A critical investigation into the challenges and benefits in developing a culturally responsive framework in a mainstream Kāhui Ako/Community of Learning : a thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for a Master of Education, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

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Massey University
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In late 2014 the government announced the ‘Investing in Educational Success’ initiative with a $359 million budget. The initiative invited schools to form into local school clusters called Communities of Learning | Kāhui Ako (CoL). Ninety-three per cent of these clusters and CoLs, identified culturally responsive practice as a core objective. The Ministry of Education has through a number of initiatives attempted to address the achievement disparity between Māori and non-Māori that has resulted in a clear directive for teaching and learning to shift towards a pedagogical practice of ‘culturally responsive teaching.’ The intention of this research was to examine one CoL that ostensibly focussed on raising Māori student achievement. A qualitative case study approach was utilised that involved participants directly included in one Community of Learning that focussed on Māori achievement in State education, disparity, educational initiatives, and implementing the aspirations of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. The critical issue was whether there was evidence of tangible and measurable success for Māori students, and what, if any, barriers the CoL confronted in achieving its intended goals. The research shows that there were benefits to the schools and staff operating as members in the Community of Learning, such as the opportunity to network and work alongside colleagues from other schools. A strong view to emerge was that Across School Teacher (AST) positions benefitted substantially (and perhaps excessively) in the form of professional development, leadership opportunity, classroom release and increased pay. There was an absence of evidence to indicate any significant benefit to regular classroom teachers. The most damning finding of this research is that after four years of operation and over $2 million dollars there is no tangible evidence of any improved educational outcomes for Māori students. The CoL initiative, although meritorious in design, has in this specific CoL case study has failed to deliver any measurable benefit to priority learners. The Investing in Educational Success, with regard to the CoL can be considered, like a number of other initiatives, another lost opportunity for Māori. Further research into the impact of the Investing in Educational Success and Communities of Learning | Kāhui Ako (CoL) initiative is therefore warranted and highly recommended.
Communication in education, New Zealand, Educational leadership, Maori (New Zealand people), Education, Academic achievement, Educational change, Teachers, Attitudes, School principals