Contextualising Learning

Key ideas about learning contexts within Vocational Pathways

Vocational Pathways can provide students with opportunities for a greater choice of learning programmes. These programmes should be broad and foundational, located within a relevant employment sector, and not locked into single industries. Partnerships between providers may be required to create more choice. Schools, tertiary organisations, and ITOs should aim to provide contexts that are relevant, interesting, challenging, and provide for a wide range of abilities.

While considering contexts for learning, the following questions may support your planning.

In your programme of learning and delivery, how are you:

  • ensuring that the contexts chosen meet the needs and interests of your students, as well as opening up their worlds?
  • building on the principles of The New Zealand Curriculum and Vocational Pathways?
  • supporting the development of the key competencies and graduate capabilities?
  • incorporating sound teaching and learning delivery approaches?
  • making connections to other areas of learning, and students’ experiences?

As part of the Ministry of Education’s nationwide series of youth guarantee workshops in 2013, Ian Reid and Amanda Picken presented a workshop featuring a number of “contextualised learning examples”.

The aim was to demonstrate how, by situating learning in vocational pathways, schools can lift engagement and achievement and provide more secure transitions to further study or employment. Participants said they found it very helpful to have actual examples of change.

In this series of short video clips Ian and Amanda discuss why Vocational Pathways matter, some of the examples, and some of the feedback.

1.  Learning doesn’t take place in a vacuum

2.  Expanding students’ vocational imagination

3.  Who is already doing things differently?

4.  Programmes not subjects

5.  Challenging the constraints of timetable

6.  Partnering to offer more

7.  Every situation is different


Other contextualised learning-guidance materials


Some examples of learning contexts are provided in the links below. They are not an exhaustive list, and are presented to stimulate further thinking and adaptation for contexts that are relevant to your students. Considerations for planning the teaching and learning approaches related to these contexts are outlined in Designing learning: Teaching and delivery approaches.