Learning in residential care: They knew I wanted to learn

Summary

Children and young people who are placed in Oranga Tamariki residential care are among the most at risk of poor outcomes later in life. Education can change that. The education students receive in residence has the power to reconnect them to their learning and change their lives. This report looks at the quality of education for students in Oranga Tamariki Care and Protection and Youth Justice residences and how it can be improved.

Whole article:

Learning in residential care: They knew I wanted to learn

Acknowledgements

We acknowledge and thank all the students, teachers, leaders, managers and residential care staff who welcomed us into their places of learning and offered their views and insights through interviews, group discussions and surveys. We thank you for giving your time, and for sharing your knowledge and experiences so openly and whole-heartedly.

We also thank the Oranga Tamariki and Ministry of Education staff who participated in discussions and interviews, and for their support in delivering this evaluation and the associated reviews. 

We want to acknowledge and thank the members of the Expert Reference Group who shared their knowledge and wisdom in guiding this evaluation. The members were:

  • Prof Ian Lambie (ONZM), University of Auckland, Chief Science Advisor for the Justice Sector
  • Phil Dinham (OBE), Director Youth Justice System Development at Oranga Tamariki 
  • Dr Nicola Atwool, Associate Professor, University of Otago
  • Dr Julia Ioane, Associate Professor, Massey University
  • Jennifer Lowe, Chief Adviser, Social Work, Ministry of Education.

We thank Talking Trouble Aotearoa New Zealand for helping us to develop approaches and tools to work with these students.

We acknowledge the support of Dr Melissa Derby, University of Waikato, in peer reviewing the final report.

We thank the New Zealand Qualification Authority for providing us with matched data to review achievement outcomes for students for this project.

About this report

Children and young people who are placed in Oranga Tamariki residential care are among the most at risk of poor outcomes later in life. Education can change that. The education students receive in residence has the power to reconnect them to their learning and change their lives. This report looks at the quality of education for students in Oranga Tamariki Care and Protection and Youth Justice residences and how it can be improved.

ERO is responsible for reviewing and reporting on the performance of early learning services, kura and schools. As part of this role, ERO looks at how the education system supports students’ outcomes – in this case we are looking at education for students in Oranga Tamariki residences.

This report describes what we found about the quality of education for these students, including the strengths and weaknesses of education provision, and suggests improvements for education for these students. 

The voices of the students are highlighted through this report. We describe their experience of learning, their outcomes, and how teaching practice impacts on their learning.

There are many different words used to describe these students – learner, child, young person, tamariki, rangatahi, and ākonga. Throughout this report we have used the word student to reflect that they are in education.[1]

What we looked at

The evaluation looks at education provision for students who were placed in residential care by Oranga Tamariki.

We answered three key questions:

  1. What are the education outcomes for these students?
  2. How good is education provision for these students?
  3. How strong are the supports for these students’ education?

Where we looked

We focused on the students that were living and learning in eight Oranga Tamariki Care and Protection and Youth Justice residences at the time of data collection. There are currently three different providers[2] in Aotearoa New Zealand: Central Regional Health School and Kingslea School (specialist schools, governed by boards of trustees), and Barnardos (a non-government organisation private provider).

These residences included the following:

Kingslea School:

  • Te Oranga in Christchurch (Care and Protection)
  • Puketai in Dunedin (Care and Protection)
  • Korowai Manaaki in South Auckland (Youth Justice)
  • Te Maioha o Parekarangi in Rotorua (Youth Justice)
  • Te Puna Wai ō Tuhinapo in Christchurch (Youth Justice)

Central Regional Health School:

  • Epuni in Lower Hutt (Care and Protection)
  • Te Au Rere a te Tonga in Palmerston North (Youth Justice)

Barnados:

  • Te Poutama Arahi Rangatahi in Christchurch (Specialist Treatment for Harmful Sexual Behaviours)

To help us understand the broader context we also visited satellite community school sites and a community remand home operated by these providers, but did not formally review these sites.

How we evaluated education provision

To assess the quality of education, we reviewed the literature to identify the key components of good provision for students in residential care settings.

We used these components to assess current education provision through:

  • onsite visits by expert review teams experienced in school evaluation, including reviewers experienced in reviewing kura kaupapa Māori
  • analysing documentation from agencies and providers
  • interviews and surveys of students in residences
  • surveys of teachers that work in these residences
  • focus group discussions with residential teachers and staff, and with government agency officials at operation and policy level
  • interviews with residential teachers and staff, principals and leadership, provider board members, Oranga Tamariki social workers and Ministry of Education and Oranga Tamariki officials.

Full details of the methods are in Appendix Two.

What we didn’t look at

Approximately 6,000 children and young people are currently in the care of Oranga Tamariki. Most are cared for and educated in the community through state schools, home schooling or alternative education provision. They were not included in this evaluation. This evaluation focused on the education provision for those children and young people living and learning in Oranga Tamariki residences.

Report structure

This report has the following seven parts:

  • Part 1 sets out who these students are and what the system is that supports their education.
  • Part 2 sets out what drives good education outcomes for these students based on the evidence.
  • Part 3 sets out the education outcomes of these students.
  • Part 4 sets out our findings on how good education provision is for these students.
  • Part 5 sets out our findings on how strong the supports are for education provision.
  • Part 6 sets out our overall findings and recommendations for how we can improve education for these students.
  • Part 7 sets out next steps.

Alongside this report, ERO has published separate reports for each of the three providers of education at Oranga Tamariki residences, with more detail about the quality of education for each provider:

Part 1: Who are the students and what is the system that supports their education?

Each year between 700 and 800 students are placed in Oranga Tamariki residential care. Most of these students enjoy learning and achieving when the conditions are right, but they have changed schools multiple times and are often disengaged from learning. They want to connect with their culture. Eighty percent are Māori and they are mostly male.

In this section, we take a look at how students enter residential care, who they are, the challenges they face and what they want from their education. We also look at the system that supports their education.

How do students enter residential care and who are the students?

Students in residential care are placed there at the discretion of Oranga Tamariki or by court order. Over the course of a year there are 700-800 children in residential care. They range in age between nine and 18 years old. Eighty percent of these students are Māori, and most are male (See Figure 1).

Students have different pathways into each of the two main types of residential care: Youth Justice and Care and Protection.

FIGURE 1: Characteristics of students in residential care (2019 data)

Figure 1 shows the characteristics of students in Oranga Tamariki residential care from 2019 data.   There were 101 students in care and protection residences across the year.

Figure 1 shows the characteristics of students in Oranga Tamariki residential care from 2019 data.

There were 101 students in care and protection residences across the year. Of these 49% were male, 50% were female and 1% were gender diverse. This group were 72 percent Maori, and 16 percent Pacific, 10 percent of whom were Maori and Pacific. 21 percent of these students were NZ European or other ethnicities. 61% were under 14.

In Youth Justice residences, there were 773 students across the year. Of these 87% were male, 13% were female and less than 1 percent were gender diverse. This group were 79 percent Maori, and 20 percent Pacific, 12 percent of whom were Maori and Pacific. 20 percent of these students were NZ European or other ethnicities. Nearly all were between 14 and 16 years of age, 5% were 17 years and over.

 
 Care and Protection residences

Oranga Tamariki can place children and young people in Care and Protection residences when it is deemed that the students would be at significant risk of harm in the community. Most of these students are aged between 10 and 13 years, and there is an even mix of male and female admissions, and a small number of non-binary students. The length of stay in Care and Protection is usually between four weeks and six months.  

Youth Justice residences

Oranga Tamariki can place young people in Youth Justice residences if they are either:

  • detained in the Custody of the Chief Executive of Oranga Tamariki after appearing in the youth court (‘on remand’) 
  • given a Supervision with Residence order by the Youth Court 
  • sentenced or remanded by the district court. 

These students are placed in residential care because they pose a risk to themselves or others. Most of these students are male and aged between 14 to 16 years. Most students in Youth Justice residences are on remand, with an average stay around 40 days.  A substantial portion of students in Youth Justice residences have also been in a Care and Protection residence. This is more often the case for Māori students.

Specialist Treatment residence

In addition to the above, Te Poutama Ārahi Rangatahi is an Oranga Tamariki residence for boys aged 12-17 years with harmful sexual behaviours. They stay for nine months to two years or more. 

What do these students need?

Students in residential care have had challenges in their lives and, due to their previous life experiences, they are more likely than other students to have:

  • past trauma or attachment issues
  • concerns for their own safety 
  • low self-esteem and challenges in self-regulation
  • neuro-diversity disorders [3] , and language and communication challenges
  • behavioural, emotional, mental health and learning difficulties. 

These students arrive with various experiences of success in the education system. Many have been disengaged from formal education for an extended period prior to their arrival. Previous schooling has often been unsuccessful in engaging them in meaningful learning. Often these students have a negative view of school, teachers and themselves as learners, and patterns of infrequent attendance.

Many students in care change schools and settings often, which is disruptive to their learning. Most students in Youth Justice residences stay for shorter periods, on remand, meaning that there is limited time to engage with learning in residence.

While some arrive with knowledge of their whakapapa and cultural backgrounds, including some with te reo Māori from kura kaupapa pathways, others are disconnected from their cultural identities and knowledge-base.

What do these students want from their education?

We know from the evidence-base that students in care want to learn, want to be taken seriously, want to make decisions about their future and want to have good relationships. There are recurring themes from previous research undertaken with New Zealand children and young people in care (Oranga Tamariki; the Office of the Children’s Commissioner; Talking Trouble Aotearoa NZ). Students in care enjoy learning and achieving when the conditions are right, for example having adults that really care. 

This report reflects these previous findings. 

How important is education for these students?

While education is important for all tamariki in New Zealand, it is even more critical for these students. Education can change the trajectory of these students’ lives. The evidence shows that students in care who achieve NCEA Level 2 are much more likely to have greater levels of participation in employment, education, or training and lower levels of long-term benefit dependency.[4]

Effective teaching for these students reduces barriers to learning and enables them to develop literacy and numeracy, as well as wider educational and social skills for a more positive future. 

What are the current arrangements for education for these students? 

These students learn in residences, not in schools. They live onsite with their peers and residence staff. Each residence has living quarters, recreational spaces, health facilities, classrooms and other learning spaces. Some have gymnasiums, swimming pools and technology workshop facilities. Students remain on these sites at all times except when attending courses supplied offsite by external providers, supervised excursions as part of the curriculum and court appearances. 

Oranga Tamariki residential care staff have responsibility for students while they are in care. They work in shifts alongside students as fulltime carers and accompany them as they engage in educational activities throughout the day. Health teams, case workers, visiting specialists, care staff and teachers arrange for various support. Students can contact and be visited by their whānau and significant adults at the residence.

The providers are required to deliver an education service for students for five hours each day during school terms. They are also expected to provide an educational holiday programme.

The education providers are assigned by the Ministry of Education. These providers are selected through a Request for Proposal process, an Outcome Agreement or a Funding Agreement. There are currently three different providers: Central Regional Health School (CRHS) and Kingslea School (specialist schools governed by boards of trustees), and Barnardos (a non-government organisation private provider). 

What is the system that supports education for these students?

Education provision in Oranga Tamariki residences sits at the centre of the care system, Youth Justice system, the education system and the health system. This means that the factors influencing the quality of education are multiple and complex. 

For these students:

  • entry into care is decided by courts under the Oranga Tamariki Act
  • placement in residences is decided by Oranga Tamariki, empowered through the Oranga Tamariki Act
  • the funding and requirements for education provision in residences is set by Ministry of Education through outcomes agreements
  • the care requirements of residences are set out by Oranga Tamariki through the Residential Care Regulations and the National Care Standard Regulations.
Recent changes

In response to reviews of Child Youth and Family and Oranga Tamariki, the ways that these students are supported has changed:

  • The Children, Young Persons, and Their Families (Oranga Tamariki) Legislation Act 2017 (Article 7aa) has been amended to strengthen a practical commitment to the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi
  • The age of young people for Youth Justice purposes has been increased, meaning students can be in Youth Justice facilities up to the age of 18 years
  • There are more community-based placements, including care and remand homes
  • The National Care Standard Regulations have been introduced. They include education expectations on those providing education services to students in care. For example, minimal requirements for educational provision for children and young people in care and expectations for staff to support children’s and young people’s cultural and identity needs. 
Future direction

Oranga Tamariki is changing its model of residential care – its long-term goal is to provide community-based, home-like care.  The use of the large residential environments will be reduced and there will be more ‘community-based’ homes with fewer students, enabling students to live closer to their communities. This change will have an impact on the model of education.

Conclusion

Each year there are 700-800 children in residential care – they are some of our most vulnerable children. Students are placed in residential care when they are at risk of harm from others, or to themselves, or to others within the community. These students learn in residences, not in schools. They want to learn – and quality education provision in residences has the potential to change their trajectories and re-engage them with learning.

Part 2: What sort of education provision drives good outcomes for these students?

Our evaluation is informed by the best evidence about what leads to education success for students in residential care. We carried out an extensive review of New Zealand-led and international literature on what effective practice looks like for students in care settings and with complex needs. This section sets out how this evidence base informed our evaluation.

What we did

We looked at research into education for students in care settings and with complex needs, and identified consistent themes both in New Zealand and overseas. We then worked with an Expert Reference Group of academics and practitioners, officials from Oranga Tamariki and the Ministry of Education, and the three providers of residential care to identify the six key components of good education provision.

Components of effective practice
  1. Collaboration for effective transitions and pathways, separated into:
    • transitions in
    • transitions out
  2. Support for student needs 
  3. Appropriate pedagogy and meaningful curriculum
  4. Positive, nurturing relationships and environments, separated into:
    • physical environment
    • emotional environment
  5. Educationally focused engagement of whānau and caregivers
  6. Effective leadership and ongoing improvement, separated into:
    • leadership
    • ongoing improvement

For each component we used the literature evidence-base to define what good looks like and a four-point scale for judging provision. Indicators around culturally responsive factors, like working with whānau, hapū and iwi and prioritising Te Tiriti o Waitangi, were embedded throughout the components (see Box: Culturally responsive practice for Māori students).

We also defined what needs to be in place at a structural and organisational level to enable the good practice in the residential classrooms. We called these “enablers” or “supports” for good practice and used the evidence-base to identify eight key enablers, set out in the table over the page.

Enablers of effective provision
  1. Workforce capacity and capability, separated into:
    • workforce commitment
    • teacher collaboration and development
  2. Inter-agency working
  3. Student pathways and transitions
  4. Collaboration with Māori
  5. Models of provision
  6. Evaluation for improvement
  7. Student agency
  8. Whānau agency

For each enabler we identified themes and looked at how those themes aligned with the evidence base.

See Appendix Three: Literature Review for more detail.

What are the components of effective practice?

1. Collaboration for effective transitions and pathways 

The evidence is clear that transitioning into a new school context can be a stressful, destabilising experience for any student.[5],[6] For students transitioning into residential care, this transition is particularly complex and challenging: they are not just moving school settings, but home settings as well. Often transitions can happen with little notice, and they may not know how long they will be staying in the residence.

Good transitions are those that are as smooth as possible and give students in these settings the confidence they need to engage in learning. Evidence around students in care shows that a sense of belonging, tailored planning involving all aspects of the learning and development needs of the children or young person, and trusting relationships are key to their successful transitions into care and engagement in their learning.[7],[8],[9]

Identified good practices that support students’ transitions into learning in residence include:

  • having clear guidelines or protocols in place
  • timely information-sharing and using information from previous settings to inform the learning programme
  • carrying out assessments to identify and respond to what individual students need
  • building rapport and relationships to support students’ sense of trust and belonging
  • welcoming students and their whānau in culturally responsive ways, such as mihi whakatau.

