Te aromihi pouako e puta ai ngā ihu o ngā ākonga Māori

Identifying priorities for Māori students: What it might look like

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This section includes excerpts from case studies on the schools that participated in the Ruia exploratory study. A link to the full case study is provided at the end of each excerpt.

Opotiki College

Opotiki College is a state secondary school in the Bay of Plenty. Over 80 percent of the students are Māori. The school is a participant in the Te Kotahitanga project. The principal, a teacher who is the school’s Te Kotahitanga facilitator, and a parent were interviewed for the Ruia project.

The three interviewees agreed that educational success for Māori students is about standing tall and moving confidently in both te ao Māori and te ao Pākehā. They believe that Māori students should feel proud to be Māori while getting the best qualifications they can. To achieve this, education for Māori students should be values-driven and built on firm relationships characterised by a strong sense of whānaungatanga. It is also important to celebrate success and to support students to build on their strengths. The school has a goal that no student will leave without a qualification.

Every year, the subject departments analyse their achievement levels and break this down into ethnic groups. A ‘data man’ helps to organise the data and support learning teams to understand what the data is telling them. The principal does the whole-school analysis and shares it with staff and the bilingual unit whānau in order to look closely at Māori achievement. He says they celebrate successes and look to see what they could have done better. For example, in 2011 he was able to show improvements in the percentage of Māori students who were staying at school and achieving qualifications. However, he also used the data to point out that:

  • Māori students are disproportionately represented in early leavers
  • there is a direct correlation between length of secondary schooling and gaining qualifications.

Read the full Ruia case study.

Randwick School

Randwick School is a decile 3, year 0–8 suburban school with 207 students, of whom nearly half are Māori. The principal, a teacher, and a parent/BOT member asked to be interviewed together for Ruia, reflecting the way they usually work.

The appraisal process at Randwick School begins at the start of each year, with staff gathering, marking, and moderating student data. The management team collates the data and conducts the initial analysis, looking for overall trends and areas that need strengthening (for example, year groups or specific ethnic groups that need further support in particular areas).

The management team then presents their initial analysis of the data at a staff meeting, where teachers discuss school-wide strengths and needs and the implications for allocating resources, such as teacher aides. These initial judgments are recorded on large sheets of paper but not recorded on any formal template at this stage. Instead, the sheets are displayed in the staffroom so that teachers and school leaders can add to and amend them as they make sense of the data over time. The data is also presented to the community for their input.

At meetings with whānau, the data for Māori students is presented and there is discussion about what whānau can do to help. Whānau are also provided with the information needed to take part in informed discussion about the school’s goals for its Māori students and the rationale for its current focus for teacher professional learning.

Ultimately, the data is used to identify the school’s targets and annual goals. At the same time, teachers are supported to identify focus students, whose progress is tracked separately and closely monitored throughout the year. The make-up of the focus groups is fluid, changing over time in response to new data.

Read the full Ruia case study.

Sylvia Park School

Sylvia Park School is a decile 2 suburban school with a diverse student population of 320. Around a quarter of the students are Māori, and over half are Pasifika. Ruia’s interviewer met with the principal, two teachers (the teacher in the bilingual unit and the teacher who is the project manager of the parents’ centre), and a parent.

The interviewees expressed a passionate commitment to student success. They stated that this requires having “a strong evidence base, effective pedagogy, and home–school partnerships”. Through the school’s participation in deep, ongoing professional learning over several years and through its work to build genuine, collaborative relationships with parents, students have experienced accelerated progress. Many are achieving above national expectations for literacy and numeracy. This is especially significant for the school’s Māori and Pasifika students, who make double the rate of progress in comparison to national averages in reading and more than triple for writing (ERO, 2010).

Student achievement information is the driver for decision making, including about appraisal, which is seamlessly integrated into professional learning. Separate achievement information for Māori and Pasifika students is collated and analysed at both an individual and a school-wide level, contributing to the school’s ongoing inquiry into improvement.

