Part 4: Processes and practices that support Ka Hikitia

Education for Māori: Implementing Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success.

In this Part, we discuss the processes and practices that we found supported putting Ka Hikitia into effect. We discuss:

We provide examples of good practice to help stimulate further improvement.

We make two recommendations in this Part.

Promising co-ordination between agencies

ERO, NZQA, TEC, and the Teachers Council are using their mandate and focus to provide co-ordinated support for Ka Hikitia. The early signs are promising.

ERO's differentiated approach an incentive to make school-wide changes

ERO's differentiated approach to school reviews allows it to better target resources to work in schools where the need is greatest. This approach places schools and early childhood education providers on different review cycles, based on how well they perform against set criteria.22 ERO introduced a differentiated approach to make its reviews more effective and to maximise resources in response to falling numbers of review officers. Seventy per cent of schools are now on a three-year cycle, the same percentage as in 2009.

Linking the differentiation to Ka Hikitia and to expectations of Māori success has motivated schools effectively. Most schools want to go on to the four- to five-year cycle, and having to show progress for Māori students has prompted them to consider their efforts and attitudes more seriously than before.

ERO's Paetawhiti review response to underperforming schools is an example of targeted use of resources. With Paetawhiti reviews, ERO can recommend external support or intervention to help schools to put in place actions to support the aims of Ka Hikitia. ERO then returns to the school periodically over one to two years.

ERO also produces national evaluation reports on different topics in education, using collated data from reviews of schools. As well as reports specifically focused on Māori students' educational success, all national evaluations include questions specifically about Māori students' success. The national evaluation reports provide information and recommendations for education agencies, schools, and other education providers to help make changes that will benefit Māori students.23

ERO is providing leadership, direction, and standards to the sector to support improved school performance. ERO's internal strategy, He Toa Takitini, guides this work. Ka Hikitia is cited by an experienced reviewer as "providing the foundation for building awareness and legitimisation of activity to improve Māori learner outcomes". It was clear from our survey of schools that ERO's differentiated review approach is a strong motivator for schools to improve outcomes for Māori students.

ERO told us that schools' attitudes have improved markedly since it introduced the differentiated review process. Based on ERO's findings and on our own findings from the schools we visited, we expect to see schools consider their performance for Māori students in a more focused way.

ERO's more collaborative approach to reviewing schools has been effective in gaining schools' trust in the review process. This approach involves discussing what should be evaluated, and how, with schools. We agree with ERO that, with greater trust in the process, schools are more likely to act on ERO's suggestions about ways to improve conditions and practices to benefit Māori students.

In our view, it is important that ERO continue with its approach to school reviews as part of realising the aims of Ka Hikitia. This approach appears to be an effective way of motivating schools to consider their practices for Māori students. It also provides opportunities to encourage schools to self-review these practices. We encourage ERO to further strengthen its organisational capability to enhance this effectiveness.

Agencies' strategies exert influence

Education agencies have prepared their own strategies for Māori success in line with Ka Hikitia. Many of the agencies have supported the Ministry on a range of activities and planning, and this work is reflected in their strategies.

NZQA, through the Te Rautaki Māori a te Mana Tohu Mātauranga o Aotearoa strategy, has planned how to direct resources to "contribute to Māori education success and … Ka Hikitia".24 NZQA absorbed the strategic intent and principles of Ka Hikitia into a goal of building a culturally competent organisation. In the strategy, NZQA has focused on two goals: accelerating Māori students' success and advancing the use of mātauranga Māori. NZQA's strategy reflects Ka Hikitia through promoting Māori input and partnership, such as the initiative to raise awareness among whānau about the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA).

In 2009, TEC responded to Ka Hikitia through an internal document, He Rama ki Ara Poutama, which focuses on increasing Māori access, participation, and achievement in tertiary education. These are priorities in the Tertiary Education Strategy. TEC set up a work programme in response to the Ka Hikitia mid-term review. TEC has been involved in the refresh of Ka Hikitia and is now drafting a new framework, Tū Maia e te ākonga, in collaboration with a cross-sector working group.

