Embracing Diverse Cultures: Schools’ Practice


Whānau/Family and Student surveys now available

Following our topic consultation period, we have undertaken a range of community hui and interviews along with fieldwork in schools. We are now in the process of gathering information from whānau and students through surveys.

We invite whānau/families and students from Ethnic Communities (Asian, Continental European, Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin American and African) to participate in the following surveys.

The whānau survey is available here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/LTIB-Whanau.

It is also available in 9 additional languages:

The student survey is available here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/LTIB-Student

The surveys close on Monday 29th August.

Please feel free to circulate these links through your social networks. We are hopeful of hearing as many ethnically and culturally diverse perspectives and voices as possible.

Hearing the ideas and experiences of whānau and students can help build our understanding of how schools can better cater for ethnic diversity in the future.

Summary of submissions now available

A summary of submissions and a decision on the subject matter and scope of the Education Review Office’s 2022 Long-Term Insights Briefing is now available.


Thank you to everyone who took the time to provide a submission. Your input will help build and strengthen our Long-Term Insights Briefing paper.

If you have any questions or would like to receive updates on the Briefing please email us at LTIB@ero.govt.nz


This document is available in te reo Māori - Te Urupare ki ngā Ahurea Kanorau: Ngā Ritenga Mahi o ngā Kura 

This document is also available to download in the following languages:



The dates may change and is an estimation  

Friday 1 April 2022 5pm – consultation closes   

April 2022: Publish a summary of your feedback 

April 2022: Decide the subject matter of our Long-Term Insights Briefing  

August/early September 2022: Draft briefing seeking feedback from the public  

November 2022: Final Briefing made available on this page.   

How to provide feedback   

Let us know what you think:   

  • Do you agree with the topic and proposed scope of the Long-Term Insights Briefing?  

  • Are there any other questions/focus areas you think we should consider?   

  • Would you like to participate in this work?  

How to submit  

Two ways to make a submission:  

  • Email your submission to: LTIB@ero.govt.nz  

  • Send a written submission by mail to  

LTIB – for attention Te Ihuwaka   

ERO — National Office  

PO Box 2799  


Whole article:

Embracing Diverse Cultures: Schools’ Practice

Part One: Who we are and the purpose of a Long-Term Insights Briefing

Ko te Tamaiti te Pūtake o te Kaupapa | The Child – the Heart of the Matter


Our role

The Education Review Office | Te Tari Arotake Mātauranga (ERO) is the New Zealand Government’s education evaluation agency.

We work with early learning services, kōhanga reo, schools and kura to help them and their learners/ākonga flourish. We’re interested in what’s working well and what can improve.

We conduct research on the performance of the education system, the effectiveness of programmes and interventions, and shine a light on good practice.

Our purpose is to deliver evaluation insights which are a catalyst for change so that every child achieves success. Our focus is on equitable and excellent outcomes for all learners and our approach is driven by our whakataukī: Ko te Tamaiti te Pūtake o te Kaupapa | The Child – the Heart of the Matter.


The purpose of a Long-Term Insights Briefing

Long-Term Insights Briefings are think pieces that identify and explore issues that matter for the future wellbeing of the people of New Zealand. They provide information about medium and long-term trends, risks and opportunities, and explore options on how best to respond. They are not government policy.


The purpose of this consultation document

Public engagement is an important part of Long-Term Insights Briefings as it helps us collectively as a country to think about, and plan, for the future.

This consultation document outlines ERO’s proposed Long-Term Insights Briefing topic – “Responding to Diverse Cultures: Schools’ Practice”. It explains why we have chosen this topic, outlines some of the questions we would like to answer and gives an overview of the approaches we plan to use. We welcome feedback on the substance and scope of the proposed topic.


Part Two: We want to hear from you about our proposed topic

New Zealand society is changing. Demographic change and immigration are increasing our ethnic and cultural diversity. To ensure education meets the needs of all children in Aotearoa, New Zealand schools will need their practices to respond to increased diversity.

We know that good education isn’t a one-size-fits-all. Culturally responsive teaching affirms and builds on children’s cultures, identity and languages to achieve successful learning outcomes. But what does culturally responsive teaching look like in practice and how do schools support good practice?


Our proposed topic

Responding to Diverse Cultures: Schools’ Practice

ERO’s proposed Long Term Insights Briefing seeks to provide a clear picture of the increasing diversity in schools, understand the education experiences of learners from diverse backgrounds and their whānau, and explore how schools can best respond to increasing diversity.


We plan to do this by looking at four main questions:

  1. How has diversity changed in schools and how will it change going forward?
  2. What are the education experiences of diverse students and their whānau?
  3. What is good practice in meeting the needs of learners from diverse backgrounds?
  4. How can schools prepare for a more diverse future and how can they be supported?


What type of diversity?

There are many forms of diversity including, among others, ethnic, cultural, language, identity, religious.

It is important that education responds to all forms of diversity. For this project we propose focusing on ethnic diversity and associated language, cultural and religious diversity.

We are already looking at some other forms of diversity separately, for example our work on education for disabled learners.


Which ethnicities?

We propose focusing on ethnic communities as defined by the Ministry of Ethnic Communities:

“Aotearoa New Zealand's ethnic communities include anyone who identifies their ethnicity as:

  • African
  • Asian
  • Continental European
  • Latin-American
  • Middle-Eastern

Based on the 2018 Census, ethnic communities make up around a fifth of New Zealand’s population, almost a million people. This includes new and temporary migrants, former refugees, asylum-seekers, long-term settlers and those born in New Zealand.

They are an incredibly diverse group, representing over 200 ethnicities and speaking over 170 languages.”