Read the full Ruia case study.

Te Ara Whānui Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngā Kōhanga Reo o Te Awa Kairangi 

Te Ara Whānui Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngā Kōhanga Reo o Te Awa Kairangi is a decile 3 kura in Lower Hutt, with students in years 1–10. The kura was inaugurated in response to strong demand from parents of children in the kōhanga reo of Te Awa Kairangi and continues to develop in close collaboration with whānau. Four people were interviewed for Ruia: the tumuaki, the deputy principal, a senior teacher, and a parent.

The tumuaki, senior teacher, and parent interviewed for this case study expressed high expectations for student achievement. When students step out of Te Ara Whānui, the kura whānau expect that they will be confident, knowledgeable citizens who will make informed decisions and choices. Core principles are based on a blending of Te Aho Matua, Te Whāriki, and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, for example:

Whakamana i te Tamaiti – Tu tangata i te Tamaiti i te ao hurihuri – Strengthening our children is dependent on the survivability, sustainability, and retention of te reo Māori me ōna nei tikanga and the intergenerational transmission of information, knowledge, and skills.

Teachers gather baseline data on student achievement in literacy and numeracy in the first two weeks of each term. They then upload their student results to the school database. Teachers also discuss the findings in their teams and use them to group students within classes and plan for teaching and learning.

A group of delegated staff members (the specific educational needs co-ordinator, the senior teacher, and an administrative assistant) graph and analyse the data, noting trends and sorting students into ability groupings under four headings: Concern, Watching, Met, and Met with Merit. Close monitoring of the ‘Concern’ group is planned, along with specific support for the kaimahi (members of staff) and students. The senior management team then discuss the graphs and trends, and several times each year they meet with all staff to discuss the implications.

Twice each year, the tumuaki uses the graphs and their accompanying ‘stories’ to report to the board of trustees, drawing on them to identify student achievement and progress in the targeted areas.

Whānau are equipped with the information they need about their children’s learning to participate knowledgeably in two annual goal-setting sessions. Whānau also participate in building the picture of student learning by contributing to the development of student profiles.

Read the full Ruia case study.

Waverley Park School 

Waverley Park School is a decile 5, year 0–6 suburban school with 255 students, of whom a third are Māori. Four people were interviewed for Ruia: the principal, the teacher who leads the whānau group, and two parents.

The interviewees at Waverley Park School expressed the following aspirations for the Māori students at their school:

  • They should have both academic and cultural success.
  • Their academic and cultural achievement should be equal to or better than all others.
  • They should be engaged in their learning and fully participate in the educational experiences the school offers.
  • They should have ample opportunities to celebrate their successes.
  • They should feel a sense of self-worth through addressing their cultural needs.
  • Their sense of self-worth should have a flow-on effect to their hinengaro, wairua, and whānau.

The school gathers the bulk of its achievement data at the end of the school year. A full-time literacy leader supports teachers to do the marking, moderating, collation, and analysis. The school also allocates resourcing and set targets and goals at this time so that they are ready to go at the beginning of the next school year. This is all done in a collaborative manner with the whole staff involved in the decision making.

The school was supported to use its data differently through participation in the Literacy Professional Development Project (LPDP). The teachers said this particularly impacted on the achievement of Māori students because it highlighted a significant difference in achievement between Māori and Pākehā students at the school. “As soon as we saw that, we knew we had to do something about it.”

A new innovation was the collection of asTTle writing data, which leaders and teachers started marking and moderating as a staff. This meant setting up routines for moderating data to ensure consistency across the school, including releasing teachers to work in groups during school time so that they came to it feeling fresh and could compare and discuss their marking.

The staff then looked at patterns of achievement across the school and classrooms and identified focus students who needed targeted teaching. Programmes were put in place in response to the data, and the students’ progress was closely monitored. In time, the process of data collection, collation, and analysis was repeated so that the staff could check to see if their programmes had worked. These practices have become embedded in the school and are linked to the appraisal system.

