Learners should experience a curriculum that engages and challenges them, is forward looking and inclusive, and affirms New Zealand’s unique identity.
For the final section, ERO visited and talked with the leaders, teachers and learners of the selected services and schools. They all celebrated diversity and saw it as an opportunity for everyone to learn. By investigating effective practice in these settings ERO wanted to find out:
Effective leaders and teachers recognised that to maximise learning, they must get to know each learner. They also recognised that the emotional wellbeing of the learner and whānau was critical for any learning to occur.
Children and families need to feel settled and safe. We need to build relationships with students, recognise parents’ and students’ backgrounds and trauma. The emotional needs of the family are a priority. (School leader, Mt Roskill Primary School)
Through discussions with these services and schools we learnt about effective practices (see Figure 11) that improved learning outcomes for CLD learners such as:
Each service or school provided general and specific conditions that supported CLD learners to experience success. Strategies and practices can include several elements – general strategies (e.g. know the learner), instructional strategies (e.g. use metaphors and imagery for cues), environmental strategies (e.g. use visual displays, portable white boards, and posters when giving instructions), assignments and activities (e.g. quick writes, sorts and journal writing).
For the purpose of this evaluation, these strategies and practices are subsumed within the five main aspects as identified in the evaluation framework (Figure 9). The following stories and commentary highlight aspects of practices in services or schools that contributed to improved outcomes for learners.
Figure 11: Summary of effective practices and strategies in selected services and schools
Inclusive services and schools deliberately fostered a culture that embedded the values of their learning communities. Parents and whānau quickly developed a sense of belonging and security because both diverse and common values were celebrated. Learners were settled and focused on learning.
Building authentic and respectful relationships with parents and whānau was the key to understanding the learner’s cultural and family background, and critical for the learner’s success. Strong relationships helped parents to share aspirations for their children. Parents were supported to participate and engage in their children’s learning and provided with translations of learning stories, outcomes, newsletters and key educational concepts. They were encouraged to continue to speak in their home language with their children, and to see bilingualism as an asset.
Leaders and teachers understood their responsibility to help learners understand and respect diverse viewpoints, values, customs and languages, and for the learning environment to closely reflect the cultural context at home. They learnt to pronounce the learner’s names correctly showing that they valued the learner, their whānau, and their culture. Learners were encouraged to introduce themselves in their own language and use it at school, as well as English. These schools provided opportunities for learners to lead and for teachers to learn.
New families were welcomed and invited to share their stories in their home language, their traditional food and customs, and to join in activities that celebrated their own and others’ cultures. Annual cultural events such as Chinese New Year, Matariki, Diwali, Eid, Māori and Pacific language weeks were celebrated in these services and schools. Leaders also supported new families to learn about New Zealand’s bicultural society by promoting a culturally responsive curriculum, and through supporting Māori learners to achieve and succeed as Māori.
During mat time, the head teacher used te reo Māori, Samoan, Spanish and Arabic words in a numbers song. The usually shy toddler whose family speaks Spanish sang enthusiastically when ‘his’ numbers were used. (Kindergarten)
Regular communication with the learners and their parents was critical and included:
A staff member who spoke the same language as the learner and family carried out an assessment. The school gathered useful information about the child’s experiences and background, and accessed appropriate support for the learner and their family to cope with their traumatic experiences. This support enabled the learner to settle more happily and to receive support from specialist teachers. (Large primary school)
As a result of this inclusive approach, parents:
This story is about May Road School’s journey to truly know and understand English Language Learners, their parents, aiga and whanau; forging partnerships with parents and the community to fulfil their aspirations for their children, and in the process challenging teacher attitudes and assumptions. The story is told by the school principal, bilingual teachers and some parents.
Value yourself, value your learning and respect all others.
May Road School is a multicultural school that plans for all learners and their parents in an inclusive and supportive environment, and promotes biculturalism across the curriculum.
Walking into May Road School, you first notice the cultural artworks and displays that cover the walls of the foyer and corridor. Next, you notice the flow of adults coming and going, greeting and chatting, and then the big smiles that warmly greet you from the children, adults and staff. An instant feeling of warmth and acceptance.
A sign “Welcome to May Road School” is proudly displayed and there are many other signs using the language of the children and their families around the school.
The staffroom is filled with people ‑ children reading, adults listening, parents gathering for the Incredible Years session, and plumbers replacing the hot water cylinder. It’s just after 9am and it’s business as usual at May Road School.
How do you and the teachers get to know the learners?
“Knowing the learner is essential for all teachers– all good teachers do this; they know the learner, know the family and have a positive relationship with them.
This is our story of how we get to know our learners.
Seventy‑five percent of our families are from the Pacific Islands. The Reading Together programme triggered a conversation about parents’ experiences of education and aspirations for their children. It became clear that the usual data and information we collect provided some knowledge about the learner and their family. However, in order to truly tap into the potential of our learners we needed to develop a deeper knowledge and understanding of their families, experiences, culture, background, and what it is like to walk in their shoes!
In 2010, a number of our teaching staff went to Tonga with some parents. We visited schools, talked with education officials and the initial teacher education organisations. The May Road School teachers had prepared lessons to teach children who spoke Tongan, not English. The teachers had to think about how they would do that. It was an experience that took them outside their comfort zone and put them into the place that our learners are often in.
