Evaluation of Te Kotahitanga: 2004-2008
In 2007, Victoria University was contracted by the Ministry to produce an external evaluation of the effectiveness of Te Kotahitanga. It is the first external evaluation of Te Kotahitanga.
This is the full technical report of the evaluation of Te Kotahitanga in 22 schools from phase three and four of the programme, from 2004-2008. Substantive findings from the evaluation report concluded that Te Kotahitanga is a sound and effective process for improving classroom teaching and learning for Māori students.
Also available on Education Counts is the Te Kotahitanga Summary Report, which outlines the key findings.
Author(s): Luanna Meyer, Wally Penetito, Anne Hynds, Catherine Savage, Rawiri Hindle, and Christine Sleeter. Report for the Ministry of Education.
Date Published: August 2010
This report is available as a download (please refer to the 'Downloads' inset box). To view the individual chapters please refer to the 'Sections' inset box. For links to related publications/ information that may be of interest please refer to the 'Where to Find Out More' inset box.
Chapter 6: Impact on Schools
This chapter addresses the impact of the Te Kotahitanga Professional Development programme on schools, both intentional and incidental. The data used to draw the conclusion for this chapter come from Phase 3 and 4 schools, principals, facilitators, students and whānau. The intention of the chapter is to demonstrate the impact the professional development programme has had on the school as an institution from the perspective of all those involved.
As might be expected the cultural responsiveness of schools toward their Māori students varied along a continuum with at one end, schools being highly responsive to things Māori while at the other end of the continuum, minimally responsive to their Māori students' cultural backgrounds. It is possible to trace this continuum using a variety of Māori cultural criteria such as the display of Māori cultural artefacts, use of te reo Māori across campus, familiarity of teachers with the local Māori landscape, and the socio-cultural awareness of teachers with their Māori students. Although all of these criteria are important in building up a culturally responsive school Te Kotahitanga focuses on the last of these criteria, that is, the socio-cultural awareness of teachers of the Māori students in their classes in the pedagogical relationship. Some schools were 'champing at the bit' to get involved while others were keen but nervous; some felt they were professionally ready to engage with the programme while a few felt a more deliberate, phased approach to the intervention with more time dedicated to convincing teachers and informing parents. No school felt Te Kotahitanga was a waste of time and energy. On the contrary, they all wanted to ensure the programme's continuance into the future.
As is well recognised, schools are busy institutions and classrooms are complex social organisations. The secondary schools and the classrooms we visited were testimony to these truisms. Yet, schools welcomed our intrusion into their daily lives, opened their classes for our observations, and grasped the opportunities to participate in our interviews. Such was the enthusiasm we encountered in almost every school and classroom we visited. It would be overstating the case to suggest that an intervention like the Te Kotahitanga Professional Development Programme was responsible in itself for the positive school climate but the data offer strong support for the impact of Te Kotahitanga on schools that have been implementing the Effective Teaching Profile (ETP) as part of the project with the Waikato research team.
Culturally responsive schools
Bishop and Berryman (2006) express being culturally responsive as recognising Māori student's culture and taking cognisance of Māori cultural aspirations and notions of belonging. Developing culturally responsive relationships requires schools to build appropriate and responsive pedagogies into their curriculum and programmes (p.201). Bishop and Berryman expand on this notion by stating teachers create a culturally appropriate and responsive learning context, where young people can engage in learning by bringing their prior cultural knowledge and experiences to classroom interactions, which legitimate these, instead of ignoring or rejecting them (pp. 264-265).
Bishop, O'Sullivan, and Berryman (2010) outline seven specific indicators of a culturally responsive school. The indicators are interrelated and interdependent. These are introduced in earlier Te Kotahitanga documents as the GPILSEO model (Bishop, Berryman, Cavanagh, Teddy, & Clapman, 2006) and updated in Bishop et al. (2008, p. 126) including:
- Goal : The focus on improving Māori student participation and achievement.
- Pedagogy : A culturally responsive pedagogy of relations developed across all classrooms, which is used to inform relations and interactions at all levels within the school and community.
- Institutions : Creating time and space for the development of new institutions within the school, and establishing structures such as timetables, staffing and organisational structures need to support this reform.
- Leadership : Leadership that is responsive to the needs of reform, proactive in setting targets and goals, and distributed to allow power sharing.
- Spreading : A means whereby all staff can join the reform, and parents and community are included.
- Evaluation : A means whereby in-school facilitators, researchers and teachers are able to use appropriate instruments to monitor the implementation of the reform to provide data for formative and summative purposes.
- Ownership: A means whereby the whole school, including the board of trustees, takes ownership of the reform.
The schools in this evaluation varied in their implementation of the Te Kotahitanga GPILSEO framework and how this might be assessed, using the Bishop et al. definitions, on a continuum of low to high implementers. Those schools that were considered high implementers rated highly in all areas; moderate implementers demonstrated that they had made significant gains in almost all of the points above, with aspects still requiring change and attention; and the low implementers, of which there were few, had not made significant gains in many of the aspects above.
The following sections address the seven points considered to be necessary for culturally responsive schools according to the GPILSEO framework. These categories emerged naturally out of the interview and observational data and offer evidence that, overall, the Te Kotahitanga programme is helping to bring about these aspects in schools with varying degrees of success.
Goal: A focus on improving outcomes for Māori students including participation and achievement
Across all schools principals, teachers, students and whānau were mindful of the need to raise achievement for Māori students, as has been documented elsewhere in this report. However, schools varied in their ability to articulate clearly what this meant to all staff, to students and to whānau. In some schools it was noted that the emphasis on raising achievement for Māori appeared to have been misinterpreted by students and whānau in particular. The research team noted that the messages associated any initiative to raise student achievement could be misinterpreted as deficit theorising in the absence of clear understandings that schools and teachers must be culturally responsive to Māori as a primary approach to enhancing Māori achievement. There is a risk that an alternative, negative message may be communicated that reinforces deficit theorising, blaming Māori for school outcomes in a system that is not responsive to Māori. Whānau put it best:
I do agree that teachers do need to look at the experiences that the kids are bringing in. But it is more than that, one concern that I have is again that label 'underachievers' they're looking at underachievers, that is the focus so how can we fix that? Why is it that we focus on the things that we don't have confidence in? We should be focusing on success, we need to celebrate the kids' success in all areas, so that they can be proud achievers, passionate and have that confidence. Why do we focus on the weakness?
School leaders need clear direction regarding the messages they communicate throughout the school and the community when discussing targeted achievement. In schools where this was done successfully, students and whānau were clear that the programme was to improve teaching and learning activities in classrooms and in the school.
Schools varied in their collection of achievement data and ability to analyse and use achievement data to plan ahead. Teaching staff maintained that gains had been made but tended to do so through social indicators such as systems and structures that demonstrated that Māori achievement had risen, for example, change of demographics within streaming, choice options in senior subjects, and so on. Some teachers made the case that social indicators were significant and were valued by teachers as the first step in addressing underachievement. As an example, this teacher suggested that as a result of the programme students enjoyed working together and showed an interest in learning and that this in turn flowed on to an improvement in cognition and the quality of the work produced:
I have seen a measurable change in the students' cognitive levels and [in] their abilities. That is because all of the students and all of the teachers who are in the English department participate in the programme everyday. And as a department, we're quite happy [with reviewing] the work and the way that we teach, and so most of the students are getting the same kind of teaching. And there's a huge jump, I think, in the ability of the students. And the results are jumping.
In high implementing schools, students were aware of the high expectations held by teachers. As described in the chapter on student outcomes, students were able to articulate shared goals with teachers towards higher aspirations, using phrases like, "They expect bigger and better things everyday".
However, there was evidence that the focus on achievement in some schools was placed on Māori students who were already experiencing success at school. In several student focus groups and whānau meetings concerns were expressed regarding students who were not experiencing success at school and felt 'left behind'. These reports were substantiated by the classroom observations that tended to show a lack of differentiation in many classrooms, for learners who may be struggling with the content. Students described this best:
Some teachers prefer to focus on the flashiest, like to try and improve them and then we're kind of left on the side to help ourselves.
Some teachers treat the Māori students, like how they give good points to all the top scholars in the class and just leave the Māori students at the bottom.
Yeah, (teachers need to) just like look at the wider picture and … Sometimes you can just see it. Like you see in your class there're some students that aren't coping and just … you've got to do something about it, because if you just leave them until they come up to you … they're just going to fall behind.
The interview data highlight the need for setting targets for all Māori students—high achievers, low achievers, and those with special educational needs. In some schools achievement targets need to be set for Māori students and communicated to staff, and in all schools whānau need to be incorporated in planning for achievement. As whānau expressed concern for some of their tamariki who were struggling at school it became apparent that schools need to demonstrate to whānau that all students are the focus of achievement targets, regardless of current achievement.
