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

Getting started with this website

Te hīkoi whakamua me tēnei pae tukutuku

The kaupapa of this website makes it essential that school leaders and whānau use it together in a collaborative process underpinned by the principle of ako – shared, reciprocal learning in which each person contributes as both teacher and learner. This process will look different in different schools.

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Some schools’ relationships with whānau mean that decisions about using Ruia can be made in partnership with the school’s Māori community. Even so, it’s likely that the principal and other school leaders will need to familiarise themselves with Ruia before that decision-making process.

In other schools, the in-school leaders will find it more useful to begin by working within a smaller group, including the board of trustees and key whānau representatives. It may be helpful to employ an outside facilitator to get started.

Whatever the situation in your school, you need to begin as you mean to continue. A serious commitment to partnership will bring great rewards. A token approach will bring little change, which may be negative.

You may be keen to start looking at your school’s interactions with whānau before you commit to all or part of the inquiry cycle. One or more of the suggestions provided below could help you focus on the specific needs and interests that will drive an inquiry. As well as selecting processes and activities that suit your community, you need to base your thinking and actions on the key principles of educationally powerful partnerships.

Below are some suggested starter activities you could use in your school before committing to a more systematic cycle of inquiry using this website as a tool for improvement.

Starting with a tool

  • Use the interactive tool “Reviewing your school-whānau partnerships” to assess how much the current interactions between whānau, teachers, and leaders in your school community contribute to the outcomes whānau and your Māori community want for their children. Use the reports from the tool to get a picture of what things are like now, where you would like to be in the future, and what’s most important to work on. Plan to reuse the tool in a year or two in order to monitor your progress over time.
  • Make a commitment to try one of the tools suggested in the inquiry cycle’s “Identifying priorities for Māori students: What to use” section. Ensure that your selection matches an identified need in your school.

Starting with the principles of educationally powerful partnerships

  • Consider the principles that guide relationships between teachers, leaders, and whānau at your school. Where are they recorded? How are they enacted? Then critically examine the principles of educationally powerful partnerships described in this website. Discuss and record your initial responses to the principles and compare them to what is happening at your school. Next, read the sections on the connections and supporting evidence for these principles, and discuss whether these have had an impact on anyone’s point of view. Identify any issues that you would now like to address and start discussion on your next steps.
  • Conduct a mini inquiry into one of the principles, identifying how it appears in your school and trying something new. For example, how effectively do teachers draw on whānau funds of knowledge? Do you know what those funds are?
  • Look at something you have done recently and consider it in relationship to the principles. For example, a whānau group could read several recent school newsletters and do a “think aloud” about how well they align with the principles. (A “think aloud” is where people read and express their thoughts as they do so. A trusted observer records what they say without making interpretative comments or judgments. This written record can then be the focus for making improvements.)

Starting with focused reflection

  • Start by identifying an issue that is important in raising Māori student achievement and building educationally powerful partnerships in your school. Using the inquiry and knowledge-building cycle diagram, find a section in this website that will assist you and decide on a process that you can use to inquire into what is happening in your school. 
  • How well do you and your staff know and use the inquiry and knowledge–building cycle? Discuss the concepts that underpin the cycle and how they relate to the principle of ako. If you have had limited experience in inquiry-based professional learning, read the section on ‘Using evidence in inquiry’ and pull out the key points. Consider whether you need further support in this area. 

Starting with what successful schools are doing

  • View or read one of the case studies. Think about which principles of educationally powerful partnerships it illustrates. Consider how the ideas or activities that are described might be applied to your context and whether they might help to promote Māori student achievement at your school. 
  • Conduct an ‘interrupted narrative’. This involves reading part of a case study and stopping at a critical point to predict what will happen next and explore alternatives. For example, read the context and first stage of the case study on Waverley Park School and discuss what strategy the principal might try in order to improve whānau attendance at and participation in consultative meetings. Read on to see what he tried and how it went, and consider whether there are elements of his approach that you could try.
  • View the clips from Te Mana Kōrero: Relationships for Learning in which principals, teachers, students, parents, and other whānau talk about the importance of forging “relationships for learning”. Explore their ideas and the approaches that they say have worked well for them. 

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