It led to challenging conversations about our values, beliefs and assumptions, and what cultural responsiveness really means.”
We asked ourselves several questions: “How did I feel in that situation? Is this how our learners feel? What am I doing in my classroom?”
“We had conversations about reciprocity, cultural values, artefacts versus a true and genuine understanding and value of Pacific cultures, and other cultural groups. This forced the teachers to confront their own personal beliefs and actions, and their relationships with learners, their families and with communities. It challenged our assumptions and beliefs about some cultural practices such as why families give money to the church when they are struggling financially.
Some teachers were uncomfortable having these deep discussions because it confronted their worldviews, but it helped to move things forward. It was truly an experience of walking in the shoes of our learners and their families.”
What did you learn from that experience?
“Learners do not have to be ready to come to us. We (schools, leaders and teachers) have to be ready for them.
Culture is not about artefacts, culture is much deeper!
As a school leader, what knowledge, skills and dispositions are needed?
I would encourage other school leaders:
Everyone is here to learn and has a right to learn. Human Rights principles and values are embedded in this school ‑ respect all others, diversity and empathy, walking in others shoes, global citizens. A local school focussed on preparing the children for a global village. Where everyone is able to speak their own language and celebrate their own tradition, and where every child has a right to a voice, a right to learn and a right to be treated fairly.”
At the end of the school day, approximately 40 parents gathered for a maths workshop to learn about group problem solving. They were chatting to each other and their children in English and their home languages. Activities and snacks had been set up in the staffroom for children while their parents worked on maths problems with the specialist team.
A teacher was distributing hand knitted woollen hats to the children, which had been knitted by a group of kuia Pākehā in the community – one for each child.
Parents and volunteers from the local community also come in to school for an hour daily, to listen to children read as part of the Reading Advancement Programme (RAP Reading). In addition, the school provides workshops for digital devices, the importance of mother tongue maintenance, parenting, and has set up a library with books and tools about similar topics for parents to borrow.
ERO asked parents: What do you like about May Road School, and how are you supported?
“My parents are living with us. They speak only Samoan, my husband and I speak English, at school our kids speak both English and Samoan. It’s important that our kids can speak to their grandparents in Samoan and when we go back to Samoa. May Road School encourages me to speak my home language; I feel welcome and accepted here. They don’t judge me. I can ask for help. I am learning about how to help my children at home with their maths, their reading, and their learning. I come to the maths classes for parents and we get to do maths like our kids do. My children are making progress and I am too. May Road School feels like a home.” (Parent)
“May Road School has the same values as our family and encourages cultural acceptance and respect for everyone. It’s a friendly and safe environment for my kids.” (Parent)
ERO asked: What advice would you give another parent about language and learning?
“I would encourage other parents to:
The communities of these services and schools were extremely diverse in culture, language, experience, aspirations, and immigration status, yet they all valued education and had high expectations for their children.
Leaders shared their communities’ vision and expectations for cultural and linguistic diverse learners. Teachers understood the valued outcomes, and shared progressions about each learner with other teachers and with parents.
Leaders appointed bilingual or multilingual teachers who spoke the learner’s home language, and encouraged them to use it in their teaching practice. This approach helped build relational trust.
Teachers’ role‑modelled expectations by speaking in their own home language and supported learners to do the same. Parents and learners felt strongly supported to speak their home language at home, in the service or school, and in the community. Learners liked being able to speak freely in their home language.
My son is bilingual in Persian and English languages. Teachers asked for Persian words to use when talking with my son. I was surprised when the centre celebrated Iranian New Year in May. (Parent, Education and care service)
In these schools, all teachers were language teachers and responsible for ESOL teaching. Designated ESOL leaders provided teachers with strategies and tools to help them scaffold language and academic learning. This also helped with development of ESOL resources.
Schools with well‑resourced and managed ESOL departments had:
Primary and secondary school leaders identified the TESSOL qualification as essential for all teachers in these circumstances. One secondary school had up to eight TESSOL qualified teachers. In secondary schools, many subject specialists for science, maths or language were also TESSOL qualified teachers.
Service and schools with well‑planned and resourced professional learning and development (PLD) programmes provided:
The ESOL teacher focused on building oral language first. Students are encouraged to write in their home language where it promotes a better flow of ideas. Then the learner can use Google translate, or other students help them to share their ideas with the class and teacher. (Teacher, small primary school)
Where there was a strong relationship with contributing services and schools, there was a coherent whānau‑focused learning pathway for learners from the early learning service to primary, intermediate and secondary school. These services and schools reported smooth transitions, continued learning at pace, strong social cohesion, relational trust between staff, and strong relationships with parents and whānau. Two schools had established a role for a Māori coordinator to support learners and whānau transition between schools, to build strong connections between home and school, and to build teacher capability in te reo and tikanga Māori.
Mangere College is a medium size, decile 1 secondary school in South Auckland. Eighty percent of the learner population is Pacific. It has a growing refugee and Asian learner population. Multilingualism is the norm in this school. In 2014, a school survey of languages found 70 different languages were spoken by learners and 65 percent of them did not speak English at home.
This is a story about how the careers staff guide and provide wrap‑around support for refugee learners to successfully transition to tertiary education.
