6 Oct 2010

Schools given ultimatum on Maori achievement

4:25 pm on 6 October 2010

Education officials have told schools that they will no longer be considered to be high-performing unless Maori students are achieving.

An Education Review Office report has concluded many mainstream schools are still failing to meet their responsibilities to Maori students.

ERO chief review officer Dr Graham Stoop says the success of Maori students at school is a matter of national interest and priority.

Maori student achievement will now be one of the key factors for a decision on how long a school will be left before its next ERO review.

Associate Education Minister and Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples says he is pleased that a government agency has recognised the mainstream school system is failing Maori students.

"There is a role that the schools have not been playing for 30 years", he told Morning Report, "and it's perpetuating the large-scale production of Maori boys in particular coming out of there without qualifications.

Dr Sharples said some schools do not even monitor the performance of Maori students, let alone inform parents.

He said mainstream schools need to take a leaf out of Kura Kaupapa Maori schools and their ethos of everyone working together.

"It bonds the students so that they all want to pass together, and that doesn't exist in the classes in the mainstream schools."

Call to reprioritise funding

The Post Primary Teachers' Association says the report shows the Government needs to invest in education development programmes, not national standards.

The union's president, Kate Gainsford, welcomes the focus on Maori achievement and says the Government needs to reprioritise its funding for education.

The PPTA says more money needs to be spent on development in the classroom, instead of investing more funds in to national standards.

Another union, the New Zealand Educational Institute, says the report shows professional development programmes provide a better measure of Maori achievement than national standards.

However, Education Minister Anne Tolley says resources to improve achievement by Maori students are already available, but schools are not taking advantage of them.

Mrs Tolley says it is not about the Ministry of Education reprioritising funding but for teachers to find out what works for students - whether they are Maori, Pasifika or European.

Long overdue, says principal

A principal of Taipa Area School in Mangonui, in which the majority of the 400 pupils are Maori, has described the ERO report as long overdue.

Pateriki Toi told Nine to Noon that Maori students have not been targetted in terms of bringing about the success which is New Zealand's responsibility as a country to deliver.

Leading Maori academic Professor Rawiri Taonui, from Canterbury University, says schools should be ranked based on Maori achievement so parents can send their children to schools where they know they're going to achieve.

Russell Bishop, who is involved in the Te Kotahitanga programme to improve Maori students' performance, says the report shows that more Government support is needed.

Professor Bishop says it is an opportunity for the Ministry of Education to respond and offer support to all schools, not just mainstream ones. Te Kotahitanga runs 49 schools.