Pedagogy: A Culturally responsive pedagogy of relations across all classrooms that is used to inform relations and interactions at all levels within the school and community
The culturally responsive pedagogy of relations was evident in the data as seen in the chapter on the impact on classrooms. Teachers were able to articulate that a primary component of the programme was about improving relationships and interactions in the classroom. All teachers interviewed were able to discuss the importance and impact of developing positive relationships with students. This message is communicated clearly and reinforced through the ongoing professional development programme. Students reiterated the importance of relationships with teachers.
Yeah, Mr. He's a Pākehā but he's a Māori hard-out, he's like, hard out into it. And he was our Te Kotahitanga tutor, or something, he's our watcher, he acknowledges us. He's bringing us together and stuff, like he sorted out trips and all that, He took us out, he teaches us new stuff; how to be better in class and all that; how to keep your nose clean.
Several students were able to articulate changes in the relationships that they had with some teachers since the beginning of the Te Kotahitanga programme. This was seen as evidence that the programme had in fact changed the behaviour of teachers in the classroom. Rather than just comment that teachers were more 'friendly' students were able to describe features of the relationships that were valued by students, such as equity, interest in student lives and fun.
The whole atmosphere around here is so much better because the teachers they actually… not only just teach but they also get to know the students and they develop a relationship with them … and the stuff they do is just unique to this school and other schools have never heard or done anything like it. They're, like the math's department (teacher) was starting up freaky Fridays where every Friday they just dress as outrageous as they can.
Well like they actually take time to talk to you and like just act as if they weren't a teacher or I mean they get on your level and talk to you as just an equal person.
As noted earlier in the Student outcomes chapter, teachers and school leaders reported that a strong measure of the impact of Te Kotahitanga and improved relationships was attendance—that is, students wanting to be at school. Although some teachers and school leaders did not attribute this solely to Te Kotahitanga, they noted an improvement in engagement and attendance since implementation. Many schools had evidenced this change with a decrease in truancy, an increase in attendance and decreases in disciplinary procedures such as stand downs. Several teachers in particular credited this to the improvement in relationships within the classroom and a more caring environment.
However fostering positive relationships with students is clearly not enough to ensure that students achieve at school, but rather, it is the impact of these relationships on the learning and interactions within the classroom that makes the difference. Interestingly, in all schools, school leaders and teachers reported that the change in the nature of the relationships had resulted in teachers and students changing their perception of learning. Some teachers were able to articulate the importance of the relationships between the students in learning, although the data indicate that this is an area that could be explored further in the professional development. As an example, teachers reported a general observation in several schools that students were more engaged when working together and that this in turn had changed the tone of the school.
I think I've seen a change in the school, a change for the better. One of the big changes would be that it's looking at good engagement, good achievement of Māori students and others, that is the measure where initially there was a lot of emphasis on collaborative work and students would be working collaboratively a lot of teachers energies and the expectations and pressure they felt was to have collaborative groups working well in class where there seems to be greater recognition now that that is one means to an end.
Changing the pedagogical relationship of teaching toward a dialogical model had been noted by some school leaders as contributing to the change in the power relationships that exist within the school. However, classroom observations indicate that examples of very strong dialogic teaching were limited to high implementers indicating that this is a higher order skill that takes time to develop through the programme. A good example given by a facilitator demonstrates how the tone of teaching had changed in the school.
I saw a really good example with a DP the other day taking a maths class. He sat down next to somebody and that kid said, "Oh, I don't know how to do this." And the teacher said "Well, neither do I." So he said, "Where do you think we might like to start?" It was just such a nice little interaction and he was sitting down next to him, and this is the DP at school. That would be totally unheard of a few years ago.
These changing dynamics in relationships within the classroom reportedly improved the climate of the whole school. Not only the improvement in relationships between staff and students, but also amongst staff and between students, resulted in creating a safer and more comfortable environment for everyone.
I feel personally as a teacher here that this is a very, very comfortable and supportive and safe school to work in. In my 4 years I've been teaching here now, I have not witnessed one violent event personally, although I mean I'm doing duty as everybody else does twice a week, um, I know events have taken place, but, you know, the fact that I haven't actually been able to see one, or haven't seen one, is indicative of the fact that that incidence level must be really low. And I think, you know, this has some part to play in all of that, that the students are comfortable in this environment, that they are, um, they feel that it is an environment where it actually matches up with their culture and that they are culturally at home in this school and they can relate to teachers very positively in most circumstances.
[It's] made the students more positive, in that their attitude has changed. And we're not talking about small [things] like saying the wrong name, not pronouncing Rawiri or Tamaki or whatever, Tamati… you know, is it Tamati or Taamati. It's just [making those] small changes, but they're not necessarily the most important [but] the students are happier. They've enjoyed what they're learning. And the way that they're learning it is [through] interaction with each other. Whereas in the past it was talk and talk … quiet, don't do that.
Several teachers and principals reported that the change in school tone was not isolated to Māori students but had changed the environment for everyone. Several teachers noted that other cultures, including Pasifika students benefited from the improvement in general tone and relationships within the school.
There's no way that this is only helping Māori. This has huge positive impacts on all students, and that's part of that school tone thing. It was never just the Māori kids who were naughty, it was never just them, who were being excluded and suspended. It has had a big impact on kids in general.
A common report from school staff was that the change in school tone and improvement in relationships across the school was brought about directly as a result of the change in deficit attitudes. As a result of the changing of teacher attitudes toward Māori through the Te Kotahitanga professional development model teachers were more likely to be solution focused and positive about student achievement. Teachers, school leaders and facilitators from all schools discussed how changing the deficit views of teachers had an effect on the whole school tone. Teachers reported that the talk in the staffroom ceased, teachers were open to more positive discussions about students and were less likely to attribute student difficulties to the individual or home.
Te Kotahitanga is fabulous. It needed to happen. [It's] fantastic to hear the conversations that are happening now around our Māori students. That would never have happened. Seeing some of them, the red-necked views that there are. At least they're coming out. At least it's not just happening behind the closed doors of a classroom. And they can be challenged and spoken about and I think it just breaks down. You can break down barriers. So many things, with my colleagues here, with their perception of things Māori, it was misunderstanding.
I think the other good thing that has come out of it, is not only that, it's that the talk in the staff room- you'd go in for morning tea and all you'd hear is "Oh that Wally swore at me again in the classroom" or "he wouldn't get his books out" or whatever. The talk isn't so much about behaviour, the talk is actually about, "Hey, I had a really good science lesson today; Wally actually completed his homework for me."
Despite school leaders and teachers reporting a change of attitudes, students in focus groups reported incidences of racism at school. These reports appeared to be concerning isolated teachers and dependent on the context of the school, and they were more likely to appear in low implementing schools. In one example a student spoke of having a tāonga confiscated as part of the school rules which they considered disrespectful. For many Māori students, racism is an issue they still face at school. This demonstrates that addressing deficit and racist attitudes is at the core of a culturally responsive pedagogy of relations; relationships are unable to develop positively when teachers hold deficit views:
My science teacher is real picky about who she (calls on). There is a whole group of us we have our hands up and everything and we know we know the answer but she'll go to the Pākehā—and I'm not being like racist—she'll go straight to the Pākehās because this guy who is playing around, and we are all right, we know the answer but she won't like give us time. Like the Pākehā before the Māori, like we're second class. It is really annoying though because she's just always like them —hello! That's why Māori get so frustrated with teachers because they are like—this is our race, Pākehā are upper class and Māori are just down here, you know?
Mr, he's got a whole draw full of tāonga that he confiscated and so we find that pretty disrespectful and the teachers, the Māori teachers can't actually do something about it because it's a school rule ….that's a really big issue.
In contrast, focus group students from another school stated that there was no racism in their school. The interviews from whānau, teachers and school leaders demonstrated that this particular school had given Te Kotahitanga prominence in the school and had implemented polices such as restorative justice to complement the Te Kotahitanga programme. The relationships in the school were positive as school leaders, staff and support staff all modelled culturally responsive relationships with each other and students.
I think that there is no racism here …..There are other schools round here that you can get quite a negative racist thing like that and I feel like at this school, I don't think you do.
A clear omission in the data was evidence that schools have developed close relations and interactions with whānau, nor did whānau whom we interviewed feel that they had any significant role or input into school policy or practices. Very few schools have extended the principles of Te Kotahitanga into examining their relationship with their community. The emphasis on relationships with whānau and developing the whānau community within the school is an aspect which requires attention in most schools.