The college recruited specialist staff to assist these learners: careers advisor/refugee coordinator and refugee teacher aide. Staff commitment was the key ingredient to the success of this team. Their motto is ‘do the best for learners to be independent, confident, and to experience success’. They understood the importance of a happy environment at home and school for children to learn, achieve and experience success. They supported learners in practical, as well as educational ways to make a successful transition to the next part of their life. It was a holistic and family wellbeing approach. Some refugee learners chose to travel long distances to attend Mangere College because of the wraparound support provided to them.
The refugee coordinator and teacher aide worked closely with the children and supported them by:
The wraparound support for refugee learners has been crucial for their success at school and their successful transition to tertiary education. While the careers team perceived themselves as ‘doing their job’, they recognised the key knowledge, skills and dispositions important for their success with the refugee learners were to:
Most refugee learners said they felt very safe and respected at the school. They knew the information and steps needed to follow their career choice. One learner spoke about his parents’ aspiration for him to become a police officer, and his desire to become an architect. He kept both options open with his subject choices. Another learner appreciated the school support system, particularly the teachers’ support and financial support.
‘Everyone gets along and cultures are valued.’ (Student, Mangere College)
Mt Roskill Intermediate School is reflective of the growing migrant Asian community in Auckland. Asian learners make up 57 percent of the school roll, of which approximately 30 percent are Indian. The school also draws on the Owairaka refugee community that includes African, Middle Eastern, and Pakistani ethnic groups. There are 40 different languages spoken at Mt Roskill Intermediate.
This story is an interview with the principal about the practices and strategies the school implements to effectively respond to CLD learners.
“At this school, every learner sets individual goals that are monitored by the learners, teachers and parents. With the use of writing and talking frames, the indicators for levels 1‑5 of The New Zealand Curriculum are broken down into statements of ‘we are learning to…’ (WALTS) and success criteria such as ‘I can identify…’ which learners can then use to self‑assess.
We [leaders and teachers] have developed a common ‘language of learning’ or a language framework that operates across the campus [primary, intermediate and secondary schools], so the learner is not confused by the use of different language for the same concept. Teaching and learning strategies such as ‘think, pair, share’; shared and guided reading; and speaking peer-to-peer are used. Vocabulary development and acquisition is a priority for most learners.
The ESOL leaders model ELLP and SELLIPs teaching and learning strategies. Both teachers and learners use these strategies. Learners understand these strategies and activities as part of their learning, and that they could become leaders of learning, such as leading vocabulary acquisition strategies, for the topic or day.
Teachers use different strategies based on an initial assessment of the learner’s strengths and priorities. These are modelled in professional development workshops, either with individual or whole teaching staff. Each teacher received a folder of teaching strategies and activities for English Language Learners as part of their induction pack.
Teachers use digital tools such as Google Docs, translators, podcasts, blogs, and iPads. We recognise that using this technology enables us to provide instant feedback. It is also a safe way to share and to help with supporting children’s learning and dispositions, for example, creativity.
The school engages translators from the secondary school to help parents whose home language is not English. For example, when the school met recently with a migrant family, the translator could accurately assess the support they needed.
Another example involved a refugee child who was supported by several external agencies. The child had moved from another school so it was important for the child to feel safe in the new school. Teachers assessed the child’s strengths and learning priorities, and decided to work one‑on‑one with the child. They discussed this approach with the family and the type of support needed by the child and their family. Soon the teachers learnt that the child and their family had experienced extreme trauma and the child had health challenges.
“We needed to understand the family’s traumatic experiences to be able to respond appropriately to them. The school facilitated discussions between the child’s family and external agencies. After much discussion, the child’s family decided to temporarily suspend external support to allow the learner to settle into the new school. Teachers and the family kept in regular contact and soon they noticed the child had settled in well and enjoyed learning at school. The parents were happy and felt confident to resume discussions with the external agencies. The child and their family contributed to activities on World Refugee Day. It was therapeutic for the child and their family as it helped them to acknowledge their historical background, trauma, and experiences, along with other children and families.”
Leaders and teachers knew they had to respond differently to the changing ethnic composition of their learning community. In the first few weeks after school entry, they got to know the learner and their whānau to make sure they felt settled and safe. They supported the learner’s sense of identity and belonging and encouraged the use of the learner’s home language in daily conversations between learners, teachers, parents/caregivers, and among the learners themselves.
Each service and school had a key person who proactively connected with new parents and was a conduit between parents, teachers and learners. In services, it was often the head teacher or, if applicable, the teacher who spoke the same language as the learner/parent. In schools, it was either the Refugee coordinator, bilingual teacher aide, Māori or Pacific liaison person, deputy principal, or the careers advisor.
Leaders and teachers recognised that many factors could influence a learner, and they needed to know about these quickly. They used many sources of information about the learner to understand their:
For the past two years, teachers have engaged in ‘Knowing the Learner’ using a coaching model that involves in‑class observations, feedback and sharing of best practice. (Medium primary school)
Services and schools had rigorous enrolment processes. In addition to collecting generic information, leaders and teachers learnt more about each learner through:
In this school anyone who speaks another language is valued as a resource to support CLD learners, their wellbeing and sense of belonging. This includes office and ancillary staff, teacher aides, teachers, ESOL teachers, school leaders, parents/whānau, and the students. (Large secondary school)
Effective services and schools had many ways of building relationships, valuing diversity and connecting for learning.
