Sunday, June 5, 2016

Cultural Responsiveness and Self Review

This post is quite timely. 

We are currently undergoing an in-depth review of all things bicultural at our place right now.   A systematic, no stone left uncovered, review of all that we do, how we do it and how effective our ‘doing’ is.  

By knowing what we do well, we can strengthen this and learn from our successes.  By knowing what areas we need to strengthen, we can ensure our resources and professional development is strategically aligned to improvement and the areas of most need.  

Professor Russell Bishop outlines how ‘agentic’ teachers are ones that are well supported
(Edtalks, 2012) to make a difference for our tamariki, and this self-review will give us solid evidence to help us best target support.   In addition, it will give us a good evidenced based insight into how culturally competent we are as a school, and how effective we are at pulling together what we know about the students and our community, and how that translates into what we do.  In effect, will find out how culturally competent we are!

As we undergo this review, we will look at what we can see (the visible) and what is less obvious (the invisible).  We will look at what impact this has on our students and our community (Savagea, Hindleb, Meyerc, Hyndsa, Penetitob, Sleeterd. 2011).   It will involve both quantitative and qualitative data, because student achievement data means little without the voice and stories that sit behind it.  It is not just our knowledge that we need to value but the knowledge of our community, as we place ourselves into the learners seat (Cowie, Otrel-Cass, Glynn, Kara, et al. 2011).   It is also an opportunity to check to see if our ‘walk meets the talk’ as we delve into the layers of policy, curriculum and Charter documents.

We expect some of what we discover to be reaffirming based on some of the review we have conducted already, and we are prepared for uncovering new things to assist us on our journey.  It is early days in the review, but so far the data garnered from staff voice and a recent Whanau Hui have shown encouraging signs of cohesion and a shared vision for our students.   Student achievement data shows our Maori students to be achieving at similar rates to other students and often at levels higher than comparable situations.  Most importantly, it shows ongoing improvement.  However, it still remains an area of acceleration, especially in Writing. 

We will have a new Board of Trustees soon, and one of our first tasks will be to work our way through the Maori self-review tool on cultural responsiveness, Hautu.  It is a good tool that works in conjunction with the Ministry of Educations Ka Hikitia strategy.  Given that the majority of the Board is anticipated to be new, or fairly newish, working through this tool will provide the Board with support in how to ensure they are enacting the intent of Ka Hikitia and ultimately being accountable for the success of our Maori students. 

As previously mentioned, this post is timely.  Being able to articulate what cultural responsiveness and competency looks like for us has always been a little elusive.  In part, it is because inclusivity is something that just ‘is’ at our place, much like the blood that pumps through our bodies.   However, this does not mean that we do not have much to learn from our community or from others.  This review will allow us to see what our strengths are, identify areas for improvement and ultimately, allow us to continue to strengthen progress and achievement for our students.  


Bishop, R, Berryman, M., Cavanagh, T. & Teddy, L. (2009). Te Kotahitanga: Addressing educational disparities facing Māori students in New Zealand. Teaching and Teacher Education, 25(5)734–742.
Findsen, B. (2012). Older adult learning in Aotearoa New Zealand: Structure, trends and issues. Presented at Adult Community Education (ACE) Conference.
Gay, G. (2002). Preparing for culturally responsive teaching. Journal of Teacher Education, 53(2),106-116.

Ministry of Education, 2013.  The Maori Education Strategy: Ka Hikitia – Accelerating Success 2013 – 2017.  Retrieved from

NZSTA, 2015.  Hautu – Maori cultural responsiveness self review tool for boards of trustees. Retrieved from

Shaw, S., White, W. & Deed, B. (2013) (Ed.). Health, wellbeing and environment in Aotearoa New Zealand.South Melbourne, Australia:Oxford University Press.


  1. Kia ora,
    Will you be canvasing your students' voice as well, and if so, what forms were you think of using to gauge what matters to them?

  2. Kia Ora, of course. Last time we did face to face interviews and focus groups, recording responses via Padlet. I'm unsure which format is most appropriate this time, but will have a better understanding of the direction once we ask our student Whanau group what they think - their involvement will be important and they might have a different suggestion.
    Good self review looks at all the data, and student/Whanau/teacher voice is a rich source of data. Last time, it was what drove several initiatives as students feedback was to set up the student Whanau group. The key is to ensure you ask the right questions to really find out what's happening.

  3. As I wrote my post on this topic I thouht about the need for our school to do a similar review. We have engaged with our haukainga at a leadership level but what really is happening for our Maori students? I'm going to look at the tool you mention. Timely indeed.

    1. That sounds great Annemarie - A really good question to ask yourself is 'what wonderings and hunches do I have about this'. If you delve in deeply you find out all sorts of things - which is never a bad thing! Would be interested in comparing methodologies and notes later in the year!