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Learning programme design

Classical studies programmes need to be carefully planned if they are to achieve the desired outcomes. This section suggests how to do this planning and gives some examples.

Engaging learning programmes are based on effective pedagogy

Engaging learning programmes depend on effective pedagogy. When planning, keep in mind the four mechanisms: connection, alignment, community, and interest.


Encourage students to use their own experiences as a point of comparison when learning about other people’s experiences in different times, places, and cultures. When choosing contexts and resources, make diversity visible and avoid biased and stereotypical representations. Students need to feel that what they are learning connects with and values their experiences.


Align activities and resources so students are able to develop understandings of the key concepts and the aspects: thinking critically about sources and examining values.

Make the aims of the programme transparent to students. Avoid pre-programming learning opportunities to the extent that they cannot be changed in response to feedback from assessment. Provide opportunities for students to revisit important content and processes. Focus assessment on valued learning and success criteria.


Design programmes to develop students’ interaction skills and use inclusive practices that acknowledge multiple abilities and contributions. Tasks and experiences are preferred if they require student–student interaction. Wherever possible, involve students in making decisions about their learning. Give students the opportunity to identify possible roles for themselves, to think critically, and to participate in authentic classics-related contexts.


Offer learning experiences that are sensitive to students’ differing interests, motivations, and responses and provide a variety of experiences that become memorable anchors for learning and subsequent recall. Local contexts in which students feel a direct stake can engage them with their community and provide bridges to global issues.

Questions to ask when planning your programme

Curriculum alignment

  • Have I used the key concepts as overarching ideas in my programme?
  • Does the programme build on the students’ interests and experiences? To what extent can they work in local contexts that are meaningful to them?
  • Do my plans take advantage of the potential of classical studies to connect to the wider curriculum, including the key competencies?
  • Is there a balance in my programme between overview and depth? Have I provided sufficient in-depth opportunities to enable students to explore key concepts in detail and to achieve important outcomes?
  • Is my programme motivating, accessible, challenging, and relevant for each of my students?

Timing and management

  • Is the course manageable in terms of workload and allotted time? Have I taken into account holidays, exam study weeks, and other interruptions?
  • Should teaching and learning of the key concepts through the learning objectives be approached in a chronological, thematic, or conceptual way?
  • How can I plan so students have multiple opportunities to develop both skills and understandings in different contexts? For example, analysing the strengths and/or limitations of sources of evidence and drawing conclusions.
  • Have I planned to provide opportunities for a wide range of teaching and learning experiences including visits to local sites?
  • Do my plans encourage students to use information and communication technology (ICT/elearning) effectively?
  • How can I support students who are managing multiple commitments, in and out of school?
  • What review and evaluation processes (teaching as inquiry) can I implement throughout the year to ensure I am meeting the students’ needs?


  • Have I taken into account the cultural diversity and learning needs of my students when choosing contexts?
  • Are there opportunities for students to choose their own contexts?
  • Have I offered a range of teaching and learning opportunities across New Zealand, local, and global contexts, in and beyond the classroom?
  • Do my students have access to, and the opportunity to work with, a wide and diverse range of primary and secondary sources?


  • Is there clear progression between year levels? Can students build on classical studies’ understandings and skills from one year to another but also be extended by new experiences? Can a single year's course stand alone?
  • Is there opportunity to incorporate integrated approaches with other learning areas?
  • Is assessment planned carefully through the year, allowing for formative assessment to inform planning prior to summative assessments, such as practice school exams?
  • Have I ensured that NCEA internal assessment (and reassessment/resubmission opportunities) align with NZQA guidelines and school policy?

The key competencies, values, and principles described on pages 9–13 of The New Zealand Curriculum are the essential broad curriculum requirements that you need to address when designing your school’s classical studies programme. Build on the potential of classical studies to support the wider curriculum, including all five key competencies.

Last updated August 14, 2019