Te Ihuwaka | Education Evaluation Centre

What is our purpose?

Te Ihuwaka | Education Evaluation Centre evaluates the performance and quality of education in New Zealand. Our mission is to use these insights as a catalyst for change so that every child achieves.

Te Ihuwaka evaluations draw on the insights from our work in schools and services, alongside broader research, to identify:

  • strengths and weaknesses in the education system
  • effective programmes
  • innovative practice.

Te Ihuwaka work provides a stronger evidence base to promote quality teaching practices and to inform the decisions of policy makers and leaders.

Our name – Te Ihuwaka – means leading the way through the waves of the unknown, like the figurehead at the prow of a waka. As we chart a path to our destination, we are committed to keeping the child at the heart of what we do.

Our vision is to:

  • understand the performance and quality of education in New Zealand
  • develop the evidence base about what works to improve learning outcomes for all students
  • support education system reform, evidence-informed decision making and improvement in practice
  • reflect and integrate a te ao Māori worldview in the creation, implementation and dissemination of knowledge found through research and evaluation.

What do we do?

Our work programme focuses on the following nine key areas:

Ākonga wellbeing and engagement; Ākonga learning and achievement; System performance and reform; Support services, networks and collaboration; Leadership and workforce capability; Curriculum, pedagogy, assessment and pathways; Quality outcomes for Māori and revitalisation of te reo Māori; Equitable outcomes for Pacific and priority learners; Effective targeted interventions

We put children and young learners' outcomes at the centre of what we do – ensuring their voices are listened to and that they have an active role in what we do.

We will work closely with experts, whānau, iwi, and communities to ensure that our work reflects their perspective, the most up-to-date knowledge and appropriate tools and approaches. We also partner with organisations including the Ministry of Education, NZCER and universities to strengthen the evidence base and make better use of data.

New releases

On 19 January 2021, we released the full findings from our Learning in a Covid-19 World programme of work. This work includes three reports from Te Ihuwaka. They look at the impact Covid-19 has had on children, schools and early childhood services, and set out practical actions early learning services and schools can take in 2021 to support children, whānau, principals and teachers with the ongoing challenges of Covid-19. The three reports are listed below.

Learning in a Covid-19 World: The Impact of Covid-19 on Early Childhood Education

Cover of ERO's Impact of Covid-19 on Early Childhood Education ReportEarly childhood education services had to quickly adapt to changing requirements and periods of uncertainty due to Covid-19 in 2020. Through our work on the impact of Covid-19 we found that services went above and beyond to support children, staff and whānau and that there have been some real gains in how leaders and kaiako support and teach children. However, we also found that the full impact on early childhood education may be yet to come.

To help early childhood education services and the education system to respond to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, this report sets out what the challenges have been for services and what lessons can support children, teachers and whānau going forward.

Click here to read the report and summary: Learning in a Covid-19 World: The Impact of Covid-19 on Early Childhood Education

Learning in a Covid-19 World: The Impact of Covid-19 on Schools

Cover of ERO's impact of Covid-19 on schools report Schools faced new challenges in 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. To understand what these challenges were and how schools responded, the Education Review Office interviewed 750 schools and surveyed over 2500 principals and teachers across the country, from May through to September 2020. We found that schools went the extra mile to keep students learning and to support the wellbeing of students and staff. However, there is likely to have been a negative impact on student progress and wellbeing – with students telling us they were still anxious about Covid-19. It is likely the impacts of Covid-19 on education will continue to be felt this year.

This report sets what the challenges have been for these schools during the pandemic and, to support schools and the education system to respond to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the report identifies key lessons going forward and practical steps schools can take.

Click here to read the report and summary: Learning in a Covid-19 World: The Impact of Covid-19 on Schools 

Learning in a Covid-19 World: Supporting Secondary School Engagement

Cover of ERO's supporting secondary school engagement report The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has led to significant disruption to schooling, ongoing uncertainty and new requirements – all of which impacts on student engagement. Our report Learning in a Covid-19 World: The Impact of Covid-19 on Schools has found that secondary school students have been most impacted.

To help support secondary schools with this challenge, we have identified evidence-based practices that can make a difference to engagement. This report describes practical strategies to support student engagement during the Covid-19 pandemic, including re-engaging students who are showing signs of disengagement. This report also sets out actions and innovative practices that schools have told us they found useful in engaging students after lockdown.

Click here to read the report and summary: Learning in a Covid-19 World: Supporting Secondary School Engagement

Learning in a Covid-19 World Highlights

In December 2020, ahead of the release of the full findings, we released some highlights from these reports – looking at how schools and early education services responded to Covid-19. These celebrated the hard work of teachers and leaders and share examples of good practice from across the education sector in response to Covid-19. These three highlights included:

Questions we are answering

Supporting system performance

What impact have education reforms had in improving system performance?
We are building a baseline of data that will enable assessment of the impact of education reforms on the performance of the education system over time.

How do we strengthen the teaching of science (early years – year 10)?
We have identified strategies and good practice examples that can support schools and services to strengthen their teaching of science – these will be published in Term 1 in 2021.

How do we strengthen teaching of te reo Māori?
Our previous reports have identified the need for clear guidance about what effective teaching of te reo Māori in English-medium looks like. Te Ihuwaka is working with others across ERO to develop this guidance and monitor progress on Tau Mai Te Reo.

How well does the system deliver education outcomes for children in Oranga Tamariki residential care?

We are undertaking an in-depth evaluation of the education provided in Oranga Tamariki residential settings, the outcomes it achieves and the education experiences of these highly vulnerable children and young people. This will be reported on in April 2021.

Initiatives – building our understanding of what works

How does access to counselling in primary schools support learners’ outcomes?
We have an ongoing work programme on effective initiatives to support student wellbeing. As part of this, we are evaluating the impact of the counselling for primary school students with a pilot that starts in Term 2 next year.

What works in supporting senior secondary students post lockdown/disruptions?
We are undertaking rapid work to evaluate the impact of the additional support from Te Kura put in place for Auckland NCEA students following the Auckland lockdown. This will inform responses to future lockdowns or similarly significant disruptions.

What is the effect of students starting school as a cohort on students, whānau and teachers?
We will be working with schools that have adopted cohort entry to understand why they have chosen cohort entry and the impact it has had.

Promoting good practice

What does an education Community of Practice look like and how does it work?
We have an ongoing work programme on learning networks. As part of this we have worked alongside the Kahukura Community of Practice in Christchurch to capture the key elements of their model of learning networks as an example to other schools. We will publish the report in 2021.