Institutions: Capacity for new institutions and structures within the school, including time and space, staffing and organisational structures to support reform
The Te Kotahitanga programme has a physical impact on schools as space and organisational systems and structures require adaptation for the programme to be implemented successfully. Interviews with school leaders demonstrated that many had given physical resourcing much consideration as they realised the impact of placement on the success of the programme. This space often dictated the profile the programme was given in the school;
Giving it a profile was something that initially I struggled with. Physical resources; the need to have a room where staff were able to do the stuff which is about ….the physical resourcing of it was important. Hence I'm in this room. Now I moved out of my office, because it seemed to me that the best place was my old principal's office, so I moved out of there and said; "Okay, let's set it up and call it whatever you want to call it." And now we call it Te Rūma. … And that's where all that stuff happens. And people know that when they go in there, this is about focusing on learning. So that's really good. The second thing we had to do was to try and create a space for the facilitation team, and prior to them moving they were working out of classrooms. And that wasn't satisfactory. So they needed to be high profile, in the admin area, near the staff room and near Te Rūma. That meant quite a shift around in what was happening in a traditional, rabbit warren office area.
Several school leaders were cognisant of the impact the physical placement of the programme would have on the school and staff. They viewed the placement as communicating to staff that the programme was important to the school, would be ongoing and required accommodating within school.
So people were shifted and people were restructured internally without pulling walls down. So that made it high profile and the staff knew that "okay, this is important because everyone is moving out to make way for TK." So don't ignore it, it's not just something that is going to go away, it's here.
In one school the introduction of Te Kotahitanga had also bought about the creation of a department and a position that attracted management units. This teacher felt that these developments assisted to normalise things 'Māori' and bring about an acknowledgment that the school valued Māori culture.
By the school setting up a, a faculty Māori and by creating a position such as director of Māori achievement was like putting Māori things out there, like normalising Māori things instead of making it a "too scary to go there zone"… It has also helped moving the whare into the middle of the school, where everyone can see it.
Discussion around the initiation of the programme focused on the timing with which the programme was implemented and the preparation needed by the school and staff for change. Several school leaders reported that they would have liked more time to prepare the staff and school with one school reporting that they were pleased they were in the Phase 4 as they were more prepared. In particular schools acknowledged the adaptations that needed to be made to space, time tables and staff in order for the programme to run smoothly in the school.
But my general advice would be, it's a great program, but you've got to know where your staff is at. I mean it's nothing that would work if you said "right this is what we're doing and you guys are all in." You've got to be in a certain place and I was quite pleased that we didn't kick up too much a stink about (not) getting involved the first time around. I just think that we were better placed as a result of other stuff that we were doing. Talking about teacher resilience and the importance of relationships, and adjusting some of our behaviour management stuff so there is a bit more responsibility on the teacher about trying to solve that problem. And then I think that we were just a bit better placed by the time we did get in.
In particular one school leader articulated the need for a 'transition' type year to adapt programmes, employ and train facilitators to precede the implementation of the programme in the school.
The ideal would be a two year lead in, not a one year lead in. The ideal would be that you get the call saying "you're in luck, you are in the project" and if it is 2008 in 2010 you will be in the project. In 2009 you will pick your facilitators and your key people that you want to be the seeds, the people that will help this whole thing grow. We will come to the hui, we will engage in the PD but as observers and learners and listeners and there will be a little bit of release time for them to go to the schools where it is already working and have that other interface with the practicalities of it. That would then allow those people in the later stages of that first year to engage in the staff school wide, 'this is what we've done, this is what we've found' and then go in with a cohort.
Further planning, one principal contended, would allow the school to accommodate the timetable to suit the programme. The principal felt that the school had a difficult year managing the programme within a timetable that was already predetermined.
For us the timing that we're accepted into TK, our timetable for the following year had been pretty much strung. So there wasn't that opportunity. If you had the luxury of time, certainly, I would say do that. Spend time constructing your timetables so that your cohorts can be together. But we didn't have that luxury. And it's better this year; it'll be fine next year.
All schools had multiple professional development initiatives and varying school and community based programmes occurring simultaneously with the implementation of Te Kotahitanga. In schools with multiple initiatives, we tried to ascertain the extent to which these were conceptualised as interconnected or as separate, as well as the extent to which school improvement could be attributed to Te Kotahitanga. Furthermore we asked how the school envisioned Te Kotahitanga 'fitted' with these programmes and vice versa. The implication here is that schools need to plan how Te Kotahitanga might fit within the structure of what they currently do and what they might do in the future.
Thus, we specifically asked Principals how Te Kotahitanga fit alongside other initiatives at their school. Most said that it was the driving initiative that had enabled them to re-focus how all the "different" projects operating at their school fit together. One principal expressed such a vision that directly connects school initiatives to one another:
How does this fit with what we are trying to do? I think it fits very well with whanaungatanga, because it's modelling that. So we are not saying everything we do is bound by this. But [Te Kotahitanga] is certainly becoming the umbrella along with two other key things: the New Zealand curriculum and [something] is happening in this district called the [regional] achievement initiative. They've all dovetailed. All those things are the umbrella under which we work at this school.
One of the things that really excited me and other people is the change in discussion, in the language that teachers use, and the discussion just in the staffroom for example. Through the achievement of the Waitangi initiative, we quickly realised it's not a question of teaching teachers strategies to improve literacy. It was a whole pedagogical shift that we needed in terms of getting that literacy and numeracy being taught better for students. And what we found was Te Kotahitanga just really pushed that whole pedagogical shift along and things improved suddenly and in great strides. That's what really interested me.
Some of the other Principals were planning professional development initiatives in terms of how they complemented the work done through Te Kotahitanga. One, for example, explained that Te Kotahitanga was in the process of becoming "the pillar, the back bone of which the other PD will hang off." In a few of the schools, teachers discussed connections between Te Kotahitanga professional development and other forms of professional development in which they participate, such as Gifted and Talented, Reading, Formative Assessment, or Restorative Justice. For example:
Reading is also another important skill some of the students their reading skills are not very good so that is equally important to all this TK, so what we do is we try to (inaudible), you know, and exactly what I do is to see where it can fit in especially the (classrooms) is what I did, ok. So we put the reading strategies and the group work, you know, its was a form of puzzle so that was Te Kotahitanga and the reading thing it is all going hand in hand and we have practicals, our own practicals, science practicals when they work in groups. So there is a lot of group work, they are learning, yeah, so it is all going hand in hand and there is no segregation as of what I feel everything is going together it is blending in very well.
A teacher speaking to the relationship between numeracy professional development and Te Kotahitanga:
I think six years ago, the government put a lot of funding into what was called the numeracy project. It started at primary schools and slowly filtered through. We were one of the first pilot schools to enter the numeracy project four years ago. We acted as a pilot school for two years and got funding and facilitation and all that support- mostly through school support services. So when TK came along, I was interested to hear from school support services that many of the aims and the objectives overlapped. In other words, the numeracy project was directed for maths teachers, it was a PD programme for mathematics teachers to improve their teaching of mathematics and better meet students' needs. And to look at the way maths is taught, their approaches, group work was one of them that was heavily emphasised at one stage. And one of the reasons that we in maths were a little bit slow to engage in TK initially, was because we were still in the pilot project, the aims were similar because we wanted to do good teaching practice and we saw that overlap.
While connecting professional development initiatives makes sense, some of the lead facilitators expressed concern that the focus on enhanced student outcomes for Māori students would be watered down if Te Kotahitanga was connected with initiatives that focused on improved teaching of "all" students. They expressed concern that it would perhaps be too easy for the programme to be hijacked by issues focused on teacher professional development that was not for the purposes of student achievement outcomes:
One of the pieces of feedback that often we'll get from staff after an initial hui whakarewa is that 'Oh we've got much better relationships between staff in the school. There is greater collegiality, there is greater sharing across departments, and we are de-privatising practice.' Those things are fabulous. But if those things don't lead to an impact on outcomes for Māori students, then for me they are not actually going anywhere. Because if we are just making professionals' lives better or more comfortable or more collegial, then why would we bother to do that when our explicit goal is the focus and outcomes for Māori students? So whilst there are some really important things happening, I believe, along the way, if they don't lead to outcomes for Māori students, then why would they be part of what we are doing?
Because some of the schools were working to connect multiple professional development initiatives, Principals acknowledged that positive student outcomes would therefore be the results of a combination of initiatives, and they saw that it would be difficult to attribute change to just one project including Te Kotahitanga. For example:
I had been responsible as DP for designing the punitive discipline system that had to get stronger and stronger and stronger to cope with the same issues that kids have brought to school forever and ever. So I started exploring other alternatives, and yeah- we've had one suspension in the last two and a half years, and I hope we don't have to have another one. It [restorative justice] links really strongly with what Te Kotahitanga is all about.
I get the feeling that our Māori boys are more engaged. I certainly think some of the stats have come through in terms of attendance and that is showing. But in terms of being really definitive- and the other thing too, is that you've got other initiatives going on and how much impact they are having is hard to gauge.
