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High expectations

High expectations, together with the vision of Pasifika students as successful learners, improve relationships, pedagogy and academic outcomes.


Key content

"Inappropriate teacher expectations can undermine students, or constitute a barrier to effective practice. Teacher expectations have been found to vary by student ethnicity, dis/ability, gender and other student characteristics unrelated to a student's actual capability." 
Quality Teaching for Diverse Students in Schooling: Best Evidence Synthesis, page 16.


Thanks to the principals, staff and students of Aorere College, McAuley High School, Mangere Bridge School, Sylvia Park School, Mary MacKillop School and Wymondley Road Primary School for their contribution.

Things to think about

  • What’s your personal vision for Pasifika students in your school? Do others in your school share your vision? Why? Why not?
  • “They push you to strive to your best abilities...like they never give up on you.” [Year 12 female student, Aorere College, Auckland]. Would your students say this about you, and other teachers in your school? How would you know?
  • What academic areas are particularly challenging for your Pasifika students? Why? How do you address this?
  • “Our students now find it easier to be proud of their academic achievements as well as their sporting achievements”. [Anne Miles, Principal, McAuley High School, Auckland]. Would this be true for the Pasifika students in your school?
  • What kinds of support do your Pasifka students have to help them to achieve academically and socially? What more might be needed?


Jordan – student
I want to be a computer engineer.

Victoria – student
When I finish all my schooling then I want to go to university and get a degree of being a Chef.

Celeste – student
I want to go to University and be a teacher.

Filitino – student
I want to be an inventor, a scientist and a biologist.

Jaqueline Yates
In this school and I think this is probably one of the keys to our success, is we have very high expectations for them. We expect them to meet the national standards. We don’t expect them to fail. And because of that they reach for that, and because we’re saying to them, we know you can do this, we know you can, ok you’ve got a little bit more work to do than maybe some other people but we know you can do it. And provide them the right tools and they achieve it.

Joseph – student
I like my teacher 'cause she gives me hard mathematic works and hard reading books for us to take home for our reading logs.

Judy Hanna 
We've always had high expectations at this school, and what it means is that every child needs to reach their full potential. So we have teachers who go outside their comfort zone and outside the square to make sure that the children have the very best opportunity to reach their full potential in terms of literacy and numeracy, in terms of their artistic talent, in terms of their leadership. We're turning out children who are excited about their learning and who are confident in themselves, and that all sits around a high expectation.

Ikenasio - student
I think my teacher's good because she gives me hard work, with math and she gives me homework, chapter books, and I like reading chapter books.

Nazareen - student
I want to go to uni to study medicine to become a doctor.

Foalalo - student
Waikato university to study Sports and rec.

Jacinta - student
I want to go to university and do a Conjoint of commerce and law.

Patrick Drumm 
It's easy to fail in terms of teaching and setting our expectations too low. Those low expectations are always achieved. I think the challenge is to set them high and then instil that belief in students that they can achieve to that level.

Joseph – student
I like the teacher to actually lay out what's expected, his or her expectation from us students, and then I would work hard trying to actually live up to that expectation.

Lucy Wymer
Pasifika students are a lot more motivated. I think with the help of teachers they've got a lot more self-belief. They recognise that we've got high expectations, and instead of thinking they’re not going to get there, and they now know that with some help and support they can get there. So that self-belief is really important.

Moyeen McCoy
Students don't have that much confidence in themselves and they need to be continually told that they can do things. But it has to be realistic as well. You need to be honest with students, if they’re aiming for something, which is not going to be possible you need to find another way. There is always another way, but basically positivity, high expectations, very very important.

Carmelita - student
When I leave school I’m aiming to be a teacher in history and English.

Faiga - student
I would like to be a lawyer. I like standing up for people and myself. That’s why.

Malia - student
I just want to become a successful person and make my parents proud.

Anne Miles 
We’re aiming high, we’re making the girls aim high and we’re making it clear to them that they can be as good as the national average if not better. But that it takes work, determination and guts. And again it comes back to getting the students to take ownership and the teachers to motivate.

Bernadette - student
To help out my parents next year when I gain a scholarship at year 13 and go to Auckland university and go into the engineering faculty.

Anne Miles 
One of our ex-students is a nuclear physicist in Germany in Berlin, and others are now lawyers and social workers. There’s total support from pasifika people that we want to achieve academically because we want those positions and we want those jobs.

Giovana – student
I am interested in doing forensic science and looking at how we’re made and different organisms that put us together and stuff. But yeah, the biology aside, I want to be a forensic scientist when I leave school.

Anne Miles 
I notice the difference we’re getting second generation and we've got daughters of McAuley students coming to the school and so it's like the culture of the school is just mushrooming as it moves forward. And there's an even greater perception each year of achievement and the importance of success.

Mercy - student
After High School I plan to go to university to further my knowledge about music and at the same time do two psychology papers because I enjoy socialising with autistic kids, and I love my music so I would like to become an autistic therapist, or a music therapist.

Joseph – student 
The reason I want to become an architect, is because I've never heard of any Islander who‘s ever become one.

Atina - student
There’s actually lots of things I want to do, there’s youth and social work to be a part time choreographer and to be a paediatrician.

Joseph – student
Right now my dream is to design a skyscraper, but first I want to design like normal buildings, houses.

Atina - student
So hopefully I'm going to do my best in science, bio and chem and get into hopefully Otago University to study medicine and hopefully become a GP or Paediatrician and everything else will follow.