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Family and whānau aspirations for their children

Parents and other whānau members have important knowledge about a student’s strengths and aspirations. They are likely to have discussed their own goals and aspirations for the student and to have clear ideas about the student’s possible future within and beyond the whānau. There should be regular opportunities for them to share their ideas within the student’s support team, especially at the start of the year. A shared understanding between the student, their whānau, their teachers, and other team members illuminates a clear pathway forward. Supporting the student to move forward on this path then becomes a collective responsibility.

Sometimes whānau aspirations for a student may differ from those of the student or school. For example, whānau members may wish for the student to follow in the family’s footsteps by doing what others in the family have done. Or their aspirations may be influenced by the circumstances of the community in which they live. Sometimes they may need help to understand the opportunities available to their child. What is important is that everyone works together to support the student to identify realistic goals and aspirations and to work towards achieving these.

It is also important that the student develops an awareness that they will hold dreams and aspirations both at school and in their later life – and that everyone has goals that may develop throughout their life. No student should feel that they are letting others down by changing their goals or aspirations as they progress through school. Sometimes this occurs because they have been made aware of new options that they didn’t think were possible for them.

"No one expects us to do well in exams and go on to have a career or even a decent job. Changing this means challenging the mindset that sees the disability, not the person, and that fails to recognise that while it might take a young person with a disability longer to achieve goals, we can still do it."

A young adult quoted in Educable Project, 2000, page 56

Next – Learning opportunities that build on strengths and aspirations

Published on: 24 May 2016