Leadership Practices That Raise the Achievement of Māori Learners: an Examination of Practices
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This dissertation aims to inquire into the practices of educational leaders that seek to raise the achievement outcomes of Māori learners. Despite the efforts of policy makers and educators, Māori learners achieve below their New Zealand peers, many of whom are of European descent. This gap begins from their formative years and is evident throughout their schooling thereby resulting with a disproportionate number leaving school without the qualifications they need. It is accepted that some factors are beyond the scope and influence of schools, but it is the factors within schools where educational leaders can make the most difference that is pertinent. Educational leaders by virtue of their influential position can make a difference, although they may not be involved with students in terms of day to day instruction. They however, lead teachers and support staff who are in direct contact with students and hence are capable of making a difference. An important pre-requisite highlighted by many researchers and academics is a culturally responsive pedagogy for improving the learning outcomes of Māori learners. This approach values what students know and how they do things and therefore incorporates the same in the teaching and learning environment. It is incumbent on educational leaders to ensure that a culturally responsive pedagogy permeate the entire school in spirit, word and deed if gains are to be made with improving the learning outcomes of Māori learners. In this small scale qualitative study, semi structured interviews were conducted with three educational leaders from full primary schools in Auckland that had between 10%-15% learners who classify themselves as being Māori. The findings indicated a genuine commitment by the three educational leaders towards improving the learning outcomes of Māori learners. The common themes emerging from the practices of the educational leaders included culturally responsive pedagogy, targeting and tracking Māori students, high expectations and home school partnerships. The practices of educational leaders unique to their contexts were the Literacy Enhancement Creativity Programme (LEAP), Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L) and Accelerated Learning in Literacy (ALL). This study emphasised the important role that educational leaders play in providing direction and motivating their staff towards improving the learning outcomes of Māori learners as leaving it all to Māori could be seen as abrogating treaty obligations. The recommendations arising from this study include providing professional development for overseas trained teachers on pedagogical practices appropriate for Māori learners and professional development programmes for teachers where their personal beliefs like stereotyping and ethnocentrisms could be reflected on and interrogated in a non-threatening manner. Other recommendations arising from this research was providing a mentoring programme for beginning principals and the support for Māori learners at the start of their intermediate years (Year 7) where most disengagement would likely occur.