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

Partnership actions: What to think about


This section discusses an Education Review Office report from 2010 on primary and secondary schools' approaches that have been effective in maintaining or improving their engagement with Māori students, whānau, and communities.

It also links with two brochures supporting the implementation of the revised English-medium curriculum.

Education Review Office: Promoting Success for Māori students

In 2010, ERO investigated the initiatives in schools that had been effective in maintaining or improving their engagement with Māori students, whānau, and communities in the period from 2006 until 2010. 

Promoting Success for Māori Students describes the ways in which effective secondary schools:

  • used their self-review information to improve responsiveness to Māori students and their whānau
  • sought feedback from Māori students, staff, and parents through surveys and hui
  • had effective communication systems and frequently used an open door policy and home visits
  • in one case, had a Treaty of Waitangi subcommittee that was responsible for monitoring and improving Māori engagement
  • had Māori engagement targets in their planning, based on what the school knew about retention, achievement, and participation rates of Māori students.

In these effective secondary schools, the boards of trustees:

  • consulted with whānau and the Māori community regularly and through a variety of methods
  • had more than one Māori trustee (a factor that some schools saw as an advantage, as it increased the likelihood that Māori perspectives were expressed and heard)
  • expected and received reports on Māori achievement in order to keep informed of trends and patterns
  • responded to these reports with appropriate allocation of resources to support initiatives.

ERO adds that:

A further factor commonly associated with the most effective schools was that parents and whānau were actively involved in the school and in students’ learning.

Whānau had a sense of connectedness and had a voice in determining the long-term direction of the school. The school ensured that ongoing opportunities for this partnership were encouraged, in order to find out and respond to the aspirations and expectations of parents and whānau.

A feature of primary schools where Māori engagement was high or had substantially improved was that they had school-wide initiatives in place.

Though these initiatives did not necessarily target Māori specifically, they “tended to link in with a strategic priority of improving Māori students’ achievement” and often incorporated strategies that involved parents and whānau.

ERO lists the following strategies that were also used in primary schools to facilitate engagement:

  • the extensive use of te reo me ngā tikanga in the school
  • setting up a kaumātua/kuia group
  • incorporating a tuakana-teina approach
  • encouraging and supporting Māori students to take on responsibilities and leadership
  • setting up professional learning and development in a Māori-focused Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) initiative
  • establishing a whānau committee
  • setting strategic targets for engaging students and whānau
  • introducing Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success to the board
  • linking with marae committees
  • including the chairperson of the whānau committee as an ex officio board member
  • involving parents and whānau of preschoolers.

From the New Zealand Curriculum to School Curriculum

The publication From the New Zealand Curriculum to School Curriculum was developed to support the implementation of the revised English-medium curriculum. It includes several sections that could be helpful in building educationally powerful partnerships while developing school curricula that align with both the national guidelines and local priorities.

These include:

  • the section on engaging the community on page 7
  • the vignette on homework on page 9
  • the vignette on reporting Māori achievement on page 10.

New Zealand Curriculum Update 1: Family and Community Engagement

New Zeaalnd Curriculum Updates – Update 1: Family and Community Engagement focuses on engagement with whānau and Māori communities.

It is based on the premise that “As schools work with the National Standards, teachers and school leaders need to consider the ways that they communicate with whānau and communities about their children’s motivation, progress, and achievement” (page 1).The Update presents key ideas from research and some practical suggestions, along with a series of illustrative vignettes.

The vignettes describe:

  • the perspective of one whānau on school–whānau relationships
  • partnership building between a tribal authority and the eight schools within the iwi rohe
  • a joint parent/whānau and teacher intervention using the Reading Together programme
  • the use of a homework programme to create powerful connections through learning at home.

Reflective questions

  • How effective are our routine school–home communication systems? 
    • How do we know?
  • How effective are our transition communications with whānau? 
    • What kinds of relationships do we have with the kōhanga reo, preschools, schools, and other places our Māori students come from or move on to?
  • How are Māori represented on the board of trustees? 
    • How well are they supported to consult with and report back from the wider Māori community and iwi?

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