Social Sciences

The social sciences learning area is about how societies work and how people can participate as critical, active, informed, and responsible citizens. Contexts are drawn from the past, present, and future and from places within and beyond New Zealand.

Aotearoa New Zealand’s Histories

From 2022, Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories will be taught in all schools and kura.

It is part of the social sciences learning area because it encourages learners to be critical citizens – learning about the past to understand the present and prepare for the future.


There are three elements to the curriculum content: 

UNDERSTAND, KNOW, and DO. It is structured this way to help teachers design learning experiences that weave these elements together so that student learning is deep and meaningful.

Why study the social sciences?

Through the social sciences, students develop the knowledge and skills to enable them to: better understand, participate in, and contribute to the local, national, and global communities in which they live and work; engage critically with societal issues; and evaluate the sustainability of alternative social, and environmental practices.


Students explore the unique bicultural nature of New Zealand society that derives from the Treaty of Waitangi. They learn about people, places, cultures, histories, and the economic world, within and beyond New Zealand. They develop understandings about how societies are organised and function and how the ways in which people and communities respond are shaped by different perspectives, values, and viewpoints. As they explore how others see themselves, students clarify their own identities in relation to their particular heritages and contexts.

The Structure of Social Sciences

Achievement objectives for social studies integrate concepts from one or more of four conceptual strands:

  • Identity, Culture, and Organisation – Students learn about society and communities and how they function. They also learn about the diverse cultures and identities of people within those communities and about the effects of these on the participation of groups and individuals.
  • Place and Environment – Students learn about how people perceive, represent, interpret, and interact with places and environments. They come to understand the relationships that exist between people and the environment.
  • Continuity and Change – Students learn about past events, experiences, and actions and the changing ways in which these have been interpreted over time. This helps them to understand the past and the present and to imagine possible futures.
  • The Economic World – Students learn about the ways in which people participate in economic activities and about the consumption, production, and distribution of goods and services. They develop an understanding of their role in the economy and of how economic decisions affect individuals and communities.


Social Studies at Pukekohe East School

The expectation is that students will use an inquiry approach to:

  • ask questions, gather information and background ideas, and examine relevant current issues
  • explore and analyse people’s values and perspectives
  • consider the ways in which people make decisions and participate in social action
  • reflect on and evaluate the understandings they have developed and the responses that may be required.
  • learn about the past to understand the present and prepare for the future.


Assessment and Reporting

Assessment data will be gathered periodically related to key understandings, knowledge and skills. Learning will be connected to both literacy and numeracy and provide evidence of learning to make judgements about progress and achievement across the curriculum.

Progress and achievement will be reported to parents via:

  • Seesaw- ongoing evidence of learning (digital portfolio)
  • Learning Forums (student, parents and teacher conferences twice yearly)
  • a written report covering all curriculum areas.

Photo by Callum Parker on Unsplash    Lake Taupo, Waikato, New Zealand