Interested in engaging with projects that will make a difference? Interested in a programme that works with the NZ Curriculum and Inquiry Learning? Then Roots & Shoots is for you. 

Roots creep underground everywhere and make a firm foundation. Shoots seem very weak, but to reach the light, they can break open brick walls. Imagine that the brick walls are all the problems we have inflicted on our planet. Hundreds of thousands of roots & shoots, hundreds of thousands of young people around the world, can break through these walls. We CAN change the world

Dr. Jane Goodall

Roots & Shoots is an environmental and humanitarian programme which aligns nicely with the principals and values of the NZ Curriculum, Education for Sustainability and Global Citizenship Education.

Dr. Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots is a curriculum-based learning programme. Roots & Shoots encourages youth of all ages to make positive change happen―for the animal community, for the human community, and for the environment―and in doing so to recognise how these three subject areas are intertwined and dependent upon each other to survive.

The Roots & Shoots curriculum-based learning programme helps teachers educate students about the world outside their own experiences, and shows young people that they can make a positive impact in their community. The goal of this curriculum is to make it easy for educators to participate in Roots & Shoots by providing a framework aligned to the NZ Curriculum. We also aim to connect students to Dr. Jane’s positive messages, teach them the importance of giving to their community, and develop within them a sense of empowerment that comes from helping others.

Projects are designed to take learning outside the classroom and connect it with the community in a meaningful way. By implementing a well-developed project and participating in a hands-on experience, students are able to realise their ability to be a positive influence. At the same time, the experience builds academic skills, making it an excellent opportunity to apply standards-based instruction. Aligning this learning with the national curriculum ensures that students enhance their academic learning while benefiting from an engaging experience that strengthens their sense of belonging in their community.

The unique educational opportunities offered by this learning give students a chance to grow in a number of ways. Empowering students to take responsibility for the needs of their community and their own learning has many benefits, including:

  • Creating purposeful learning
  • Building a sense of community and responsibility
  • Enhancing critical-thinking skills
  • Fostering career exploration
  • Encouraging students to become agents of change for societal inadequacies
  • Acts as an effective instructional method giving teachers the opportunity to connect their students with the community in a constructive manner. The power of this learning lies in encouraging students to positively impact their community, while at the same time challenging them academically.

Education for Sustainability

The New Zealand Curriculum highlights ‘Education for Sustainability’ (EfS) as a key learning area

The New Zealand Curriculum highlights ‘Education for Sustainability’ (EfS) as a key learning area.

"Mō tātou te taiao ko te atawhai, mō tātou te taiao ko te oranga"

"It is for us to care for and look after the environment to ensure its wellbeing, in doing so we ensure our own wellbeing and that of our future generations”

Education for Sustainability NZ Curriculum Online

Roots & Shoots & the New Zealand Curriculum

By utilising the Roots & Shoots programme with students you directly allow them the opportunity to engage with key aspects of the Vision, Values and Principles identified in the New Zealand Curriculum


What do we want for our young people? (NZC, p.8)

  • To be confident in themselves and show resilience and resourcefulness.
  • To secure a sustainable social, cultural, economic, and environmental future for our country.
  • To be connected - able to relate well to others, connect to the land and environment and be true members of communities.
  • To be actively involved - participate in a range of life contexts, contribute to the well-being of New Zealand – socially, culturally, economically and environmentally.


To be encouraged, modelled and explored. (NZC, p.10)

Through Roots & Shoots students will be encouraged to value “ecological sustainability including care for the environment”

In exploring environmental issues, people’s interests in the environment, and actions for a sustainable future, students will have many opportunities to:

  • Learn about their own values and those of others.
  • Develop their ability to express their own values and to make decisions around those values.
  • Explore with empathy the values of others and understand why others have those values.
  • Critically analyse values and the actions based on them.

Make ethical decisions (for the benefit of animals, people and the environment) and act on them.


The foundations of curriculum decision making. (NZC, p.9)

Roots & Shoots is largely a student-led programme within which participants can set their own High Expectations.

Treaty of Waitangi and Cultural Diversity As the programme develop in Aotearoa, New Zealand, we will further co-create resources with, primarily our Maori Community as Tangata Whenua and Treaty partners but also with cross-cultural support from around the country.

It is non-negotiable that the Roots & Shoots Programme is engaged with in the spirit of Inclusion and that all who wish to be involved are facilitated to do so in a way that is uplifting and affirming.

Students, through inquiry and the self-design elements of their projects will be Learning to Learn. Self and group reflection are integral to the programme.

Community Engagement is fundamental to Root & Shoots. Ideas are moved beyond the hypothetical and acted upon in the local or global ‘community’.

Roots & Shoots supports the principle of Coherence and makes links across learning areas creating opportunities for students to find new pathways.

Future Focus

Sustainability, citizenship, enterprise and globalisation are key concepts as students are asked to take actions now with an eye to the future. 

Inquiry Learning

The Roots & Shoots Formula supports Inquiry Learning in the New Zealand classroom.

The teacher is a guide rather than instructor and, through community mapping, the students are encouraged to explore issues of importance to them and to decide which of these they would like to address and how.

Inquiry-based learning is a constructivist approach, in which students have ownership of their learning. It starts with exploration and questioning and leads to investigation into a worthy question, issue, problem or idea. It involves asking questions, gathering and analysing information, generating solutions, making decisions, justifying conclusions and taking action.

Based on definitions from Sharon Friesen and  

“Through the process of inquiry, individuals construct much of their understanding of the natural and human-designed worlds.”


Download the Full JGI NZ Roots & Shoots Toolkit which outlines undertaking a Roots & Shoots project, links to the New Zealand Curriculum and more!