Supporting The New Zealand Curriculum and NCEA standards
Engaging Pasifika parents contributes to strong results
Lifting Pasifika educational achievement is a priority for all New Zealand schools. The Pasifika Education Plan emphasises the importance of effective engagement between Pasifika parents, families and teachers. This Secondary Focus is for secondary teachers working with Pasifika learners and their families.
A prefect at Kelston Boys’ High School (right) mentoring learners in his tutor class.
Kelston Boys’ High School is seeing excellent results for Pasifika learners as it builds a culture of high expectations supported by strong connections with the local community.
A high proportion of learners at the West Auckland school are Pasifika learners and Daniel Samuela has been their Pasifika dean for the past five years.
He said there has recently been a culture change led by the school’s new principal that has placed a much greater emphasis on Pasifika learners achieving academically. It has been backed up by strong community engagement and helping learners to see potential pathways for their future.
“We’ve had really good buy-in from the kids within the school,” said Daniel. “And we’ve been working on getting parents on board so they know what their kids are doing. It’s about helping parents to understand the rigours, and being able to balance that with church commitments, work and that sort of thing.”
A key goal of the Pasifika Education Plan 2009–2012 is to increase engagement between Pasifika parents and schools. Daniel said the school and the way it operates can seem quite foreign to Pacific Island parents but Kelston Boys’ High School has worked hard to bridge the gap.
“All Pasifika parents want their kids to achieve. That is their catch cry; that they came from the Islands for that. But a lot of them don’t know how to help, so we are trying to empower those parents.”
The school runs a range of initiatives including Home-School partnerships.
The New Zealand Curriculum emphasises the importance of collaborative partnerships so that a school’s curriculum has meaning for learners, connects with their wider lives, and engages the support of their families, whānau and communities.
By regularly meeting parents, teachers are also more aware of the barriers faced by some learners and can respond accordingly. For example, finding a quiet place to study at home can be a challenge for some Pasifika learners. The school has responded, with some faculties opening on Saturdays and others providing extra classes.
Kelston Boys’ High School also takes advantage of events that draw large crowds, such as rugby matches and Auckland’s Polyfest, an event which celebrates Māori and Pacific Island communities. They are seen as yet another opportunity to provide more information to parents about the school and aspects of academic study such as NCEA. Where possible, information is translated into different languages, including Tongan and Samoan.
Recently Daniel met pastors of local churches who want to support the school. He said in the future, road shows at churches will provide another way of building relationships with Pasifika families.
Each term, Kelston Boys’ publishes a Pacific Island newsletter highlighting both the challenges and successes for Pasifika learners. Sharing those stories in a culture that values communal commitment is crucial to encouraging academic success, according to Daniel.
“A recent academic achievement evening showed the students what is possible,” said Daniel. “Then we see two, three or four buy in, followed quickly by the whole year group. So there’s been a whole cultural change. We now have boys talking about how many credits they are getting. They want to take the extra tutorial or come back in the holidays to make sure they get it.”
NCEA pass levels have improved significantly. Pasifika learners at Kelston Boys’ High School achieving Level 1 NCEA rose from 50 per cent in 2010 to 80 per cent in 2011. For Level 2, the rate increased from 42 per cent to 73 per cent, while the number of learners achieving Level 3 increased from 32 per cent in 2010 to 67 per cent in 2011.
It’s a shift that the school’s principal, Brian Evans – who is currently working towards a PhD in Pasifika Boys’ achievement – attributes to believing that the learners are capable of achieving, then finding ways to make sure they get there.
Pasifika Education Community
Pasifika Education Plan
Engaging with Pasifika parents, families & communities
Kelston Boys’ High School
Educational partnerships with Pasifika communities