Not all programmes within schools complemented the Te Kotahitanga professional development. In particular some teachers commented that school policy and requirements for assessment and streaming work at cross-purposes to Te Kotahitanga. It appears that the individualism of assessment requirements in senior school and the selectiveness of streaming are counter to collaborative and power sharing relationships as described in the Te Kotahitanga programme.
We encourage the group work, the working together, especially in year nine and ten. Um, however once we hit NCEA year eleven, all of a sudden I think that focus shifts. And the assessment brings it back to being very individualised. So it almost seems as though, you know, in one side of the programme the teaching is collectiveness, but as soon as we get to actually assessing them it's back to individually.
I would say that I've quite dramatically changed my approaches, my teaching approaches, especially at the junior level. Not so much at senior level, simply because we seem to be more constricted… restricted by NCEA, and the curriculum.
I've reservations about the use of streaming in our school, and of course the red shirts show the tracking of streaming, does no favours for the kids in the bottom sets where all kinds of reasons, as has been known for a very long time, but many schools persist in tracking.
Planning for the implementation of Te Kotahitanga is crucial to the success of the programme as new staff needed to be employed, provision to timetables needed to be made and physical space appropriated. The interview data show that the physical space given to the programme demonstrates the importance and permanence of programme to staff and students. There is the potential in many schools to use spaces more effectively and to improve the use of the Marae and facilities. Some schools indicated that the lead up to implementation is pressured and creates some challenges for schools as they are required to make changes to systems and structures that would accommodate the programme. Schools need to consider planning for the place of other initiatives in the school and how systems and policies fit with Te Kotahitanga. Future planning and resourcing by the Ministry may require more notification in preparation for implementation.
Leadership: Leadership responsive to reform needs and proactive in setting targets and goals as well as distributed to allow power sharing
The Te Kotahitanga programme has played a role in enhancing leadership capability and capacity in schools. Through creating new positions in the school, Te Kotahitanga has created opportunities for some teachers to move into facilitation roles and develop their mentoring skills. Principals particularly commented on the increase of the leadership capability amongst staff, through the professional development and opportunities given to the facilitators to take a leadership role.
Well I'll tell you, (the facilitator), she has blossomed into a great leader on the staff. And this will be a channel for her moving into senior leadership I'm sure. She's really developed.
This is an indirect benefit for teacher leadership resulting from Te Kotahitanga participation, but appears serendipitous rather than systematic. If, for example, teachers who demonstrated mastery of the ETP had access to mentoring and even formal facilitation duties more broadly integrated into the school, this could enhance curriculum leadership further particularly with regard to culturally responsive pedagogies across different subjects.
Several principals and school leaders commented that they had developed knowledge of Tikanga and te reo through the programme. In one high implementing school, students spoke of how the principal started assemblies with a mihi and a karakia. Similarly students in another school commented how proud they felt when visitors to the school were welcomed by the principal in te reo.
Five years ago, would you have expected a white middle class Deputy Principal to be talking Kaupapa and talking things like that to you? You know, it's just that there are all these subtle changes that go on… And we are bicultural.
In some schools, leadership had been extended to Māori students through the creation of head prefect positions and youth mentoring roles. It would seem with the aims of the programme that increasing the capacity for Māori leadership both in staff mentorship roles and for students should be a priority. According to the Bishop et al. (2010) definition, leadership within the school should be 'distributed to allow power sharing'. Further examination of opportunities to create leadership opportunities for Māori students and share power with them could be explored by schools. The data from students and teacher interviews indicated that seeing Māori students in leadership positions was viewed as a measure of the success of the programme, for example:
It's just a mark of how far we've come. This year we've got a head boy who is tangata whenua, and a head girl …. You know, five years ago that would not happen in [this school].
All principals believed in the capability of the programme to improve achievement for Māori. Across schools Principals varied in their responsiveness to the reforms and setting appropriate goals and targets. In several schools, principals were able to articulate their vision for the school and how Te Kotahitanga was placed within the overall aim of school improvement. A good example shared by one principal demonstrates this:
At the start the visioning thing that we touched on before and which I do at the start of every year. I present a 'this is what our school is about' session. And it has these four pieces of the jigsaw puzzle in it, which shows that these are the four things that if we get right will make our school effective. In my view they are; managing behaviour correctly, good pedagogy, relevant curriculum and an espousing a great set of values. And so then I go down one step into that and just say "for managing kids correctly in our school we are nailing our flag to the restorative practices mast. We are looking at some innovative curriculum. We are running a cornerstone values programme. And for our pedagogy it's around about Te Kotahitanga.
Although principals often emphasised the importance of a visioning process as being a step towards schools becoming more responsive to Māori students, there were gaps in the data on how much this process was 'shared' with staff, students and whānau. At times the emphasis appeared to be the focus on improving teachers' classroom practice without thought to the overall structure and culture of the school. Often school leaders described how they had set the overall agenda for school change. The involvement and commitment of senior management was central to the effectiveness of the reform process. However it was not always clear how or to what extent the school's senior management explicitly involved teaching staff as well as whānau and Māori students. There were gaps in the data on how the improvement and leadership process had been shared and distributed across the school community. As indicated earlier whānau and students appeared to largely sit outside the reform programme. Implicit in this omission lies the possibility of a deficit view of the contributions of all stakeholders towards the improvement process.
Interviews with Deans and Heads of Departments indicated that these school leaders largely viewed the central responsibility for reform as resting on the shoulders of classroom teachers. We were surprised in particular that the 19 Heads of Departments we interviewed generally did not highlight or elaborate their own role in the leadership and improvement process. As indicated earlier, Bishop and his colleagues (2010) emphasise the place of distributed leadership whereby all stakeholder groups are represented in the leadership community and that all can play an active role in the improvement journey. There is an opportunity for schools to consider the way in which they distribute leadership within schools; the opportunities that might exist for Māori students; and the way in which visioning and associated activities of planning, acting and evaluation are shared with students, whānau and staff.
Spreading: Inclusion in reform whereby all staff can join the reform, and parents and community are included
The issue of distributed leadership and inclusion in reform are closely related. Our data revealed that the rate of change and the level of implementation were variable across schools, but some degree of change within the school was reported without exception. When school leaders talked about change, they also frequently talked about readiness for change, resistance to change and embedding change. While including all staff is important, it can also be problematic at least initially.
Several school leaders and teachers referred to unrest amongst staff during the implementation phase of Te Kotahitanga; in fact in one school, there was significant resistance by some teachers to participate in the programme. It appeared that this unrest had settled in the Phase 3 schools, as most Phase 3 school leaders spoke of the turbulent change as something that they had overcome. One school leader in particular talked about challenging and changing the core beliefs of staff as a part of the process of implementation. The programme had challenged staff values and beliefs, a process that some teachers found unsettling and initially resisted: over time, their resistance appeared to dissipate as they became more included in the programme. This suggests that the very nature of the programme may cause unrest in the school initially as longstanding beliefs and attitudes are challenged.
Some of the attacks become highly personalized. Yes, [the principal] wore a huge amount of this, and then people would attack [the principal]. I think people are having to change long term beliefs. But it amazed me how there's still quite overt high levels of racism … that there has been generations of putting a group down. I think it was good because I don't believe in a process of change management you can go through without upsetting anybody. I think it's been implemented. Well, it's been really difficult because you've challenged some people's core beliefs of a whole group of students. You've challenged people in terms of their method of delivery. There were a lot more people who were using the same method of delivery that was used 150 years ago. Any other industry they would have been … you know, that there wasn't the acknowledgement that we've moved on … society's moved on. So it was a major shift for some people.
However not all resistance to the implementation was necessarily focused on Te Kotahitanga. Some was directed at individual school management decisions regarding implementation, time, work load allocation, selection of facilitators and feeling pressured to participate. One teacher who felt coerced into participating described feelings of resentment within the school and believed that many staff said what they thought was politically correct. These statements indicate that implementation in schools can cause dissention in the staff, but that a significant proportion of this unrest appears to do with matters of school management rather than the programme itself. Furthermore, the goal of including all staff in the reform may not be achievable in the short term for many schools.
My feeling in here (the interview) before was that (a teacher) was saying, what was politically correct to say. I don't know if you picked that up or not. And I didn't want to come across as negative, but I did want to say that I don't feel it's good to have a programme that starts in a school and there is coercion at the beginning. There is a lot of resentment underneath the surface of a lot of staff about this because of it. Yes I do believe that. I believe that forcing people into something that they don't really- well that they feel resentful. And yes there are undercurrents. I can't tell you why. I'm privy to some emails that have been passing back and forth, which certainly show that. So I think it has to be truly voluntary and if the whole school doesn't go into it, then so be it, without any penalties being applied to people.
