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A shared understanding

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In this story, Yolanda Julies, principal at Te Kura Reo Rua o Waikirikiri, discusses the importance of establishing a shared understanding and supportive school culture as the school explored the national curriculum documents.

In the second story in this series, Yolanda Julies talks about how the learning community was strengthened and nurtured at Te Kura Reo Rua o Waikirikiri.

Professional learning conversations

These questions and suggested actions encourage you to reflect on your own school context.

Effective schools

Regardless of type, location, decile rating or philosophy, schools provide high quality education when they make evidence-based and thoughtful decisions:

  • Good schools focus on the potential of learners through a careful analysis of needs, progress and achievement
  • Leadership is promoted in an inclusive culture
  • School decisions enhance effective teaching
  • Good schools engage with their communities
  • Effective schools implement policies and practice in a cycle of continuous
 self review

Evaluation at a Glance: What ERO Knows About Effective Schools (2011)

  • How can you ensure that everyone in your school community knows your vision for curriculum delivery and student needs? What input do they have and how could you increase that?
  • What steps can you take to ensure that every student in your school has a strong sense of self worth and identity?
  • What can you do to incorporate local Māori tikanga into your curriculum? Who from the local iwi is able to help you with this?


My advice to any principal who would like to start off with the Marautanga as well as the New Zealand Curriculum and bringing those two documents together is to make sure that everybody understands what it is that you are trying to achieve. Make sure that the relationships amongst your staff are great, because there can be conflicting ideas around those two documents, making sure that everybody knows where you’re going as a school in terms of your curriculum, making sure you have great parent input and feedback about what you’re trying to achieve.

We developed a curriculum focus across the school because we felt we are one school although we have two different syndicates. To move forward we need to move forward in the same direction. So part of the change was looking at professional development across the school. Looking at areas or targets set across the school rather than individual targets set for each syndicate. We also make sure that what we do, we have self review to make sure that we have an understanding of what works well, what didn’t go so well and why it is that it didn’t go well so that we could improve on our practice all the time. And we made sure that we have this model where it goes from senior management, to syndicate, to staff, and then also catering for the individual needs for each of our staff members and then also looking at our support staff. But also what I wanted to make sure is that if we engage any agencies in our school such as our RTLB and RTM or RTLits that they know what is happening at our school and they know about the culture of our school and how to treat our children.

Te papa tipu o horouta forms the foundation of our localised curriculum which incorporates our Ngati Porou tanga. Our principles, beliefs, values are all aligned with our mission statement ‘E tipu e rea’. We really sort of teased our mission statement and have taken it apart because we wanted to know if the mission statement was still relevant for the 21st century learner. We teased it out phrase by phrase and then looked at the relevance and decided yes this is the mission statement we still want for our school. Then we looked at our values. We looked at the values at our school, the values of the Marautanga, as well as the values of the New Zealand Curriculum. And we wanted to see whether these values aligned with our mission statement and whether those are the values we practice at our school. We then looked at the principles in the Marautanga, New Zealand Curriculum and also the principles at our school and we decided that some of the principles that we had did not quite fit in with the 21st century learner and what we wanted to do at our school. So we chose some of those principles from both documents, the New Zealand Curriculum as well as the Marautanga.

One of the things that we were looking at was for students to have a strong sense of self and we thought that was important because we wanted to develop a strong identity or wanted our kids to know where they come from, respect where they come from. And we thought if they are strong in their inheritance, their identity, they have a strong sense of being and self worth and that in itself will help with their learning. So we thought that would be a great principle to have because it aligns with our mission statement.

Then we looked at the vision, what would we like our children to be like when they leave Waikirikiri School, what do we want them to do to be able to reach their full potential and also what would we like them to know when they leave our school. And this formed part of the foundation of what we wanted for our graduate profile as well. And because we wanted everybody to have a shared understanding around our vision for our children and we also wanted our vision statement to reflect our mission statement we came up with

Waikirikiri winners growing for tomorrow,

Waikirikiri tour ke runga atoa

The factors that help to develop the Marautanga at our kura was the fact that everybody had an understanding about the big picture, how it worked down from the national educational priorities right down into the classroom. And we worked through that quite thoroughly and aligned it with, we’ve got two pedagogies that we practice in our school in terms of the Marautanga which is from a Māori perspective and the New Zealand Curriculum which is from a Eurocentric perspective. And we made sure that everybody had that shared understanding so that we could decide where do we want to go with this Marau a kura should we lean more toward the New Zealand Curriculum or towards the Marautanga . We decided as a Māori school we wanted to lean more towards the Māori pedagogy and I think this helped us to develop the localised curriculum because we all had that understanding and we all had that same agreement around what it is that we want for our school. Feedback from our parents and our community indicated that this is what they wanted as well. So it helped us as the leadership team, as senior management, and as a staff to further develop a localised curriculum because we knew this is what our parents wanted. Because we shared the same aspirations for our kids.

Published on: 04 Oct 2010