Teachers recognised it was just as important that the learners got to know them as a person. Sharing information about themselves and their whānau was a two‑way process. For example, one teacher wrote a letter introducing herself, where she was from, her parents, her culture and background. Other teachers shared stories about the meaning of their names with learners, and one leader reported it was important to share and show vulnerability in building relational trust with children and their whānau.
As leaders and teachers developed deep and comprehensive knowledge of the learners and their whānau, they were able to:
This South Auckland kindergarten is licensed for 30 children, 95 percent of whom speak another language. Traditionally the centre has had Tongan and Māori children, but in recent years more migrant and refugee families with little or no experience of early childhood education enrolled their children at the centre.
This story is about how the centre gets to know the migrant and refugee children, their families, and help them settle in. Recently three new migrant and refugee families enrolled their children. Two families were new to New Zealand and spoke little English. Another family was new to the area and chose to send their children to the centre.
Engagement with Parents and Whānau
Refugee family: The New Zealand Red Cross supported the family to settle in by providing a translator to help them enrol and become familiar with the service. The staff welcomed them warmly and invited them to spend as much time as they wanted or needed at the centre. The mother spent most of her free time there with her three children. They were encouraged to speak in their home language. Soon other children became curious about their language, and joined them during activities and meal times.
Migrant families: These families had little or no experience of early childhood education. The teachers focused on getting to know the families and settling the children into the centre. They used visual resources to connect with the families and learn about their cultural backgrounds. Parents were invited to be part of the activities and encouraged to use their home language. Teachers learnt basic words in the children’s home language and developed books of common phrases to use at the centre. Later they supported the children with transition to the nearby primary school.
A refugee mother learnt alongside her children and was confident to share her cooking skills with others. Every term the centre organised a shared lunch where families were invited to bring their traditional food; it was also a time to welcome new families and share information with them. Their children were comfortable, made friends and were eager to be there every day.
‘Teachers are very encouraging to share culture and language.’ (Parent, Mangere West Kindergarten)
‘Feel comfortable speaking Hindi, Tongan, and Urdu.’ (Parent, Mangere West Kindergarten)
The centre also organised a weekly café run by the children. It served as a meeting place for new and old families. Those who did not have family in New Zealand or spoke little English enjoyed the experience because they met, spoke to other parents, and got to know them a bit more. The children were equally proud to showcase their skills to the parents.
In the 1980s and 1990s, 75 to 80 percent of learners at Papatoetoe High School were Pākehā. During this time, there was a small but growing Indian business community in Papatoetoe whose children attended the school. After the Fiji coups in the early 2000s, there was an increase in Fiji Indian immigration, mainly trade workers. Currently 46 percent of learners at the school are of Fiji Indian ethnicity, and 5 percent are Pākehā.
Enrolment from other Pacific Island countries, Middle East or refugee learners has also increased. Some of these learners have had little formal or compulsory schooling and have little or limited literacy skills. From 2009 to 2011, the school had approximately 400 ESOL learners, the highest in Auckland and New Zealand. There are currently 52 languages spoken at the school and about 51 percent of the children are English language learners.
Know the learners
In addition to the usual acquisition of knowledge about the learner, the school made sure they knew about their language strengths and learning priorities from:
The ESOL department played a significant role in supporting English language learners. Initially, the learners were nervous about starting at a new school and those who were new to New Zealand missed their home country. They acknowledged the support from the ESOL department, staff and their own cultural community. This support included:
‘Teachers encourage and support use of home language in school and at home – we won Tongan language competition in Auckland.’(Student, Papatoetoe High School)
‘Teachers support and speak their own home languages – they are a model for younger generation.’ (Parent, Papatoetoe High School)
From pōwhiri to whakapōtaetanga – acknowledging and supporting Māori learners and their whānau.
This story is about how two schools ensured continuity of learning when Māori learners transitioned from one school to the next, and celebrating their success at the end of their time at the Mt Roskill schools.
Know the learners
On this campus, whānau and a sense of belonging and connection is important. Each new learner and their family is welcomed to the campus and introduced to their school whānau with a pōwhiri. For migrants and refugees it is also to introduce them into a new cultural society. While at Mt Roskill primary and intermediate schools, learners and staff learn te reo and tikanga Māori each week, Māori concepts are integrated into units of work, guided by Whaea Jackie, the Māori Coordinator.
The schools’ desire to provide a seamless education and transition prompted the boards of trustees to pool their funding, and use it to coordinate a whānau‑focused transition experience for their Māori learners and whānau across campus. They engaged a Māori coordinator to strengthen connections with whānau, help whānau support their children’s learning, and to share data and information between home and school. Led by Whaea Jackie, the Māori learners and whānau are introduced to their next school; from primary to intermediate to secondary. Upon graduating, Māori learners are gifted a taonga to acknowledge and celebrate their achievements and success and returned to their whānau for the next part of their journey.
Parents of non‑Māori learners understood this concept and could see some similarities with their own cultural values and celebration of their children’s success.
Teachers understood that ‘every learner is different’ and differentiated approaches were needed to maximise learning opportunities. Getting to know the individual learner was fundamental to successful implementation.
