Ngā hononga kura-whānau e puta ai ngā ihu o ngā ākonga Māori

Randwick School

Randwick School is a decile 3, year 0–8 suburban school with 207 students, of whom nearly half are Māori. Ruia’s interviewer describes the school as feeling very welcoming with a ‘real whānau atmosphere’. The school’s principal, a teacher, and a parent/BOT member asked to be interviewed together, reflecting the way they usually work.

RandwickSch

The principal, teacher, and parent agreed that manaakitanga is the philosophy underpinning everything that goes on in the school. This means treating people with respect, being caring and making people feel comfortable, not being too ‘high and mighty’, making people more important than paperwork, valuing students and getting to know them, having a whānau atmosphere, and being easy to talk to. Manaakitanga is manifest in a variety of ways at Randwick School, for example:

  • having high expectations for all students
  • having food available in the staffroom and at school events
  • teachers attending students’ weekend sport events
  • building a relationship with the local marae
  • teachers dressing in a way that is not intimidating to parents
  • holding hāngi.

The process of establishing specific priorities for both student and teacher learning begins at the start of each year, with staff collating school-wide student data. The management team conducts the initial analysis, looking for overall trends and areas that need strengthening. The management team then presents the school-wide data at a staff meeting where teachers discuss the school-wide strengths and needs and the implications for allocating resources such as teacher aides. The data and the notes from this meeting are kept in draft form for a lengthy period to allow for additions and amendments. Ultimately, this information is used to identify the school’s targets and annual goals and to monitor progress towards their achievement.

As described below, the data is also presented to the community for their input. The principal presents the data for Māori students at meetings for their parents and whānau and discusses with them what they can do to help. The purpose is to:

  • explain to them the rationale for the school’s current teacher professional learning focus
  • share data with them so that they are well-informed about where Māori students are at Randwick School and where their own child is achieving
  • give them content knowledge about expected achievement levels so they can participate more actively in the parent–teacher interviews.
What are the priorities for our Māori students?

The interviewees at Randwick School expressed these shared beliefs:

  • The school’s goal for Māori students is that they achieve the same academic success as students in all New Zealand schools.
  • Teachers, students, and parents should all be aware of the benchmarks for success.
  • Students and whānau should feel confident, safe, and happy at school every day.
What are our own learning needs?

The appraisal system serves learning in this school, by using evidence to identify teacher learning needs in relation to the impact they are having on the students in their classrooms. Other school systems involving consultation with whānau help to identify their learning needs.

Planning and participating in partnership learning

The school’s participation in the Literacy Professional Development Project led to improvements in the students’ writing achievement. A big part of the teachers’ learning was about interpreting achievement data. The school leaders realised that parents would be able to participate much more actively in parent interviews if this information was shared with them.

Partnership actions: connecting and collaborating

At a meeting with whānau, the principal used a Powerpoint presentation to explain:

  • what Randwick School’s new writing programme looked like
  • what Randwick School’s writing assessment looked like
  • what the Māori children’s data looked like (graphed)
  • what the Māori children’s data should look like (graphs of expected levels).

The principal went on to explain that this was the type of information the whānau would see at the parent–teacher interviews, and she carefully unpacked what the graphs were telling them. She suggested that they might want to ask the following types of questions during the interviews:

  • What level is my child achieving at now (with reference to graphs or data)?
  • Where should they be achieving?
  • What are you doing to support them in the classroom?
  • What can I do to support them at home?

The principal also showed the whānau some examples of children’s writing books with teacher feedback. She explained what this meant and what they should look for and discuss.

What has been the impact of our changed ways of working?

Twenty-five Māori families came to the meeting where the principal helped the parents interpret achievement data and prepare for the parent–teacher interviews. The meeting was followed by a 97 percent turnout to the interviews, which is the most the school has ever seen. All the interviewees agreed that the meeting lifted the quality of the interactions during the parent–teacher interviews that followed. The growth in the parents’ knowledge and understandings around the use of data and evidence made the interviews more meaningful for teachers, students, and parents, and the resulting goals for students were more meaningful and achievable. The parent told the Ruia interviewer that she felt really empowered by this experience and that it was the best parent–teacher interview that she has ever had. This sentiment was echoed by the teacher. The principal concurred but also said that she needs to keep working on engaging with whānau because she wasn’t able to reach as many people as she had hoped.

Return to top