Research also shows that when leaving residences, transitions can be hugely challenging for students[10]. Students who have been in care may have limited social skills and independence, unhealthy social relationships, mental health needs, and low confidence. They require ongoing support for moving on to further learning or work.

Identified good practices for supporting students’ transitions out of residence include:

  • planning that starts shortly after students’ admission into residence[11]  
  • clear and comprehensive information about future options
  • actively involving students and their whānau in planning processes
  • strong communication and collaboration between the residence and other relevant groups, like the students’ future schools; vocational or training organisations; social service agencies; community and specialist services; and whānau
  • encouraging ongoing support from whānau for students as they enter the workforce [12]
  • ongoing monitoring of students after they leave residence. 
2. Support for student needs

Many of the students in residential care arrangements are likely to have acute wellbeing and learning needs, which require specialist support. Their previous experiences are likely to impact their ability to learn in educational settings and their connections to future education or vocational pathways[13]. It’s important for these students to have access to the support they need. 

Given the number of agencies and individuals involved in these students’ lives, the coordination of this support is important. These students sit at the centre of the care system, the Youth Justice system, the education system and the health system - so meeting their needs requires their teachers, care workers and social workers to work together effectively. Residential care and education settings overseas have found success when they employ a ‘joined-up wrap around’ support approach,[14] such as in the Missouri Model[15], to respond well to the complex range of challenges faced by these students. A well-rounded approach to supporting Māori students’ success is essential.[16], [17]

3. Appropriate pedagogy and meaningful curriculum

It is important to provide a meaningful, responsive curriculum which engages and progresses students right from the start of a student’s time in residential care. Quality practices recognise that many of these students have experienced trauma, have a range of complex needs and often haven’t been well supported or successful in their previous education settings. This requires a deliberate approach to teaching that actively promotes students’ wellbeing.

There are two particularly important components of appropriate teaching in this context: trauma-informed pedagogy and culturally responsive approaches. The challenging contexts of many of these students mean that specialised practice in responding to trauma is crucial to teaching well in this space[18], [19], [20], [21], [22]. It is also important to implement approaches which support students with neuro-diversity disorders and learning difficulties.  

Another aspect contributing to student success is the promotion of their agency in the learning process. This is the sense that students feel they can control the things around them, the things that they do and happen to them, and that they are active participants in their learning. It should include developing skills and strategies, which supports decision making skills, growing autonomy, and self-determination. These factors are particularly important where students are in a highly regimented and controlled environment such as in a residence.

New Zealand research highlights that these specialised practices should be woven with appropriate culturally responsive approaches to teaching and learning. A high proportion of students in these settings are Māori. In New Zealand there is an established literature base about the importance of culturally responsive practice which is mana-enhancing and addresses the holistic needs of Māori students.[23], [24], [25], [26]

4. Positive, nurturing relationships and environments

The literature strongly emphasises the importance of a positive, nurturing environment in the residential education setting, where both the physical environment and the relationships within it are conducive to learning success,[27], [28] and promote a sense of belonging and of cultural identity or mauriora.[29], [30]

The importance of incorporating dedicated spaces and resources to respond to the specific needs of these students is critical. This includes, for example, spaces for self-regulation, opportunities to collaborate, and reflection of cultures, languages and identities. Particularly, because students live onsite, providing a sense of home and belonging is emphasised in the literature as an essential part of a successful environment for learning in care.[31]

Education success occurs for these students when it is founded on high quality teaching practices, the students feel respected, and feel that their teachers care about getting things right for them. This includes talking to them in a way they can understand, as well as listening and following through on what they say. Having contact with whānau, friends, and someone trusted to talk to is important. Most importantly, these students want to feel safe, respected, and loved.

5. Educationally focused engagement of whānau and caregivers

Strong, learning-focused partnerships are well known to be key to effective educational outcomes for students, in any setting. Evidence shows a clear correlation between parent/whānau engagement and accelerated learning progress.[32] For Māori children, this is particularly important.[33] This includes opportunities for whānau to share their aspirations for learning, share solutions and to be informed of their child’s learning progress and successes. Within the well-regarded ‘Missouri Model’ of residential care in the United States, for example, family involvement is strongly encouraged and purposefully facilitated by staff.[14]

In residential care settings, whānau support for learning has the potential to make a big difference to the educational success of these students - but can be challenging as the students are living away from home, may be estranged from their families, and have fewer opportunities to maintain connections to significant adults in their lives.

Examples of good family and whānau agency support include:

  • reinforcing aspirations and achievements of students and families
  • ensuring practices acknowledge and respond to broader family experiences and circumstances [34]
  • staying in contact with families so that families stay connected with the student and the student’s success.  Staying in contact with families allows families’ views to inform the students’ teaching and learning and allows teachers to work with the family to identify and respond to learning barriers [6]
  • encouraging ongoing support from whānau for students as they transition from the residence and potentially enter other education settings or the workforce.
6. Effective leadership and ongoing improvement

Leadership has a high level of influence over processes, practices and effectiveness.[35], [36] In the complex environment of residential care, ‘strong and consistent leadership’ is essential. It is pivotal that leaders understand the key components of education provision and respond to the specific needs of their learners. Qualified and committed leadership can improve outcomes for these young people.[10]

In residential care, leaders also play an important role in liaising across numerous groups and agencies.[37], [38]  In New Zealand settings, leadership should take on the role of ‘cultural advocate’[39], [40] taking account of the principle of Rangatiratanga.[41],10

Defining culturally responsive practice for Māori students

We were informed by the evidence-base on culturally responsive practice for Māori students. Supporting Māori students involves working closely with mana whenua and whānau, hapū and iwi to ensure that students are engaged and achieving. We developed specific indicators of culturally responsive practice that we used in this evaluation:

  • cultural protocols and te ao Māori are always incorporated into transitions 
  • student and whānau aspirations and valued cultural outcomes are consistently sought, respected and appropriately responded to
  • teachers have a strong understanding of the significance of identity, belonging and connection and this is embedded in practice
  • there is consistent focus on places, stories and people of cultural significance to students
  • teachers always seek out knowledge of identities, language and culture, and use this to plan learning programmes for students
  • teachers have shared, deep understandings of key Māori values, practices and beliefs
  • teachers consistently find opportunities to support Māori students’ connection to their culture, language and identity through their learning
  • learning spaces ensure that the cultures of students and tikanga Māori practices are effectively reflected and supported
  • staff have deep knowledge about significant adults in the lives of students
  • teachers have received well sustained, strategic and effective support to develop cultural competency
  • leaders and staff have a good understanding of their obligations in relation to Te Tiriti principles and consistently enact these in their context
  • effective and meaningful working relationships with mana whenua as kaitiaki are well established and productive
  • tikanga and kawa consistently reflect the mana and dignity of Māori students and is consistently applied as guided by mana whenua
  • knowledge of local sites of significance, key experiences, needs, expectations and aspirations are continually sought and highly valued.

The Te Arawhiti engagement guidelines were used as a framework for assessing the type of engagement carried out between sites and mana whenua.

What enables good education for these students?

Using the literature and our expert advisory group, we identified eight key aspects which enable effective education and support good practice.

1. Workforce capacity and capability

Specialised expertise is required in understanding and responding to the particular educational barriers that these students often face, in order to bring out their potential. These students often have acute wellbeing and learning needs, and fostering their educational success requires a high level of specialist pedagogical capacity and capability. The following aspects have been identified as important:

  • commitment to children [42]
  • cultural competency [43]
  • trauma-informed practice [44]
  • knowledge of identifying and working better with those with neuro-disabilities and their families[45]
  • knowledge of students' need for trauma-informed educational approaches [43]
  • ability to work effectively as part of a multi-disciplinary team often involving multiple agencies
  • stable workforce [13]
  • capacity to work across a broad range of curriculum areas and learning levels
  • the ability to support skill development and learning across a multiplicity of needs (for example, around the core competencies, along with social, psychological, cultural, and curricula domains)
  • good knowledge about the use of assessment tools and their application to teaching for these learners
  • capacity to differentiate their teaching to the individual needs of their learners
  • educators with high expectations for student success so that their practice supports students to realise their potential.

To respond well to the complexities of educating students in care, it is crucial for teachers to have access to the professional support and learning they need.

2. Inter-agency working

The literature consistently identifies that agencies working together effectively, from multiple disciplines, is key to promoting educational effectiveness for students with high or complex needs.[46], [47], [48] For these students, educational success is affected by how different agencies work together.

3. Student pathways and transitions

The importance of successful management of learning pathways and transitions through care is consistently reflected in the literature. [33] High levels of transience and numerous transitions between settings results in gaps in learning, and this can be exacerbated by poor tracking and sharing of relevant information. In New Zealand, good transitions include acknowledging the connection between the student and their whānau.[49]

4. Collaboration with Māori

Māori students make up 80 percent of the total number of students in residential care. Working closely with mana whenua and iwi Māori is vital to ensuring education in residential care is culturally appropriate and meets the needs of Māori students.[50], [33], [10], [51]

Overseas it has been established that community consultation and participation of elders is key to ensuring that services address the needs of the community.[30] Well-established relationships and partnerships with whānau, hapū and iwi are necessary to enable good, culturally responsive practice to be embedded in residences.

5. Models of provision

The provision of well-coordinated, wrap-around support and individualised therapy and learning opportunities (such as high quality one to one and small group tuition) has been shown to be a successful approach for supporting positive outcomes for students in care. Evidence shows that provision like the Missouri Model in the United States [15] and Scotland’s Kibble Institute[52] promotes improved outcomes for students through features such as:

  • a continuum of residences, ranging from secure care to community-based group homes and supervision
  • tailored curriculum
  • an emphasis on wellbeing
  • vocational and academic qualification programmes
  • peer mentoring
  • teaching that includes a focus on overcoming learning barriers
  • onsite transition support services
  • supported employment programmes.

Evaluation into the effectiveness of these models has been positive and promising, showing a range of benefits to students including reduced recidivism, decreased learning barriers, and higher rates of academic achievement.

6. Evaluation for improvement

Monitoring outcomes and evaluating to identify opportunities for improvement are important to ensure high quality education. It enables students, whānau, agencies, and providers to reflect on what is working, what is not, and draw on the most up to date evidence to identify how education could be strengthened.

This continuous improvement is reflected in significant shifts to standards and regulations internationally and in New Zealand, and a growing body of research, including longitudinal studies, into the experiences and outcomes of students in care and vulnerable children.[53],[54] Robust evaluation by the providers and teachers is key to ensuring provision in residences is fit for purpose, and that these practices and processes are benefitting these vulnerable students. [13]

7. Student agency

Throughout the literature, it is emphasised that supporting the empowerment and agency of students in care settings has a positive impact on their learning success.

Examples of good student agency support include:

  • ensuring students have ways to have their voice heard and raise concerns [41]
  • reinforcing aspirations of students and families
  • involving students’ voices at policy, service design, and planning stages
  • culturally appropriate approaches that support student agency and self-determination.
8. Whānau agency

Whānau or other caregiver involvement in students’ education is also important. This involvement needs to go further than engagement in the students’ learning. It requires providers, and the agencies that support them, to develop and maintain partnership with whānau and enable them to contribute shaping education provision.

Conclusion

Our evaluation is informed by the best evidence about what leads to education success for students in residential care. Knowing about what works for these students, in New Zealand and overseas, was our first step in designing an evaluation around how good education is for students in care. Looking at research and working with our External Reference Group meant that we could be clear about the components of effective practice and what needs to be in place to enable those practices. This information was used to design our evaluation framework and indicators (see Appendix 2).

Part 3: What are the education outcomes for these students?

 

Students in residential care are positive about their learning experiences. They pass close to 100 percent of the credits they sit. However, the courses they are studying have more limited pathways, and Māori students were less likely to feel positively about their experiences than non-Māori.

This section describes students’ learning in residential care and what they said about their experiences.

How we gathered information

To understand students’ expectations, we asked them about the best and worst things about their learning in care. In both an online survey and a set of 14 semi-structured individual interviews at all sites, we asked a range of closed and open-ended questions about:

  • their learning progress, achievement and wellbeing
  • their relationships with teachers
  • having a say in what and how they learn.

More details about the survey and interviews are set out in Appendix 2.

We also looked at NZQA results data for all students enrolled in a residence in 2020, looking at their results for the three years from 2017 to 2020. Students sitting NCEA credits are usually in Year 10 or higher, which means some of the students were too young to be included in this data. Also, if their stay is less than 70 days then NZQA may not associate the credits with the residence.

What we found: Student learning

Students were positive about their learning

Learning successes were regularly identified as a positive part of the student’s’ education in residential care (Figure 2). In the survey, students responded positively to questions about their learning outcomes:

  • 92 percent agreed that their teachers help them to learn
  • 90 percent of students agreed that they are learning things that will help them when they leave the residence
  • 86 percent agreed that their learning had got better at the residence.

FIGURE 2: Student experience of learning: Survey responses

Figure 2 shows strip graphs of the students’ experiences of learning from the survey responses.

Figure 2 shows strip graphs of the students’ experiences of learning from the survey responses.

Each question shows the range of responses from ‘Yes a lot, Yes a little, No not much, No, not at all, Don’t know’. They are ordered by questions with the highest levels of positive responses, to the least, in the following order:

 

My teachers help me to learn here:

- 68% responded Yes a lot, 24% with Yes a little, 1% No not much, 6% No not at all, 1% don’t know

 

I am learning things that will help me when I leave here

- 62% responded Yes a lot, 28% with Yes a little, 4% No not much, 4% No not at all, 1% don’t know

 

I get on well with teachers here

- 56% responded Yes a lot, 33% with Yes a little, 1% No not much, 6% No not at all, 4% don’t know

 

My learning has got better here

- 57% responded Yes a lot, 29% with Yes a little, 4% No not much, 6% No not at all, 4% don’t know

 

Teachers respect my culture here

- 69% responded Yes a lot, 15% with Yes a little, 4% No not much, 3% No not at all, 9% don’t know

 

My teachers care about me

- 56% responded Yes a lot, 26% with Yes a little, 1% No not much, 6% No not at all, 11% don’t know

 

I enjoy learning here

- 45% responded Yes a lot, 37% with Yes a little, 7% No not much, 11% No not at all, 0% don’t know

 

I have made friends here

- 40% responded Yes a lot, 39% with Yes a little, 13% No not much, 4% No not at all, 4% don’t know

 

I get to make choices about learning

- 45% responded Yes a lot, 33% with Yes a little, 12% No not much, 6% No not at all, 4% don’t know

 

My whānau and/or caregivers know a lot about my learning here

- 42% responded Yes a lot, 25% with Yes a little, 10% No not much, 13% No not at all, 11% don’t know

Students regularly identified their learning outcomes as ‘the best thing about learning here’. This included the progress they had made in their learning, increased achievement (specifically NZQA credits), belief in their abilities, and knowledge about practical activities such as first aid, cooking and growing food.

‘Showed me there are lots of things I'm in interested in such as music. It confirmed that I'm good at reading, writing and mathematics’

I like we can…make plans about what we want to do…there are options for our learning.’

‘I feel like I am getting somewhere.’
‘[I’m] proudest of my maths learning – I have learnt different skills and equations and problem-solving. I enjoy the challenge.’

