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Responsibilities of kaiako

Content from page 59 of Te Whāriki: Early Childhood Curriculum


Waiho i te toipoto, kaua i te toiroa.

Let us keep close together, not far apart.


This whakataukī emphasises the need for kaiako to work collaboratively, enabling children to enjoy the benefits of multiple relationships.

Kaiako, tamariki, and a parent planting a tree together.

Kaiako are the key resource in any ECE service. Their primary responsibility is to facilitate children’s learning and development through thoughtful and intentional pedagogy. This means they need a wide range of capabilities.

These include being:

  • knowledgeable about children’s learning and development and able to identify their varied abilities, strengths, interests and learning trajectories
  • knowledgeable about theories that underpin effective pedagogy in Te Whāriki, its framework and intent
  • knowledgeable about play-based curriculum and pedagogy and able to conceptualise, plan and enact curriculum that is motivating, enjoyable and accessible for all children
  • able to integrate domain knowledge (for example, science and arts knowledge) into the curriculum
  • culturally competent: developing increasing proficiency in the use of te reo and tikanga Māori and able to form responsive and reciprocal relationships with tangata whenua
  • able to support the cultural and linguistic diversity of all children as part of promoting an inclusive environment
  • able to engage in dialogue with parents, whānau and communities to understand their priorities for curriculum and learning
  • attentive to learning and able to make this visible through assessment practices that give children agency and enhance their mana
  • inclusive, enabling all children to learn with and alongside their peers
  • knowledgeable about and able to try alternative ways to support and progress children’s learning and development
  • role models for languages and learning, both as individuals and as members of collaborative teams
  • role models for practices that support their own health and wellbeing and that of others
  • able to establish and maintain relationships that enable professional collaboration with others, including other kaiako in their ECE setting, school teachers and specialist services
  • thoughtful and reflective about what they do, using evidence, critical inquiry and problem solving to shape their practice
  • committed to ongoing professional development that has a positive impact on children’s learning.

Promoting and supporting the ongoing learning and development of kaiako is a key responsibility of educational leaders.