[Effective teachers] start a personal relationship with you … you can rely on them.
Year 10 Student

Through investment, information, advice, and performance monitoring, TEC can influence aspects of the operations of tertiary institutions to benefit Māori students. TEC's guidance for investment planning includes expectations and priorities such as achieving better transitions from school to tertiary education, improving outcomes for Māori students, and planning for improvement of academic teaching and assessment practice to actively contribute to better outcomes for Māori students. This influence can support culturally responsive pedagogy at tertiary level.25

The quality of teachers is one of the most important factors in improving outcomes for Māori students. Teachers need to be trained well and assessed rigorously on their abilities to teach children from a Māori background. TEC and the Teachers Council can strongly influence the providers of teacher training to ensure that training is high quality and maintains and improves the quality of teaching practice. TEC can do this through guidance for planning and purchasing decisions to support Māori students' achievement and culturally competent pedagogy. The Teachers Council can do this through the Graduating Teacher Standards and Registered Teacher Criteria, and approval of initial teacher education (ITE) qualifications and programmes.

The Graduating Teacher Standards and Registered Teacher Criteria are two potentially powerful mechanisms to ensure that teachers meet professional standards on entry into the profession and throughout their teaching career. The Teachers Council revised these to embed cultural competency and worked with the Ministry on the Tātaiako cultural competencies for schools.26

The Ministry plans further work to improve how it appraises teachers and to tighten requirements for meeting the criteria, particularly teachers' pedagogical practice and whether that practice will engage Māori students and allow them to succeed. In our view, this requirement has the potential to be a powerful and effective tool for motivating teachers to improve their teaching practice and for improving the quality of teaching in general.

Our recommendations support the work that the education sector agencies are doing to improve the quality of teaching and teacher training.

Recommendation 3
We recommend that all education agencies better co-ordinate efforts to support improvements in schools, including:
  • building understanding of, commitment to, and action on the aims of Ka Hikitia in schools; and
  • schools setting up and sharing teaching practices that are effective in improving Māori students' educational success.
Recommendation 4
We recommend that:
  • the New Zealand Teachers Council use its approval mechanisms for initial teacher education qualifications and programmes and the Tertiary Education Commission use its purchasing of these qualifications and programmes to ensure that student teachers and newly qualified teachers have the right skills to engage effectively with Māori students; and
  • the New Zealand Teachers Council use its influence and approval mechanisms to ensure that monitoring and appraisal processes for teacher registration lead to improved teaching practices and engagement with Māori students and their whānau.

Examples of strong engagement between schools and their communities

Outreach to whānau and school communities included three-way conferencing, talking to whānau at the school gate, ringing home with positive news, and visiting homes.

The "Key Evidence" booklet, issued as background to Ka Hikitia, stresses the importance of the relationships between teacher and student and between school and whānau and community.27 This kind of engagement is valuable for all students and whānau, but particularly for Māori, who might have had negative experiences of school.

We saw examples of strong engagement between schools and their communities. These examples include introducing whānau-teacher-student conferences to ensure that school staff, students, and whānau work together for the student's success. Some schools we visited stressed the importance of outreach to their Māori whānau in different ways, including:

  • visiting whānau at home;
  • telephoning whānau with reports of good progress;
  • being present at school sports to connect with whānau in a more informal context than the "parent-teacher" interview;
  • at the beginning or the end of the school day, being at the school gate to chat with whānau who might not be comfortable coming through the school gate; and
  • providing academic counselling as a holistic approach to success for Māori students.

Schools we visited reported that all of these practices have resulted in improved engagement between the whānau and the school, and greater interest from whānau in their child's learning. This is supported by our survey evidence (see Figure 4).

Figure 4
Responses to our survey question about perceived changes for Māori learners, their whānau, and iwi

Figure 4 Responses to our survey question about perceived changes for Māori learners, their whānau, and iwi.

Note: Scores are an average of the respondents' answers. 1 is a marked change for the worse and 5 is a marked improvement.

Source: Survey results, question 10 (see Appendix).

We intend to explore the importance of the partnership between schools and their communities, including local iwi, in a future performance audit.

Getting schools to engage and collaborate more

Schools could use existing platforms more effectively for sharing practice and information. Better collaboration between schools, the Ministry, and other education agencies will need greater levels of trust.

We heard about examples of schools collaborating to improve outcomes for their Māori students, such as joint Matariki festivals, visits to other schools to view practice, and sharing ideas at school cluster hui and conferences. There were also examples of schools collaborating in Māori student mentor programmes with the secondary, primary school, or early childhood education centre that their students came from or went to. However, it was more common for schools to focus on their own activities, and representatives of principals' groups we spoke with were reluctant to speak on behalf of other schools in their groups.

In our view, current structures and mechanisms could be used for greater engagement and collaboration between and within schools. These structures and mechanisms are under-used for sharing practices and experience to improve schools' own performance for improving Māori student success. This is supported by researchers commenting on how the system supports collaboration.28 Principals' clusters and associations commonly do not share ideas about practices. We heard that this was particularly so for secondary principals because of the competitive nature of the school system.

