Recently I had the privilege of visiting two schools, Motu and Waerenga o Kuri, to film their journey into understanding, responding to, and planning for Māori to achieve success as Māori in their schools.
Both schools have a high percentage of Māori students who are achieving at or above National Standards level. This led to the question — “If our Māori students are already succeeding what else do we need to do?” It is a question that is important. If most of your Māori students are succeeding, is that enough? Are they succeeding as Māori?
Professor Mason Durie (2003) explains, "As Māori [means] being able to have access to te ao Māori, the Māori world — access to language, culture, marae… tikanga… and resources… If after twelve or so years of formal education, a Māori youth were totally unprepared to interact within te ao Māori, then, no matter what else had been learned, education would have been incomplete."
The 2010 ERO report highlights that not all educators have yet recognised their professional responsibility to provide a learning environment that promotes success for Māori students.So what does Māori achieving success as Māori look like? How in English medium schools should we address this?
The Māori education strategy, Ka Hikitia – Accelerating Success 2013–2017, suggests making change to enable Māori to succeed as Māori involves:
- developing new, and expanding current teaching and learning approaches that are engaging, effective, and enjoyable for all Māori students.
- having high expectations for all Māori students
- growing knowledge and evidence of what works to support excellent educational and Māori language outcomes.
- developing productive partnerships with parents, families and whānau, iwi, and community that are responsive and reciprocal – leading to shared action, outcomes, and solutions.
The intent of The New Zealand Curriculum is that schools develop curricula for their own students that are challenging, engaging, and relevant. Building into the curriculum aspects that have particular significance for school communities ensures that learning has meaning for students, and is supported by their families and the wider community. Thus, each school’s curriculum is a bespoke piece of collective thinking about what matters to them at particular points in time. (ERO, 2012).
With the support of Learning with Digital Technologies facilitators, Kathe Tawhiwhirangi and Trevor Bond, the schools engaged with their BOT and local community to unpack the aims of Ka Hikitia.
For Motu and Waerenga o Kuri schools, the consultation process with the community, in particular Māori parents and whānau, led to an agreed understanding of what Māori achieving success as Māori looked like in their schools. They used Tātaiako: Cultural competencies for teachers of Māori learners to create their own self-review framework.
Following a self-review, each school created their own strategic plan and school curriculum for reaching their identified ideals – placing the student at the centre of learning, while valuing and including te reo Māori, tikanga, and local Māori culture across the school curriculum. A key for parents has been having a say in what their children are learning. The result has been the creation of deep community connections where whānau feel welcomed, valued and involved in their child’s learning.
Having focused discussions with their community that had student learning at the centre was a key in engaging parents and whānau.
“I felt valued and very welcome as part of the community. Some of the benefits for me have been being allowed to come to the school and help them … and see my daughter grow as a person … being able to have a say at what my kids are being taught at school.” Parent
“One of the things that this has taught me is that Māori students are different. They learn differently…” BOT member
“The simplest way to explain it is probably that it’s no longer a single lesson, it’s just intrinsic, it’s embedded in everything.” Teacher
Yvonne Nikora from Waerenga o Kuri explains the change it has made in her teaching approach.
What excites me in having visited these schools, spoken with students, teachers, parents, and BOT members is seeing real change occur. Change that is sustainable. Having a framework for Māori achieving success as Māori developed by the school in consultation with the community to self-review against has been key to this.
To see the full collection of videos from these schools go to Māori achieving success as Māori on the Enabling e-Learning website.
ERO, (2010). Promoting Success for Māori Students
ERO (2012). Evaluation at a Glance: Priority Learners in New Zealand Schools
Professor Mason Durie, (2003). Ngā Kahui Pou: Launching Māori Futures. Huia Publications.
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