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School leaders have a role in establishing practices that support the continuity of their Pasifika students’ learning as they move from and into different learning environments.


Key content

Pasifika children who move between educational settings require special care. For example, their transition to schools from early childhood centres may require them to adapt to using English as the language of instruction. Other Pasifika children may not have experienced planned early childhood learning environments. 
When they have an explicit focus on Pasifika student learning, school leaders play a key role in ensuring that Pasifika students experience continuity as they move from one educational setting to another. 

“Leaders can create educationally powerful connections by:

  • establishing continuities betweens student identities and school practices
  • developing continuities and coherence across teaching programmes
  • ensuring effective transitions from one educational setting to another”

School Leadership and Student Outcomes: Identifying What Works and Why: Best Evidence Synthesis Iteration, page 43.
The Year 8–9 transition also represents a time of significant, deeper-level change and can be unsettling for Pasifika students.

 “The biggest danger period’ for students in terms of an increased tendency to be more negative about school, their relationships with teachers, and teaching and learning in general was in the second half of Year 9, and not in the first few weeks following the transition."
A Study of Students’ Transition from Primary to Secondary Schooling, Research Division [Ministry of Education] 2008.


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 is known to be effective, however, is not always what is practised” (Summary, Best Evidence Synthesis, Teacher Professional Learning and Development). Is this true of your school in relation to managing transitions for your Pasifika learners? How do you know?

"The coherence between teachers appears to be especially significant so that there is consistency in pedagogical approaches as well as in focus and goals.” 
Ua Aoina le Manogi o le Lolo: Pasifika Schooling Improvement Research– Final Report executive summary.
Would you say that you had this kind of coherence in your school? How do you know?

  • What practices does your school put in place to ensure effective transitions? How well do these work for your Pasifika students and their ongoing learning?
  • When you receive Pasifika students who are achieving at levels below the national norm, how do you go about accelerating their learning? How successful are your programmes?


Glen Ryan
When our children come in at 5 years old, generally it all is our data saying that they are probably 2 years behind where we think they should be at 5. All those curriculum areas struggle to begin with. And I guess we find that we bring them up but they’re still coming in lower.

Glen Ryan
Transition from year 8 to year 9 it’s been a learning curve for us and probably last year we learnt the most. When we did a review of the school, instead of just reviewing the parents and the pupils that are here, and the board and the teachers, we had former pupils come in and I thought that was really brilliant. It worked really well at the end; we had the former pupils talk about their experience here, and their new experience at their high school and how they related. What things we did well, what things we need to change to help prepare them. So by talking to the former pupils we got the information that we needed. Science was a big one, so there's a big transition between intermediate science and high school science. We now need to go back and review what we’re doing there.

Patrick Drumm
Our greatest need here is literacy. It’s a base need for our students they are coming into our school at the bottom end of literacy statistics with PAT tests and asTTle. And that's a huge need and we’re attempting to accelerate them through that process and greater alignment with our feeder schools is critical in this, and we do spend time working with our feeder schools to make sure that we can share data about the benchmarks for students when they come in.

Lynne van Etten 
For our students coming into our school we test the students at the end of year 8, we actually mark the asTTle assessments for the school and enter the data. And that’s been reaffirming for the intermediates as well, because we can then go back to them and say fantastic this year, your literacy results have been markedly improved since the year before.

Nola Dougall
There'll be quite a number of students that come in at level 2 of the curriculum for literacy and numeracy. And we need to take that and build on that to level 6 by the time they get to year 11. The part of our focus in the junior school is focus on literacy and on numeracy. So that the junior students have more, they have language support, English language support. And that continues to year 11, whereas we'll have a class of what we call double English so they’ll have two blocks of their timetable in English. Because if they can't communicate, if they’re not literate, then they can't handle other areas of the curriculum.