- Students

Teachers see a positive change in the students:

‘I see the disengaged become engaged, students start actively contributing and begin to develop a confidence in our learning space, they start to reflect, set goals and achieve them, they are completing tasks set and feeling good about it, they will talk about their learning, they will try.’

-Teacher

However, not all students were positive about their learning.

  • 18 percent disagreed that they ‘enjoy learning here’
  • 17 percent disagreed that they ‘get to make choices about their learning’
  • 10 percent disagreed that their learning ‘has got better here’
  • 9 percent disagreed that they are ‘learning things that will help me when I leave here’
  • 7 percent disagreed that their teachers ‘help me to learn here.’

My teacher gets frustrated when I don’t know the answers to questions … I don’t know – how am I supposed to know the answer if I haven’t been taught it?

- Student

The pass rates of NZQA credits attempted is high when in residence

Students’ engagement is also reflected in the high achievement rates for students who take part in NZQA assessments. When students in residences attempt credits, they pass them more often than they do when they attempt them in regular schooling.

TABLE 1: Credits passed by students by setting 

Age

Enrolled in residence

Enrolled in school/tertiary provider

15

632

314

16

1510

885

17

1635

1625

18

855

821

Total

4632

364

Age

Enrolled in residence

Enrolled in school/tertiary provider

15

100.0%

77.1%

16

98.3%

51.6%

17

99.8%

59.2%

18

99.7%

68.9%

Average

99.5%

64.2%

 ‘[This residence] got me back to year levels where I need to be.’

-Student

‘A lot of certificates and a lot of achievement. [I’m] very proud of them … Before I came here, I didn’t know what credits were.’

- Student

 

The credits students achieve in residential care tend to have more limited pathways

Schools offer two types of assessment standards. Achievement standards come from the New Zealand Curriculum, in subjects such as history, chemistry, maths, or English. Unit standards come from other qualifications such as hospitality, technology, or business administration. In general, low level unit standards offer more limited pathways post qualification than achievement standards.

National Student Number data for these students when they are in and out of residence shows a clear difference in credits attempted:

  • In non-residential schools, 61 percent of all credits attempted by these students were for achievement standards.
  • Only 8 percent of credits attempted whilst in residence were for achievement standards.

Based on interviews with the key stakeholders, a possible explanation for this finding is that residences may focus on foundational vocational education to re-engage students. However, some students in residence may be capable of studying achievement standards or higher-level vocational standards, both of which can lead to more pathways.

‘I feel like I’m not being challenged work-wise. The teachers gave me grade two level work and I’m 14.’

- Student

Students can’t always finish their qualifications when they return to school

Provider staff talked about how qualifications and vocational training courses begun by students were not available to be continued on transition in or out of residence.

‘We work so hard to support these young people and help them through education at a particular time in their lives and it feels very disheartening to know that there is a minimum chance of success once they leave the heavily supported and nurturing setting I work in.’

-Teacher

Raising the age of Youth Justice – Older students’ views

As of July 2019, the age for Youth Justice was raised so that students in Youth Justice facilities can be up to 18 years old. There was evidence from our interviews and document analysis that two of the providers were adapting their curriculum to offer increased options for vocational learning, in collaboration with external partners.

Older students were more positive

All students over the age of 16 were in Youth Justice residences. Students over the age of 16 were more positive about their learning experiences for all of the 10 questions we asked. Figure 3 shows the three areas of greatest difference between students under 16, and those aged over 16.

We heard that the older students could see the purpose of their learning in residence. Themes we identified from the interviews was that students liked practical learning, e.g. agriculture, food technology, bone carving, gym class, first aid, maths and sciences. 

FIGURE 3: Percentage of students over and under 16 who agree with statements

Figure 3 shows the percentage students over and under 16 who agree with three statements in the student survey.

Figure 3 shows the percentage students over and under 16 who agree with three statements in the student survey. 66% of students under 16 agreed with the statement ‘I have made friends here’ compared to 88% of students 16 years and over. 76% of students under 16 agreed with ‘My teachers care about me’ compared with students 16 years and over. 78% of students under 16 agreed with the statement ‘Teachers respect my culture here’ compared to students 16 years and older.

What we found: Student wellbeing

Students who talked about their wellbeing were mainly positive

Our evaluation found positive outcomes for students’ wellbeing.[55] Figure 4 illustrates the positive responses to survey questions that related to wellbeing.

FIGURE 4: Percentage of students who are agree with wellbeing statements

Figure 4 shows the percentage of students who agree with three wellbeing statements.

Figure 4 shows the percentage of students who agree with three wellbeing statements. 79% of students agreed with ‘I have made friends here’, 82% agreed with ‘My teachers care about me’ and 89% agreed with ‘I get on well with my teachers here’.

 

In interviews and in open-ended survey questions, most students regularly talked about the learning environment being a positive and caring one, especially their relationships with staff.

‘I feel like we have responsibilities, that we have value.’

- Student

‘When I walk into the classroom I feel supported, same for the residence.’
-    Student

‘It’s like being at home, and I can call my Nan and Mama when I want to.’
-    Student

‘I trust my teacher and she trusts me.’
-     Student

When asked about connection to their culture, students responded positively. Eighty-four percent of survey respondents agreed that teachers respect their culture in residence. For example, students indicated that residences provide opportunities for students to learn about and engage with their culture. Students talked about going on visits to their own marae, taking part in a cultural week, feeling proud about being Māori in the residence, having a sense of belonging, and learning a lot more about their culture.

A few students who talked about their wellbeing found the environment difficult

A minority of students talked about how the residential care environment can be difficult for them, specifically through the additional restrictions placed on students and the makeup of classmates who can themselves be disruptive.

Being mixed up with the other students was better. Being in a unit with the same girls and teacher in your ear all the time is annoying.’

- Student

 

What we found: What was different for Māori students

Māori students are less positive about their learning compared with non-Māori students

The graph below shows the four areas of greatest difference.

FIGURE 5: Survey statements with largest differences between Māori and non-Māori students’ responses

Figure 5 shows the largest differences between Maori and non-Maori students’ responses for 4 statements in the student survey.

Figure 5 shows the largest differences between Maori and non-Maori students’ responses for 4 statements in the student survey. 62% of Maori agreed with ‘My whānau and/or caregivers know about my learning here’, compared to 79% non-Maori. 79% of Maori agreed with ‘I enjoy learning here’, compared to 89% non-Maori. 79% of Maori agreed with ‘My teachers care about me’, compared to 90% non-Maori. 89% of Maori agreed with ‘My teachers help me to learn here’, compared to 100% non-Maori.

The picture of Māori students’ achievement is similar to non-Māori:

  • There was no difference between Māori and non-Māori students’ achievement rates in residences for the credits attempted. 
  • Maori students were twice as likely to sit achievement standard credits than non-Maori students (10 percent of credits attempted by Māori were for achievement standards, compared with 5 percent for non-Māori)
  • Māori students attempt an average of six fewer credits than non-Māori students (25 compared with 31).

In student interviews, some Māori students spoke about how cultural connections had been strengthened and how they valued opportunities to learn about their culture and language.

‘Being Māori here – [I] feel proud. Got to learn more about my culture. [I] knew a little bit before but now [I] know 100x more about my culture.’
-    Student

‘[I] liked my NZQA, definitely enjoying all Māori work with [teacher].’
-    Student

‘We learn about our whakapapa – learn about that with [two of my teachers].  I knew it from my mum – I am [iwi] and [iwi]. Sometimes I get asked to lead the karakia kai and mihi whakatau – and to teach the teachers.’
-    Student

Conclusion

Students in residential care are positive about their learning. Their pass rate of NZQA credits attempted is close to 100%. However, the credits students achieved in residence have more limited pathways, and some students may be able to study more. Students who talked about their wellbeing were mainly positive.

Part 4: How good is education provision for these students?

While students are positive about their experiences, they are not consistently receiving a high-quality education. Across the eight sites we saw considerable variability. Whilst there was good practice, there were also pockets of poor practice. This section summarises what is working well across the eight sites, what isn’t working so well and where is there is variation across the sites.

We used the ‘Components of effective practice,’ detailed in Part 2, to judge education provision. For each component we used the literature to help define what good practice looks like and to develop indicators and rubrics. ERO deployed an expert team, including reviewers with expertise in kura kaupapa Māori, to each site to assess how good the education was for students. This was supported by student surveys, interviews, teacher surveys, observations and document analysis.

Components of effective practice
  1. Collaboration for effective transitions and pathways, separated into:
    • transitions in
    • transitions out
  2. Support for student needs 
  3. Appropriate pedagogy and meaningful curriculum
  4. Positive, nurturing relationships and environments, separated into:
    • physical environment
    • emotional environment
  5. Educationally focused engagement of whānau and caregivers
  6. Effective leadership and ongoing improvement, separated into:
    • leadership
    • ongoing improvement

We evaluated performance at each site on a four-point scale: Action Required, Developing, Developed and Well Established. These judgements were moderated. Appendix 2 sets out the full list of indicators and rubrics.

Below sets out what is working well, what isn’t and where there is variable practice.

 

What we found: an overview

There was variable quality of education across sites.

The following table shows the quality of educational delivery against the components across all sites. For more detail about individual provider results see the 2021 reports published on the ERO website: Publications | Education Review Office (ero.govt.nz).

FIGURE 6: Results for each component & quality of educational provision across sites

 

Site

Components of effective practice

Transitions in

Transitions out

Support for student needs

Pedagogy and curriculum

Physical environment

Emotional environment

Whānau / caregiver engagement

Leadership

Ongoing Improvement

1

3

3

3

1

1

3

3

1

1

2

4

4

4

4

4

4

4

3

3

3

4

4

4

4

4

4

4

4

3

4

3

2

4

3

3

4

3

4

2

5

3

2

3

3

3

4

2

3

2

6

3

2

4

4

3

4

3

4

2

7

3

4

3

3

3

4

3

3

3

8

3

2

2

2

2

2

2

2

2

Mean score

3.3

2.9

3.4

3.0

2.9

3.6

3.0

3.0

2.3

Key

1 - Action Required

2 – Developing

3 - Developed

4 - Well established

Component judgements across all sites shared:

  • 35 percent of the judgements were assessed as ‘Well Established’.
  • 39 percent of the judgements were assessed as ‘Developed’
  • 21 percent of the judgements were assessed as ‘Developing’
  • 5 percent of the judgements were assessed as ‘Action Required’.

There were some significant differences and variability in practices (Figure 7). Unfortunately, the quality of education students received remains too dependent on which residence they are placed in. Across the eight sites ERO found:

  • two sites were assessed as mainly developing/action required
  • four sites assessed as mainly developed/developing
  • two sites were assessed as mainly well established/developed.

FIGURE 7. Overall assessments of sites

Figure 7 shows the overall assessments of sites.

Figure 7 shows the overall assessments of sites. Two sites were Mainly well established/developed; Four sites were Mainly Developed/Developing; Two sites were Mainly Developing/Action Required

ERO is recommending action to be taken to address the identified areas for improvement at the two lowest performing sites.

 

What we found: Culturally responsive teaching practice for Māori

Evaluating the effectiveness of education provision for Māori students was woven throughout all our evaluation activities. It was embedded throughout the components of effective practice that guided our fieldwork.

We made judgements around culturally responsive practice for Māori students based on sub indicators within our judgement rubrics. Fourteen of our sub-indicators are focused on specific elements of practice that research tells us are key to responding effectively to the culture, language and identity of Māori students and promoting their educational success (see box on page 16). These indicators were also informed by our Expert Reference Group and Māori members of our fieldwork team.

We found that culturally responsive practice was variable between settings and providers (Figure 8). There was a focus on improving this area of practice across all providers and sites but the rubric judgments indicated that overall, this area was not well developed (mean overall score was 2.6 as of a scale 1-4).

FIGURE 8: Rubric judgements for culturally responsive practices, by site

Site

Culturally responsive transitions

Whānau aspirations

Culturally responsive practice based on identity, belonging and connection

Localised curriculum

Culturally responsive planning

Māori values and practices understood

Supporting Māori students’ connection to their culture, language and identity

Culturally responsive learning spaces

Teacher knowledge of students’ whānau

Cultural competency PLD

Leaders' understanding of Te Tiriti o Waitangi

Relationships with mana whenua

Tikanga and kawa

Local knowledge sought and valued

1

2

3

1

2

1

2

2

2

3

2

2

2

2

2

2

3

4

3

2

2

3

3

4

3

3

3

2

2

2

3

4

4

3

3

3

3

3

4

4

4

3

3

3

3

4

2

2

3

2

3

2

3

2

2

3

2

4

3

3

5

2

2

3

2

2

2

2

2

2

3

2

1

2

2

6

2

2

4

3

4

4

2

3

3

4

3

2

3

4

7

4

3

2

2

2

4

3

2

3

2

2

1

2

1

8

1

3

4

3

3

3

3

2

2

2

3

1

2

2

Mean

score

2.5

2.9

2.9

2.4

2.5

2.9

2.6

2.6

2.8

2.9

2.5

2

2.4

2.4

"I feel I have enough opportunities to learn about my culture. I would like to be able to understand more te reo Māori."

- Student

"We don’t learn Māori here."

- Student

In our interviews with residential and teaching staff we heard about the commitment to improving their cultural competence and practice. Teachers knew that this was a key area for future learning, and they showed a positive attitude to improvement. Practices not yet well embedded include:

  • ensuring culturally responsive teaching practice contributes to Māori enjoying and achieving education success as Māori
  • opportunities to include te ao Māori concepts and knowledge
  • maintaining partnerships with mana whenua to inform and guide curriculum, policy and practice  
  • induction and assessment processes that acknowledge and respond to the culture and identity of Māori students
  • building the cultural competence, capability and confidence of staff, to promote consistent high-quality practice.

Almost all (96%) teachers agreed or strongly agreed with the statements: ‘I teach in ways that enhance Māori ākonga/students’ identity, mana and sense of belonging’ and ‘I consistently integrate te ao Māori into my work with tamariki and rangatahi’.  However, there were considerably fewer teachers who strongly agreed with the second statement.

All providers had appointed cultural leaders who worked with a range of staff and provided guidance for leaders. They, along with other residence staff, were working to liaise with the Māori community. Each education provider agreed that this should be a strategic priority going forward.

Good practice: Collaboration with Māori

One example from a provider was the commitment demonstrated by their trustees and leadership to strengthen their response to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. This was evident in

  • their recruitment of Māori staff to provide leadership and support
  • strategic priorities which focus on cultural responsivity, and raising Māori achievement, including building teacher capability and the integration of te reo me ngā tikanga Māori
  • their efforts to build meaningful relationships with mana whenua and to engage with iwi when embarking on new initiatives
  • targeted professional development and sustained cultural supervision and mentoring for the principal 
  • ongoing development of a comprehensive curriculum framework that focuses on strengthening Kaupapa Māori approaches to curriculum provision.

Within this provider there was variation between sites. The strongest sites:

  • incorporated tikanga Māori into staff and classroom practices
  • demonstrate a focus on including te ao Māori concepts, places of cultural significance and tikanga Māori into learning environments, teaching practice and documentation
  • worked with mana whenua and iwi to develop local kawa and inform curriculum.

What we found: The strongest components of practice

The most well-developed components of effective practice across the sites were:

  1. Transitions in
  2. Support for students’ needs
  3. Emotional environment to support learning.

We set out below for each component what our site judgements were, what students thought, what teachers thought and the good practices we observed. We include examples of good practice to support providers to develop their practice.

