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Evaluations of the cultural responsiveness in practice.

Cultural responsiveness is a relationship based approach which allows for culturally appropriate responses to diverse communities based on a range of factors:

  • The capacity to work with the community to support culturally appropriate programs and practices.
  • The necessary resources to create and support programs, policies, and practices that are culturally responsive to community needs.
  • Strategic collaborations to enhance cultural responsiveness.

MISSION STATEMENT

In a safe, supportive environment MRGS will provide learning opportunities for each student to strive for excellence, realise their personal potential, and develop understanding of social responsibility and respect for individual and cultural differences.

The school has a very culturally diverse student community, including many students for whom English is a second language. Pacific students comprise a quarter of the roll and Asian students have increased to just over fifty percent. Education is seen by the school as the gateway to a successful life for each individual . This is why a number of initiatives have contributed to the increased successful National Certificate Educational Achievement (NCEA) attainments such as the percentage of students leaving with NCEA Level 2 is nearly ten percent higher than national levels. The results attained by the school for Maori and Pacifika students has increased over the last four years. The cause of this can be seen in the many cultural responsive practices seen happening within the school and around the campus including with the primary and intermediate schools in an initiative called MERGE.

MERGE and whānau involvement
MERGE encompasses a wide range of cross-campus, student-centred activities. These activities are central to the MERGE goal of increasing parent/whānau participation in their child’s learning.

Specifically there are effective strategies to support Māori success, as Māori.

  • The three schools share a campus whare. 
  • A Māori graduation evening, attended by students from all schools, celebrates students’ transition between schools and ultimately back to whānau. This latter initiative presents older students as strong role models and has seen a significant increase in retention of Māori and whānau in the life of the schools. 
  • Each school has a kapa haka group resulting in the kapa haka group having developed a strong identity. Kapa haka has become an integral component of school ceremonies, increasing visibility and school pride in tikanga. 
  • Other cross-campus activities include a concert and Matariki celebrations. 
  • The Kia Eke Panuku team, that includes staff from across the campus, is leading the development of culturally responsive teaching. 
  • School leaders are working to promote Māori culture and tikanga

The Māori achievement plan contains a number of goals and plans to promote educational success and success as Māori.

  • Maori Mentoring plans being developed in consultations with mentoring and tracking team leader. Ÿ 
  • Academic support for Māori students has included the establishment of a Māori homework centre and study wānanga before examinations.
  • Whānau hui and other events provided regular opportunities for the Māori community and the school to meet together to discuss Māori student progress in learning.

The Pasifika Achievement Plan Goal is to further accelerate Pasifika student achievement through culturally responsive pedagogy and meaningful learning partnerships with Pasifika students, their families and fanau.

  • The transition programme for Year 9 students through MERGE and partnerships with community groups to increase student retention rates.
  • Holiday programmes have enabled students to gain qualifications in the areas of visual and performing arts and computing skills.
  • ŸPasifika students accessed weekly updates of NCEA progress via results published on the Pasifika Students group Facebook page.
  • Academic support for Pacifika students has included the establishment of Pacifika homework centre.
  • Fono evenings and the Pasifika School Community Liaison Project initiative to encourage our Pasifika parents, families and communities to engage with schools in supporting their children’s learning.

Connection with the wider community
Students benefit from the support of external agencies providing specialised programmes for students at risk. These students have an over representation of Maori and Pasifika students. Students selected for two of these programmes are often identified while still at the intermediate school and continue their participation during the first year at the high school. One aim is to provide students with a consistent person who traverses the four social worlds of the students (school, home, peers and broader community) and who supports students to move between those worlds. These external mentors have ongoing informal interactions with their students across a range of social, sporting and learning situations. Another initiative runs for one hour a week. It is designed to build resilience. Many students begin the programme during their time at intermediate. At Year 10 a further programme reinforces the messages explored in the Year 9 programmes for those students identified at risk of disengaging with learning.

The latest Education Review Office report tells us that;
"Student achievement information is used by school leaders to determine priorities and targets, and to evaluate the impact of teaching and learning initiatives. Targets for raising Māori and Pacific student achievement have been prioritised. Annual achievement targets are incorporated into the school wide operational planning and are used to evaluate the school overall performance. Curriculum leaders and teachers are strengthening their use of student achievement information. Developing staff capability to analyse and inquire into achievement data is seen as a key to improving outcomes for students." (ERO, 2015, p. 2.)

This is evidenced by;

  • Tracking of Māori and Pasifika students using attendance data.Ÿ 
  • ŸInformation sharing on student support between deans and Māori achievement lead team.
  • ŸProfessional development programme planned by The Pasifika Education Plan Team for spreading knowledge on culturally responsive and relational pedagogy to staff on knowing your Pasifika Learner and Pasifika Voices. The first session was about sharing the audience’s personal experiences with what they know about their Pasifika students. The second was about Pasifika voices where the audience heard from the students, Pasifika staff and parents about what works for them in terms of education. Staff were given educational ideas, suggestions, useful sites that they can implement and in-corporate into their lessons. 
  • ŸWorkshops run covering culturally responsive and relational pedagogy and Tikanga 
  • Inclusion of information on culturally responsive and relational pedagogy on the pink pages, for whole staff. Ÿ 
  • ŸThe utilisation of data to identify specific subjects and assessments in which Pasifika students fail to enjoy success and then work with departments to develop a culturally responsive pedagogy to address this.
  • The tracking process identifies ‘names, numbers and needs’ of targeted students which sees a range of curriculum areas successfully provide remedial support.
  • Staff have access to up-to-date databases of student achievement information to inform their strategies for effective ‘next step’ teaching practice.
  • We have extended our mentoring partnership with tertiary providers with a focus on Maori and Pasifika students which has increased expectations around University as an attainable post-secondary option.

These culturally responsive practices based on working with communities to support culturally appropriate programs and practices, supported by the resources to create such programs, policies, and practices that are culturally responsive to community needs, promotes and supports successful learning outcomes for Maori and Pacifika students.


ERO Report (2015). Retrieved from: http://www.mrgs.school.nz/uploaded/file/downloads/ero20151.pdf

MRGS Charter. (2015). Retrieved from: http://www.mrgs.school.nz/uploaded/file/Charter%202014.pdf

MRGS Mentoring Programme. (2015). Retrieved from: http://www.mrgs.school.nz/curriculum/mentoring_programme.aspx

MRGS Vision, mission and core values. (2015). Retrieved from: http://www.mrgs.school.nz/uploaded/file/downloads/Draft%202014%20sl...

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