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

Identifying priorities for Māori students: What to think about

This section discusses:

  •  the kinds of outcomes for Māori students schools can consider
  • how to include the whole community in determining these outcome 
  • the importance of creating a picture of each student’s pattern of progress
  • the value of selecting focus students at times.

What could Māori achieving educational success as Māori look like in our school?

When considering valued outcomes for Māori students, keep in mind the five outcome domains outlined in Ka Hikitia – Ka Hāpaitia.

Māori enjoying education success as Māori requires Māori to achieve both universal outcomes and outcomes that are unique to each learner. "Ka Hikitia will be successful when:

  • Māori learners are engaged and achieving excellent education outcomes
  • Māori whānau, hapū and iwi are active partners with our education services in defining and supporting excellent outcomes for Māori learners." (Ministry of Education, June 2020 p.8)
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Discussion on the outcomes that are valued for students, and their current needs in relation to those outcomes, should always be contextualised within the relevant curriculum: The New Zealand Curriculum for students in English-medium contexts or Te Marautanga o Aotearoa for students in Māori-medium contexts.

Each of these curriculum documents takes a broad view of outcomes. They emphasise that students need to develop socially, emotionally, culturally, and cognitively if they are to succeed in their learning and to participate confidently in the wider world.

Reflective question

  • What are the outcomes we value for Māori students in our school?

Including the whole community

The message from Ka Hikitia and from a considerable body of research is that the outcomes identified for Māori students need to be those valued by the students themselves, by their whānau and iwi, and by the wider community.

Teachers and school leaders need to understand the learning needs of their students in relation to outcomes that are valued in both te ao Māori and te ao Pākehā (Biddulph, Biddulph, and Biddulph, 2003; Bishop, Berryman, Tiakiwai, and Richardson, 2003; Robinson, Hohepa, and Lloyd, 2009).

Identifying these needs requires in-depth and genuine consultation with parents, whānau, and kaumātua.

Through this process, all participants should gain a sense of ownership for the outcomes and of their responsibility for ensuring that they are achieved.

The companion Ruia website, School–Whānau Partnerships for Māori Learners’ Success, provides support for schools to build the educationally powerful relationships needed for that consultation.

Reflective question

  • Do we include the perspectives of the students themselves, and their parents, whānau, and wider community, in identifying student needs and outcomes?

Creating a picture

Once schools have selected the outcomes that are valued in their community, they can collect achievement information in relation to each of those outcomes. This will enable them to create a picture of each student’s pattern of progress, both over time and in relation to others in their class, in their school and, where possible, across the country.

As discussed in the section on Using evidence in inquiry, this information needs to be organised in such a way that all its users can understand it and can track it over time. The section What to use provides links to a range of tools for collecting achievement information for students in English-medium education.

Reflective questions

  • What do Māori students in our school already know? How do we build on what they know?
  • What are the most pressing needs of Māori students in our school and in my classroom?
  • What data do we collect on Māori students in our school? Do we organise it in ways that allow us to understand and monitor their patterns of progress?

Focus students

Throughout the inquiry process, Māori student achievement must be the touchstone for success.

The idea of monitoring selected focus-students can be difficult to accept. However, the experience of participants in projects such as the Literacy Professional Development Project (LPDP) and Te Kotahitanga shows that there is no detrimental effect on other students if some are selected for particularly close attention.

Information is still being collected and analysed in relation to all students, and tools mean that this information is also easily accessible.

The selection of focus-students enables teachers to work "smarter not harder" when participating in intensive professional development. Because teachers are closely monitoring how their focus students respond to particular teaching actions, they also become sensitised to noticing these responses in other students and can react more promptly where a different approach is required.

Think carefully about the criteria for selecting focus students.

These criteria will vary depending on the student outcomes and professional learning goals being worked towards. They will also vary according to the context. In some schools, the requirements may be quite specific, for example, selecting three Māori students at a range of achievement levels.

The selection should always be made with the expectation that all students have the potential to do well with the support and aroha of their teachers.

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