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Contributions from whānau

Parents and whānau are an integral part of the school community and want their children welcomed for all that they bring to this community. They are their children’s "first teachers". Building relationships with whānau and recognising the wealth of information that they have about their children will help your school to get to know students and give an insight into their strengths and aspirations. Planned conversations (for example, IEP meetings or hui), informal chats, emails, and phone calls all contribute to this knowledge-building process.


In Example 1, a year 2 student’s achievements at home and school are shared between settings to build a rich picture of the learner and inform next steps.

Family knowledge can also help you and a student’s support team to understand the student’s way of communicating and to verify that your interpretations of their communication are accurate.

Students with diverse needs and their whānau should have access to the same range of conversations with you as other students. Shared information between home and school helps build pride in a student’s achievements.

"The parents’ point of view is important. They know their children and their capabilities well. If there are no opportunities for this [knowledge] to be incorporated into the design of programmes, this valuable information, and the inclusion of parent voice, is not valued. Often its only when an IEP is set up that parents are asked to contribute."

Pasifika education facilitator, project interview, 2013


In Example 11, suggestions from a year 13 student’s parents are shared by the Learning Support Coordinator with subject teachers to help their planning and teaching.


As a group, discuss the questions below alongside two dimensions from the Educultural Wheel. Add to the questions from your own teaching experience.


Teacher questions


Ethic of caring

  • In what ways do I express care and hospitality towards my students and their whānau?
  • How do my interactions enable whānau aspirations to be reflected in the curriculum?
  • How do I share good news with whānau?


Morale, tone, pulse

  • How happy are the students in my classroom?
  • How does the classroom culture promote respect between all and enable whānau to contribute to students’ learning?
  • How does the classroom culture uplift the mana of students and their whānau?

Next – Who else can help you know the learner?

Published on: 02 Jun 2015