Part 2: There is more to do to enable greater and faster gains in Māori student achievement

Summary of our Education for Māori reports.

There have been modest gains since the slow and unsteady introduction of the Government's main education strategy for improving Māori achievement, Ka Hikitia, in 2008.

There have also been positive signs of improvement in individual schools, either self-initiated or arising from the abundance of initiatives available to schools under Vote Education. These initiatives aim to improve student outcomes and include many initiatives targeted at or emphasising Māori students.

The education sector, led by the Ministry of Education, needs to consolidate and multiply these gains throughout the education system.

Agencies need to continue to work together

As we said in our 2013 report, Education for Māori: Implementing Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success:

In our view, tangible improvements in the success of Māori students will require concerted and collaborative work to put Ka Hikitia into effect in the day-to-day work of the entire education system.

Agencies, including the Ministry of Education as the lead agency in education; the Education Review Office; the New Zealand Qualifications Authority; the Tertiary Education Commission; the Education Council (formerly the Teachers Council); Te Kura (the Correspondence School); and Careers New Zealand need to collaborate.

Our work has highlighted that collaboration at a strategic level has improved in some areas. For example, education agencies worked in partnership for the "refresh" of Ka Hikitia in 2013 and on regional relationships.

In our 2013 report about implementing Ka Hikitia, we identified that education agencies were working better than they had before with Police, Health and Housing agencies, district health boards, the Ministry of Social Development, and local authorities. Sharing knowledge and resources has enabled better support for Māori students and promotes complementary work between these agencies.

However, in our 2016 report Education for Māori: Using information to improve Māori educational success, we noted that the Ministry of Education, the Education Review Office, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, and Careers New Zealand have their own individual strategic commitments to improve Māori student achievement. We could not find a connected strategy or plan about how these agencies would share and use information. In our view, this means that the education sector is not using information as effectively as it could to support decision-making.

In our 2013 report about implementing Ka Hikitia, we identified that the Ministry of Education could improve the way its people work together (for example, taking steps to strengthen management and accountability). Similar issues were noted in the Ministry's 2011 Performance Improvement Framework (PIF) report. In our view, the Ministry needs to continue making improvements, such as those noted in our 2013 report and in the report from a PIF follow-up review, also published in 2013. For example, producing a joined-up and strategic approach that transforms how information is collected, used, and shared within the Ministry; becoming more data-driven; and working out where to place resources to have the biggest impact on outcomes.2

Action on our recommendations

We made recommendations in two of our reports – about implementing Ka Hikitia and using information to improve Māori educational success. The full recommendations are listed in the Appendix to this report.

In our 2013 report about implementing Ka Hikitia, we said that we expected to see progress on each recommendation by 2015. This included recommendations for the Ministry of Education to ensure that the lessons learned from the initial rollout of Ka Hikitia were used to improve implementation of a "refresh" of the strategy.

We have not done formal follow-up audit work on how effectively the Ministry of Education has acted on our recommendations. However, we have checked with the Ministry about its progress and note that it has identified a wide range of responses to each of our recommendations. Responses include initiatives such as the At Risk of Not Achieving initiative, the Ka Hikitia Express to Success Hubs, and the Māori and Pasifika Operations Board. Many of the responses are recent, and either the Ministry is still working through implementation or, for those that are in place, it is too early to see results.

We will be following up on how the Ministry of Education and other agencies have responded to all recommendations from our body of audit work on Māori education at an appropriate time.

Transformation of the education system

As we prepare to publish this report, there is public discussion about the transformation of education in New Zealand. We hope that, as part of this transformation, the education sector can use the reflections and challenges outlined in this report to improve the outcomes for Māori students.

In our view, to better implement Ka Hikitia, the education sector should give more priority to promoting "success as Māori" (see paragraphs - and - ). It should also include better incentives for schools to work together and share practices that help Māori students to succeed.

The creation of Communities of Learning is one of the new initiatives intended to encourage schools to work together, develop shared goals, pool resources, and share good practices. We have not audited this initiative, and it is too soon to see any results. It is important that any new work takes on board the lessons from the past, including addressing issues such as poor communication with schools, as happened with the implementation of Ka Hikitia.

Other initiatives that have started since we began our audit work on Māori education include:

  • The Education Review Office's revised School Evaluation Indicators, which contain an evidence-based set of conditions for what schools need to do to help their Māori students succeed as Māori. The evaluation approach uses the schools' Public Achievement Information, as published by the Ministry of Education, and other school-based data, in relation to the achievement of Māori students.
  • The Student Information Sharing Initiative is intended to improve information sharing by schools.

2: Controller and Auditor-General (June 2016), Education for Māori: Using information to improve Māori educational success, page 51, and State Services Commission, the Treasury, and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (May 2013), Performance Improvement Framework: Follow-up Review: Ministry of Education, page 4.