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Ministry of Education.

Transforming learning relationships

Professor Russell Bishop describes how He Kākano is designed to transform the learning relationships within schools and the research base for this approach.


Leaders need to create contexts in their schools where teachers can more effectively relate and interact with Māori students. And it’s that ‘chain’, if you like, that creates the setting within which Māori students can improve their learning experiences.

The plan of He Kākano is to engage leaders in co-construction meetings, where they’re going to be using evidence of Māori student performance at the school level, at a departmental level, at a classroom level, so that they can determine the best way they can go, by collaborative goal setting, by co-operative goal setting and determine the best way that they can actually change the way the school works, change the way that the departments work, and change the way the classrooms work so they become learning organisations. And so the focus at each of these levels in the school is on learning.

The research from the States, particularly led by Richard Elmore and a number of other people in the States that have done work on structural change and or sort of top-down or bottom-up, which is the more effective? They found quite conclusively that schools that responded to bottom-up reform were the schools that made the most progress. And so changing policies and practices and structures and so on in schools, just for the sake of it, is not necessarily much use. For example, the whole ‘Tomorrow’s Schools’ programme is being shown by Kathy Wiley from NZCER to have had no impact upon changing student achievement because it was a top-down idea. And it changed schools, that was what it was about, but if you want to improve student achievement, you bring about change in the classroom, you support changes in pedagogy and then you change the school, the institutional structure - processes, policies and so on - to support what’s going on in the classroom.

That’s what brings about, that’s what the research shows, brings about the most effective change for student achievement, improvement.

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