The Minister of Education has introduced a sector forum on raising achievement, to provide advice that could provide a platform for openly discussing all concerns about how to improve outcomes. This requires respect and trust by all concerned, so that issues can be discussed openly and all points of view heard.

In our view, it is important that all public entities involved in the delivery of education – particularly the Ministry of Education and schools – build strong and trusting partnerships to support a combined approach to raising Māori students' educational success. We encourage these entities to share quality data, ideas, and effective practices, to benefit working together to improve systems, frameworks and resources that support Māori education success. Importantly, we encourage these entities to consider how to engage more effectively and efficiently with Māori organisations, iwi, and whānau.

In the next audit in our five-year audit programme, we intend to focus on the effectiveness of partnerships and how entities work together to support Māori students' educational success. The audit will focus on the partnerships and collaborative work between agencies, education providers, local iwi, Māori organisations and parents/whānau to ensure quality delivery of education and services to Māori students.29

Using performance information

Some schools are using performance information to identify and address the needs of their Māori students.

Educators gather a range of performance information. This includes student assessment data, enrolment data, truancy data, teacher performance information, and system-level data (for example, benchmarking results against local or similar schools). Qualitative information is also valuable, such as teachers' professional observations, student surveys to capture students' views and experiences, and feedback from whānau.

We saw some good examples of a broad range of performance information being used and put on public display in some of the schools we visited. From the ERO reports, we have additional evidence indicating increasing quality of collection, analysis, and use of performance information.

One secondary school told us about the constant use of performance information. When we visited this large provincial school, we were shown how, as part of the Te Kotahitanga programme,30 the school was challenging teachers to examine their beliefs about their teaching practice for Māori students by using individual achievement data of Māori students. The principal talked about the core expectation for data to form the basis of conversations between teachers and students. At the time we visited, school deans were identifying what needed to be done to help students – in particular, Māori students – "get across the line".

ERO said about this school that:

... teachers are making good use of achievement data to plan for the different learning needs of students and now have a rich new source of information from Year 7 and 8 National Standards data.

ERO also identified that:

Student progress is monitored closely. Achievement information in Years 7 to 10 is well used by teachers to plan and track students' individual progress ... [and] Pastoral care deans and Te Kotahitanga facilitators meet regularly to discuss student progress and engagement at each year level, and in individual classes.

In an area school with a high proportion of Māori students, we saw how some performance information was put on display to raise awareness and to spark discussion. When we visited, statistics about truancy were being broadcast on the television in the staffroom through the main administration computer.

When we visited a large, multi-ethnic secondary school in Auckland, staff told us how they had melded Ka Hikitia, Te Kotahitanga, the academic counselling programme created by the school,31 and a new format of meetings with whānau to provide the performance analysis, individual goal setting, and targets to meet higher-level aspirations. These meetings are well attended by the school's Māori students, who told us that they appreciate this guidance.

ERO said of this school that:

Senior managers and teachers make good use of data driven internal and external review to reflect continuously on effectiveness and to improve practice.

The ERO report also identified that:

  • the board and senior leaders are committed to analysing and using achievement data to improve teaching, learning, and achievement; and
  • the school's Student Achievement Manager plays a major role in a sophisticated target-setting process.

Analysing and using performance information better

Schools need to use performance information significantly better. Our review of ERO's reports for the 27 schools we visited or spoke with showed that most were using performance data, some better than others (only two caused concerns for us).

Common areas for improvement included using appropriate aggregations, identifying trends or patterns, setting targets, and, most importantly, teachers using performance data effectively to improve their practice. We saw some examples of good use of performance data to inform programming and teaching practice.

Most schools we visited collect good quality data. Our review showed that about a third of the schools had a high standard of analysis of Māori students' achievement information, but another third had a low standard of analysis.

ERO's reports of the schools we visited and our findings are consistent with the overall patterns discussed in ERO's 2010 report, Promoting Success for Māori Students.32 Teachers are collecting data, but the evidence does not support that they are effectively linking the performance information back to changes in teaching that can help to improve results.

In our view, the quality of electronic student management systems and the capability of schools to use student management systems are variable. This affects the standard of analysis of student information. The New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER) submission to the Government on National Standards notes that student management systems need to:

  • provide security and integrity of information;
  • allow longitudinal analysis of student performance; and
  • allow management of different pieces of assessment.

NZCER said that few schools have such systems.33 Currently, student management systems are not mandatory and schools can join a hosted service. There is no special funding for student management systems. There is also no special funding to support schools to build capability to use student management systems effectively to support student achievement.

