The Te Kotahitanga Programme

Author – Robin Pettit, St Bede’s College, February to April 2012
Principal of Whakatane High School, Chris Nielsen, for allowing me to spend time at the school. Peter Fergusson, HOF Science, for arranging access to key staff members. Pineka Barsdell, HOF Maori, for her insights into the programme. Brent Donaldson and Hiria Wallace who facilitated the programme. Chris Brown, Head of House, and Joanne Stuart, Careers Person, for their insight into how the Te Kotahitanga and other programmes linked to provide better learning and career opportunities for the students at Whakatane High School.
I wanted to examine programmes which target the learning needs and career options of Maori and Pasifika students. The Te Kotahitanga programme is a Ministry of Education initiative led by Russell Bishop, Professor of Maori Education, at the University of Waikato. The programme is designed to support teachers in improving Maori students learning and achievement. Examining how the programme works would provide me with useful information which would be of benefit to the staff and students of St Bede’s College.
Te Kotahitanga means ‘togetherness’ and this is the key to the programme. Empathising with the students – they need to know who you are and you need to get to know their roots if successful learning outcomes are to be achieved. Maori students put 85% of how they did at school on the teacher whereas teachers only rated themselves as a 20% influence.
The Whanau of Maori students wanted respect and positive relationships between the staff and the families whose children were at the school. In Primary school, Whanau felt that relationships with staff and families was generally good but in Secondary schools much more effort was needed to establish an environment where teachers, students and Whanau could work together to foster better learning and career outcomes for the students.
Whole class teaching with Maori students is not as effective as group work and individual level teaching. Group work, if it is well set up, allows for a free flow of ideas between students and the teacher and this allows students to help each other to get on top of new ideas. When students on task engagement is improved then long term student achievement is also likely to be enhanced.

Powerpoint Presentations (click below to download):
1. How Te Kotahitanga evolved.

2. Main influences on Maori student achievement.

3. Review explaining Maori students achievement.

4. Framework for Te Kotahitanga.

5. Effective teaching profile.

6. Cooperative learning advantages.