Aotearoa’s diverse cultural context

Our definition of ethnic communities is that defined by the Ministry of Ethnic Communities. Focusing on these communities sits alongside our first and primary commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and ensuring tamariki and Rangatahi Māori are strongly supported to learning and thrive in their culture, language and identity. 

This research will complement EROs wide range of research and resources on good culturally responsive practice for Māori learners. We will look at the experiences of Māori and Pacific students who belong to multiple ethnic communities.  We will also draw on learnings from successful culturally responsive practices for Māori students and Pacific communities and how they may help support a broader range of diverse students.

Examples, of useful resources for responding to tamariki and whānau Māori include:

Examples of resources to support education for Pacific learners and families include:


Which outcomes?

When looking at diverse learners’ and their families’ education experiences we propose covering the full range of learner outcomes:

  • Learning and achievement – How are they progressing? Are they gaining qualifications or achievements that matter to them? Are they moving into meaningful pathways beyond school?
  • Wellbeing and belonging – Are learners thriving at school? Do they feel like they belong at school? Are they confident in their identity?
  • Engagement – Are learners enjoying their learning? Are they engaged in their learning? Are they attending school?

Wellbeing, engagement, learning, and belonging are strongly connected. For example, there is a well-connected relationship between wellbeing and learning. How young people feel at school has a major impact on how confident they are and how well they learn.


Why this topic?

Demographic projections show increasing diversity

New Zealand’s population is projected to become more ethnically diverse over the next two decades. As communities become more ethnically diverse, so does the student population.

Ethnic diversity in the total population has been growing over the last two decades. During the Census periods 2006-18, for example, Chinese, Indian, Filipino, Vietnamese, Japanese, Sri Lankan, Cambodian, Middle Eastern, Latin American, and African have all grown as a proportion of the total population (Fig 1).

Figure 1: Growing share of ethnic diversity (%)

 Source Statistics New Zealand, Census ethnic groups summaries (updated 14 August 2020) 2018 Census ethnic groups dataset | Stats NZ Note: Selected Level 3 Ethnicities

By 2043, a projected 27% of young people (0-14 years old) will identify as Asian (up from 16%) and 4% will identify as Middle Eastern/Latin America/African (up from 2%). Within this, over the next twenty years, the percentage of young people identifying as Chinese will increase from 5% to 7%, and young people identifying as Indian will increase from 5% to 10%.


Diversity principle in the New Zealand Curriculum

Alongside the growth in our diverse population, there has been a growing recognition in education research that one-size-fits-all education disadvantages children. Each child has a unique learning context, as they are located within the unique culture of their family and community. Culturally responsive practice is part of quality teaching, not an add-on to it.

The New Zealand Curriculum sets out expectations for an inclusive and responsive curriculum. References to culture and language can be found woven throughout its principles. For example, the cultural diversity principle calls for schools and teachers to deliver a curriculum that:

  • reflects our linguistically and culturally diverse nation
  • affirms learners’ different cultural identities
  • incorporates learners' cultural contexts into teaching and learning programmes
  • is responsive to diversity within ethnic groups
  • helps learners understand and respect diverse viewpoints, values, customs, and languages.


How we will approach this topic

ERO’s Long-Term Insights Briefing will draw upon the rich data that already exists on diversity in New Zealand, including the 2018 Census, existing surveys, information about learners’ destinations and Statistics New Zealand’s population projections.

ERO values authentic learner voice. We want to hear directly from ethnically diverse learners and their families about their experiences, especially students from underrepresented groups whose voices haven’t been heard. To do this we will hold focus groups and conduct surveys.

Leaders and teachers are responsible for culturally responsive practice in their schools. To find out what “being culturally responsive” looks like in practice we will talk with teachers and school leaders and visit schools.

The experts in a child’s culture are their family. We will hold focus groups with whānau to hear about on their experiences and aspirations for their children’s education and what culturally responsive teaching means to them. We will also interview key experts.


Making a difference

By gaining a better understanding of diversity, this briefing will allow schools and the education system to better prepare and plan for more diverse school environments.

Through understanding the experiences of ethnically diverse children and showcasing good practice, this briefing will enable schools to better implement culturally responsive practices.

Most importantly, improved practice will improve diverse learners’ wellbeing, engagement, attendance, learning and achievement, and sense of belonging at school.


Part Three: How you can contribute

Seeking your input

We would like to hear from you about our proposed Long-Term Insights Briefing topic.

  1. Do you agree with the topic and proposed scope of the Long-Term Insights Briefing?
  2. Are there any other questions/focus areas you think we should consider?
  3. Would you like to participate in this work?


How to submit

There are two ways to make a submission:

  • Email your submission to: LTIB@ero.govt.nz
  • Send a written submission by mail to:


ERO - National Office

PO Box 2799


The deadline for submissions is Friday 1 April 2022.


Privacy and the Official Information Act

Please be assured that any feedback you provide will be confidential to those involved in analysing the consultation data. We will not identify any individuals in the final analysis and report writing unless you expressly give permission for this. However, submissions, including submitters’ names, and documents associated with the consultation process may be subject to an Official Information Act 1982 request. While we will collect your personal information, your personal contact details will not be shared.


Part Four: Next steps

  • We will publish a summary of the feedback that we received on the proposed topic in April 2022.
  • We will publish a final decision on the subject matter of our Long-Term Insights Briefing in April 2022.
  • We will publish a draft Briefing and seek feedback from the public in late August/early September 2022. This is another opportunity for you to contribute to our Long-Term Insights Briefing.
  • We will publish a final Briefing in November 2022.