Sunday 20 February 2022

Māori Educational Success

Term 4 2021 Review Summary

In term 4 2021 school boards, teaching staff, and parents were invited to review our generic policy “Māori Educational Success”.

Feedback on the policy 

The overwhelming response from schools was that the policy itself was clear, comprehensive, easy to follow, and up to date, with useful links to supporting documentation. Reviewers commented on the policy’s relevance and how it clearly outlined Ministry of Education policy and legislated obligations. Schools found that it covers what is needed, was accurate, thorough, and provided clear direction for implementation.

Here are some comments from reviewers, in their own words: 

  • Clear, aspirational as well as achievable. Up to date, aligned with current research etc.
  • This is a clearly stated and well thought-out policy, drawing on national policy documents and tailored for our specific community. Equity issues and adherence to Te Tiriti o Waitangi are rightly prioritised by this policy.
  • Relatively straight forward and easy to read. Does rely on the reader understanding what implementation plans provided by MoE and education agencies are – so this point could be expanded to be clearer.
  • Promotes the school’s commitment to Te Tiriti and specifies the different aspects of staff, student and community partnership to achieve this.

Feedback on the policy’s implementation

Schools were clearly committed to the policy and most felt they were implementing the policy well but that there is always room for ongoing work and improvement. Many expressed a need to engage more with their Māori whānau and iwi, and some highlighted a need for more staff professional development. Many wondered: what does success look like for our Māori students?

Here are some comments from reviewers, in their own words:

  • Well under way for our Māori learners. Tracking what this 'looks like' is the challenge; however this has been a focus for all staff and for our tamariki. 
  • Currently working for our school – we need to personalise it for our community more, but will need consultation with local iwi for appropriate content. 
  • We need to consult our Māori whānau more about what they want to see us doing to support their children's learning and the teaching of tikanga, te reo Māori and the history of the Māori.
  • I think our school has done a good job of transitioning from originally making it a specific focus, towards making it something that is now just part of what they do on a day to day basis.

Improving the policy and its implementation

A small number of reviewers showed a lack of understanding of why this policy exists. This feedback, largely from parents, expressed a desire to prioritise all student achievement and a concern that a focus on race was racist. In general, it showed a lack of understanding of te Tiriti’s bicultural priorities. We have now added an introduction to the policy, which provides some helpful context.

Some reviewers wanted this generic policy to be more specific to their school. We remind schools that this policy can be tailored. However, once tailored, schools need to take responsibility for keeping up with our recommendations for content updates. Schools may prefer to keep our generic wording and link to a specific document with more details, or to keep their school-specific information in their strategic plan.

Many reviewers wanted more detail about the processes and outcomes of implementing this policy and sought a shared understanding of what Māori achieving as Māori and what success as Māori might look like. As implementation is a matter for each school, we leave that in the hands of schools, but direct those interested to the (updated) resource links at the bottom of the policy, which offer some useful guidance. 

Many school reviewers noted that the policy would be richer if it had more feedback from their whānau and iwi. Ensuring that the policy is reviewed in consultation with your local Māori community is essential, and we have reinforced this message in the policy. 

A number of schools mentioned the challenge of reporting on Māori student achievement to the school community due to confidentiality issues (e.g. if they had a small number of Māori students at their school). The requirement to report on Māori student achievement to the school community comes from the NAGs, which will be repealed on 1 Jan 2023. We will update the policy as needed after this happens, but meanwhile we know that schools will be using their own judgements to determine what is appropriate for reporting. 

Although it is outside their scheduled review period, note that other related topics will also be updated as part of our internal review following the feedback received for this topic. Keep an eye out this year for updates to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Recognition of Cultural Diversity, Inclusive Education, and Racial Harassment.