ERO research finds leaders, education professionals, communities, whānau and iwi rally to support Māori learners and whānau

The Education Review Office - Te Tari Arotake Mātauranga (ERO) today released research reports exploring the impact of the 2021 second wave of national lockdowns on Māori learner success.

The three reports reveal the compounding impacts of the pandemic with many Māori learners and whānau continuing to face inadequate access to household necessities, digital devices, internet connectivity, and a lack of suitable resources for te reo Māori learning.

“These findings reiterate what we heard in 2020 from Māori and English medium providers who indicated cases of homelessness and poverty within the kura whānau. This trend appears to have worsened for some urban and rural kura in 2021,” says ERO Deputy Chief Executive Evaluation and Review Māori, Lynda Pura-Watson.

The participants and sample group for the research represent Ngā Kura ā Iwi and Te Aho Matua Kura Kaupapa Māori, and English-medium sites with a high population of Māori learners from both rural and urban areas.

The findings highlight the important role of tumuaki and principals, local iwi and hapū, and the wider community in supporting wrap-around services for whānau and learners. While they identify the impacts of the pandemic on Māori learners and school leaders, these reports consider the lessons, innovation, and commitment of the collective in English-medium and Māori-medium provision and how they’re learning to learn and learning to live in a COVID-19 Aotearoa.

“Despite exacerbating social and economic disparities created by the 2021 lockdowns for Māori learners and their whānau, leaders and their communities went to incredible lengths to prioritise the wellbeing of kaiako, whānau and learners at every turn,” says Ms Pura-Watson.

Kura and school leaders leant heavily on their school’s own resources, local iwi, support services and community networks to ensure learners and whānau had essentials. This included getting kai packs, basic care packages, household necessities, devices, and hard packs for learning to families.

“Educators, iwi and communities supporting Māori learners and whānau have demonstrated what whanaungatanga and manaakitanga look like in action. They have provided extraordinary levels of support to their learners. However, the significant pressures on educators cannot be ignored,” says Pura-Watson.

ERO received widespread feedback that tumuaki and principals worked around the clock to serve the kaupapa of their kura and schools, often putting their own wellbeing on the line. Tumuaki and leaders also played a critical role in providing stability and good communication for whānau, often acting as links between whānau and support services.

ERO’s research during the 2020 lockdowns showed the importance of having good communication to stay connected, build trust and ensure learners and whānau had access to the support they needed. It was clear in 2021, effective communication continued to play an important role in reducing anxiety among whānau.

“During the 2021 lockdowns, schools and kura said they experienced more effective and streamlined communication. Overall, they felt there was a more organised communication flow with a single point of contact for whānau, with tumuaki and school leaders providing relevant information from the daily Secretary for Education newsletters to keep people reassured and well informed,” says Ms. Pura-Watson.

Ongoing issues expressed by schools and kura include a lack of digital and hard pack resources, identifying a shortage of materials suitable for a te ao Māori curriculum.

For Māori-medium providers, many kaiako had anticipated further lockdowns and were able to prepare learning packs and access to devices in advance, which helped with quickly setting up at-home learning and teaching.

“Where access to devices and internet connectivity were available, teachers, kaiako, learners and whānau generally felt more confident navigating digital learning than they had in 2020 and were adept at finding ways to incorporate learning into the day-to-day activities of the home” says Ms Pura-Watson.

About the reports:

ERO’s latest research reports - He Iho Ruruku - was conducted by Te Uepū ā-Motu (ERO’s national Māori review team) and Te Pou Mataaho (ERO’s specialist kaupapa Māori research unit) in partnership with English-medium providers and Māori-medium peak bodies and associated kura.

The reports are available on ERO’s website