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The gifts that students bring

Inclusive pedagogies, where teachers deliberately and positively draw on their Pasifika students’ resources, value the diversity of student experience and help to lift Pasifika student achievement.


Key content

“When teachers deliberately build on what their students know and have experienced, they maximise the use of learning time, anticipate students’ learning needs, and avoid unnecessary duplication of content. Teachers can help students make connections across learning areas as well as to home practices and the wider world." 
The New Zealand Curriculum,page 34.
Specific dimensions of cultural responsiveness are part of more effective teaching, in particular the twin dimensions of positive relations and incorporating students’ resources. For example, effective use of teacher-student discussion in whole class contexts enables diversity of student experience to be valued and to be a resource to support student achievement gains. 
Quality Teaching for Diverse Students in Schooling: Best Evidence Synthesis, page 27.

The Schooling Improvement research  Ua Aoina le Manogi o le Lolo: Pasifika Schooling Improvement Research– Final Report, Pages 3- 4, executive summary results are encouraging.
Pasifika pedagogies that are being developed in these schools, in the sense of being adapted to Pasifika learners, deliberately draw on background knowledge including topics, event knowledge, language patterns and activities. 
The teacher has considerable agency in mediating links between the different contexts in which students are socialised, through inclusive pedagogy. This aspect of quality teaching is particularly significant and likely to be a key system influence on reducing disparities that persist across students from different ethnic and social class groups. 
Quality Teaching for Diverse Students in Schooling: Best Evidence Synthesis, page 34.


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

  • “Some students learn better off students than teachers so I think that’s the good thing in our school...most students in our school are willing to help...” Year 12 female student, Aorere College, Auckland. Would this statement be true for your school. Why? Why not?
  • Have you ever asked your students what kinds of teachers they like – and why? If not, would you find it useful to know their thoughts – and reasons? How would you go about finding out?
  • Is there any particular teaching style or technique you use that works particularly well for Pasifika students in the classroom?
  • Do you have an induction process for newly arrived Pasifika students to help them to develop the knowledge and skills they require for schooling in New Zealand? If so, how effective is it? Do you do the same for your newly arrived Pasifika teachers? If so, is your process effective? And how do you know?

“The twin dimensions of positive relations and incorporating students’ resources were identified to varying degrees in classrooms. Importantly, these themes were echoed by the students”.
Ua Aoina le Manogi o le Lolo: Pasifika Schooling Improvement Research Summary Report.
Are these two dimensions a strong feature of your pedagogy? Would this be the case for all teachers in your school? How would you know?


Each child as they come to school are celebrated for what they bring with them. All of them bring life experiences with them. They may have been looking after younger children. They are certainly bright capable bouncy wee five year olds.

Rosina Prasad
I’ll always talk to the kids and ask them in their own language can you help me out with this, or am I saying this right, or try and bring their culture into the class, like just counting games, or just having greetings. Even though they’re little things, but sometimes it’s really important to just share with the kid, wow you taught me that, and I didn't know that, can you tell me this word for this, and then I will often find that it just continues and grows because the children suddenly are not afraid to share their language and culture with you.

Tom Brown
There will always be a new generation of students coming in but we find that our students will learn from the older students and we actually actively encourage that. We like students learning from each other in just the same way that we like students learning from us and that we learn from the students. If we can encourage that, if we can show that all the students are not afraid of accessing help, recognising when they need help, then the new ones will quickly pick up on that.

Mele - student
So we offer our knowledge to the younger ones and we kind of build that relationship that our teachers teach us and we teach the rest of the girls. 
Anne Miles 
I think that our girls are just amazing, and they are loud, they laugh a lot, one of the girls the other day said to me Miss, you know I read that the Guiness Book of Records says that the average person laughs 4 times a day, it’s not true at McAuley. We laugh all day. And if you go out and you hear them at interval or lunchtime, they are laughing or they’re calling. It's a very noisy place all day, but they’re happy, and the school is a safe haven for them. They don't want to leave, we keep our girls here right through to year 13.