Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Religious Studies Achievement Standards in New Zealand state secondary schools: Philosophy, pedagogy and policy

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posted on 2021-12-07, 10:43 authored by Chote, John

This thesis outlines and examines the factors that account for the post-2009 growth in the adoption and use of the NCEA Religious Studies Achievement Standards by state secondary school teachers in New Zealand.  My specific focus is on identifying differences in philosophy, pedagogy and policy in RS use between the state schools and: 1. other subjects, 2. NZ faith schools and 3. developments in a selection of countries and explaining the significance of these differences.  The context for this development is set out in an historical outline that draws in factors that have led up to the seeming anomaly of a set of national RS assessments appearing in 2009. This outline pulls together relevant legal, curricular and societal developments since the late Nineteenth Century, that might help explain the state schools taking up this new opportunity.  The most substantial weight of the thesis comes from the field work involving in-depth questionnaires and interviews with a census of state school teachers using the RS assessments. This provides clear patterns of difference in philosophy, pedagogy and policy in the state schools’ adoption and use of the RS ASs compared to other subjects, faith schools and three comparison countries. It is the teachers’ voices that are heard strongly here. This analysis was backed up with my access to extensive NZQA data files of every student entry in RS ASs in New Zealand since 2009.  The state school teachers’ use of the RS assessments is then viewed against comparison schools and countries. A comparison with a cross-section selection of local New Zealand faith school teachers using the RS assessments (who also took part in the questionnaire and interview research) and a literature review of the issues and development of RS teaching in the UK, Canada and Australia, helped accentuate and explain the differences in this new development in state schools.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Religious Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Arts

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970122 Expanding Knowledge in Philosophy and Religious Studies

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Art History, Classics and Religious Studies


Morris, Paul

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