In our view, it is important that schools have student management systems that support appropriate data analysis that can lead to more successful outcomes for Māori students. (We discuss this further in paragraphs 6.18-6.21.) Also, it is vital that the Ministry and schools collect timely, reliable, and relevant information, then analyse and use that information to target resources at actions that effectively increase Māori students' educational success. We will be focusing on the quality and use of data for this purpose in a future audit in our five-year audit programme.

Stronger school leaders improve outcomes for Māori students

Many school leaders told us they had made strong efforts to lead their staff in improvements to benefit Māori students.

As noted earlier, the relationship of Ka Hikitia to other initiatives and programmes was not clear to some schools. Since the initial launch of Ka Hikitia, the introduction of National Standards, the New Zealand Curriculum, and ERO's differentiated model of evaluation have motivated school leaders to focus attention on the achievement of their Māori students.

School leaders we spoke to and most respondents to our survey had made strong efforts to lead their managers and staff to identify improvements that would benefit their Māori students. Some of these efforts were in response to the Ka Hikitia document. Other strong influences were participation in professional learning and development programmes, such as Te Kotahitanga, He Kākano, and others.34

In some schools, the principal has driven the effort. In other schools, this has been a joint effort with the chairperson of the board of trustees and, in some schools, Māori parent representatives. In general, board chairpersons encourage changes to improve Māori student achievement and support the school's senior managers to do this.

Some boards had a working knowledge of the intent and goals of Ka Hikitia and an understanding of how well their school was progressing to improve Māori student achievement. These boards were better at focusing school efforts and resources in the right places and at sharing good information with whānau and communities.

We saw a compelling example of successful joint leadership to ensure that Māori students' needs are met. This central city primary school has an elected board of trustees and a board elected from Māori parent representatives. The two boards collaborate with each other and the principal and both have Māori representatives. A Māori parents' association informs both boards. This shows a bicultural commitment to sharing responsibility for Māori student outcomes.

We encourage boards of trustees to consider how to gain better representation of Māori interests, through board structures and through better targeting of Māori whānau and community members for election as trustees.

With a programme to enhance how schools produce charters, the Ministry seeks to strengthen how schools use student data to set appropriate targets for priority learners, including Māori, and appropriate actions to achieve targets. In our view, this is an important way to improve schools.

Some board members need to understand their governance role better.

Boards of trustees varied in their understanding and support of raising awareness of Ka Hikitia and drawing attention to Māori student success. We talked with some trustees who were not fully aware of their governance role for Māori students, as stated in the National Administrative Guidelines and National Education Guidelines.

In our view, it is important that boards take a direct interest in how their school supports Māori students. Some boards may need training to improve their understanding of their governance role in this. The Ministry has recently published (in March 2013) guidance material for boards about effective governance to support Māori students' educational success.35

22: ERO reviews schools on cycles of one to two years, three years, or four to five years.

23: The national evaluation reports are available on ERO's website,

24: New Zealand Qualifications Authority (2012), Te Rautaki Māori a te Mana Tohu Mātauranga o Aotearoa, Wellington, page 5.

25: Pedagogy is teachers' ideas and practices of teaching and learning.

26: Tātaiako: Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners is a resource released in 2012 explaining the progression of the competencies teachers need to develop so they can help Māori learners achieve educationally as Māori. It is available on the Ministry's website,

27: Ministry of Education, Ka Hikitia – Key Evidence, Wellington, available on the Ministry's website,

28: Langley, J (ed) (2009), Tomorrow's Schools 20 years on, Cognition Consulting, Auckland, pages 58-60 and 137; Wylie, C (2010), Vital connections: Why we need more than self-managing schools, New Zealand Council for Educational Research, Wellington, pages 126-127.

29: Our draft annual plan for 2013/2014 is available on our website.

30: Te Kotahitanga is a research and development programme that supports teachers and school leaders to improve Māori students' learning and achievement. Many of the secondary schools we visited had taken part in Te Kotahitanga.

31: This programme was influential in developing the University of Auckland's Starpath Programme. Information about the Starpath Project for Tertiary Participation and Success is available on the University of Auckland website,

32: Education Review Office (2010), Promoting Success for Māori Students: Schools' Progress, Wellington, page 25.

33: New Zealand Council for Educational Research (2009), Submission on national standards, NZCER, Wellington, page 4.

34: He Kākano is a professional learning and development programme for secondary school leaders (see

35: Ministry of Education (2013), Effective governance - Supporting education success as Māori, Learning Media, Wellington.

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