Transitions in

In all eight sites the practices for transitioning students into learning settings in the residence were ‘Developed’ or ‘Well Established’.

Half of the students interviewed talked positively about their transition into this aspect of residential care, describing it as a positive, welcoming experience.  

The induction rules were easy to understand. I felt welcome and felt safe.

-Student

[I] got put into class and given what I needed.

- Student

"I was introduced to all the kids. I had a mihi whakatau with teachers and students. Then I just joined in."

-Student

Most (87%) teachers agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, ‘I have enough information about ākonga/students to do my job well’. Despite this, leaders at each setting told us there were challenges with retrieving students’ previous educational information.

Good practice we saw included:

  • clear guidelines for the transition process
  • a focus on supporting students to feel valued, safe and welcomed
  • the inclusion of whānau, iwi and significant adults in mihi whakatau when welcoming students on site
  • introductions to staff ahead of students starting school
  • a timely and collaborative approach to assessing and identifying needs
  • increased use of specialised assessments for identifying specific needs, including complex mental health, health and education needs.
Good practice: Transitions in

At one Care and Protection site, whānau and students’ aspirations for learning were captured in planning documents. These were regularly explored and reviewed through multi-agency team meetings and case reviews, and families and students continued to be involved in planning for learning.
A good range of holistic assessment tools was used to identify students’ preferences for learning, interests, cultural connections, their prior learning and achievement levels. There were clear guidelines for entry and exit.

Support for student needs

In seven of the sites, coordinated support for students’ needs was ‘developed’ or ‘well established’.

In the student surveys, choice and personalised learning was identified by eight students as the best thing about learning in residential care. Students spoke positively about having individualised programmes.

We aren't given a specific way to learn as some people can’t cope with others work. So I think it’s amazing.’

- Student

"[My teacher] helps me out. She asks me what I want to do or need."
-Student

"My teachers know me well, and I can talk to them about things that are important to me."
-    Student
 

Formative assessment and monitoring of progress is key in providing appropriate support for learners. Almost all teachers (98%) agreed or strongly agreed with the statement ‘We have systems in place for monitoring each ākonga/students’ progress’. Nearly all teachers (92%) agreed or strongly agreed with the statement; ‘We use assessments that are specific enough to help us check how well our ākonga/students have learnt what has been taught’.

We heard from leaders and teachers about the ways they sought support for students: within their own supporting networks, talking to case workers and making direct contact with specialist agencies themselves. We heard examples of how staff had worked with commitment and overcome obstacles to make this support happen.

Practices we saw that are likely to support students well include:

  • regular multi-agency meetings to discuss students’ needs and progress in their goals
  • good communication processes for sharing information about individuals
  • regular opportunities for discussing learning progress with students in relation to meaningful goals
  • the use of individual learning journals with reciprocal communication between teaching staff and students
  • persistency of staff and leaders in pursuing appropriate assessments and support for students’ specific, identified needs.

"My learning is at the right level - teachers know what I am interested in."

- Student

Good practice: Support for student needs

At one Youth Justice residence, planning for individual students was clear, detailed and attentive to the all the needs of each student. Staff worked with with students and their whānau to set clear, achievable goals. Students learnt and in some cases their progress was accelerated.

In another Youth Justice residence, teachers drew strongly on the cultures, languages and identities of students to plan responsive teaching and learning programmes. Leaders and staff purposefully built good connections with local iwi, supporting teachers to localise their practices to be relevant, appropriate and meaningful for their students.

 

Emotional environment

Seven of the eight sites provided emotional environments that effectively support learning. This was the area of best performance across the providers. Six sites were assessed as demonstrating ‘Well Established’ practice in this area and one site was assessed as ‘Developed’.

In the student survey, when asked to identify the three best things about learning in the residences, ten of the 72 students identified the learning environment as the best thing about learning in residential care. Eight students identified the teacher relationships as the best thing. Comments made in this section referred to teachers being kind, supportive and understanding about the students’ lives, situations and experience. The students who spoke positively about the learning environment praised the high teacher-student ratio, the small size of the school and the kind and supportive environment.

Teachers are kind and helpful and the teachers make … school better and easier each day

- Student

"The teachers understand how people are feeling, helping us to understand things that we obviously have not been taught and help us with our confidence"

-Student

There’s not much people [here] so it helps with my anxiety

- Student

Almost all (98%) teachers surveyed agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, ‘I have positive relationships with the tamariki and rangatahi I work with.’

From our fieldwork observations and in interviews and discussions with teachers and leaders, we heard them consistently demonstrating empathy towards students and a desire to improve their outcomes. We heard examples of their vigilance in noticing if students are experiencing difficulties and working on strategies that support them to overcome these. They demonstrated high expectations for students’ success:

We are keen to see more students go to university – many of them are quite capable of that!

- Principal

Practices we saw that are likely to support students well include:

  • conversations which demonstrate a strengths-based approach to supporting learners
  • warm, caring interactions with students
  • teachers regularly talking to students about their expectations for their success, their positive progress and celebrating their achievements
  • making themselves available for students to approach them with concerns
  • awareness and minimising of stress triggers to offset students’ negative reactions. 
Good practice: Emotional environment

One Care and Protection site demonstrated effective practice in supporting a positive nurturing environment by:

  • communicating high expectations for students’ success
  • ignoring or calmly addressing challenging behaviour exhibited by students
  • providing spaces, sensory resources and opportunities to support student to self-soothe and self-regulate
  • encouraging students to self-calm and asking them, ‘How’s your engine?’ and provide indicators to reflect on and communicate about their emotional state.

Staff:

  • were able to describe trauma-informed practices for building trust with students.
  • took time to get to know student interests and preferences as a way of engaging them in learning.
  • regularly reflect together about what is working and what is not and support each other to try different strategies to foster students’ security, safety and belonging.

Additional education staff (teacher aides) are also well informed about trauma-informed practices and de-escalating behaviour. Weekly and daily routines are well communicated and staff are careful to introduce upcoming activities to avoid surprises and anxiety. Teachers use daily notes from Oranga Tamariki care staff well to monitor student wellbeing and safety.

What we found: The weakest components of practice

The three weakest components of effective practice were:
  1. Transitions out
  2. Educationally focused engagement of whānau and caregivers
  3. Ongoing improvement.

Again, we set out below for each component what our site judgements were, what students thought, what teachers thought and the good and poor practices we observed. We include examples of good practice to support providers to develop their practice.

Transitions out

Four of the eight sites were rated as ‘Developing’ for transitioning out of education residence.

While our evaluation captured the views of students before they transitioned out, we did not capture their perspectives after they had transitioned out of residence, nor their whānau view on the students’ education after residence. We also have limited understanding about where they transition to and what their outcomes are following their exit from residence.

Students were hopeful about their transition, while in residence. In the student survey, 90 percent of students (62 students) agreed with the statement, ‘I am learning things that will help me when I leave here’. Ten students indicated that the practical and life skills gained at the residence were the best thing about learning there and four talked about school activities that encouraged initial thinking about career choices.

In our interviews with leaders and teachers, they told us they were not always able to plan effectively for students’ transitions out of residence. They were unsure about how well their practices supported students on this transition. It is likely students experienced transition differently within and across sites.

Across all residential types, when asked an open-ended question on what would make their teaching more effective, just under a quarter of teachers recognised that more involvement in student transitions out of residence would help them be more effective. Examples given were, building relationships with social workers who support students beyond the residence, more or clearer planning regarding transitions, more collaboration in transitions, wider range of placement options for students.

We heard from leaders that there were only a few schools with whom they worked closely to transition students successfully. They told us there were difficulties with ensuring students could continue with courses that they had begun in residence after transition.

We did observe some elements of practice which are likely to support students well, including:

  • staff investigating or brokering access to suitable education or vocational pathways prior to students leaving
  • use of the organisational networks to support transitions
  • detailed planning documents and discussions with receiving schools which support individual students’ transitions
  • providers using their nearby remand home facility as a way of preparing students to transition out of residence
  • poroporoaki ceremonies which celebrate success and involving families and significant adults.

The school gets us thinking about what we want to do, gives us opportunities.

- Student

But we also saw practices which are less likely to support students well including:

  • a lack of information about educational or vocational training options available for students on transitioning out
  • lack of clear record of communication about what students’ learning needs and achievements are
  • minimal access to information about how successfully students’ learning is supported after transition
  • lack of information shared with transitioning education providers or whānau.

I want to do youth work, [but] can’t do credits for that

- Student

I am worried about leaving here.

- Student

All I know is that I have a meeting in November and that I will probably leave before Christmas.

- Student

Good practice: Transitions out

At one Youth Justice residence, planning for a successful transition back to the community is a comprehensive and collaborative process. Students are well supported to make plans, connect with mentors and be optimistic about the opportunities that come with their transition out of care. Hui records show that staff draw on multiple agencies and community networks to prepare students with the skills and understandings they need, as well as practical arrangements like ensuring positive living arrangements, opening bank accounts and getting a drivers’ licence.

 

Educationally focused engagement of whānau and caregivers

This component of good practice had the fewest with only two sites being judged as ‘Well Established’.

In the student survey, a third of students disagreed that their whānau knew about their learning. Māori students were more likely to disagree than non-Māori.   

I’m not sure if my teacher reported to my whānau

- Student

I think our family should receive a report of how we are achieving. Isn’t it every family’s main priority to see how their kid is doing?

- Student

In the teacher survey, 25 percent of teachers disagreed with the statement, I build connections with the significant adults in ākonga/students’ lives and use their knowledge to support their child's learning (e.g. to set and review goals). This was the most disagreed with statement by the teachers.

Through our interviews with leaders and teachers, we found that at most sites, opportunities to engage whānau were limited to multi-agency meetings at periods of transition. These sometimes had limited opportunities to focus upon educational aspects.

Relationships with whānau, particularly in Youth Justice residences, is largely through Oranga Tamariki. In interviews with teachers and education leaders, they described how they did not often discuss learning matters directly with whānau members. Leaders spoke to us about the frustrations caused by:

  • systems for sharing student information with families
  • liaising through social workers to share learning information with families
  • challenges in connecting with whānau when students are there for short stays, particularly in Youth Justice facilities.

Documentation at several sites showed that reports to families were not easy for them to access or read. It was not clear to us how regularly these were shared with families. In our interviews with teachers and leaders, and in our document analysis, this was identified as a priority for strengthening for the providers.

Social workers also commented on barriers to contacting whānau and to sharing educational information with them in meaningful ways. They talked about how they are sometimes provided with updates from the residential schools, but don’t always use them or discuss them with whānau.

Social workers told us that whānau engagement can also be limited by a family’s need for respite, particularly in the Youth Justice context. The respite enables them to focus on other pressing issues while the student is in residence. We also heard in interviews that an inhibiting factor may be prior negative experiences engaging with agencies, which makes the whānau feel disenfranchised.

Practices we saw which are likely to support students well included:

  • purposeful inclusion of whānau at events on site
  • opportunities for whanau to share aspirations and set learning goals
  • regular communication with whānau about students’ learning progress and successes.

Practices we saw which are less likely to support students well included:

  • no regular contact with families
  • little opportunity for discussing aspirations for their child’s learning
  • summary information about learning not easily accessible to whānau or relevant to goals for learning.
Good practice: Educationally focused engagement of whānau and caregivers

In one Care and Protection residence, staff purposefully build educationally focused relationships with whānau. They take a friendly and informal approach to their information-sharing, using email, phone calls and text messages to check in with families and share quick, timely updates.

Achievements, planning, news and awards are maximised as opportunities to stay in regular contact and foster a sense of collective pride and aroha. Whānau are encouraged to contribute their ideas about their child’s progress and potential and to see that they have a valued and important place in their education journey. Well-attended prize giving celebrations and mihi whakatau are key events for students, school staff and whānau alike.

Ongoing improvement

Five of the eight sites did not adequately evaluate their own practice and learn about what works for the students. ‘Ongoing improvement’, was judged to be the most consistently low performing element, with sites were ‘Developing’. No site demonstrated ‘Well Established’ practice, and one site had this as an area for action.

Almost all teachers (94%) agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, ‘I analyse the impact my teaching has on each ākonga/students’ learning’. However, our fieldwork identified that across the group, teacher inquiry processes and practices were in the very early stages of being used to look at the impact of their practices on students’ outcomes.

When reviewing documents and in interviews with leaders, we found systems for gathering and sharing student information were not compatible. This meant that although individual student information was gathered at the site level, there was a lack of collated data for analysis to inform their understanding of effectiveness. There were examples of review processes which led to improvements in aspects of provision in two of the providers. However, these processes were not sufficiently robust to provide a solid evidence base for evaluating how well things were working for different groups of students.

Practices we saw likely to support students well included:

  • regular review of new initiatives and programmes through discussion
  • gathering student voice to share with trustees for informing strategic direction
  • sharing successes within the organisation
  • some useful internal evaluation at an organisational level.

Practices we saw less likely to support students well included:

  • a lack of shared understanding of evaluation processes
  • a lack of systems and practices for gathering, collating and analysing student outcome data for individuals and groups of students
  • no established indicators of practice to evaluate against.
Good practice: Ongoing improvement

One of the providers had appointed a leader to provide research and evaluation support across the organisation. The research supported much of the professional learning with leaders and teachers as well as strategic planning for improvement. This has resulted in a comprehensive evaluation process which is likely to support improved staff understanding of internal evaluation.

Leaders and trustees are currently working to implement a newly developed Kaupapa Māori approach to evaluation, closely aligned to Te Tiriti o Waitangi principles.

What we found: The most variable components

There were three areas where there was a lot of variation across the sites:

  1. Physical environment
  2. Appropriate pedagogy and meaningful curriculum
  3. Leadership

We set out below what we know about this variation from site reviews and student and teachers’ perspectives and examples of good practice.

Physical environment

While the physical education environment in two sites were assessed as ‘Well Established’, one was assessed as ‘Action Required’ and another as ‘Developing’.

This variability of the environment was reflected in students’ views. Fifteen students from the student survey pointed to various features of the learning environment as the worst thing about learning here. This included:

  • not being able to choose where you sit
  • I feel like we could be trusted to search things on internet for our learning – with supervision. You can ask a teacher – but they make it a big deal.

We saw a range of physical environments. Some sites had recently undergone property developments resulting in improved learning options for students, particularly in technology and vocational learning. Some providers spoke of the limitations of the physical environment provided which inhibited opportunities to work independently or take time out of learning spaces to self-regulate.

The type of residence impacted on the quality of the physical environment for learning.  Youth Justice facilities have higher security requirements, and this had an impact on how teachers could use the physical space to engage students.

Practices we saw which are likely to support students well include:

  • use of physical spaces on site to provide additional opportunities for learning
  • provision of alternative spaces to support self-regulation and choice of learning space
  • use of headphones to minimise noise or play music to support students’ wellbeing
  • ready access to digital devices to support learning
  • staff areas used for learning opportunities
  • excursions to local sites (Care and Protection residences).

Practices we saw which are not likely to support students well included:

  • limited visibility of cultural symbols or te ao Māori
  • limited examples of student work displayed
  • a lack of space for students to practice self-regulation
  • few spaces for students to work in spaces other than their class/homerooms.
Good practice: Physical environment

At one Youth Justice site, the provider had worked with Oranga Tamariki and other agencies to develop a farming environment for learning on site – this was known as the Paddock of Goodness. This supports students to learn farming skills and gain credits in horticultural and agricultural areas. We heard from teachers and leaders that it was a space that also supported students’ wellbeing.