Learning partnerships were a priority. Regular parent fono/hui were organised and conducted in the families’ home languages, and important information was provided in multiple languages. Teachers encouraged and empowered learners, their parents and whānau to share their languages, culture and interests in several ways such as pepeha, songs, poems and stories, and cultural performances.
The teacher was reading the Matariki story. When she stopped to turn the page, a Māori boy jumped to his feet, unprompted, to do the haka. When the teacher shared this story with his parents, they said he had learnt the story and the haka from his older brother. (Education and care service)
Teachers provided learning opportunities that built on the learner’s strengths and interests, and acknowledged parents’ contributions and aspirations. Most of them researched and sourced their own resources through parents and ethnic community networks. They made bilingual picture books for learners and their whānau to use.
Schools held workshops for parents to learn about curriculum, assessment, reporting, National Standards, NCEA, and digital learning. They also initiated opportunities for parents and children to focus together on learning and achievement, such as Reading Together, Reading Advancement Programme, and Developing Mathematical Inquiry Communities (AKA Bobby Maths). Other initiatives included parent, student, and teacher (PST) or academic counselling and target setting (ACTS) conferences, career planning and transition support, and a designated teacher who mentored individual learners all through their secondary schooling. If needed, bilingual support was provided to parents on these occasions.
When a new learner starts at the school, they are matched with someone who speaks the same language. Settling into the school is a priority for the first six months before their English language is assessed. (Medium primary school)
Some schools developed individual learning programmes. Recognising that it can take 5‑10 years for CLD learners to become proficient in in the English language, some schools delayed assessment of these learners to allow them to settle into school and build their confidence.
Schools with high numbers of culturally and linguistically diverse learners had:
Māori, Hindi, Samoan are offered as subjects to support and affirm students’ language, culture and identity. It also provides opportunities for those students who do not speak their home language to learn their own language at school. (Large secondary school)
This story is about how Mt Roskill Intermediate extended learning opportunities into the home by providing Reading Together workshops for parents. Flexibility was the key to success for this programme.
Plan for learningStaff noticed that children were reading English fairly fluidly but were not comprehending deeply so they decided to focus on comprehension.
The school introduced the Reading Together programme to learners and parents. As well as learning strategies to support their child’s reading at home, parents were encouraged to read with their children in English but discuss the story and concepts in their home language. This helped learners to develop a deeper understanding of the story being read. Teachers worked with parents and whānau over a period of time and noticed positive changes with the learners. Teachers continued to encourage the use of home languages, and connected parents and whānau with the Mt Roskill community library where the librarian helped families become members. The community library became a common meeting place for these learners and their parents.Teachers soon realised that this approach did not suit all learners, especially Māori and Pacific whānau. They held parent workshops for different groups of parents, at different times, and held some workshops across campus for specific groups. This approach meant more parents could attend, helped build relationships, and helped establish a homework club.
Parents agreed attending the Reading Together workshops and generally being involved at school improved their confidence and ability to support their children’s learning.
I know that my close involvement with the schools (primary and intermediate) has enabled me to understand the support my child needs to succeed. (Parent)
I learnt some strategies that help me to support my child – Reading Together, maths activities etc. (Parent)
I try to encourage other Pasifika parents, including my husband, to learn about these strategies [referring to Reading Together] and spend time at school etc. (Parent)
Reading helps my child to understand what they’re learning. (Parent)
Encourage/support the home language– very important to keep your own language. (Parent)
Persistence is good for your own learning! (Parent)
Papatoetoe Kindergarten is licensed for forty children from three to five years of age. Children are from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds, and one‑third of the learners at this kindergarten are Māori and Pacific children. The centre provides an onsite room for the English Language Partners (ELP) to use.
This story is about how the service supported parents to maintain the use of their home language with their children and partnered with community groups to support parents’ learning.
“We noticed increasing enrolments from Hindi, Punjabi and Mandarin speaking children. We wanted to support them to maintain their home language, and support their parents to engage in their child’s learning in their home language.” (Head teacher)
Through a grant from Auckland Airport Community Trust, the service employed fluent Hindi and Punjabi speaking teacher aides. They translated newsletters, learning stories and educational concepts to help parents and whānau support their children’s learning. Parents were encouraged to comment or provide feedback in their home language.
Teacher aides also supported the learner’s transition to school by acting as a translator between the parents and the school, helping parents fill in enrolment forms, and sharing information with parents on how to support their children’s learning at home.
The head teacher spoke to English Language Partners about support for the parents of Mandarin speaking children. The ELP programme provided ESOL classes for 10 hours a week for parents, and bilingual assistance for those who need it. They also helped to identify essential support services for parents such as WINZ and Red Cross.
I only speak Punjabi to my children at home and they learn to speak English at the centre. When I was looking for a centre to enrol my children, it was difficult to find one that valued my language. Most centres I visited said that they only speak English. Here, it’s not a problem ‑ my children can speak in Punjabi because teachers here can speak the language. I can come and share food and other information about my culture and the children understand it, and they hear and see it from my own children. Now the centre manager has asked me to help to translate children’s learning stories and parent newsletters into Punjabi. (Punjabi parent)
Other parents also value and appreciate the languages shared in the centre. One Māori parent said, “I love it that my child is exposed to different languages.”