This comment raises the issue of participation within schools. This appeared to be a dilemma for many school leaders, facilitators and teachers as several stated that they believe Te Kotahitanga should be a whole school initiative and that all staff should be included. Schools varied in their approach to participation, with some schools having strictly voluntary participation and others required staff to commit to participating at some stage.
I honestly think that a programme will not work well in a school if the whole school's not involved, because these kids change classes all the time. If they're getting something good in (one class), and then they move to the next class and it's not there, they lose that, I suppose, it's like "Oh, but in this class we did this and- how come it's not in this class?" Do you understand?
Well I'm pretty straight up, I would like to see the whole school do it, but embrace it with a passion, not embrace it to give me tokenism, I suppose.
I think it's a little bit sad that not all teachers are actually participating; I think it makes it a little bit more difficult when you've got some that are, some that aren't. I think really that if we're going to buy into it we should all be buying into it.
Schools with voluntarily participation discussed how the programme needed first to gain momentum and thus relied on the motivated and engaged staff to drive the programme. Teachers identified that the 'middle' ground teachers were particularly apathetic and difficult to shift.
You have to have a critical mass amongst your staff and so that 30% or 20% who are the visionaries and go getters need to be able to help you sway that middle group.
[We have] not [done as] well as an institution, probably well in some specific places, some teachers, some students. It's not necessarily the school's fault, there's a large amount of apathy and unwillingness to approach change... The bulk of the school's teachers are in the middle, not sure what the institution can do to improve that.
These comments indicate that including all staff as participants, whether voluntary or mandated by the school, is problematic for many schools. However Phase 3 schools, being well into implementation, appeared to be more settled in terms of staff and participation than Phase 4 schools. A school leader in one of these Phase 3 schools commented that staff who did not want to participate had time to 'move on'.
Bishop et al. (2010) contend that a culturally responsive school extends this inclusion in the reform to parents and community. This level of inclusion appears problematic for many schools: lack of pro-active efforts to incorporate whānau contributions may reflect the challenges of establishing positive relationships for both schools and families. Many whānau were interested in the programme, and they often attended our Whānau Focus Groups with the express intent of learning about Te Kotahitanga. This was surprising to our team, as presumably those whānau invited to these focus groups would be family members who had some relationship with school personnel and even the programme. Some schools had made efforts to employ more whānau in the school and meet with whānau, but even in these schools whānau reported wanting more involvement with schools and the initiative. This opportunity will be discussed later in the report, and the issue requires further investigation for effective implementation.
Evaluating: Use of measures that enable facilitators, researchers and teachers to use data monitoring implementation of the reform for formative and summative purposes
As a result of the implementation of Te Kotahitanga, many schools have been challenged to change the ways in which they collect and use data on student achievement and engagement within the school. School leaders stated that the programme had changed the way in which they viewed the data: they were more purposeful in data collection, they ensured that the data were analysed, and they realised the importance of data in determining what was happening with teaching and learning in the school. Several schools began collecting data in behaviour, attendance and truancy, realising that changes in these areas were occurring within the school.
So we've always looked at that data. But as a result of being on Te Kotahitanga, the data we are going to collect and analyse now for our junior kids is going to be better data, rather than broad brush stuff.
At the end of last year, start of this year a team of us, which included (facilitators) and some other teachers, sat down and created a data collection and analysis plan for the school. Now that included stuff around about serious misbehaviour incidents, attendance, and achievement. And I'd actually say we wouldn't have done that in such a coherent way if Te Kotahitanga didn't have the demands of attendance and assessment data being collected for these targeting classes.
School leaders and facilitators specifically noted a change in the perspective of staff toward using data within the school. Initially staff used data to affirm existing misconceptions and stereotypes held regarding Māori achievement, but as the programme progressed within the school the teachers moved from deficit views towards an inquiry and problem solving orientation.
You know what I mean? The talk has changed. And that to me is the most powerful start of the change. And I can see that with the contact I have with people and it certainly- the talk has changed at my curriculum manager discussion level, we start to talk about specifics about data, we're talking about, we're not just talking about the problems, we are talking about solutions. I guess to me that's a big shift.
There was evidence that in some schools, the data collection process requires more attention. Teachers were unsure of the purpose of the data and/or indicated they did not have access to timely information about how well students were doing. Often, staff needed to know what to do with the data once collated and how to plan for the future, rather than just reflecting on past achievements of students. Furthermore, some staff confused the data collection for the research project 'Te Kotahitanga' with data collection driving student achievement. A good example of one such comment below demonstrates that some staff felt frustrated by the continual collection of achievement data and wanted to focus on other measures.
I think it's a data gathering exercise because it is a data driven program and that data's going back to [Waikato], it's been number crunched and churned out as part of a research program and I think that is what the data—it's how it's connected, is that data can be analysed where as other forms of feedback and that can't be analysed.
Several teachers spoke in their interviews about how they discussed with students generalised changes in achievement shown in the data, and how they had celebrated improvements in outcome data with their students. However, students could be included within the feedback loop in a more structured and positive way. In most schools, Māori students were not given the opportunity to feedback the change and developments within the school that they experienced and observed. Making provision for students to feedback to faculty could provide useful and realistic perspectives on the impact of the programme, providing staff with authentic data with which to continue improvement.
Providing opportunities for feedback is relevant in the schools where the message was consistent between teachers and students, as it would affirm that the aims of the programmes are in action. In addition, in those schools where the message was inconsistent between school staff and students, whānau at these schools would gain true indicators to evaluate evidence regarding programme success. Furthermore, provision for feedback could address concerns that students might view the programme through a deficit theorising lens, focused on their underachievement rather than on the enhancement of teaching and learning in classrooms and at the school.
Our interviews with whānau suggest that they were not informed of progress patterns through data reported to them by school staff. Whānau were not able to articulate achievement gains that individual students or Māori students as a group had made, indicating that there is opportunity for schools to share success with whānau. Whānau were more likely to look for social indicators that the programme was successful in the school, such as student happiness and length of stay at school. There is an opportunity here for schools to involve whānau in the sharing of generalised data to gain support and momentum within the community for Māori achievement.
Ownership: A means whereby the whole school, including the Board of Trustees, can take ownership of the reform
The previous sections have addressed the ownership taken by school leaders and teachers throughout the implementation of the reform. There are aspects which appear problematic initially such as participation rates and resistance to change which in turn affect the sense of ownership reported by schools. However, the interview data demonstrate that school personnel were proud their schools were participating in the programme, could articulate the benefits, and were highly motivated to continue with the programme.
The discussion on strong leadership outlined in chapter three drew attention to the need for supportive relationships between the various actors in order for Te Kotahitanga to bring about sustained change within schools. If schools are to make a difference for Māori student achievement, supportive relationships between the lead facilitator, the principal, the Senior Management Team, the Board of Trustees—and community members—are necessary. This does not detract from the focus of Te Kotahitanga being on what Bishop et al. (2009) refer to as a Culturally Responsive Pedagogy of Relations represented in the Effective Teaching Profile. The reality of the educative process enacted through schooling is that several components of the teacher-student nexus need to become integrated if successful learning is to occur. The community context in which the school belongs to is one of these critical components.
Relationships with the community
Te Kotahitanga and Boards of Trustees
The work of the Boards of Trustees rates highly in the way in which it represents community interests and school governance. One of the major strengths of the New Zealand education system has been the prominence given to voluntary parent-teacher associations to harness closer relations between educational professionals and parents of students. Māori support groups bring their own flavour of liaison into the relationship between schools and Māori communities. Most of the data reported in this chapter is from the interviews with Whānau Support Groups.
Te Kotahitanga and the role of principals
I'm trying to get out and about into classrooms more, because if you're going to have the other part of TK, which is the relationship part and the acknowledging where the students have come from, you've got to actually know the students. So therefore I've got to be out and about more, and that's a challenge in a school of this size. With nearly 1700, it is very easy to consume all of your time in places other than classrooms. So I guess the other impact on my role as principal has been acknowledgment from me that, as part of those principles of TK, I've actually got to go out and get to know my students and my community, as well.
An empirical relationship is important when viewed from the outside (e.g., "she/he's actually visiting us in our classrooms and spending time looking, listening and talking to us"). But as this Principal makes clear, it is reflecting on the inner logic that makes his/her performance possible. The principles underlying Te Kotahitanga require this sort of action from those who take on this initiative.
Te Kotahitanga and Māori support groups
Unfortunately, Māori parental/whānau participation in the formal education system has been a problem for generations. As a counter to this so-called 'problem' Māori support groups have emerged in a number of schools although they are still a relatively new phenomenon. As a support group, initially established to support Māori students but with the potential to also stand alongside teachers and the school as a whole, they bring their own flavour of liaison into the relationship between schools and Māori communities. The flavour can be described as elements of Māori culture as evidenced in tikanga (custom), āhuatanga (Māori ways of doing things), and wairua (a spiritual, holistic dimension). Most of the data reported in this section is from the interviews with Whānau Support Groups.
