Initiatives to improve board of trustees' understanding of Pacific issues in education
Schools that are focused on increasing Pacific students’ achievement need board members that are interested in these students and know about their engagement, progress and achievement. They need to understand the actions being taken to improve outcomes for this group, and information to help them monitor progress towards achieving charter targets. Board members with awareness and understanding of the particular influences on Pacific students’ progress at school can make informed decisions about funding resources and teacher professional learning and development to contribute to progress.
ERO evaluated how well informed board members were about issues for Pacific students. Since each school’s previous ERO’s review, board members’ knowledge and understanding had remained at a high level in 10 percent of the schools and had substantially improved in 9 percent. A further 32 percent had improved or somewhat improved. In most of the substantially improved schools action had been taken to raise and maintain board members’ awareness of issues affecting Pacific students’ achievement. It was also used to help them set strategic goals for improving these students engagement in learning.
Seventeen percent of the schools had more Pacific board members than at the time of their school’s previous ERO review. Some school leaders adopted a proactive approach to recruiting Pacific trustees. In many of these schools Pacific communities had started to see the value of having a voice in school governance.
Many board members had participated in Ministry of Education professional learning and development workshops on the Pasifika Education Plan. Where schools were involved in activities with a cluster of neighbouring schools, board members often attended relevant sessions. Some also attended Pacific fono5 linked to the plan and its implementation.
ERO found that of the 12 highest performing schools in this evaluation6, eight had one or more Pacific representatives on the board. Meanwhile, of the 14 schools that were least effective in providing for Pacific students, only one had Pacific representation on the board. It seems likely that Pacific trustees have a positive influence on governance and management decisions concerning Pacific students.
Effective school leaders recognised the need to increase board members’ knowledge and understanding of Pacific students’ education needs. They reported regularly and fully, so that board members received information that showed how well Pacific students were achieving. These trustees were in a good position to set appropriate strategic goals and targets and make appropriate resourcing decisions.
Effectiveness of board engagement initiatives
In schools where steps had been taken to increase trustees’ knowledge and understanding of Pacific student engagement and learning, many boards demonstrated effective governance practices aimed at improving outcomes for these students. Strong community and school links enabled parent and community views to contribute to board planning. Trustees used achievement information to assist with developing and reviewing annual charter targets. Boards allocated appropriate funds for staffing and contextual teaching and learning materials to support the development of initiatives aimed at improving Pacific student achievement.