I feel supported here – we looked at other centres but they only speak English, and they told us that they only speak English. I don’t want that – I speak to my children in Tongan at home. (Tongan parent)
This inner-city school is usually the first stop for new migrants who work or study at The University of Auckland. However, over the years, the school noticed that the number of refugee learners has increased as well.
Relationships with families and other agencies and organisations are seen as critical. School leaders recognise the important role they play in building each family’s trust in working with them and other agencies. Parents’ survey affirms that the school recognises all children’s languages, cultures and identities. They see the school as a place for celebrating the community’s diversity.These mini stories describe the number of ways the school has responded to language diverse learners and their parents.
An extended family member brought two newly arrived refugee children aged 12 and 8 years old and their parents to the school. The elder child had little schooling while the 8 year old had not attended school at all. The children and their parents did not speak English and the family member spoke little English. The children and their parents were living with the family member close to the school.
An extended family member brought two newly arrived refugee children aged 12 and 8 years old and their parents to the school. The elder child had little schooling while the 8 year old had not attended school at all. The children and their parents did not speak English and the family member spoke little English. The children and their parents were living with the family member close to the school.
To support the learners’ transition to school and wellbeing; the Principal enrolled them and the ESOL teacher conducted a quick assessment while the front office staff sorted out other details with the family member. Although the older learner was of intermediate school age, the Principal decided to keep both learners at the school. An immediate outcome of the ESOL assessment was the urgent need for language support. The Principal enquired about the availability of language support for the learners via social media and received quick responses. Interviews for potential teacher aides with the required language knowledge and skills were quickly organised over the next two days.
‘Celebration of different cultures helps children and their parents to settle into the school.’ (Parent)
Each time the school bell rang, a learner would jump and look scared. When there was a fire drill or when the police officers came on a routine visit, the learner ran away to hide in a secluded place. Upon further investigation, the teacher found out that the sound of a siren or alarm signalled trouble to the learner. The teacher spoke to the deputy principal and together they contacted the local community group for advice and support. The community group contacted a social worker who found a translator for the learner. The teacher, social worker and translator met with the learner and their family. They sought support from other agencies who provided the learner and family with wraparound services. The school supported the learner’s transition to intermediate school; the principal visited the intermediate school and met with the teachers to explain the learner’s situation.
The school has an open door policy to support learners and parents. The learner felt safe and stable, and could ask for help, if needed. The parents appreciated the time the school took to understand their situation and that they could share their experiences.
‘Easy to make friends, friendly and supportive teachers, everyone is friendly and talks to me.’ (Learners)
Learners were divided into groups and asked to choose a cultural group of their preference. They were encouraged to identify with their own culture, and if they identified with two or more cultures, they were encouraged to choose one of them. Learners researched their chosen cultural group – history, national dress, language, songs, dances, food and other information. They created murals to tell the story of their chosen cultural group. The project culminated with a show and tell session that included dress up and food. Parents were invited to hear more about their children’s work, learn about other cultures and share the food.
Learners enjoyed the opportunity to learn about another culture and to personalise their learning. They learnt to understand and appreciate the differences and similarities with their own cultures.
‘The diversity of learners, teachers and families helps with learning about different languages and cultures.’ (Parent)
Learning support is available to the 151 new learners of English in several ways. Trained Learning Support Teachers, many of whom speak more than one language, run programmes such as Talk to Learn and bilingual support.In addition to this, the 35 English language learners with minimum levels of the English language are working with the ESOL teacher in the school. On a daily basis, these learners are withdrawn from class and are provided with intensive one‑on‑one English language support. Teachers also used play and social talk to support them with learning English.
The school employed 15 teacher aides who spoke the learners’ home languages to provide in‑class support for the other ESOL learners. They personalised the learning based on the learners’ interests and strengths, made learning more interesting and engaging, and exposed the learners to new and different ways of thinking. Learners were encouraged to think about their responses to questions in their home language before writing or talking about them. While this approach can be time consuming, the learners’ were supported to make links between English and their home language, which enabled them to have meaningful engagement in their learning. Teachers supported learners with e-learning and helped them to set up Google translator to assist with coding English terms.
"The school brought in teachers from Korea and China to learn their culture and languages, which will enable the teachers in this school to better support students from these countries.’ (Parent)
Building on learners’ interests
A young migrant boy who spoke very little English was quite teary when he first started school. In class, the teacher noticed he was interested in dinosaurs and spent a lot time playing with them. The teacher encouraged him to play with them and as his interest grew, the teacher brought other resources about dinosaurs to class. Soon the other learners became interested in dinosaurs too and the young boy was happy to talk to them. He knew a lot about dinosaurs and the teacher encouraged him to share this information with others. The teacher and the learner’s parents noticed a positive change in his confidence both at school and at home.
‘Children are free to be who they are – don’t need to conform to Kiwi identity.’ (Parent)
Online toolThe school has multiple ways of keeping parents informed: school assemblies, bilingual assistants who helped to focus on specific topics, newsletter that included learner voice, whānau newsletters, and the school website and app. An online tool helps parents to support their children’s learning at home. Parents can access information about learning goals, success criteria and next steps. For example, every learner at Level 2 Reading has the same goals which can help facilitate discussions between the learner, teacher, and parents during PST conferences.
