculty of Rutgers University, serving as professor and chair of the Department of Educational Psychology. Professor Smith has written or edited eight books on educational assessment and statistics, the psychology of aesthetics, and educational psychology, and published more than 70 research articles and reviews in the field of education, also founding and co-editing a journal, Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts.

Diane Whyte (special education) is the Principal of Fairhaven (Special) School in Hawke’s Bay, an educationally inclusive school that caters to a variety of students from a range of cultural backgrounds and diverse needs. Ms Whyte is the Treasurer of the Special Education Principals’ Association NZ (SEPANZ) and has previously been the Principal of Maitai Special School in Nelson.

Last reviewed: Has this been useful? Give us your feedback