Effective practices to promote and respond to wellbeing

Wellbeing for success indicators is a image that has Learners at the centre. surrounding is are two koru shapes the top one is responsive curriculum effective teaching and opportunity to learn. The bottom one is Educationally powerful connections and relationships. Surrounding this in another ring is Whanaungatanga, Manaaitanga, Ako and Mahi Tahi. The next ring is Stewardship, Leadership and Professional capability and collective capacity. The last ring mets at the top in two koru shapes and reads Evaluaiton inquiry and knowledge building for improvement and innovation.

ERO published Wellbeing for Success: Draft Evaluation Indicators for Student Wellbeing in 2013. The indicators were commissioned as part of the Prime Minister's Youth Mental Health Project.

Since then ERO has developed and published a trial document School Evaluation Indicators: Effective Practice for Improvement and Learner Success in May 2015. These indicators draw on an analysis and synthesis of current research and evaluation and focus on what matters most in improving outcomes for all students - the achievement of equity and excellence. The indicators, valued student outcomes and effective practices outlined in ERO's School Evaluation Indicators focus on both wellbeing and achievement.

The indicators provide boards, leaders and teachers with guidance about what they need to do to achieve equity and excellence. At the centre of these practices are fair and inclusive systems for diverse learners that support their strengths, their interests and their potential to succeed.

All education activities take place within a cultural context. For this reason the indicator framework singles out four concepts, manaakitanga, whanaungatanga, akoand mahi tahi, which have the power to transform the learning environment for students. These concepts are fundamental to supporting students' wellbeing.

The conceptual framework for the indicators (above) foregrounds the Māori concepts of manaakitanga, whanaungatanga, ako and mahi tahi. Together, these concepts reframe how we approach education provision in the New Zealand context, challenging us to recognise and respond to the educationally limiting effects of deficit theorising about students and their potential. 1 The following two pages are taken from the School Evaluation Indicators.

The concepts provide a lens through which the cultural responsiveness of school activities and practices in supporting and promoting equitable outcomes for all learners can be evaluated. The descriptions below draw, in particular, from the work of Berryman, Glynn, Walker, Reweti, O'Brien, Boasa-Dean, Glynn, Langdon and Weiss (2002); 2 Berryman (2014) 3 and Bishop, Ladwig and Berryman (2014). 4

Manaaki embodies the concepts of mana (authority) and aki (urging someone to act quickly). Manaakitanga describes the immediate responsibility and authority of the host to care for their visitor's emotional, spiritual, physical and mental wellbeing.

In the learning context these understandings encompass the need to care for children and young people as culturally located human beings through providing safe, nurturing environments. In the New Zealand setting, these understandings also need to be extended to include developing and sustaining language, culture and identity to ensure all students have the opportunity to learn and experience education success.


Whakawhanaungatanga is the process of establishing links, making connections and relating to the people one meets by identifying in culturally appropriate ways, whakapapa linkages, past heritages, points of engagement, or other relationships. Establishing whānau connections is kinship in its widest sense.

The concept of whanaungatanga describes the centrality of extended family-like relationships and the "rights and responsibilities, commitments and obligations, and supports that are fundamental to the collectivity.” 5

Whanaungatanga also reaches beyond actual whakapapa relationships and includes relationships to people who, through shared experiences, feel and act as kin. Within this type of relationship, in receiving support from the group, there is a responsibility to provide reciprocal support.

In the learning context, whanaungatanga demands a focus on the quality of teaching-learning relationships and interactions, and the agency of the teacher in establishing a whanau-like context that supports engagement and learning. New Zealand evidence suggests that whanaungatanga, while not sufficient, is "foundational and necessary for effectively teaching Māori students.. .as Whanaungatanga increases, the probability of high cognitive demand increases...when the level of Whanaungatanga was mid-range or higher, the lowest levels of engagement disappeared” (Bishop, Ladwig & Berryman, 2014, p. 28). 6


Ako is grounded in the principle of reciprocity and also recognises that students and their whanau cannot be separated. Ako describes a teaching and learning relationship "where the child is both teacher and learner” (Pere, 1982, cited in Berryman et al., 2002) and the educator is also learning from the student in a two-way process.

It is the acquisition of knowledge as well as the imparting of knowledge... Ako as a process does not assume any power relationship between teacher and student but instead it serves to validate dual learning or reciprocal learning experiences that in turn promulgate shared learning (Berryman et al., 2002, p. 143).

New Zealand evidence shows that a culturally responsive pedagogy of relations is a significant factor in improving success for Maori students (Alton-Lee, 2014).7 Berryman (2014) 8 highlights the importance of leaders and educators evaluating the education context from the perspective of the extent to which:

  • power is shared between self-determining individuals within non-dominating relations of interdependence
  • culture counts
  • learning is interactive, dialogic and spirals
  • participants are connected to one another and
  • there is a common vision for what constitutes excellence in educational outcomes. 9

Mahi tahi

Mahi tahi or mahi ngātahi is a term used to describe the unity of people working towards a specific goal or the implementation of a task. It is the act of carrying out the task or activity for which you have come together in a common purpose. Working together as a group in a 'hands-on' fashion is referred to as mahi tahi. The solidarity that mahi tahi engenders in a group of people is powerful and this kind of relationship is known to sustain itself well after the goal has been fulfilled or the project has been completed (Berryman, 2014). 10

Mahi tahi, or working together collaboratively in the pursuit of learner-centred education goals, is an important feature of each of the domains of education influence that have a significant effect on student outcomes.