Lollipops Half Moon Bay is licensed for 100 children, including 44 children up to two years of age. Currently, there are 141 children, of whom 44 percent are Chinese and another 38 percent are New Zealand Pākehā. Children from a variety of other ethnicities also attend the centre. While the roll has grown since the centre opened in 2009, the percentage of Chinese and New Zealand Pākehā has remained at similar levels.
This story is about the Mandarin‑speaking Chinese children and their extended family, and how the staff incorporated the children’s, their parents and grandparents, and community knowledge and expertise into learning, and how other children were able to observe and participate in cultural activities.
Plan for learningThe largest number of children are Mandarin‑speaking Chinese. Many of these families have three generations living together. Mandarin is their home language and the language spoken at home. The children’s parents speak both English and Mandarin, and their grandparents speak only Mandarin. Parents want their children to learn English at the centre, while they maintain Mandarin in the home. With parents working, the grandparents often drop off and pick up the children each day. At the centre, children can be heard speaking Mandarin to their Mandarin‑speaking friends and switching to English for friends who only spoke English.
‘A teacher takes a hand, opens a mind, and touches a heart.’
The multicultural and multilingual teachers knew it was important to settle the children first before any learning could take place. Where possible, they spoke to the children and their parents and family in Mandarin, and reassured them that it was important to maintain that language when learning English.The teachers were genuinely interested in learning more about the Chinese children’s cultural background. They researched and developed basic resources in the children’s home language which were displayed in each room. The children’s grandparents noticed the resources and spent more time at the centre reading them. Teachers bought more resources and encouraged parents and family to share other resources that would support the children to maintain their home language. Teachers also published translations from English to Mandarin of the children’s learning stories on their e‑portfolios, and parents shared these with their families in China. Parents and family shared their cultural knowledge by reading stories to children, sharing photos and stories about their visits to China, showing children how to cook Chinese food such as dumplings, and participating in other activities.
The teachers’ strong commitment to their bicultural practice supported the parents’ aspirations to maintain their home language. With their children, they enjoyed learning waiata, karakia and stories about Papatuanuku and other Māori legends. Parents and teachers helped the children to write and display their pepeha.Teachers worked well with local schools to ensure that transitions were supportive and responsive to children’s learning priorities. Principals of the local schools visited the centre often to meet the children, and learn more about them. Parents of former learners also visited the centre to share stories of their children’s learning and success in school.
Services and schools genuinely valued and celebrated different cultures in their communities. Learners experienced a curriculum that valued and respected who they were, where they came from, and built on their prior knowledge.
Leaders and teachers focused on learner outcomes and raising learner achievement. They employed effective teaching practices that improved learners’ academic performance, and contributed to their English-speaking peers’ learning. The curriculum provided opportunities for learners to explore different perspectives, values and cultural practices, such as topics on acknowledging death or making bread. One school included clothing items of cultural significance such as the lavalava and hijab as part of their school uniform.
Leaders and teachers planned and promoted social cohesion through programmes such as Incredible Years, PB4L, Human Rights education, restorative practices and values, Race Relations Day where learners were encouraged to ‘walk in others shoes’ and participate in community events. These programmes provided learners with a better understanding of their peers life experiences.
Teachers recognised vocabulary development as key to learning, and they used co‑operative strategies to provide greater opportunities for learners to notice, use and respond to language. Learners were actively encouraged to ‘switch’ between their home language and English, meaning they could use their complete language repertoire to carry out activities such as discussing tasks, checking and confirming their comprehension, and contrasting and comparing different words and language meanings.
Teachers made learning explicit and visible to help learners to see the ‘whole game’. They carefully scaffolded learning to help learners achieve. This meant supporting their learning goals and acquisition of English. Teachers knew why they had selected a particular strategy, for example, disappearing definition and concept map and how to use it effectively.
Leaders and teachers had strong knowledge of quality teaching for diverse learners. Evidence of the seven ESOL principles and Alton-Lee’s ten characteristics of quality teaching for diverse learners were found in the learning environments. These principles were incorporated into planning and helped learners to make both language and academic progress in all curriculum areas.
For example, a common ‘language of learning’ was developed, and the standards of achievement were clear and visible to CLD learners. This approach helped them lead discussions about their learning, self‑assess and monitor their progress, ‘have meaningful conversations with their teachers about where their learning is at, and next steps that need to be taken. It also provided teachers with a visible guide to design learning activities that enabled the accurate assessment of each level of understanding.’ Learners, parents and teachers developed and monitored individual learning goals together. (Selwise, Selwyn College, 2014).
Most schools provided intensive one‑on‑one or small group teaching for learners with minimal English to accelerate their English language learning, complement their classroom learning, familiarise them with online support tools, and give them respite from the mainstream class. While this is a common approach to use with ESOL learners, there is growing recognition for teachers to provide more in-class support to learners. Research shows that while withdrawal classes can allow for focused instruction, if not monitored and tracked well, it can be less meaningful in relation to the learner’s experience and academic achievement (Franken & McComish, 2005).
