Overall, the data collated and analysed from 302 schools shows minimal progress across all areas investigated by ERO. Schools are not sufficiently focused on improving the performance of Pacific learners. Despite the promulgation of the Pasifika Education Plan, large proportions of schools are not carefully examining the achievement of Pacific students, using Pacific contexts in the classroom, responding to the individual needs of Pacific learners, or involving Pacific parents.

While some schools have been proactive in their attempts to improve outcomes for Pacific learners, the wider education community has not yet done enough to accelerate the progress of individual Pacific learners who are not achieving well. The challenge now is for all schools to trial and develop key strategies that contribute to accelerating the achievement of Pacific learners.

Schools that were effective had the following features:

  • leadership was focused on improving educational outcomes for Pacific learners
  • trustees, leaders and teachers regularly analysed and used assessment information to resource, monitor and improve teaching and learning for these learners
  • learners had opportunities to regularly reflect on and monitor their own learning
  • the school’s curriculum and classroom programmes included highly relevant contexts for Pacific learners that valued their existing knowledge
  • a range of ways was used for communicating with parents to improve home and school partnerships.

Understanding the diverse interests and needs of Pacific learners underpins these features. Pacific learners can have very different cultures, language and experience. In responding to Pacific learners, school staff cannot simply create broad strategies or approaches to improve Pacific student achievement. Teachers need to be able to work with individual learners to develop meaningful curricula and specific strategies. Schools can also examine their effectiveness for groups of Pacific students. For example, schools with large numbers of Pacific learners may examine how well the Pacific learners whose first language is or is not English are achieving, or examine the progress and influences on learning of specific groups such as Tongan girls or Samoan boys.

Importantly, schools should go beyond ethnicity to look closer at the specific learning needs of individuals to raise the achievement of Pacific learners overall. Assessment and review processes related to individual and groups of students need to be orchestrated to determine the progress and needs of individual students while also identifying where the greatest impact is required when making resourcing decisions.

More school leaders must focus on trialling and reflecting on different ways to accelerate the success of Pacific learners, to reduce the persisting disparities and ensure all learners have the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful participants in New Zealand’s society and economy.

ERO will continue to investigate schools’ engagement and success in promoting the achievement of Pacific learners.