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Key themes

Six key themes emerged from an analysis of the milestone reports submitted by schools that participated in Te Kauhua Phase 1. These included:

Relationships are pivotal to the success of any professional development initiative. The single factor common to all pilot schools was the development of caring, collaborative, consultative relationships between teachers and students; students and students; teachers and teachers; teachers and whānau; and school communities and whānau. The development of these relationships is critical to Māori student success. Communication with kaumatua, kuia, local whānau, hapu and iwi, principals, management teams, board of trustees, and community groups is foundational to any successful initiative.

Tikanga Māori principles must underpin professional development initiatives. Schools embarking on a journey such as Te Kauhua would benefit from building professional development activities upon the application of tikanga Māori principles. Whakawhānaunatanga (relationship building); tautoko (genuine support and endorsement); tino rangatiratanga (active recognition of the mana of the tangata whenua); and manaakitanga (meeting the physical and emotional needs of people) are critical success factors to the success of such projects.

Leadership is critical. Principal, management team, and board of trustees support, involvement, and on-going commitment and participation is a critical success factor, and a key component of sustainability in such a project. Principals who foster a school community culture of continuous improvement through collaborative practices and the active engagement in, and encouragement of, action research to refine the teaching knowledge base are pivotal to successful professional development initiatives. These principals will ensure that the goals of any professional development initiative are embedded in school policies and procedures.

Facilitators who have the requisite knowledge, skills, and communication abilities to support and guide professional development activities are necessary. The clear articulation of project goals to a range of audiences is a foundation for success. Support for the facilitator/s from the principal and management team is also necessary to ensuring on-going capability building.

The development of a refined research methodology as opposed to randomly located, disjointed activity, is a key to meaningful data collection and analysis and the ultimate credibility of such a project. Attention to data gathering and evaluation tools at the start of any professional development initiative will provide a foundation for ensuring measurable outcomes of Māori student achievement. The pilot highlighted the need for baseline data and ongoing systematic data collection to evidence shifts in Māori student achievement. It also emphasised the importance of facilitator, and teachers', training in the areas of data gathering and analysis.

Professional learning communities with a shared language and understanding of pedagogical knowledge, skills, and practices that enable Māori student success, take time and commitment to develop. This is however, the way forward in terms of shifting school culture and maximising academic and social outcomes for Māori students.

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