In most case, whānau were confident about what they thought the schools were trying to do to help their children learn. Confidence was built around what they saw as formal attempts to address student achievement by focusing on improving relationships between teachers and students rather than fixating on what teachers perceived as non-compliant behaviour at best and aberrant behaviour at worst. Te Kotahitanga brought an expression of new confidence and a sense that secondary schools could be on the path to recognising different sets of values than those that typically privilege knowledge over experience, differentiation over connectedness, and the individual over the collective. We have elicited some of the typical comments from whānau as evidence of the points raised under the heading of relationships with the community:
It's like one big family, one big whānau with our children here.
My hopes and dreams for my daughter are like any parents', what my parents gave me, and that's to feel loved and to have a whānau that they know will support them, regardless of their academic achievements. For me, I want my daughter to contribute to the community in a positive way, and to be you, to believe in, well to stand up for what she believes in and to be a loyal friend to others, to herself, to be honest to herself, and I think that College will absolutely assist her on that pathway. The friends she makes here, I've told her, your friends at high school will be friends for life.
It's good for both cultures to learn about each other. We're learning all the tauiwi way. The Pākehās need to learn some of the Māori way, so I think that a blending of two cultures would be good. It's good for our own kids too you know. Our Māori kids see that kaumatua are here and supporting them. I think more of that needs to be done. I don't think a lot of that was done in the past.
Whānau groups were generally aware of the existence of something called Te Kotahitanga that was operating in their schools. They all knew it was a programme that targeted their children and had something to do with raising achievement levels but most knew little more than that. Because the programme had a Māori name, most were positively disposed toward it but felt the school needed to do a lot more to inform them about what it was and how it worked.
We've got a Māori parent group and they've been kept informed about what is going on. We've not had, I guess we've not had any real active interest other than- I think people recognise and value that we are trying to do something for their children. But also it really demarcates you and therefore there is a receptiveness by particularly Māori students and Māori parents in regard to that. So I work in that role, I'm a member of the whānau support, I attend the meetings, and its quite interesting because… a couple of parents, Māori parents came along to the hui and had a bit of a bash at the school. And challenged my right to be at this whānau meeting, where we were meeting with ERO. And he said "X comes to all our meetings, he just doesn't come up- turns up to have a bit of a whinge or a moan or a poke at the school. And we'd love to have you turn up."
The Māori value of te kanohi e kitea, the face that's seen, can be read into this statement. It's important to show one's face when there is a gathering but not only when the big events occur. There is greater respect for the face that's seen on a regular basis no matter what the occasion.
Te Kotahitanga and parental motivation in the changing process
If you've got anything that showcases a student's work, if you have a concert or a performance, you will get people to come to that. Getting them to be involved in goal setting is a whole other agenda. And we continue to struggle with that, to battle with that. And I don't know the answer. I don't know the answer across the whole school community, more than just with our Māori students.
For many parents, the entry of their children into the secondary school system is like a signal that says, 'Ok. Now they're yours for the duration of the school day'. Despite what some parents might say they seem to only want to know how their child is doing at school as this relates to achievements and/or misbehaviour. Other than that the belief seems to be 'no news is good news'. There is no doubt that Te Kotahitanga focuses on the educative process and especially in the culturally responsive pedagogy of relations and this message, probably somewhat garbled, appears to be getting through to Māori parents via their children. One effect of this 'special' interest is to question the boundary between those on the inside of groups and those on the outside:
Staff encourage Māori Whānau to work here to be teachers. Back in 2005 [there was] only about 1 or 2 Māori teachers [but there are] more Māori teachers now [but we] still need more.
While whānau appreciated the Te Kotahitanga programme, whānau felt that the system needed to change as well to support Māori students. As stated in the student outcomes chapter, whānau acknowledged that it was difficult for the programme to be successful when it was being implemented in a system that was non-Māori.
I agree the principal is supportive. But in the mainstream curriculum, how much is directly about Māori history, entrepreneurs, and Māori role models? That to me is directly linked to the value of Māori in the school. It is a sad thing to hear my children say "Why do they say Māori don't attend school?" Because my kids always attend, they go to school, so it's about the messages the kids get about being Māori in the mainstream. That's why you have to look at the system, otherwise Te Kotahitanga it's a Māori concept trying to work in a non-Māori environment.
There was significant discussion in each of the whānau groups concerning whānau and their access to the school, and their own feelings of belongingness at the school. This was dependent on the context of each school. One school in particular had made a significant effort to employ whānau in the learning support centre and in doing so had given whānau a place within the school.
In two focus groups, whānau expressed their view that there was some way to go before whānau and school could work together. In one instance, whānau stated that past injustices needed to be addressed and healed before the programme could be successful
We are here at the school. As I said before, things are starting to change, we are starting to see more whānau here, but as people have said there needs to be more honesty and more communication between us all—we are here to help. If the project is Te Kotahitanga then that is about unity, I am not sure we are there yet.
I have an in-depth knowledge about the programme, but communication from the school has been minimal. The program only started implementing this year. Brilliant programme if it's implemented. Many years of healing has got to take place (with the Māori community) before it can work.
In general, the whānau we interviewed made clear that whānau were positive about the implementation of the Te Kotahitanga programme in their school. They reported that it was still early days but in some schools whānau detected a change in the teachers and the way in which the school valued "things Māori". In the Phase 4 interviews, some participants highlighted the support they had received from individuals including teachers, facilitators, and/or members of the school's senior management team. However, one particular whānau group felt that their school did not provide enough support or acknowledgement for Māori. In addition, another whānau group regarded the school as discriminatory, and that it did not communicate with parents or value parental input. The data from this school was in contrast to the other whānau groups that were generally more positive about the school and their children's progress. Whānau were adamant that to improve Māori student outcomes, schools needed to develop culturally responsive systems.
Whānau noted several different outcomes of Te Kotahitanga, and these were more likely to be outcomes that supported the student culturally including increased pride, a willingness to attend the Marae and an increasing interest in the school. Some whānau groups stated that Māori teachers were important in the school and had contributed to their students' learning in positive ways. However, most whānau groups had one or two descriptions of teaching that had not changed, of teachers who didn't expect much and did not encourage their children to learn.
Whānau who were involved in the school, either as employees or on the BoT, were significantly more positive about the school, the Te Kotahitanga programme and the changes that they had seen in the teachers and school. One school in particular had sought out whānau members to work in the school, and the whānau believe that this had a positive impact on their involvement in school, on the culture of the school and their child's schooling. Similarly another whānau group had attended the Te Kotahitanga hui with staff and were clearly able to articulate the programme and the benefits as they saw them. Interestingly, this same whānau group noted the emphasis on underachievement and stated that this may send the wrong message to students about Māori achievement.
Sustainability of Te Kotahitanga
Virtually all school principals we interviewed emphasised that sustainability of Te Kotahitanga at their schools was dependent on three factors: (a) the lead facilitator role, performed by a professional with the necessary cultural knowledge, secondary curricular and pedagogical expertise, and credibility and skill in providing technical advice and support to teachers; (b) individualized expert advice to teachers and support for co-construction team activities focused on the use of evidence to enhance Māori student outcomes; and (c) the availability of ongoing expert training and consultation as had been provided by the University of Waikato research team. Most principals saw the first two factors as dependent on continued resources and expertise associated with the facilitator role. They expressed frustration at what they saw as expectations for sustainability without the addition of resources needed for key components:
It will only be those schools that can hold onto it that will be able to sustain it. We can't keep the model going that we've got without money. It is impossible for me to fund two teachers out of our teaching allowances to be doing the facilitator role. So in order to be sustainable, I think what has to happen is it [would] still [be] part of our school-wide professional development that new staff are inducted into the program, because there is always a small turnover of staff. And I think probably once each term some form of the co-construction meetings are continuing to happen. (Phase 4 principal)
Virtually every project the Ministry brings in starts off with funding, and then the funding disappears and then they say "If this is important enough you will find a way to make it continue" quote, unquote. And I find that frustrating, because this particular model wasn't built for sustainability. It was built for implementation of something really important across the whole school. (Phase 4 principal)
Some principals explored ideas for embedding the culture of Te Kotahitanga in school relationships and related school processes including staff appraisal and peer support networks. Three Phase 4 principals commented:
I think that has to come from the staff themselves wanting to keep the model going, rather than being able to provide a huge amount of release time, resources. And we've always done peer appraisal. We've always allowed people to go and watch other teachers.
I think the observations should become self-reflection at some stage. There are other ways to make TK sustainable, [so that] observations still do happen. There is some sort of trade off that says 'this is no longer formative for you, this is now summative checking that you are somewhat still on track'.
