Strengths-based perspectives of culturally responsive secondary school leaving experiences: Stories of past Pasifika students
One of the most important principles of institution transformation is that of offering inclusive programmes in terms of content, language, assessment and pedagogy, coupled with high expectations on the part of the teachers and the learners (Blackmore, 2006). Therefore, in order to enhance understanding in this space in Aotearoa New Zealand, this study utilised comparative individual case study research, semi-structured interviews and a focus group interaction with a representative of each of the Samoan, Cook Islands, Tongan and Niuean groups who have successfully transitioned from secondary to tertiary education institutions. Using an interpretive, qualitative research approach and Pacific research principles, incorporating student voice and reflective perspectives of secondary school experiences, the study aimed to critically explore the pedagogical, structural, curriculum, relational and pastoral factors that explain positive Pasifika educational achievement levels in secondary institutions, facilitating successful transitions into tertiary education in New Zealand.
The focus group interactions and recommendations have led to the identification and development of hybrid models that may endorse more effective and supportive learning environments for learners at the secondary level, thus contributing to the development of more effective learning pathways, support and outcomes for all Pasifika students.
A number of recommendations arose from this inquiry. Pasifika students in the secondary school environment engage more fully and respond more appropriately when the quality of the relationships they enjoy with their teachers include a respectful acknowledgement of themselves as unique cultural persons. This research in addition highlighted the importance of the need for educational leaders and teachers to critically reflect on their personal principles and views including the value of student voice and how these may form a critical part of the process towards developing culturally suitable and sensitive learning environs and practices for all students from diverse cultural groups.