[I] really liked working on the POG [Paddock of Goodness]. Really love Ag and the farm here – especially the pigs

-Student

 

Appropriate pedagogy and meaningful curriculum

Across the providers, there was significant variation in the effectiveness in curriculum provision and appropriate teaching practice. Six sites were assessed as ‘Well Established’ or ‘Developed’, one as ‘Action Required’ and one as ‘Developing’. In sites performing well, there is a purposeful approach to building more meaningful, responsive curriculum that supports students’ learning and vocational pathways.

Students’ voice about curriculum provision was mixed. In the interviews, students talked about choice and personalised learning in a positive sense, including being provided with a list of options, getting to choose what they want to learn, and matching to their interests, experience and skill level. Seven students talked about being given opportunities to work towards credits which will support them in a chosen career.

In the interviews and in the student survey, students identified a range of learning activities they enjoyed. These included: adventure-based learning, sport, practical subjects (e.g. agriculture, food technology, bone carving, gym class, first aid), maths and sciences. A few students identified they did not enjoy learning based around reading and writing, presented in worksheets and booklets.

However, 18 of 72 students identified certain aspects of the curriculum as the worst thing about their residence. This included difficulties in the quantity or level of challenge in the work they were given, being both too hard/ too easy and too much/not enough. One student who had lived in more than one residence, noticed the difference between the sites. They spoke about a lack of programmes available for them to participate in, especially compared to other units. They indicated that during Covid-19 the programme had changed, giving them less choice.

In the teacher survey, teachers thought that their practice was student-centred and provided learning that aligned well to their needs:

  • Almost all (98%) agreed or strongly agreed with the statement ‘I believe I can improve learning outcomes for all tamariki and rangatahi I teach.
  • All teachers agreed or strongly agreed with the statement ‘my teaching strongly aligns with individualised learning plans’.
  • All teachers agreed or strongly agreed with the statement ‘I involve ākonga/students in directing their own learning pace, content and goals’.

Despite rating their teaching practice well, teachers also commented on ways the curriculum could be strengthened in the free text questions: more offsite activities, connecting more to student interests and passions, a focus on life skills and community contribution, and more hands-on work. Teachers and leaders highlighted the challenge of offering a rich, meaningful curriculum within the constraints of a residence setting.

Practices we saw which are likely to support students well included:

  • productive relationships with community groups, vocational training and external providers to support additional options
  • opportunities for student-driven inquiry learning
  • purposeful community excursions to support resilience, cultural identity, life skills, risk taking or a place-based approach to learning
  • integration of mātauranga Māori into learning contexts, especially in art
  • opportunities for students to learn in a kaupapa Māori classroom
  • use of adventure-based learning to support self-regulation, wellbeing and integration across other learning areas.

Practices we saw which are less likely to support students well included:

  • processes for NZQA accreditation not being maintained
  • provision of learning which was not sufficiently meaningful or engaging, including a reliance on worksheet-based teaching
  • a lack of excursions and community-based opportunities for learning.
  • limited opportunities that responded to students’ identity, language and culture
  • insufficient support for teachers to strengthen their practice and curriculum delivery.
Good practice: Appropriate pedagogy and meaningful curriculum

In one provider, there had been a deliberate effort to strengthen to curriculum so that it better responded to these students. This was undertaken through the use of expert support, and strongly based on trauma-informed and culturally responsive pedagogy. It was led by two leaders across the organisation, and aspects were implemented as a trial in a community-based setting.

The curriculum has been strengthened to support additional vocational options for older children. This includes: partnerships with external education providers to ensure students can access and undertake and continue educational options, and the use of improved facilities and courses available on site which align with students’ interests. 

 

Leadership

We found that leadership was variable across provision. Three sites demonstrated ‘Well Established’ leadership practice; three were ‘Developed’, one site where leadership was only ‘Developing’ and one site was identified as ‘Action Required’.

Teachers, but not students, were asked about effective leadership and ongoing improvement. They generally felt supported by their leaders. In the teacher survey:

  • 96 percent of teachers agreed or strongly agreed with the statement ‘I am well supported to keep up to date with relevant knowledge about teaching and learning’.
  • 88 percent of teachers agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, ‘overall, I have the resources I need to do my job well’,
  • 94 percent of teachers agreed with the statement, ‘overall, I feel supported to do my job well’.

Through interviews with leaders and teachers, and document analysis, we saw clear processes in place for supporting leadership and effective practice, but on three sites where the processes were not implemented well.

All providers had established new roles to strengthen leadership across their sites. All three providers had appointed cultural leaders.

Practices we saw which are likely to support students well included:

  • deliberate strategies to build leadership
  • cultural and professional supervision for leaders
  • clear roles and responsibilities for leaders.

Practices we saw which are less likely to support students well included:

  • limited provision of support for leaders
  • minimal provision for appraisal processes and professional mentoring
  • poor relationships between leaders and staff.
Good practice: Leadership

One provider has established leadership roles, who support the residences to learn about effective practice and who support consistently delivery of good practice.

A deputy principal role was developed to support overall curriculum development and NZQA accreditation. This is supporting ongoing learning about and increased partnerships with external providers to strengthen students’ options and pathways. Additional roles were in overall curriculum development and support for research and evaluation across the organisation. Further development of leadership is for pastoral and curriculum areas of oversight.

There is good knowledge about the strengths and initiatives of leaders across the sites. Regular opportunities for leaders to meet, share professional readings and discuss aspects of practice were provided. This is helping to develop a shared and consistent approach to their leadership and areas of oversight, and learn from others. 

Conclusion

While there are areas of good practice, students receive unacceptably variable quality of provision depending on the residence they enter. The provider whose sole focus was provision in residential care demonstrated the most consistency and the highest quality of provision.

There is a commitment to improving outcomes for Māori and culturally responsive practice, but practice is variable. While we saw examples of good culturally responsive practice, over half the sites were not performing well in culturally responsive practice.

While we are not able to directly compare the quality of students’ educational provision to previous reviews due to the more in-depth nature of this review, many of the issues we identified were similar to what we have previously found – including poor quality transitions out of residence and lack of involvement of whānau with the students’ learning.

Part 5: How strong are the supports for good education provision?

Quality of education provision for students in residences requires key enablers such as workforce capacity, pathways, data sharing and funding. We looked at how well these key enablers are supporting quality education. We found that there are areas that could work better to support the students’ education.

In this section, we report our findings on what is enabling effective educational provision in residences, and what needs strengthening.

Based on the evidence summarised in Part 2, we looked at the enablers of good education provision.  This section sets out our findings on how well these enablers support education provision.

Enablers of good education provision
  1. Workforce capacity and capability
    • Workforce commitment
    • Teacher collaboration and development
  2. Inter-agency working
  3. Student pathways and transitions
  4. Collaboration with Māori
  5. Models of provision
  6. Evaluation for improvement
  7. Student agency
  8. Whānau agency

We used the evidence gathered, the literature and our Expert Advisory Group to make judgements about how the enablers were working. The evidence for the findings came from:

  • on-site visits, including observations
  • individual and group interviews with providers, case workers, social workers, and Ministry of Education and Oranga Tamariki officials
  • a review of documentary evidence including, curriculum and cultural frameworks, and student learning plans, strategic plans, Care Standards and Outcomes Agreements
  • a teacher survey
  • a student survey and interviews.

More details on the methods are outlined in Appendix 2 - Methods.

This section sets out what we found, focusing first on what is enabling effective provision, followed by what needs strengthening. In each area, even areas that need strengthening, we have included examples of good practice that we saw to support providers to reflect on their practice.

What is enabling effective provision?

We found two key enablers which worked to enable education provision:

  1. Workforce commitment
  2. Student agency

For each component we set out what we found from students, teachers, documents and on-site reviews.

1. Workforce commitment

We generally found that the workforce was highly committed and motivated and were strong advocates for the students.

From the student survey and interviews, we heard that students largely valued their teachers:

  • Eighty-nine (89) percent of student survey respondents said they got on well with their teachers.
  • Over half of the students said their teachers cared about them ‘a lot’.
  • Nearly all students interviewed (13/14) spoke freely about ways in which teachers showed they cared about and supported their learning.

 My teachers care about me and they care about my learning

- Student

Teachers connect here on a different level

- Student

Every two weeks [my] teacher reviews and talks about goals and what is next for me

- Student

Leaders and teachers told us that they saw the students’ potential for learning. Ninety-eight (98) percent of teachers agreed with the statement, ‘I believe I can improve learning outcomes for all tamariki and rangatahi that I teach’. At the end of the survey, teachers were asked if they had any further comments —most comments highlighted the positive aspects of their work.

I feel this is one of the best schools I’ve ever worked in. Why? The growth and the change in these students is so huge, it’s layered and deep, so much so, some of its measure would be impossible. Only to be recognised much later in the student’s life.

- Teacher

Teachers and leaders gave multiple examples of ways in which they worked together. For example, intervening or creating ‘workarounds’ on behalf of their students when encountering obstacles. 

2. Student agency

Throughout our evaluation we observed strong student agency with students’ voices being heard in the planning of their education.

As set out in Part 4, students’ needs were managed well in nearly all the sites. Many students spoke positively about having individualised learning programmes and getting to choose what they wanted to learn.  They also talked about being involved in planning for their transition out of residences.

We were less able to assess how strong student agency is in shaping the overall model of education provision for students. We did see that organisations like VOYCE – Whakarongomai play an important part in student advocacy.  They told us that they spend around a day a week in each residence and have a focus on education. Across their advocacy function they estimate that, of their time, they spend:

  • 8 percent advocating for the students’ educational outcomes
  • 10 percent supporting student transitions.

We work to amplify the voices of children in care

- VOYCE Advocate

What needs strengthening

We found seven enablers which needed strengthening:

  1. Teacher collaboration and development
  2. Inter-agency working
  3. Student pathways and transitions
  4. Collaboration with Māori
  5. Models of provision
  6. Evaluation for improvement
  7. Whānau agency

We set out details on what we found that needed to be strengthened in each enabler including examples of good practice to support providers.

1. Teacher collaboration and development

As set out in Part 2, teaching in education residences requires a specialist skill set. The findings detailed in Part 4 show that there is variation in practice across the sites, and inconsistent recognition of the skills required to teach in these environments contributes to that variation.

A quarter of the teachers surveyed identified a wide range of areas in which they required further knowledge. These areas included trauma care, subject-specific (e.g. literacy) and culturally responsive practices. This is because many teachers come to these residences from a wide range of education contexts, some coming from primary and others from secondary backgrounds. One provider told us that it took ‘a good six months’ for a teacher to settle into their role and understand how to work effectively in a residence context. They also noted the challenges in retaining staff with expertise.

In interviews, leaders and Oranga Tamariki staff also identified that the teachers would benefit from a more tailored, cohesive approach to specialised professional development to better support working with these learners and in these contexts.

There is a gap [in the system] for children who are traumatised, who need really highly qualified, skilled teachers, who can teach trauma. It's a very different thing from a normal behavioural issue and they, in their own view, are rejected, too. They need therapists, they need educators, they need professional care because they are highly traumatised.’

 – Oranga Tamariki official

Although the providers are developing some professional networks, we found they are largely working in isolation of each other and the broader teaching community. In their survey responses, teachers often cited cross-agency and cross-provider connectedness as a key area for improvement:

Everyone involved with the student working as a team rather than islands

- Teacher

Our fieldwork also found that formal forums for sharing successful approaches are generally lacking. Only one of the sites is part of a Kāhui Ako, and one provider described a lack of success in attempting to join communities of practice.

Good Practice: Teacher collaboration and development

One provider has a well established internal community of learning, and was consistently demonstrating effective practice. This provider gave their leaders and teachers regular opportunities to meet in leadership groups, Communities of Practice groups and an annual retreat for all staff. This enables staff to learn from each other, find support, strengthen their practice and trial initiatives. This includes opportunities to:

  • develop and enrich their curriculum through curriculum groups and leadership
  • strengthen culturally responsive teaching practices by providing PLD sessions and opportunities for sharing practice
  • ensure consistency of approach in curriculum delivery and pastoral care by having national curriculum teams, and two overall leaders of curriculum
  • build leadership by providing regular opportunities to meet and review professional readings about effective practice
  • pursue strategic goals by regular opportunities for review and discussion of progress.

 

2. Inter-agency working

Across all the providers, the officials, the teachers and the care workers, we saw a shared goal to improve the wellbeing of students in care. However, there were different views on the best way to get there, and there was some disagreement about whether quality education was an important part of care. Officials from Oranga Tamariki, the Ministry of Education, and the education providers themselves all described the lack of clarity about the definition of educational provision and what good quality education looked like for these students.  

The different priorities for education that we heard were to:

  • prevent recidivism and to support the students to make different choices (care staff)
  • ensure students are safe and have good wellbeing support (care staff)
  • find students a placement in any school (care staff)
  • return the students to established community schools and make them feel welcome (officials)
  • focus on students’ vocational pathways (officials/provider staff)
  • integrate students into the wider school culture and way of doing things (provider staff)
  • build students’ self-efficacy and learning skills (provider staff).

The different stakeholders all described ways that they were trying to work together. This included meetings between agencies around new projects, meetings between providers and care staff to share information or develop shared approaches in areas of priority, and multi-agency meetings which involved a wide range of professionals and students.

While most teachers (74%) agreed with the statement, ‘Relevant agencies and staff work well together to coordinate support for my ākonga/students’ identified needs’, this question was the second most disagreed with statement and the only question where there was some level of strong disagreement. In response to the question, ‘What are three specific things that would help you be more effective in your role to promote successful outcomes for your students?’, half the teachers identified areas for improved collaboration and communication.

Multi-agency meetings are an important forum for collaboration. However, education staff were not always fully involved in these meetings as these were often held at a time teachers were unable to attend, or they were not invited. In addition, at two sites these meetings did not occur regularly.

Good Practice: Inter-agency working

A good example of initiatives to support inter-agency working is in the setting up and implementation of Arahina ki o Otautahi. This was established to provide a ‘multi-agency’ service aimed at increasing the engagement, participation and attainment in education by students who are in the care of Oranga Tamariki, particularly those transitioning from residential care facilities.

The agencies involved were Kingslea School, Oranga Tamariki, Ministry of Education, NZ Police, the Canterbury District Health Board, and Te Runanga O Te Ngai Tuahuriri. Interagency working was supported through a Multi-agency Steering Group.

There was upfront agreement on the purpose of the group and what it was trying to achieve. Progress was monitored through milestone reports to the Ministry of Education and supported through an internally driven developmental evaluation. The evaluation still identified significant challenges in working across multiple agencies. However, the holistic, culturally responsive approach was seen as an important platform for enabling the inter-agency collaboration.

3. Student pathways and transitions

As we have seen in Part 3, analysis of NZQA data shows that students are studying mainly unit standards in residences, and mainly achievement standards in non-residential schools. This finding indicates that their education pathway becomes disjointed as they transition between settings. In Part 4 we saw that transitions out of residence were one of the weakest components of effective practice. Providers were not always planning effectively for these transitions and were only working with a few schools to support transition processes for students.

Overall, the support for students continuing the education they started in residence was poor. We did not talk to students after they left residence, but we heard from social workers about the challenges they had finding a school that would take the student. 