The resourcing helps make that accountability greater. Clearly, when the money dries up at the end of next year—and there won't be any more, no matter what anybody says—we will have a philosophy of practice, as far as collaboration/co-construction/ listening to student voice. We will have a way of identifying what we consider is best practice out there, and a way of validating or proving or developing that. And hopefully we will have made a positive difference too, to what students can do. As well as, if you believe in a bi-cultural perspective, the whole issue of tino rangatiratanga and that self-determination. The resourcing helps make that accountability greater.
The Phase 4 principals indicated this was something they were already thinking about:
One of the constant challenges for me I guess, has been I've been thinking throughout the year "How do I embed it? How does it become sustainable in the school?" because [you do] so many professional development initiatives and projects and then you stop doing them, and they go away.
Through the milestone reporting or whatever, you [c]ould require schools to make sure it's in their strategic plan, or their charter. Because then you've got that, and then it filters down to all the areas to where it should be. Then it becomes a self-sustaining model.
The BoT chairs we interviewed affirmed that their boards were committed to the programme. As one Phase 3 BoT chair explained:
I would think that the Board, even if the funding was no longer there, would still want to see the programme carried on; it appears that what's good for Māori is good for all students which is a real plus because of all the possible negative effects; this isn't a 'them and us' sort of situation; I think it's one of those win-win situations.
There were comments by BoT chairs supporting Te Kotahitanga as an initiative that was good for students and should be integrated into ongoing school practices rather than as a special initiative:
I believe that it should become part of the attestation process; it should be part of your professional standards; the way we deliver the curriculum has to be through that particular avenue. I think [Te Kotahitanga] should be compulsory.
I think we'll just have to build an achievement culture in the school whether the money is there or not, once you've built that it becomes a characteristic of the school which some schools are known for but which we often associate with economics, with class, with socio-economic standing.
Seems like a really good initiative. In fact, I would like to see it implemented through the whole school rather than just focusing on Māori students; all the students have similar needs and across all year groups as well.
Some BoT chairs indicated awareness of the need for dedicated staffing through internal budget allocations once funding from the Ministry ended. There had already been some efforts to do this, as pointed out by a BoT Chair from a Phase 4 school:
You really want it to get embedded. Money is an obvious one, but it depends how it will look in the future. What sort of resourcing it will need. Again a full time person to keep it ticking over and to do the PD [will]-sustain it in the long term… I think you still need someone with a focus and dedicated time, otherwise other things, the urgent and not important[will] overwhelm the not urgent but important …. We've done that this year, we forked out our own money and [rede]ployed one of our senior managers out of her role and put her into a role where she's just looking at student achievement data and trying to figure out across the curriculum where there is variability. That's where schools struggle often because you've got really good teachers who become managers, and the skills aren't automatic.
BoT chairs at both Phase 3 and Phase 4 schools expressed their commitment in principle to Te Kotahitanga, but it was the Phase 4 BoT chairs who most often mentioned strategies and resources need to sustain the model. They seemed more aware of the issues of sustainability:
I guess from our perspective it's just something you love and breathe, isn't it? So it's integrated so firmly within the fabric of a school that you could actually- if everybody was so in tuned and on board and involved, I guess you might not need someone to drive it as strongly. I don't know. If the funding for the facilitator position dried up? X would have to look at funding it within [the Board's] own budget, and we could seriously do that.
There has got to be some sort of strategic intent to make sure that it is firmly integrated into the fabric of the school… [Our Board of Trustees] would have to seriously consider looking at other options. We get fantastic support from our corporate; I'd go and talk to someone to see if they'd help us with that.
I think the government needs to help us fund it. They're funding it at the moment, but from what I can gather the funding may disappear in two or three years and I think it's a programme that is really important. It should be in all schools in New Zealand and the government should really fund the whole lot. Or, or help us … subsidise us to help fund it.
One Phase 4 BoT chair suggested that teacher education programmes be involved in the responsibility to sustain Te Kotahitanga:
My big fear is where do we go from here? If we don't have the funding, okay, we say if we've got [funding] we will do it, but what happens if we haven't? And this is the problem with a voluntary scheme or programme. Let's hope that there are enough statistics to convince the powers that be that we can now look at introducing this to the training colleges…. And then slowly as the training colleges push out the new trainees, then the programme can develop elsewhere.
Most BoT chairs across Phase 3 and Phase 4 schools indicated that the withdrawal of funding would be problematic. They emphasised existing budget limitations and wondered aloud whether their Boards would support re-directing funds from other initiatives in order to continue funding Te Kotahitanga should targeted Ministry of Education funding end. Typical comments follow:
You take the funding away, well [if] it stops, that's a big barrier.
We need to have a lead teacher, we need to have someone that is managing that programme. It needs to be measured [and] we need to have something in place to make sure those teachers are getting supported. They're getting continual training, and they're getting continually assessed, and that we're also assessing the results of the students. And that all costs, that's all going to cost money. So the bottom line is money, but aside from that is the reality of making sure everyone is getting the support.
It does cost, and we're getting less and less. Our grant isn't growing and so it's got to come from somewhere so we would like that to be a stand-alone project…. The reality is the money has to be somewhere…. The facilitator is the main one I guess.
When asked about the commitment from the MoE for funding the programme, one Phase 4 chair commented:
We're funded again this year, I think next year and then I'm not sure after that to tell you the truth. I can't remember. I know that we don't get funding again…. We would need to have a look at what it cost and how we could, it's not a programme we want to lose. We need somebody to start, we need to invest in it, so we'd need to explore that if the ministry decided to take away funding. What a waste that would be.
Another Phase 3 BoT chair wanted to see better understandings and buy-in of the programme across the school community as well as funding, and saw these as critical to sustainability:
For it to keep going, probably more whānau support, more board collaboration, being more in there with the programme. I think a lot of us really still don't understand it all. Definitely to sustain it we have to continue the funding, because it can't run on its own without funding. And hopefully more buy-in from more teachers, because I don't know whether all of the teachers have a buy-in, just to be more culturally aware.
Finally, this Phase 4 BoT chair thought the experts needed to solve the sustainability issue:
I hope the people who know a lot about it are thinking about it [sustainability]. Because that is one of the problems, things don't get sustained, they don't get embedded.
To summarise, there were general discussions occurring across most schools between the principal and boards of trustees about sustainability of the model. However, our interviews with the principals and the BoT chairs did not reveal examples of formal discussions about planning for sustainability that were specific with regard to what would be needed and what the school and its board were prepared to do in order to sustain the programme.
The facilitation role
There was agreement across school personnel at all levels that the facilitation team and the role of lead facilitator is central to Te Kotahitanga, given the focus on teacher professional development towards the Effective Teaching Profile to enhance student outcomes for Māori in the mainstream. Principals commented:
I think for the ones that have got things from Te Kotahitanga, the thing that they love is having a facilitator, someone who comes in and observes them and sets up a good relationship with them.
What worked for us, specifically, was the facilitation team that we had here for the long haul, we were lucky. They were really passionate about things, improving the achievement of Māori. And their credibility because of their mana that they helped the staff check the momentum.
Approximately one-fourth of the facilitators we interviewed at the Phase 4 schools expressed concern that many principals and facilitators themselves lacked sufficient background knowledge and experience of culturally responsive pedagogies to provide assistance and support for teachers to make changes in their classroom practice. Typical comments were:
One facilitator doesn't feel confident [in her knowledge of culturally responsive pedagogies].
Well, probably the hardest thing is still the cultural context. And te reo. At times I have thought, this should belong to Māori as well. Why am I doing this, a Pākehā teacher? And I felt I wanted to step aside and hand it over to Māori. But I think in this school, because we have such a hugely European, Pākehā staff … I have sometimes felt maybe I haven't got enough expertise or shouldn't be the person to do it. So yeah, it's just about developing your expertise.
One Phase 4 BoT chair emphasized that this was not a responsibility that could simply be reassigned to one of the school's senior managers:
What you don't want to do is put it on somebody, on a senior manager's job description, and expect them to keep it going. That's what I see in schools, is that senior managers or anyone with a management brief are so split and multi-tasking that it ends up being very inefficient often. I think you still need someone with a focus and dedicated time, otherwise other things, the urgent and not important overwhelm the not urgent but important.
Discussions of whether this role could be integrated with other professional development coordination responsibilities raised concerns that doing this would negatively impact programme effectiveness if responding to multiple initiatives shifted the focus away from Māori student achievement. There was strong support for a permanent senior teacher leadership role held by a person with the necessary cultural and instructional expertise so that this work would continue. On the other hand, how the position would be funded and integrated into school staffing patterns had not been addressed substantively at the time of our school visits as indicated by interviewee comments. Some principals did indicate their support for this position long term and their commitment to find the funding:
The staffing needs to be put into the staffing formula, and so it's there as of right, instead of saying we are going to give you 'x' and you have to put in 'x' amount of dollars which buys time.
