Shock as New Zealand science curriculum omits physics, biology and chemistry

Early draft of revised curriculum sparks concern among teachers, who worry about the absence of fundamental sciences.

Shock as New Zealand science curriculum omits physics, biology and chemistry
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New Zealand science teachers have been left in shock after it was revealed that an early draft of the revised science curriculum makes no mention of physics, biology or chemistry.

Media outlet Newshub got an early copy of the document, which was sent to only a select number of teachers for feedback.

Some of them were so shocked by what they saw, they went public.

Head of Science at St Patricks College in Wellington, Doug Walker, said the draft curriculum was a worry.

"I was quite surprised and concerned about what seems to be missing from the document," he said.

He said the new curriculum aims to teach science through five contexts - including the Earth system, biodiversity, and infectious diseases.

But he could not believe there was no mention of teaching the basics such as physics, chemistry or biology.

"Major areas of science can't be seen in the document,” he said.

“To me the curriculum should be explicitly stating what, how and when to teach certain concepts to students.”

Physics educators who have seen the proposed curriculum have said they fear students might leave school without knowing the fundamentals.

"We have a draft curriculum that doesn't even mention physics," NZ Physics Institute President, Joachim Brand said.

But Science Curriculum Co-Writer Cathy Buntting denied there was any attempt to skip the basics.

"It's proposing to teach those subjects differently, not operating in the silos that have been traditionally the structure of science education in secondary schools,” she said.

The Ministry of Education was forced to release a statement warning that speculation on the curriculum was premature.

A more comprehensive draft document will be released for wider feedback in August.

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