Part 4: Every school needs to implement Ka Hikitia

Summary of our Education for Māori reports.

Every school needs to implement Ka Hikitia to lift Māori student participation, engagement, and achievement.

In our view, and the view of the Auditor General's Māori Advisory and Reference Group, Ka Hikitia is a sound strategy. It is a well-researched and well-consulted document that has the backing of Māori.

The overall goal of the Ka Hikitia strategy is to enable Māori to enjoy and achieve educational success as Māori. The Ministry of Education has described this as being when "Māori students are succeeding in our education system and achieving equitable results while maintaining and enhancing their identity, language, and culture as Māori".

There were some implementation problems with Ka Hikitia, and there has been only modest improvement overall in Māori students' academic results since Ka Hikitia was launched. Nevertheless, the strategy has been helping to create the conditions for improved Māori student success.

The Ministry's information shows that the strategy document is still being distributed to people throughout the education sector. Of some concern to us was that we did not hear many references to Ka Hikitia during our audit work for our 2016 report about using information to improve Māori educational success.

To focus long-term investment and effort, Ka Hikitia needs to be used more effectively to shape thinking in schools and throughout the system.

Education agencies and schools need to implement Ka Hikitia and use the flexible and strategic focus it offers to maintain a sustainable and long-term approach to raising Māori educational achievement.

We also expect schools with lower rates of Māori student achievement to examine, and if necessary, improve their implementation of Ka Hikitia. These poorer-performing schools could learn how to better implement Ka Hikitia from similar but better-performing schools. Better-performing schools should also continue to review and improve their Māori students' achievement.

Ka Hikitia has helped schools to focus on improving Māori student outcomes and has provided lessons from its implementation

It is clear that Ka Hikitia has contributed to schools sharpening their focus on improving outcomes for their Māori students. The schools my staff visited were carrying out a range of activities and programmes to lift Māori participation, engagement, and achievement using Ka Hikitia and other related tools and materials.6

The implementation of Ka Hikitia was originally flawed by a slow and unsteady introduction by the Ministry of Education. As a result, the introduction of Ka Hikitia was not as effective as it could have been, and it could have had more of an effect in raising Māori educational achievement. This was a missed opportunity.

Ka Hikitia was not effectively communicated to schools. The effort to engage schools did not match the aspirations of Ka Hikitia or take into account how many schools there are. This resulted in a mixed response from schools, with varying degrees of action to put Ka Hikitia into effect.

We heard from a senior staff member of the Ministry of Education that the implementation of Ka Hikitia was faulty because it relied too much on goodwill and devolved responsibility. However, the Ministry's communications to other education agencies brought a positive response, with each agency identifying how it intended to contribute to Ka Hikitia.

Despite clear messages given within the Ministry when Ka Hikitia was its highest priority, having several initiatives and actions happening at the same time contributed to Ka Hikitia being put into effect slowly. For some schools, it became lost in the complexity of many other strategies and actions.

In 2013, some Ministry of Education staff told us: "There are too many initiatives and we need to pull back and think about what's best."

Implementation could be more effective with fewer and better-connected initiatives

The complexity at a system level also flows into schools. Schools decide how initiatives work together and how to prioritise them. This gives schools flexibility to meet different community and school management needs. However, it sets up a daunting challenge for schools that might not have the capability or resources to implement, integrate, monitor, and report on the outcomes of several different initiatives.

We documented many of these initiatives in our 2016 report on using information to improve Māori educational success. In our view, the range of initiatives creates implementation problems and leads to confusion about how the different initiatives fit together. They are also potentially a waste of resources.

Efforts to improve Māori student achievement will benefit from a smaller and better-integrated range of initiatives and from initiatives that are shown to be effective for a range of outcomes. This would mean less internal competition for resources and attention, leading to simpler and less expensive implementation, support, and monitoring of initiatives that work together.

6: Controller and Auditor General (2013), Education for Māori: Implementing Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success, page 7.