Education providers and social workers spoke of limited opportunities for vocational or education options on leaving residence, especially for students who are older and in Youth Justice. The perceived lack of options may reflect a lack of knowledge about the range of opportunities that are available for students on transition out, especially if they transfer to a different region.

A common theme expressed in interviews with stakeholders was the need to improve the transition experience for students as they enter and exit facilities. However, what a good transition was thought to look like varied across providers and stakeholders. Examples of these views are represented below.

Social worker view: ‘If we can get them even into alternative education programme or some programme, even for a week, that’s success for us. I guess success is getting them into programmes … we’re celebrating when we can get kids enrolled when schools accept them.’

Oranga Tamariki staff member view: ‘They are just not equipped to go to a school and they're quite traumatised. They struggle in mainstream and we haven't been able to find an alternative pathway for them. I think education’s policy is that all children will either go into mainstream education, or an alternative pathway that they’re building, and I think what we’re saying is that’s possibly the destination one day but at the moment it’s not there for children who have experienced severe trauma, it’s not there. There isn’t anything for them. On paper there is, but there isn’t.’

Social worker view: ‘It would be ideal to have staggered transitions – to transition to education provider, before change in placement.  Doesn’t often happen that way – more likely the social worker finds a placement – and then both happen together.’

In our interviews with education and Oranga Tamariki staff who work at the residences, we identified factors that make negotiating changes between residential care and other education setting challenging. These include that:

  • transitions in Youth Justice are often unplanned so information about students is not made available in a timely way
  • there is often no recent school data available on entry as students have often been disengaged from education
  • locations on transition out sometimes offer limited opportunities for ongoing support, or vocational training and students’ learning needs are not always considered when they were being relocated
  • schools are often reluctant or not sufficiently positioned to support their re-engagement in mainstream learning
  • qualifications or vocational training begun through external providers while in residence are often not available to students after leaving residences
  • there is minimal access to whānau to discuss aspirations, goals and progress.

[I] thought I could get records from [my] old school – but couldn’t because it had been a year since I was there.

- Student

Underpinning these findings was a lack of adequate IT systems to allow plans and information to be shared. Education and Oranga Tamariki staff, including onsite case workers, all discussed difficulties with sharing and retrieving information about students from the different systems in place. This meant that planning for learning was not able to be easily shared across agencies, with families, and between transitioning schools. Providers showed evidence of preparing the students for future learning, but few systems were in place to make this happen in practice. Additionally, all providers spoke about a lack of available information about the success of students’ transitions once they left residence.

Recent changes: ‘All about me’ plans and transition support service

One tool that had the potential to support transitions is the new ‘All About Me’ plans that are designed to lead to continuity in care. These plans were introduced in 2019 and support any overarching family group conference or court plan. They are intended to provide a primary plan to help everyone involved support the needs and objectives of children and young people.

However, new plans are still created in different settings for each student as they transition through the system. These plans often reflect different priorities and may not be linked to existing plans, nor include meaningful educational goals to promote continuity of learning.

There was confusion amongst providers about the function of, and access to, the Transition Support Service. Most were unaware that this service supports young people transitioning to adulthood, not out of residences. Social workers provide transition support for students returning from Youth Justice facilities back into their community.

4. Collaboration with Māori

As 80 percent of the students in residential care are Māori, it is crucial that the delivery of education is influenced by Māori perspectives.

The evaluation found evidence of incidences of good practice in engaging with Māori.  However, using the Te Arawhiti consultation principles as a framework, we identified that engagement with Māori was mostly consultation, rather than partnership based. A history of poor relationships between iwi and the Crown in some sites is getting in the way of engagement. We saw instances where engagement with iwi when setting up education provision for new sites did not occur before decision-making occurred.

All three providers have appointed cultural leaders who provide guidance, support teacher capability and strategic direction based on te ao Māori approaches. In each case they work across the organisation to provide this support.

Document analysis found that partnering with Māori is a clear focus across the providers and agencies involved in the provision of education for students in care. Throughout our interviews with providers and agencies, and in strategic documents we viewed, ERO found that obligations to respond to and enact Te Tiriti o Waitangi principles were clearly expressed. There were examples of relationships being built through engagement with mana whenua and iwi at organisational and site level. At the same time, there was not a systematic approach to ensure whānau, hapū and iwi have input into school decision-making. Better practice would include having a more meaningful, coordinated and consistent range of strategies for partnering with Māori to inform decisions at a governance level.

Recent changes: New legislative obligations for Oranga Tamariki in regard to Te Tiriti o Waitangi

In July 2019 a new section, 7AA, of the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families (Oranga Tamariki) Legislation Act 2017 was added.  The new section imposes an order to "recognise and provide a practical commitment to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi (te Tiriti o Waitangi) came into effect.

We found a commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi in the educational provision in the residences. Tikanga Māori and te ao Māori perspectives are being incorporated into some provider programmes and practices. Examples of mana whenua engagement are evident, however it is not consistently observable or successful across all providers and sites.

Agencies and providers both see Whakamana Tangata as potentially useful for ensuring culturally responsive behaviour management practices. Whakamana Tangata is an approach developed by Oranga Tamariki to guide staff practices when working with students in residence. However, implementation of Whakamana Tangata as a driving principle of practice is inconsistent across sites.

5. Models of provision

The current model involves contracting multiple providers. Currently there are:

  • A provider with five sites, solely focused on education provision in residences
  • A provider with two sites, but also teaching in other settings
  • A provider with one site located within an NGO

Each of the providers have different governance and operational models and different types of agreements with the Ministry of Education about the educational provision. Some of the selection processes for provision are through Request for Proposals, and operated through Outcomes Agreements, Funding Agreements and Service-Level agreements.

Part 4 showed that practice was variable across providers and sites. There is no consistent, clear and shared model of quality practice. We found that practice was best in the largest provider, where there was scale and expertise and good practice could be captured and shared across the sites. We found that small, isolated or inexperienced providers lacked the expertise to deliver high quality education.

We observed a high level of confusion about the status of the providers (as state schools, contractors or NGO providers).  Officials from both the Ministry of Education and Oranga Tamariki and the provider staff all commented on the confusion. As a consequence it was not always clear what resources and support students enrolled in these providers were entitled to, and two of the three providers commented on the frustration of not being able to access the required diagnoses or specialist support for students in a timely or ongoing way. Different providers found that requests to the Ministry for the same kinds of resourcing were treated differently – some were successful, and others were not.

6. Evaluation for improvement

Ongoing monitoring and evaluation for improvement relies on good information to be drawn together and regular sharing of knowledge of what is and isn’t working from different perspectives (student, whānau, provider, social worker, agency).

Our evaluation found that there were significant barriers to gathering and sharing information and, outside ERO’s evaluations or Office of the Children’s Commissioner reviews, there was no systematic approach to monitoring student outcomes across providers, drawing on the most up to date evidence, and identifying areas for improvement. In particular we encountered a lack of understanding of the outcomes for students after residence; where they go on to and how they fare.

7. Whānau agency

Part 4 set out the weaknesses in providers engagement with whānau and caregivers. This stood out as an area that students were most dis-satisfied with.

This lack of engagement with whānau also flows through to a lack of whānau agency. With few relationships between the providers and whānau, there was limited ability for them to feedback their views on the quality of provision or identify improvements that could be made to it. VOYCE - Whakarongo Mai estimate that they spend around 10 percent of their time advocating for greater whānau involvement in decision making.

Any consultation at the sites was largely limited to mana whenua, which does not recognise that students’ whānau, hapū and iwi may not be mana whenua.

Conclusion

Education in residences for these students is critical, it has the potential to change their trajectory and re-engage them with learning.

We saw two enablers that were working well for students; there was a committed workforce and students having agency over their work. 

We also saw six enablers that were not working well; teachers felt they needed more support and training to improve their teaching practice; interagency working was challenging as was transitions of students into education outside residences; collaboration with Māori was variable; there were few options for whānau to shape their students’ learning; the current model of provision was leading to variable quality provision; and finally there was no good system for monitoring progress and identifying improvement that could be made.

Through the evaluation, ERO identified opportunities to strengthen the quality of education for these priority students and reduce the variability. The opportunities are set out in the following chapter.

Part 6: Findings and areas for action: How can we improve education outcomes for these priority students?

The three questions we asked for this evaluation have led to seven key findings that sit across this work. Based on these findings we have identified three areas for action which have the potential to raise the quality of education for these priority students. This section sets out the findings, areas for action and our recommendations for improvement.

 

In this evaluation of learning in residential care we answered three questions:

  1. What are the education outcomes for these students?
  2. How good is education provision for these students?
  3. How strong are the supports for these students?

ERO’s evaluation found key findings:

  1. Students in residential care are positive about their learning. Their pass rate of NZQA assessments attempted is high when in residence but they are often studying credits with limited pathways.
  2. Students’ learning is disrupted and disconnected as they transition between provision.
  3. There is no agreed education model or a clear picture of what high quality education looks like for these students.
  4. The model of education provision in residences makes it harder to grow expertise and is contributing to high levels of variability of provision.
  5. There is a commitment to improving outcomes for Māori and culturally responsive practice, but practice is variable.
  6. There is some good practice and some workforce capability to support positive educational outcomes.
  7. There is a lack of opportunities for whānau and caregivers to connect to their children’s learning.

In this section we summarise our evidence across the report that support the key findings and identify areas for action to address them.

Seven key findings

1. Students in residential care are positive about their learning. Their pass rate of NZQA assessments attempted is high when in residence but they are often studying credits with limited pathways

Overall, we found that students were positive about their learning, though Māori students were less so. Older students were particularly positive. Students who talked about their wellbeing were also mainly positive.

A common theme from students was the progress they had made in their learning. Achievement data supported the student’s perspective — we found that students pass close to 100 percent of their NZQA credits in residential care.

However, we also heard that for some students there is a mismatch in the quantity and difficulty of work they are expected to complete. Students in residential care sit fewer achievement standards than they do outside residence, which can limit their pathways.  Some students would have better pathways if they sit more achievement standards or higher-level vocational standards while in residential care.

2. Students’ learning is disrupted and disconnected as they transition between provision

The transition out of residence fails to ensure the students keep going with their learning. Supporting students to leave residence and move into education outside of residence is not always well planned by the teachers.  Learning needs aren’t always considered as part of relocating students, and teachers in residences rarely worked with the student’s school to support the move. Often students cannot continue to study the same subjects when they move on from residences.

Not planning for students’ transitions, including identifying future study options in their home location, means that any gains in students’ engagement and achievement in residences are quickly lost.

3. There is no agreed picture of what high quality education looks like for these students

Across the providers, the social workers, the officials in the Ministry of Education and in Oranga Tamariki, we saw a range of perspectives on the role and relative importance of education for these students. These perspectives included: getting students ready to return to school; getting students re-engaged in education; education as a meaningful activity to engage students while they are in residence; prioritising reducing recidivism over education and prioritising connecting to culture over education.

There is not a clear picture across the providers of what quality practice looks like. This means education provision is highly variable.

4. The model of education provision in residences makes it harder to grow expertise and is contributing to high levels of variability of provision

There is no agreed model of quality provision.  Smaller providers were isolated from each other and less able to share good practice, there were not strong connections between the providers.

Across the three providers, we found that the most well-developed provision was within the provider that was dedicated to teaching in residential schools. With a concentration of teachers and expertise, there was much more opportunity to share good practice.  Smaller providers, with more isolated teachers, had weaker education provision. In two of the eight sites, ERO has recommended providers take immediate action to improve provision.

5. There is a commitment to improving outcomes for Māori and culturally responsive practice, but practice is variable

Partnering with Māori is a clear focus across the providers and agencies involved in the provision of education for students in care, however there is some way to go. Collaboration with Māori was happening at the ‘consultation rather than ‘partnership’ level and practice was variable at the local level.

The variation translated into the classroom, where over half the sites were not performing well in culturally responsive practice. Where we did see good practice in a classroom, we saw involvement of mana whenua, tikanga incorporated into practice, and a focus on te ao Māori concepts.

6. There is some good practice and some workforce capability to support positive educational outcomes

We saw some strengths and examples of good practice in the residences: students were generally positive about the transition into residential care, with many describing it as a positive, welcoming experience. The emotional environment that teachers provided was also largely positive — the relationships that teaching staff developed with students were positive and nurturing.

Sitting behind this good practice was a committed workforce of professionals who advocate for students. This includes teachers, support staff, social workers and case workers within Oranga Tamariki.

Yet, commitment isn’t enough — achieving good outcomes requires consistent quality teaching practice. In some sites we saw a capable workforce and well-developed education provision. However, there was variability across sites and areas of concern.

Teaching these students requires a specialist skill set. Teachers working in residences need to know how to teach students who have experienced trauma, how to support students to navigate the secondary qualification system, and how to support students with their literacy and numeracy.  Depending on their background and experience, teachers felt they needed more support and training to improve their teaching practice.

7. There is a lack of opportunities for whānau and caregivers to connect to their children’s learning

Many students, and most Māori students, disagreed when asked if ‘their whānau knew about their learning’.  Students said they would like more whānau or significant adult involvement, particularly in sharing their educational achievements.

Teachers also thought that greater whānau connection would help them to support students’ learning. While being in care makes it harder to connect whānau or caregivers to students’ learning, it is possible. We did see examples of good practice that the education providers could draw upon. These practices included regular opportunities to meet or discuss students’ progress and learning with whānau/ caregivers.

Three areas for action

Over the last decade, ERO has reviewed education for these priority students and found that the quality of education they receive is too variable and too dependent on where in the country they are. Based on this evaluation we have identified three action areas to raise the quality of education for these priority students:

Area 1: Improving the quality of the students’ education while in residence

Area 2: Growing expertise and reducing variability of provision

Area 3: Students having access to high quality education when they move out of residence

Implementation of any changes to the system, that supports education of students in care, will need to recognise that 80 percent of students in residence are Māori and 16 percent are Pacific.  Any solution will need to reflect Te Tiriti o Waitangi and be culturally responsive. We have highlighted where co-design with Māori and Pacific communities will be particularly important.

Many of these changes will take time. However, providers can take immediate steps to strengthen their provision by looking at the examples of good practice highlighted in this report and considering how to incorporate it into their practice at all their sites.

Area 1: Improving the quality of the students’ education while in residence
A quality practice framework

The evaluation found that there is currently no agreed education model or clear picture of what high quality education looks like for these students, but there is a strong evidence base about what is quality provision.

To increase the quality of education in residences ERO recommends that the Ministry of Education, Oranga Tamariki and ERO, in consultation with experts, whānau, iwi, and providers, develop a quality practice framework for education in residences. The framework should:

  • be adaptable to working in a range of residential care settings
  • draw on Māori education frameworks
  • include best practice approaches to connecting whānau to students learning
  • include information sharing, assessment of education need, and pathway planning.

A key part of the framework would be connecting whānau and caregivers to students’ learning. To achieve this, Oranga Tamariki could work with the education providers in residences to create practice guidance on connecting whānau and caregivers to children’s learning while in residence and ensuring the environment supports this.

To ensure sustained improvement across the three agencies, ERO recommends there be clear responsibility for keeping the framework up to date, embedding it into practice and monitoring provision against it. 

Make available specialist training and professional networks

The evaluation found that teaching these students requires expertise and teachers would benefit from more support to improve their skills and opportunities to learn from each other.

