St Clair School, Dunedin, New Zealand St Clair School Dunedin Education NZ
St Clair School Dunedin Education NZ Richard Newton Principal
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St Clair School Integrated Curriculum - Philosophical Overview



"Almost everyone has had occasion to look back upon his school days and wonder what has become of the knowledge he was supposed to have amassed during his years of schooling… but it was so segregated when it was acquired and hence is so disconnected from the rest of experience, that is it not available under the actual conditions of life" (Dewey 1938, cited in Beane, 1997, p.6).

Integration of the curriculum is an important part of St Clair School's approach to the delivery of the New Zealand curriculum. We believe that an integrated approach not only provides meaningful learning opportunities for children but also enables the school to fulfil its legal requirements as outlined in the National Education Goals and National Administration Guidelines, as well as fulfill its Charter goals and obligations.

An Integrated Approach

One of the main aims of any school is to help students to understand and make sense of their world. For learning to be long lasting, it is important that new experiences build on existing knowledge and skills. The integrated approach to curriculum delivery allows children to explore relatively complex issues that don't always fit simple curriculum categories. As children explore meaningful questions and issues, the integrated approach links individual subject areas in more meaningful contexts.

The integrated approach to curriculum delivery at St Clair School is generally inquiry-based. It is cyclic in nature as represented by the diagram below.

During their time at St Clair, children will have repeated opportunities to:

  • identify and clarify questions for exploration
  • plan and undertake personal investigations
  • gather information from a range of sources
  • process and interpret their own data
  • draw conclusions and share their findings with others.


These learning opportunities reflect the Essential Skills and the processes inherent in the science, social studies and technology curricula. In addition, attitudes and values are also well supported.

The integrated approach to curriculum delivery is supported by the New Zealand Curriculum Framework (1993).

"… Schools may achieve a balanced and broad curriculum in a number of ways, for example, by organising their programmes around subjects, by using an integrated approach or by using topic or thematic approaches… The essential learning areas are 'inter-related'. Any activity which students engage in will draw on more than one learning area. In planning programmes schools need to understand and make sure of connections between the learning areas." (NZ Curriculum Framework, MOE 1993. Pages 8 & 9).

The school uses a clearly outlined curriculum plan to ensure that students receive a rich and varied curriculum. When developing the curriculum plan, the school was mindful that:

  • many children are still developing essential literacy and numeracy skills and as a consequence, English and Mathematics are taught outside of the integrated model
  • integrated programmes naturally include science, social studies, technology and health however, whenever appropriate, aspects of mathematics, physical education and The Arts should also be incorporated
  • elements of the English curriculum will be evident throughout integrated programmes
  • an integrated approach will provide opportunities for children to learn about and use a variety of learning tools.


Beane, J. (1997). Curriculum integration Designing the core of democratic education. New York and London: Teachers College Press, Columbia University.

Murdoch, K. (2004) as cited at:

Pigdon, K. and Woolley, M. (Eds) (1995). The big picture. Integrating children's learning. USA, Heinemann.