Read the full Ruia case study.

Gathering student voice at Geraldine High School

Geraldine High is a decile 8, year 7–13 school, located in South Canterbury. Its 592 students are 89 percent Pākehā, 6 percent Māori, and 5 percent from other backgrounds.

One of Geraldine High’s academic goals is: “Māori students achieve at or above their cohort in NCEA.” The school aims for students to actively contribute to achieving this goal in a number of ways; in particular, it wanted students who identify as Māori to have a voice in strategic planning for their learning needs. As part of working towards this, the school planned a series of hui with Māori students.

For the initial hui, the school determined which students formally identified as Māori. Facilitators, venue, catering, and other resources were prepared, and personal invitations were hand delivered to these students.

The hui began with karakia, introductions, and an overview. The students formed four groups. Each group’s facilitator presented key questions in a given order:

  • How do you learn best? What makes a successful and positive lesson for you?
  • What is the best thing about being Māori at school?
  • What are the challenges about being Māori at school?
  • What are your ideas for making things great for Māori at school?
  • Who do you look up to, both at school and beyond? Why?

The students responded on sticky labels, attaching this feedback to large sheets of paper. Each hui ended with a karakia and kai. To follow up, a letter went home with every student who attended the hui, outlining its process and the questions asked there. The students’ responses to each question were written up and shared with staff. This initial data formed the basis of the school’s kaupapa Māori strategy and helped to inform the board of the aspirations of Māori students.

A second hui followed quickly, with students identifying as Māori again invited to attend. This time more students came, several saying they felt more confident about exploring their Māori identity and wanted to be involved. After the karakia, a round of ‘rangatahi bingo’ helped to loosen people up. Two key ideas from the first hui were then picked up for further discussion: forming a kapa haka group and establishing a whānau council. The students discussed three key questions:

  • What would we do in each group?
  • What would be good about having each group?
  • What do we need to do, know, and ask next?

Following the hui, student leaders who had emerged from the process were given the tools, resources, and support they needed to work with others to:

  • establish Māori Language Week activities
  • set up a drop-in room (whare ako)
  • take action on student requests about such issues as loosening the rules around wearing taonga
  • talk with teachers about how Māori students like to learn
  • speak in assembly on Māori student initiatives
  • celebrate Māori student achievements
  • form a leadership committee (rangatahi council) and meet with Māori student leaders from other schools
  • connect with families to get help from beyond school
  • use te reo
  • promote kapa haka.

Each of these initiatives has been implemented. Further hui have focussed on issues raised by students around career and tertiary aspirations, facilitating whānau hui, leadership, and racial bullying.

Students now lead the hui themselves. Teachers and students have responded to ideas from the hui by using the resources of the local community to a far greater extent. And because the students invite their own whānau to contribute, there is greater whānau involvement in the school’s kaupapa Māori strategy.

Academic outcomes are improving because teachers know their Māori students better and because of the increased confidence of Māori and their stronger participation across all areas of the school. Connections with other schools with low Māori populations have benefitted the entire community, as resources have been pooled for teaching te reo, leadership development, kapa haka tutoring, and teachers’ professional development.

Juliette Hayes, Geraldine High’s principal, has gone on to develop a model for gathering Māori student voice in schools with low Māori numbers (6–10 percent). The model helps schools to develop strategies for improving Māori student learning outcomes and whānau engagement. She believes that the model works because schools with low Māori numbers can lose sight of their Māori students, whereas this simple strategy builds relationships and confidence and encourages students to come forward. She has found that connecting with students first leads to more context-specific interventions with staff and whānau. The model includes supplementary resources, such as the icebreaker ‘rangatahi bingo’ and the structure of the hui, and has been used in several primary and secondary schools. To contact Juliette about the model, email j.hayes@geraldinehs.school.nz

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