In this evaluation, ERO wanted to understand the quality and outcomes of relationships parents and whanau have with schools when the focus is on improving educational outcomes.

In each school, ERO looked at:

How the school was working with parents and whanau to improve the education outcomes for students who were at risk of underachievement.

All schools 1 reviewed in Terms 3 and 4, 2014 were involved in the national evaluation.

The evaluation framework had two parts. The first explored the quality of the school's relationship with most parents. The second was the in-depth investigation associated with students who had been at risk of underachievement and were now experiencing success.

In each school, ERO looked for a group of students whose accelerated progress had been supported by building relationships with parents and whanau. Although previously at risk of underachievement, these students had made more academic progress than was expected for one year, and now experienced achievement equivalent to their peers. We investigated how engagement with the students' parents and whanau had supported their accelerated progress and improved achievement.

ERO was interested in how well parents and whanau, teachers and leaders, and students were deliberately involved in:

  • knowing the student's learning strengths and needs, language, identity and culture, interests and aspirations
  • the design of the support for students
  • actions during and after the support.

The details of ERO's investigation of how the school was working with these parents and whanau are included in Appendix 2: Evaluation framework and investigative questions, and shown in Figure 2.

Our judgements about the quality of the relationships were based on whether deliberate actions included:

  • acknowledging, understanding and celebrating similarities and differences
  • adding to family practices - not undermining them
  • structured, specific suggestions rather than general advice
  • providing supportive group opportunities as well as one-to-one contact (especially informal contact)
  • leaders, teachers and parents and whanau knew what worked and why
  • school leaders were transferring this learning to other areas of the school.

Figure 2: Evaluation framework for determining the quality of relationship

Figure 2 is a diagram of the framework for determining the quality of relationship. At the centre of the diagram is a group of five circles joined by a continous arrow. From the top going clockwise the circles are, Starting place: students that the school has been deliberately supporting to improve outcomes. Identification of learning strength and needs, language, identity and culture, interests and aspirations. Respond with deliberate actions and innovations to improve student outcomes. Responding to the impact of the actions that infulenced imporved students outcomes. Refocus. From the top of the circle is an arrow going out to a box which reads Not well informed or no deliberate involvement of parents and whanau, a box above this which reads Why were parents and whanau not deliberately involved in a positive way? What is the school doing that could be built on to develop realtionships that lead to generating shared soloution, actions and outcomes.  Inbetween the first and second circle is another circle sitting outside of the diagram which reads well imformed and deliberate involvement of parents an whanau at some stages. Off of this circle is a box reading What triggered working with parents and whanau? What did parents and whanau want?  Off the second circle is a box reading How did working relationships contribute to kowing what the valued student outcomes are?  Of the third circle is a box reading How did the working realtionships contribute to the students' curriculum: what was taught, student agency? what were the agreed responsibilities of the student, parents/whanau and teachers/leaders?  Off the fourth circle is a box reading how and what did the school understand about the quality of the contribution the relationships made to hte students success (for whom and when? and off the fith and last circle a box reading What is the school doing so there is: ongoing success for these students, improved outcomes for other students and their parents and whanau.

ERO deliberately sought examples of practice where Māori and Pacific students’ progress hadaccelerated; hence a quarter of all examples included all or mostly Māori students, and an eighthincluded all or mostly Pacific students. Although not intentional, nearly half of the examples focusedon all or mostly boys.

ERO’s 2015 report Inclusive practices for students with special education needs in schools includesexamples of how schools work collaboratively with parents and whānau of students with specialeducation needs.2