To meet this need, ERO recommends the Ministry of Education work with providers to:
  • ensure the availability of specialist training, including teaching neuro-diverse students, trauma-informed practice, and working in multi-disciplinary teams.
  • support teachers to have professional networks across different residences, for example through a Community of Practice, annual conference, joint training and sharing of expertise.
Enabling information to follow the student

The evaluation found that there are currently barriers to sharing education information about students across agencies, with families, and between transitioning schools. This has led to students’ learning being disrupted and disconnected as they transition between provision.

To support timely information-sharing, ERO recommends the Ministry of Education identifies options to link residences with Te Rito and/or other IT systems used by schools. This will enable education providers in residences to access up to date information about the learner, their needs, interests and achievements. ERO recognises that more detailed technical work would be required on how it can be put into practice. ERO is aware of some jurisdictions where sharing of this information between agencies is controlled by the students themselves.

Area 2: Reducing variability of provision
Re-examine the model of provision

The evaluation found that the model of education provision in residences makes it harder to grow expertise and is contributing to high levels of variability of provision. Throughout the last decade of ERO reviews, students continue to receive variable quality, and in some cases inadequate, education depending on where in the country they are placed.

The most well-developed provision is within the provider that is dedicated to teaching in residential schools. With a concentration of teachers and expertise there is greater opportunity to share good practice. Smaller providers and teachers had weaker education provision. ERO also found that providers are largely working in isolation of each other and the broader teaching community.

In order to reduce variability of provision, ERO recommends that the Ministry of Education re-examine the model of provision and develop options for ministers on new models of provision including:

  • A Tuakana-Teina model where a single virtual school (Tuakana) oversees locally tailored providers (Teina). The Tuakana would be required to have a strong te Ao Māori focus, and the localised providers (Teina) to work in partnership with mana whenua.
  • A Networked Providers model where there remain multiple providers but they are required to form a network, take part in regular cross-provider networking opportunities, share practice between providers, have shared PLD in common areas of interest and follow a single Quality Framework. This is more closely aligned with the existing model.

ERO’s view is that a Tuakana-Teina model is more likely to lead to consistent provision, and to create to the depth of expertise the comes with increased scale. A Networked Providers model is more likely to lead to locally tailored provision.

Area 3: Increasing access to education after leaving residences
Education navigators

The evaluation found significant issues with students’ transitions out of residence including a lack of understanding about educational options available for students, challenges in finding schools that will accept the students, and students not being able to continue the subjects/courses they are already studying. This means that gains in education engagement and learning made in residence risk being lost.

Social workers currently find it challenging to find schools who are willing to take these students. Social workers are not always aware of all the educational options, which will best meet the students’ education needs, or how to navigate the education system.  As the average age of students in residences increased, there is a broader range of secondary-tertiary options, which the social workers are not always aware of. The Ministry of Education and Oranga Tamariki are aware of this issue and have work underway to consider a broker or navigator role. The Tertiary Education Commission is also looking into improving educational pathways for these students.

ERO recommends that the Ministry of Education, Oranga Tamariki and the Tertiary Education Commission develop options for a new education navigator function that could build relationships with local schools and tertiary providers work with social workers, and potentially the youth court, to find the best education placements for these students.  Having experts to fill this brokerage role should lead to better managed education pathways for children and young people in the statutory system.

Further work will be needed to ensure the education navigator function complements, rather than, duplicate existing roles.

Earlier planning for pathways after residence

ERO recommends that the education navigators be supported by the quality practice framework setting out how providers should plan for students’ education pathways from residences – including early assessment of need and identifying from the outset education pathways after residence.

Additional in-school support for students

Through the evaluation we heard consistently from teachers that while these students may be ready to leave residential care, they still often have additional needs and can struggle in a normal school classroom without additional support.

To address this, ERO recommends the Ministry of Education investigate options for supporting these students in school after they leave residences. This could include, for example, support from the education navigator role, targeted additional support or intensive wraparound service that follow students who have been identified as having complex needs. Further work will be needed to ensure it aligns with other support for students with additional needs.

Conclusion

Taken together these recommendations have the potential to significantly improve the quality of education and improve outcomes for their priority learners. It will take coordinated and focused work across agencies and providers to take forward these recommendations and ensure change occurs. Improving education for these students has the potential to dramatically change the life course and trajectory of a group of students that our system has, thus far, poorly served.

Part 7: Next Steps

ERO has reviewed the quality of education that students living in residential care experience.  We have identified seven key findings and three areas for action.  We are intending to review this provision again in 2024/25.

ERO has reviewed education in residences four times over the past 11 years.  It has found persistent issues with the quality of education for these priority students. We have made recommendations to strengthen the quality of that education.

Given the issues we found, and that they are persistent, we will continue to monitor, evaluate and report on education for these students. In doing this, we will look at how well the providers and the agencies that support them have responded to the recommendations in this report. We will also see how changes in types of residential care are impacting on the quality of education.

ERO will do some things differently.  Next time, to strengthen our evaluation, we will look at the perspectives of whānau or caregivers.  We will also talk to former students to understand their education outcomes after leaving residence.

It is our hope that by that time, we will see improvements based on the action areas we have identified, greater and more consistent quality practice across sites, and that all students who go into residential care experience a quality education that puts them on track for positive lifetime outcomes.

Appendix 1: List of ERO Learning in Residential Care Provider Summary Reports, 2021

Appendix 2: Methods

 

Our evaluation questions

Our analysis has enabled us to examine three overarching questions:

  1. What are the education outcomes for these students?
  2. How good is education provision for these students?
  3. How strong are the supports for these students’ education?

Data gathering frameworks

Seven data gathering methods were used to gather information:

  1. Fieldwork
  2. Student survey
  3. Student interviews
  4. Teacher survey
  5. Semi-structured and focus group interviews of key stakeholders
  6. Analysis of NZQA data

1. Fieldwork

We looked at research into education for students with complex needs and in care settings, and identified consistent themes both in New Zealand and overseas. We then worked with an Expert Reference Group of academics and practitioners, officials from Oranga Tamariki and the Ministry of Education, and the three providers of residential care, to identify the six key components of good education provision.

Rubric development

The development process was a collaborative and iterative one involving the project team, an Expert Reference Group (ERG), and input from the existing educational providers and agency stakeholders. The list of indicators was adjusted following scrutiny by the ERG for relevance, comprehensiveness, appropriateness to Aotearoa New Zealand, the inclusion of te ao Māori perspectives and Te Tiriti o Waitangi principles, and the appropriate use of language. An updated version was developed, describing effective practice under each of the indicators. This was shared with providers prior to site visits.

The effective practice performance measures were also modified through this process. Alongside the indicators, we developed descriptive text aligned to a set of criteria to assess performance, under a graduated rubric scale, shown in the following key:

  • 1=Action required
  • 2=Developing
  • 3=Developed
  • 4=Well established 

Appendix 4 sets out the final rubrics used.

Development of the enablers

Using the literature, we identified key enablers and assigned investigative questions to guide our evidence-gathering. Evidence for each enabler was gathered from a range of sources and analysed in relation to relevant literature for each of these domains. The enablers and questions are set out in Appendix 4.

On site

Our fieldwork involved two-day visits to each of the eight sites. These visits were undertaken by two evaluators and arranged in consultation with the providers. Evaluation activities included teacher interviews and focus groups, interviews and discussions with education leaders, observations, discussions with residential and specialist staff and document review.

Teacher interviews and focus groups

Evaluators undertook informal and planned interviews and discussions with teachers at each site. These included whole staff teacher meetings, as well as meetings with individual teachers and small groups. Some of these involved teachers talking through teaching and learning documentation, approaches to teaching, and learning and support for their practice. Some discussions aligned to aspects of the teacher surveys.

Interviews and discussions with education leaders

At each site we undertook interviews and discussions with leaders over the two-day period about aspects of their leadership roles and practices. In some cases, this included cultural leaders. These discussions included how they supported students and teachers, how they worked with whānau, mana whenua, and residential staff. This included discussions on curriculum review and development, strategic planning and evaluation.

Observations

At each site the team observed the teaching and learning occurring, and the learning environments. This involved observing the use of the learning spaces, how teachers interacted with students, the engagement of students in learning, and viewing student work samples. Evaluators also talked with students about their learning.

Discussions with residential and specialist staff

At each site team members took opportunities to meet with residential care staff and managers, case leaders and workers, and sometimes health team staff, specialist staff and social workers.

Document review

We looked at students’ individual learning plans, records of student learning, student achievement data, curriculum documents and strategic planning and evaluation documents.  

Moderation

Following the field work, team members tested and moderated their judgements with each other to ensure inter-rater reliability:

  • Each team of evaluators synthesised the evidence gathered at each site to make judgments aligned to the rubrics.
  • Site-based judgments were moderated in a session by the wider fieldwork team.
  • Several further sessions with members of each review team and the Te Ihuwaka team were held to ensure consistency of judgments across sites.

During the moderation processes, the initial indicators and rubrics were refined so that:

  • some were simplified or split 
  • some were re-organised under different key indicators or sub indicators.

The final set of quality education provision key indicators, sub-indicators and rubrics for assessing performance are set out in Appendix 4. These indicators and associated descriptions of best practice were used to inform the evaluative judgements about educational performance delivery across the residential care settings.

2. Student survey

ERO conducted an online survey that all students at the residences could respond to. The development of this survey was supported by Talking Trouble Aotearoa New Zealand, for appropriateness of language and presentation. The survey consisted of 10 Likert scale questions and three open-ended questions. The survey was completed by 72 students, between 19 October and 5 of November.

The majority (67 percent) of respondents were in a Youth Justice residence, with the remaining third of respondents in a Care and Protection residence. The majority of respondents identified as Māori (53), followed by NZ/European (28). The majority of respondents were male (77 percent), followed by female (15 percent) and non-binary (4 percent). A further 4 percent of respondents did not want to identify their gender.

The quantitative measures were analysed to show percentages of respondents agreeing or disagreeing with the 10 statements, while responses to the open-ended questions were analysed thematically. 

Student survey instrument

First, some stuff about your residence.

Here are some sentences. Please tell us what you think about them.

  1. My teachers care about me
  2. I get on well with the teachers here  
  3. My teachers help me to learn here
  4. I have made friends here
  5. My whānau and/or caregivers know about my learning here
  6. I enjoy learning here   
  7. My learning has got better here
  8. I get to make choices about my learning
  9. I am learning things that will help me when I leave here
  10. Teachers respect my culture here
  • What is the best thing about learning here?
    • The best thing about learning here is....    
  • What is the worst thing about learning here?     
    • The worst thing about learning here is....  
  • Anything else you want to tell us?
  • Where are you learning?
    • Te Puna Wai o Tuhinapo
    • Arahina Ki Ōtautahi
    • Te Oranga
    • Te Poutama Arahi Rangatahi
    • Korowai Manaaki
    • Te Au Rere a te Tonga
    • Te Maioha o Parekarangi
    • Epuni
    • Puketai
    • Other (please tell us)

Now the last few questions are about you.

  • How old are you?
  • What is your gender? Please tick one that is right for you
    • Male
    • Female
    • Don't want to say
    • Other (please tell us)
  • Your ethnicity (where you and your whānau are from). Please tick all the ones that are right for you.
    • Māori
    • New Zealand European
    • Samoan
    • Cook Island Māori
    • Tongan
    • Niuean
    • Other (please tell us)

Thanks heaps for answering our questions!

3. Teacher survey

ERO conducted an online survey that all teaching staff at the residences could respond to. The survey consisted of 16 Likert scale questions and two open-ended questions (see over page).

Fifty-four teachers responded to the survey, 30 of these were from Youth Justice, 17 were from Care and Protection, and 7 did not specify where they taught.

The quantitative measures were analysed to show percentages of respondents agreeing or disagreeing with the 16 statements, while responses to the two open-ended questions were analysed thematically. 

4. Student interviews

ERO worked with Talking Trouble Aotearoa New Zealand to develop appropriate interview methods for the site-based student interviews. Fourteen students participated in these interviews with ERO. These students were selected in consultation with the site leaders, according to availability and willingness to participate. One to two students participated at each site.

The interviews were undertaken in spaces familiar to students, alongside their learning spaces. They had the opportunity to include a trusted adult. Students were able to direct the conversation to areas of their learning that they wanted to talk about. Areas offered for discussion were: Learning here; The place where I learn; Learning and my whānau; When I came here; My Teachers; Getting ready to leave here; Friends; and Choices. These areas, aligned to the survey questions, were represented on laminated cards and drawings, along with prompts to support the students’ responses. Student responses were recorded alongside the student and checked with the student during the interview.

5. Semi-structured and focus group interviews of key stakeholders

Semi-structured in-depth interviews and focus groups occurred with:

  • principals, deputy principals and managers
  • government agency officials at operation and policy level.

Each of these interviews and focus groups was requested by ERO. There was a clear focus for the interviews and focus groups, with information and questions relating to the evaluation focus sent to participants in advance.

Participation was optional and agreed to prior to the interviews commencing. Verbal consent for recording some of the meetings was sought. These interviews informed the site-based reviews and overall findings of the evaluation.

Teacher survey instrument

Note: Each of the following 16 questions were presented as a Likert scale with the options Strongly disagree, Disagree, Agree, Strongly agree, or Not applicable.

  1. I have positive relationships with the tamariki and rangatahi I work with.
  2. I believe I can improve learning outcomes for all tamariki and rangatahi I teach.
  3. I build connections with the significant adults in ākonga/students’ lives and use their knowledge to support their child's learning (e.g. to set and review goals).
  4. I have enough information about ākonga/students to do my job well.
  5. Relevant agencies and staff work well together to coordinate support for my ākonga/students’ identified needs.
  6. My teaching strongly aligns with individualised learning plans.
  7. I involve ākonga/students in directing their own learning pace, content and goals.
  8. I consistently integrate te ao Māori into my work with tamariki and rangatahi.
  9. I teach in ways that enhance Māori ākonga/students’ identity, mana and sense of belonging.
  10. I am well supported to keep up to date with relevant knowledge about teaching and learning.
  11. I use what the research literature says about teaching and learning for these ākonga/students to inform my choice of teaching strategies.
  12. We use assessments that are specific enough to help us check how well our ākonga/students have learnt what has been taught.
  13. We have systems in place for monitoring each ākonga/students’ progress.
  14. I analyse the impact my teaching has on each ākonga/students’ learning.
  15. Overall, I have the resources I need to do my job well.
  16. Overall, I feel supported to do my job well.
  • What are three specific things that would help you be more effective in your role to promote successful outcomes for your students?
    • 1:
    • 2:
    • 3:
  • Please share any other comments you have below:
  • Which type of residence do you work in?
    • A Care and Protection residence
    • A Youth Justice residence
    • Other
  • How long have you worked there?
    • Less than one year
    • 1 - 2 years
    • 3 - 5 years
    • More than 5 years
  • Do you work full-time or part-time?
    • Full-time
    • Part-time
  • Is your position:
    • Permanent
    • Fixed term
    • Casual/relieving
  • What is your role?
    • Teacher
    • Leader
    • Other (please specify)

Informed consent

Site-based interviews with leaders and staff 

Site-based interviews with leaders and staff mainly occurred at the residences during fieldwork. Participants included: school principals, leaders/managers, teachers, cultural leaders, case leaders/workers, health team staff, social workers, administration, and residence and care staff. The interviews were held in line with the protocols aligned to Certificates of Designation in the Exercise of a Review Officer’s Powers of Entry and Inspection (Education and Training Act, 2020), and guided by the principles of the Privacy Act 2020, particularly Principles 3 and 4. 

