Leaders and kaiako continue to report a high level of awareness of Te Whāriki, with 92 percent of the 167 services indicating they were aware of the updated document and nearly half of these services already considering how to implement it. This reflects the findings in ERO’s previous report.
Leaders and kaiako were unpacking and becoming familiar with the updated curriculum document, and reading and talking about various aspects of the contents. They were updating relevant documents to incorporate the language of Te Whāriki, with many services changing their approach to planning, assessment and evaluation. Changes included shifting from planning for groups of children to planning for individuals, identifying teaching strategies, and reflecting on teaching practice using the ‘examples of practice’ and the ‘reflective questions’ in Te Whāriki as a guide. In some services, leaders and kaiako were engaging in more professional discussions about children’s learning and strengthening relationships with local schools. A few have found the principles of Te Whāriki a useful lens to reflect on practice. In other services, leaders and kaiako were considering how to use the goals of Te Whāriki to explore the role of kaiako and the learning environment.
Te Whāriki notes “the goals are for kaiako. They describe characteristics of facilitating environments and pedagogies that are consistent with the principles and that will support children’s learning and development across the strands of the curriculum. p.16.
Te Whāriki is also helping leaders and kaiako to strengthen engagement with parents and whānau. This included asking about their aspirations for their child, providing information about the updated curriculum, increasing their voice in assessment, and involving them in planning for their child’s learning.
The challenge for leaders and kaiako as they began to work with Te Whāriki was to go beyond the surface aspects and the things that are easy to change to thinking more deeply about ‘what the updated Te Whāriki means for our service, our practice, and our children and their parents and whānau’.
Leaders and kaiako reported varying levels of confidence in working with Te Whāriki to support Māori children to experience success as Māori. As shown in Figure 1 this is an aspect of practice leaders and kaiako in a third of the services reported they were somewhat or not confident to address. This reflects a similar finding in ERO’s July, 2018 report.
Figure 1: Percentage of services with confidence to support Māori children
In the services that were confident (or had already begun) leaders and kaiako were at an early stage in working with Te Whāriki to support Māori children to experience success as Māori and to realise their potential. It was an area of focus for PLD for some services, with a strong emphasis on bicultural curriculum or bicultural practice. PLD also focused on strengthening use of te reo Māori and tikanga, working with Te Whatu Pōkeka, and implementing culturally responsive practices.
As noted in ERO’s July 2018 report, supporting educational success for Māori children needs to move beyond a sole focus on bicultural practice or curriculum as the default response to such support. Leaders and kaiako need to think deeply about their understanding of, and commitment to, kaupapa Māori.
Te Whāriki notes:
Kaupapa Māori theory is drawn from Māori ways of knowing and being and assumes the normalcy of Māori knowledge, language and culture. It gives voice to Māori aspirations and expresses the ways in which Māori aspirations, ideas and learning practices can be framed and organised. The implementation of kaupapa Māori theory emphasises practices that enable Māori to achieve educational success as Māori. At its core is the retention of Māori language and culture. p.61
The following example shows how one service was building on their bicultural curriculum by thinking about what more they could do to promote success for Māori children.
The centre has a strong bicultural curriculum and is well placed to work with Te Whāriki to promote success for Māori. The service has explored some Māori teaching and learning theories and assessment practices, and are working on developing stronger place-based learning. Partnerships with whānau are developing and they have many opportunities to define what educational success looks like to them. The upcoming philosophy review will utilise this voice to identify the valued learning outcomes from Te Whāriki for Māori children.