Perspectives on the contributions of others on the facilitation team were somewhat equivocal in comparison to the overwhelmingly positive views towards lead facilitators. Other members of the facilitation team were generally appreciated, and teachers were able to give examples of how these additional facilitators had also assisted them. Nevertheless, teachers shared some reservations around curricular and/or logistical issues. Reasons for this include staff time, expertise and credibility around issues of culture, pedagogy and subject knowledge. One lead facilitator at a Phase 3 school explained some of the logistical complications resulting from facilitation team members having multiple responsibilities:
As a team we haven't managed to really pull together and it's structural. If I'm not here for a week at a time, [the other facilitator] comes in two days a week and those days can change. It depends on what I've got on as to whether I'm there or not. [One facilitator] has classes that [he/she] teaches, [the other] has classes that [he/she] teaches as well and is a Head of Department, so there's responsibilities there. The timetabling factor means that we may be there or we may not be there when [the person from the advisory support services] comes to touch base with us. So it's that structural stuff that really acts as a big barrier.
Our evidence of uneven implementation of the Effective Teaching Profile, despite length of participation, suggests that teacher participation could be better differentiated in a way that would make use of high implementers. One approach that would both allow differentiation of teacher involvement based on mastery of the ETP and address the need for ongoing facilitators could be utilising these teachers on a part-time basis as facilitators; some schools were already doing this. There was awareness that teachers were at different levels in implementation of the ETP and discuss the need to differentiate:
We have people at different levels and so we're trying to cater for teachers in terms of their needs.
Enabling teachers in the different subject areas who are high implementers to serve part-time within schools and clusters mentoring other teachers could provide appropriate recognition of teacher leadership, enhanced career pathways, and higher expectations for teachers in leadership roles (e.g., Heads of Departments).
Another possibility for differentiation of teacher involvement could be to extend the model to the senior secondary school. Once teachers demonstrate ETP mastery in their Year 9-10 subjects, there could be consideration of shifting the PD activities for those teachers to their Year 11-13 teaching. This would support directly the extension of the ETP into senior subjects and expand opportunities to further enhance Māori student outcomes, particularly on the NCEA.
Finally, sustainability of Te Kotahitanga is reliant upon delivery of professional workshops and hui representing expertise in the relevant areas, such as has been provided by the University of Waikato research team. Without the availability of expert advice, ongoing training/ mentoring opportunities and technical assistance in the classroom, there is risk of losing expertise needed to sustain a teacher professional development programme towards enhancing Māori student outcomes in mainstream schools.
Key Findings: Impact on schools
- School principals were able to articulate achievement targets and achievements for students, but these were not always shared with the school community including teachers, facilitators, whānau and the Boards of Trustees.
- Across schools and across subjects, Te Kotahitanga has communicated effectively to teachers that relationships in the classroom are important. The success to which these relationships were transferred into successful learning situations was variable in some subjects and some schools.
- While evident within the schools, there is less evidence that this focus on relationships has been extended beyond the school to relationships between the school and its Māori community and whānau. Chairs of Boards of Trustees and particularly whānau expressed the desire to know more about Te Kotahitanga and an interest in closer connections between the school and its community. There is, for example, potential for improving the use of the Marae and facilities in enhancing these relationships.
- Planning for the implementation of Te Kotahitanga is crucial to the success of the programme as new staff needed to be employed, provision to timetables needed to be made and physical space appropriated. The interview data demonstrate that the physical space given to the programme signals the importance and permanence of the programme to staff and students.
- Some schools indicated that initial implementation is challenging for schools given the necessity of making changes to systems and structures to accommodate Te Kotahitanga. Principals felt that networking and/or mentoring relationships with colleagues more experienced with the model could have assisted in this process and expressed interest in playing this role for schools new to Te Kotahitanga.
- Te Kotahitanga has created new professional leadership opportunities in schools, including facilitation, mentoring, and leadership skills for teachers through the creation of new roles. There is less evidence of leadership distributed across the school with respect to responsibility for the GPILSEO framework; the support of Deans, Heads of Departments and DPs is philosophical rather than structural. In some schools there is evidence that this power has been shared with leadership opportunities extended for Māori students with the creation of mentoring roles, prefect and head boy/girl positions.
- The implementation of the programme can initially cause division amongst staff whose different perspectives on enhancing student achievement may result in resistance. There is evidence that resistance to the programme dissipates over time, but schools still struggle over the dilemma of voluntary participation or full inclusion of staff. Shared problem-solving and decision-making by co-construction teacher groups works best when all members of the group are participating in Te Kotahitanga and can be prohibitive when some are not.
- Schools leaders, teachers and students noted a focus and a change in the relationships within the school as a result of the Te Kotahitanga programme. The classroom observations indicate that further emphasis on fostering learning relationships between students within some classrooms is needed.
- There continue to be concerns at some schools that targeting of Māori student achievement may be misconstrued as deficit theorising in attributing less than satisfactory outcomes to the students and their families rather than schools and teachers assuming agency for student results.
- Whānau at a few schools were critical of the extent to which Māori culture and te reo were supported, and they felt that their children had to struggle to be both Māori and high achievers at school. There is evidence from our school visits that a few staff at a few schools engaged in deficit theorising and racist attitudes, seen by students, teachers and whānau as continuing to impede progress for Māori students at those schools.
- Principals generally indicated that Te Kotahitanga had not had significant impact on other school practices and/or school policy. Their discussions of the programme emphasised teacher change in developing the Effective Teaching Profile rather than the GPILSEO framework and how it had impact on their school overall. They did not generally regard Te Kotahitanga as a school reform initiative, but rather as focused on teacher professional development.
Key Findings: Sustainability
- School leaders emphasised that sustainability of Te Kotahitanga at their schools was dependent on three factors: (a) the lead facilitator role, performed by a professional with the necessary cultural knowledge, secondary curricular and pedagogical expertise, and credibility and skill in providing technical advice and support to teachers; (b) individualized expert advice to teachers and support for co-construction team activities; and (c) the availability of ongoing expert training and consultation as had been provided by the University of Waikato research team.
- There is agreement across school personnel at all levels that the role of lead facilitator is central to Te Kotahitanga with its focus on teacher professional development towards the Effective Teaching Profile towards enhancing student outcomes for Māori in the mainstream. There are also concerns that integrating the role within the school with additional professional development coordination duties could have a negative impact on programme effectiveness if responding to multiple initiatives shifts the focus away from Māori student achievement. There was strong support for a permanent senior teacher leadership role held by a person with the necessary cultural and instructional expertise so that this work would continue.
- Principals emphasised that sustainability of Te Kotahitanga was dependent on continued resources and expertise associated with the facilitation team, although some principals explored ideas for embedding the culture of Te Kotahitanga in school relationships and related school processes including staff appraisal and peer support networks.
- BOT chairs also emphasised sustainability of Te Kotahitanga depended upon both people and financial resources, and they expressed concern about funding being reduced or withdrawn. They generally saw the lead facilitator's role as key to sustainability. They emphasised existing budget limitations and wondered aloud whether their Boards would support re-directing funds from other initiatives in order to continue funding Te Kotahitanga should targeted Ministry of Education funding end.
- While also important, the role of additional facilitators in schools has presented various challenges to schools regardless of targeted Te Kotahitanga funding. Reasons for this include staff time, expertise and credibility around issues of culture, pedagogy and subject knowledge. Further, the evidence on uneven implementation of the Effective Teaching Profile, despite length of participation, suggests that teacher participation could be better differentiated. Enabling teachers in the different subject areas who have demonstrated high levels of implementation of the ETP to play a greater role in mentoring other teachers could provide a way forward as well as recognise teacher leadership.
- Sustainability of Te Kotahitanga within the Phase 3 and Phase 4 model is dependent upon delivery of professional workshops and hui from the Waikato research team to develop school leader and facilitator skills and expertise in support of the initiative. Without the availability of ongoing training and mentoring opportunities, there is risk of losing expertise needed to sustain teacher professional development programme towards enhancing Māori student outcomes in mainstream schools.
- Without better access to student outcome data on a regular basis, teacher participation in the professional development activities may wane once teachers themselves feel they have mastered the critical components or no longer have interest in doing so. Sustainability will require more efficient and relevant data on student outcomes at the school level for teacher use throughout the year. With some exceptions, the present data collection and reporting systems are not achieving this.
- The commitment of Māori whānau and the school community to Te Kotahitanga and to Māori student achievement in the mainstream requires ongoing communication and information sharing. Present communication strategies with communities do not appear to be effective, nor are effective strategies for engaging with Māori whānau evident. Enhanced communication links would further support sustainability, particularly in periods of change in school leadership.