We also found that current ESOL funding support for 5 years for migrant learners or 3 years for New Zealand-born learners was considered insufficient by some schools. Research (Harvey 2007; Cummins, 2000) shows that particularly the older learners can take longer to show improvements in their competency with the English language. Subsequently some schools drew from their bulk funding to continue supporting these learners, after the funding ended.
The board reviews achievement data and determines resource, including additional teacher aides to support in‑class learning. (Medium Intermediate school)
Teachers reflected regularly on their practice and accessed relevant PLD and resources. Some services had strong connections with language groups, national groups or language networks, so teachers had regular PLD through them.
Services and schools with coherent and developed pathways had:
Mt Roskill Primary School is a central Auckland contributing school with about 700 learners from a wide range of language and cultural backgrounds. Seventy‑three percent are Asian, sixteen percent are Pacific, seven percent are Māori and four percent are New Zealand Pākehā. There are 361 ESOL funded learners and 40 different languages spoken in the school. There is an intermediate school and secondary school, and a centre for learners with additional learning priorities all on the same site.
Demonstrate the Practice
In 2013, with a change in staffing, it was an opportune time to review the ESOL programme and staffing requirements.
The leadership team engaged an external ESOL expert with oral language experience, to perform a school‑wide review and work with the leadership team to develop the foundations of a new ESOL programme. The team visited another school to observe an ESOL programme in action and talk to staff. The consultant helped the leadership team develop guiding policies and procedures for ESOL support across the whole school, and to develop job descriptions and indicators for teacher appraisal.
The aim was to strengthen the ESOL programme across the school; develop a specialist ESOL team, tools and resources, build teacher capability, and accelerate learners’ progress. The school drew on research about language acquisition and bilingualism, and teaching and learning strategies for English language learners. Teachers were supported to study for the TESSOL qualification.
A new model was developed to focus on:
With this new model and approach to the ESOL programme, staff saw the school as an ESOL school and this led to a shift in the mind-set and role of teachers. Every teacher is a language teacher, and every learner is a language learner.
The school developed clear ESOL policies, procedures and guidelines, guiding principles for programme design, job descriptions and appraisals for ESOL teachers, and expectations that all teachers are language teachers.
The seven key ESOL principles guided the programme design for English language learners. The class teacher provided the first tier of support for English language acquisition. A team of ESOL specialists worked alongside classroom teachers to provide additional support in class, and during individual or group withdrawal programmes focused on explicit teaching for an identified group of learners.Three years after the review, the school has seen positive shifts in learners’ achievement especially for reading and writing. As part of the current ESOL team’s inquiry, the next step is to explore and understand bilingualism in the school.
In addition to general school-wide practices, some services and schools had specific initiatives or programmes to respond to particular learning priorities for diverse learners. This section includes selected examples of what was working well in these services and schools.
Participation project PDSA (Mangere West Kindergarten)
The head teacher at Mangere West Kindergarten noticed that variable attendance had impacted negatively on learning continuity, so she set about increasing participation with the aim to improve learning. The service implemented Plan‑Do‑Study‑Act (PDSA), ‘an iterative, four‑stage problem‑solving model used for improving a process or carrying out change’.
Attendance was critical for influencing English language acquisition, learning and progression, and parent engagement. The service set an 80 percent attendance target for all learners. Leaders recognised that to encourage a learner’s full attendance, staff needed to learn about and understand their home situation, and parents needed to support their children’s learning at home. They held several meetings with teachers and parents to discuss the objectives of this initiative and any perceived challenges.
The PDSA model helped the service to track and monitor attendance patterns and collect baseline data. They found a link between fulltime attendance and improved English language acquisition, and between increased attendance and increased parent engagement. Parents and whānau appreciated leaders and teachers helping them to understand the benefits of participation and supporting their children’s life-long learning.
Home language and learning stories (Papatoetoe Kindergarten)
Papatoetoe Kindergarten found the use of e‑learning portfolios enhanced parent and whānau engagement in their children’s learning, and strengthened home‑service communication. Learning stories were translated into home languages. Parents found the online e‑learning portfolio helped:
“My son loves singing Indian songs. Having access to this tool helps him and us to learn the songs at home”. (Parent)
“When the children and their families are travelling, they can send us information about what they’re doing which we can share with the other learners”. (Teacher)
Using quantitative and qualitative data, tracking and monitoring, and internal evaluation (Selwyn College)
Using quantitative and qualitative data to review and improve teaching programmes and practices, and to monitor the progress and achievement of every learner, was lifting achievement and success, especially for target learners (Māori, Pacific and English language learners). All the teaching staff closely monitored learners’ progress. Learners took ownership of their work and shared progress and achievement records with their parents and whānau.
Before parent‑teacher interviews, refugee parents attended a pre‑meeting with Refugee Education for Adults and Families (REAF) who talked with them about their children’s learning and achievement, and also attended the parent‑teacher interviews. School leaders researched and developed a reciprocal reading tool that helped learners build thinking skills and reading comprehension in a short time. It also encouraged learners to work collaboratively.
School leaders and teachers knew these approaches were working due to the increased number of:
“Teachers are friendly and make the effort to get to know us as a person. Also, teachers know the learners through mentor groups [vertical grouping]. Most teachers mentor a cohort of learners throughout their years at Selwyn College. They track academic studies and meet with families/whānau.” (Learner)