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Ministry of Education.

What is He Kākano

He Kākano is a strategic school-based professional development programme with an explicit focus on improving culturally responsive leadership and teacher practices to ensure Māori learners enjoy educational success as Māori. The strategic intent of the project is to improve the emotional, social, cultural and academic outcomes of Māori children in main stream schools.

The aim of this project is also to support school leaders of up to 100 secondary schools to support and enhance the social and cultural conditions necessary to bring about change for Māori students. The project team recognises the will to meet the needs of Māori learners. The programme aims to to work with school leaders to find the way to effect change that is culturally ad contextually responsive.

A number of reports over the last few decades have highlighted the failure of our education system to lift achievement levels among Māori children.He Kākano offers a practical approach to address these challenges. With the support of the Ministry of Education, educational leaders, teachers and communities for change, the He Kākano programme supports principals to create school-based solutions where the desire to change is embraced.

Educational Focus

Māori medium education institutions have a collective vision, a kaupapa that provides guidelines for what constitutes excellence in Māori education, that connects with ‘Māori aspirations, politically, socially, economically and spiritually (Smith, 1992, p.23). English medium institutions with a multicultural student base including Māori can embrace such a philosophy or agenda for achieving excellence in language and culture that make up the world of Māori children. Such a kaupapa is essential for the development of education relations and interactions that will promote educational achievement and reduce disparities.

The educational focus of Māori students in mainstream secondary school classrooms is the main focus of this professional development project. If we want to make a difference to the worrying statistics of disparity, then we need to focus on this group, because it is only by focusing on solutions that we will resolve this issue. Addressing the disparities is one of the most pressing educational priorities of today. 

Theoretical base

The theoretical foundation of the project is based on that identified in "Scaling up education reform - addressing the politics of disparity" (Bishop, O’Sullivan and Berryman 2010) that proposes that effective, sustainable, educational reform sees leaders and teachers implementing seven elements of change in a supportive manner. These seven elements include: goal setting; developing a pedagogy of relations that creates culturally appropriate and responsive classroom learning contexts; institutional reform that is responsive to classroom changes; a distributed leadership pattern that supports pedagogic leadership spread to include whānau, iwi and hapū aspirations, preferences and practices; evidence-based decision making; and ownership by all concerned of the goals of improving Māori student success.

The model is mapped onto the findings from the leadership BES (Robinson et al, 2009) and the likes of Ka Hikitia, the Secondary Principals’ Standards, the New Zealand Curriculum Framework, and the NEGS and NAGs, to deliver the professional development programme.

Leaders at various levels in each school will be supported to implement the elements of this model in ways that are appropriate to these roles and responsibilities. How each school will respond will be unique to each school, allowing the self-determination of each set of school leaders to respond to the challenges of reducing educational disparities in their own way.

E kore au e ngaro, he kākano i ruia mai i Rangiātea.

I will never be lost, for I am the seed which was sown from Rangiātea.

This whakatauki is a reminder to Māori of our historical, cultural and spiritual links to the past and is an affirmation that, no matter what happens, our identity as a people will remain strong because we know who we are and where we are from. In one sense, our children are the seeds, and one of the key functions of schools is to nurture their students’ sense of identity and culture while they are in the care of the schools. In another sense, the principals and leaders are also seeds who need to be nurtured in order to succeed, as are other members of the school community.

Cultural consideration is important

Barnhardt (2004) observes that culture is like an iceberg; that is, 10% of it is visible, the other 90% is invisible. When this understanding is applied to education, we come to understand that both visible and invisible elements of students’ culture need to be attended to. Neither element on its own is sufficient.

Individual change is important

The more leaders focus on their role in the core business of improving teaching and learning, the bigger their impact on student learning and outcomes. Effective school leadership resides in the leadership team, not just in one individual. In other words, a distributed leadership pattern is necessary (Robinson et al, 2009; Elmore, 2004).

System and school structural change is important

The struggle for Māori within the schooling and education system is not to pursue one or the other of the structuralist or culturalist opinions in developing transformative strategies: Māori do need and struggle on both fronts simultaneously (Smith, 1997, p.127). Schools that succeed in changing practice (so as to improve student learning) are those that start with the practice and modify school structures to accommodate to it (Elmore, 2004).

Pedagogical change is important

Leaders can create culturally appropriate and responsive contexts for learning through supporting the implementation of a culturally responsive pedagogy of relations, both at the classroom and school levels.

"As a leader I have lead the development and establishment of specific measurable goals related to Māori student attendance, retention, engagement and achievement (AREA) in our institution/my classroom in order that progress can be shown, monitored over time and acted upon."

School leader, Wānanga 1

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