All personnel were informed of the focus of evaluation by the education providers, who arranged opportunities for them to talk to us, individually or in groups. The focus of these interviews was made clear at the start, and participants were made aware that notes made by the reviewers would be used to inform the evaluation.

Student interviews information and consent 

ERO worked with Talking Trouble Aotearoa New Zealand to develop appropriate consent and interview methods for the site-based student interviews. Using these resources, ERO explained the research process in accessible language to ensure that students were informed of what the interview would involve and what would happen with their information afterwards. Students were approached by the providers, and given the opportunity to opt in or out on the day. Students were not required to take part in an interview and, if they did choose to participate, they were able to direct the conversation toward areas they wanted to discuss and were able to stop the interview at any time. Contributions made were checked with the students using sticky notes.

Student survey information and consent

Before students could begin the online survey, they were informed of the evaluation background and the purpose of the survey. This information was simplified and written in accessible language. The evaluation team suggested the survey be undertaken alongside a ‘trusted adult’. Students were not required to take part in the survey but were assured that, if they did, they did not have to give their name and their answers would not be shared with their teacher or parents. Students were informed that their answers would be used to help us learn about what their learning was like. Results of the surveys (and interviews) were published and shared in a student-friendly guide on completion of the project.

Teacher survey information and consent

Before teachers could begin the online survey, they were informed of the evaluation background and the purpose of the survey. Teachers were not required to disclose the name of their workplace and could withdraw their participation at any time before submitting their responses. They were required to confirm that they had read and understood the purpose of the ERO survey and evaluation before they could agree to participate. Results of the survey were shared along with other findings in a teachers and leaders guide on completion of the project.

Interviews and conversations with agency staff

Semi-structured interviews were undertaken with provider managers and agency officials, following agreement. Each participant had previously received information about the evaluation, including the overall scope and framework. Investigative questions for each area of focus was shared to participants prior to the interview. Notes were taken at each interview or meeting and the interviews were sometimes recorded, following agreement by the participants. The recordings provided opportunity for further analysis and for transcribing wording for quotes.

Student survey information and consent form

The Education Review Office thinks education and learning are really important.

We are doing some research about learning in residences in New Zealand. We want to find out if all children and young people:

  • Have good teachers
  • Have safe and happy classrooms
  • Learn stuff that is important to them
  • Learn stuff that will help them have a good life.

We are asking children and young people to do this online survey. Your answers will help us make things better at your residence.

The questions are simple and the survey is really quick.

You don't have to do the survey. It's up to you.

Your answers will not be shared with your teacher or parents. You do not have to give your name.

If you want to take part, click next!

Learning in residential care report consent form

This is a copy of the information and Consent forms used with students prior to their interviews. They include the following text:

Page 1 Heading: The Research – what today is all about

The Education Review Office think education and learning is really important. They are doing some research about learning in residences in New Zealand. They want to find out if all children and young people:

  • Have good teachers. 
  • Have safe and happy classrooms.
  • Learn stuff that is important to them.
  • Learn stuff that will help them have a good life.

​​The Education Review Office also want find out if children and young people have:

  • Good equipment like books, art stuff, computers.
  • Nice places to learn in - places that are clean, warm, have good food etc.
  • Places for different kinds of learning

The Education Review Office talks to children and young people in all the schools in New Zealand. They are coming to [your residence]. They want to know what you think learning is like here. There are 2 ways you can tell them what you think:

  • An online student survey 
  • Interview 

There are four coloured illustrations on this page:

1. This shows a boy seated with three thought bubbles: one shows a meeting house, one shows a student sitting in a classroom, one shows a young person seated on a couch with two others standing beside.

2. This shows four students sitting at desks

3. four students playing sport and being active

4. two boys making music, one seated with a guitar, one standing with a microphone

Learning in residential care consent form

Page 2 Heading: These questions are about you and your learning here

Learning is about lots of different things:

  • Learning stuff like English, maths, music, sport.​
  • Learning stuff that is important to you.​
  • Learning how to get on with other people. Having good friends.​
  • Learning how to feel OK/stay calm/cope when things go wrong.​
  • ​Learning stuff that will help you do things like:​
  • Look after your whānau​
  • Have a good life.​
  • Get a job​
  • Stay well

Adults don’t always know best. We want your help to find out:

  • What is going well for you.
  • What is not going well for you.

We want to hear what you think about learning stuff at [your residence].

There are three coloured illustrations on this page:

1. This shows a boy seated with three thought bubbles: one shows a meeting house, one shows a student sitting in a classroom, one shows a young person seated on a couch with two others standing beside.

2. This shows an adult and young person walking together, talking

3. This shows a boy with 5 thought bubbles showing: bills and money, groceries, a mobile phone showing a dollar sign, a pile of nappies, medication.

Learning in residential care consent form

Page 3 Heading: Consent Form

Consent = my decision​

I decide if I: ​

Want to take part

Don’t want to take part

  The research: (the stuff you want to find out)

(ERO person explains research/consultation and then says something like “I’m not sure if I said that clearly. What do you think the research is about?”​)

Young person says “I think ………………………………

Making my decision – stuff I need to think about:​

1. It’s my decision. I can tell you if I:​

  • Want to take part in the research.​
  • Don’t want to take part in the research.​

2. No one will mind if I don’t talk to you.​

3. I don’t have to answer all the questions. I can say things like “I don’t want to answer that.”​

4. I can ask questions.​

5. I can stop our talk any time I want to. I can say things like “I want to stop now.”​

6. I can say “Yes, record our talk” ​or “No, don’t record our talk”

What happens with the stuff I tell you:

You write a report for [your residence]. It tells them what all the young people said about their learning. Everything young people tell you is anonymised – you don’t use anyone’s name in the report.  

Keeping me safe:

You don’t tell anyone what I said unless you are worried about me. If you are worried about me you have to tell someone who can keep me safe. You will talk to me about this. We can work out who we need to tell. 

Consent – My decisions​​

  1. I want to take part in the research project  YES / NO
  1. You can record our talk                                YES / NO

Name: ________________________________________

There are 3 illustrations on this page

1. a young person with 3 speech bubbles which read: I want to take part; I don’t want to take part; I need more information

2. A photograph of a voice recorder

3. a pile of written documents

4. two female adults sitting with a cup of tea on a sofa

 

Teacher survey background and consent form

Thank you for showing an interest in this Education Review Office (ERO) survey. ERO is undertaking an evaluation of the provision of learning in Oranga Tamariki residences. This evaluation will focus on what happens at institutions, as well as how well the wider system works to support learning provision. As part of the evaluation, we are seeking to include the perspectives of all teaching staff in these residences.

This survey is your opportunity to contribute your valuable perspectives to this evaluation. We hope to better understand some of the successes and challenges of your role in supporting learning for the children and young people in your care/context. 

The survey should take approximately 10 minutes. We will not ask for your name or the name of your workplace. You have the right to withdraw your participation at any time before you submit your responses. If you do not wish to continue with the survey, you can exit at any time by closing your internet browser. If for any reason you decide not to take part, that's fine too and it will not disadvantage you or your organisation.

Data from this survey will be included in the evaluation reports. Individuals or their workplace will not be identified directly or indirectly. Survey data will be destroyed following the completion of the evaluation.

The survey closes on Thursday 8th November 2020. You can do this survey at any time until then. Thank you in advance for participating.

Should you wish to have any further information about this evaluation please contact Project lead:

[contact details removed]

* I have read and understood the purpose of this ERO survey/evaluation and agree to participate.

  • Yes
  • No

Limitations of this evaluation

As with all evaluations, we have identified some limitations.  These include:

  • inability to access achievement data for the students not enrolled with NZQA
  • identifying a counterfactual for comparison of achievement data was not feasible
  • timing of the fieldwork coincided with post-lockdown, related to Covid-19
  • difficulty accessing education contract documents for some sites
  • data on the age and ethnicity of interview respondents was not gathered
  • we were unable to speak with whānau, hapū or iwi
  • we did not follow up with students after they left residence.

In addition, over the course of the evaluation it became evident that students have a limited understanding of what they can and should expect from their education. This is likely to have impacted on their self-reported satisfaction levels.

Appendix 3: Literature review

The following literature informed our approach to the evaluation. There are three main components to the literature review. We looked at:

  • What is known about students in residential care?
  • What are the components of effective practice?
  • What enables good education for these students?

What is known about students in residential care?

Risk factors for placement in any type of residence include socio-economic factors; age at placement; parental behaviour and disorders including substance abuse; trauma and neglect history; absence of strong attachments.[56] A significant number of children have encountered parental substance abuse, experience difficult child-parent relationships and mental health problems. As consequence, these children often experience high levels of transience in home and school placements, lack stability and lack a sense of security.[57] This leads to disrupted attachment, and disengagement from health and education services. The children often have speech, language and communication needs.[58]

Students entering these settings are likely to have acute wellbeing and learning needs, which require specialist support. These children and young people are more likely to exhibit complex needs such as behavioural, physical and mental health problems, and/or educational underperformance, compared with other children. [30] For many this may require support to overcome lack of attachment issues, mental disorders and experiences of trauma.

They require therapeutic residential care. [4] These students firstly need to feel safe, valued and cared for. A key aspect of supporting their wellbeing is to assess and put in place the necessary support for their wide range of needs.

The experiences of ongoing abuse or trauma present barriers to learning such as: a lack of feeling safe; struggles with self-regulation; an image of themselves that they are not capable; a tendency not to try.[17 There is, however, limited aggregated data on these students.’[10], [30] Engagement and achievement in schooling has been identified as a key challenge.4 The life experiences of these children and young people may inhibit their ability to learn in educational settings and impact on their classroom learning and connections to future education or vocational pathways.[12]

Along with tailored specialist support in these areas, providing supportive environments is key.[38] These should help to build students’ self-regulation, socio-emotional learning[59] and the development of trusting relationships. Ensuring there is a restorative approach to managing behaviour is also important.[60], [61]

While some arrive with knowledge of their whakapapa and cultural backgrounds, including some with te reo Māori from kura kaupapa pathways, others are disconnected from their cultural identities and knowledge bases.

What do these students want from their education?

We know from the evidence base that students in care want to learn. They want to be taken seriously, want to make decisions about their future and want to have good relationships.  Research undertaken with New Zealand children and young people in care[62], [63], [64], [65]show consistent themes about what students want and need from their education:

  • Students in care enjoy learning and achieving when the conditions are right. A big part of this is having teachers that know them well and know the sorts of teaching and learning that are right for them.
  • Students reported that it is important for them to feel like adults really care, but it did not always feel like this was the case These students do not always feel like they are respected and listened to by the people that work with them. The literature reviewed shows that education works when students feel respected and that teachers care about getting things right for them. This includes talking to them in a way they can understand, as well as listening and following through on what they have to say.
  • Communication with adults is important. Students often report that they do not feel like adults are being clear or not taking the time to make sure that the young people understand what’s going on. Some students in care have extra difficulty when it comes to talking with others.
  • Students want continuity of education. Many children in care change schools and settings often, which is disruptive to their learning. As they change settings, they often find that the learning material is not at the right stage for them: they were ahead of the class or had missed out on learning important parts. 
  • Students in care are also more likely to have challenges in friendship and social skills. Being in care makes it difficult to make and keep friendships. Regularly changing settings and being unable to socialise regularly outside of the residence means they lose touch with friends easily.
  • It can be difficult to keep in contact with families and whānau when in residence.
  • Opportunities to participate in cultural experiences and connect with te ao Māori are valued by students, particularly tamariki and rangatahi Māori.

Having contact with whānau, friends, and someone trusted to talk to who you could trust is important to these children and young people.

How important is education for these students?

In the 2016 international consensus statement about what therapeutic residential care involves, education provision is one of a number of critical elements listed.[3] Education plays a critical role in promoting and supporting the wellbeing of children and young people.[66]

Although there is limited information about the impact of education on long-term outcomes for care-experienced children and young people,[67] there is research to show that residential care can influence education positively and impacts on a range of outcomes for children. Education provision is an important part of supporting young people involved in the criminal Youth Justice system to successfully re-join society.[68] In New Zealand, educational achievement may be an important mediator of positive life outcomes for children in care. In particular, achieving NCEA Level 2 has been associated with greater levels of participation in employment, education, or training and lower levels of long-term benefit dependency.[69]

Educational success for students in care occurs if providers show students the value of education, have clear expectations of their education achievement, have a plan to support the student to return to other schooling, as well as supporting the student and developing a culture of learning in the residence.[70]

The international literature shows that quality provision of education services for these students varies widely internationally, and the outcomes experienced by students remains lower compared to non-residential care students.[71], [68], [72], [41], [73], [74], [75], [76]

Measuring outcomes and knowing what education provision is most effective for this group of students is difficult both internationally[26] and in New Zealand.[10], [77], [78]

What are the components of effective practice?

1. Collaboration for effective transitions and pathways

Transitions into a new school context can be a stressful, destabilising experience for any student.[5], [4] Evidence around students in care shows that a sense of belonging, tailored planning and trusting relationships are key to their successful transitions into care and engagement in their learning.[6], [8]

Good transitions are those that are as smooth as possible and give students in these settings the confidence they need to engage in learning. Evidence around students in care shows that a sense of belonging, tailored planning involving all aspects of the learning and development needs of the children or young person and trusting relationships are key to their successful transitions into care and engagement in their learning[4],[5],[6].

Identified good practices that support students’ transitions into learning in residence include:

  • having clear guidelines or protocols in place
  • timely information-sharing and using information from previous settings to inform the learning programme
  • carrying out assessments to identify and respond to what individual students need
  • building rapport and relationships to support students’ sense of trust and belonging
  • welcoming students and their whānau in culturally responsive ways, such as mihi whakatau.

When leaving residences, transition can also present significant challenges for the student. Students require ongoing support for transitioning onto further learning or work.[9] Students leaving residential care often have limited life and independence skills; limited social skills and unhealthy social relationships, mental health needs and low levels of confidence.[12]

Identified good practices for supporting students’ transitions out of residence include:

  • planning that starts shortly after students’ admission into residence[79] 
  • clear and comprehensive information about future options
  • actively involving students and their whānau in planning processes
  • strong communication and collaboration between the residence and other relevant groups, like the students’ future schools; vocational or training organisations; social service agencies; community and specialist services; and whānau
  • encouraging ongoing support from whānau for students as they enter the workforce[80]
  • ongoing monitoring of students after they leave residence.

Education has the potential to have a significant, positive impact on the future pathways of these students. It is important for all parties, including teachers, social workers, case workers and whānau, to work together to create ‘a positive culture of expectation concerning educational achievement and its continuation’[47] so that students are motivated to engage in opportunities for ongoing learning.

2. Support for student needs

As described in the section ‘What is known about students in residential care’ many of the students in residential care are likely to have acute wellbeing and learning needs, which require specialist support. Their previous experiences are likely to impact their ability to learn in educational settings and their connections to future education or vocational pathways. [10] It’s important for these students to have access to the support they need. 

The research indicates that coordinated support for students in residential care is important. Residential care and education settings overseas have found success when they employ a joined-up wrap around support approach,[13] such as in the Missouri Model,[14] and the Kibble Education and Care Centre,[51] to respond well to the complex range of challenges faced by these students. The Missouri Model Education provides a continuum of support for students through their programmes and facilities, including community-based supervision, and dual jurisdiction programmes. Kibble Education and Care Centre features flexible and practical curriculum activities, a peer mentoring system and supported employment opportunities.

Accurate assessment of their needs is essential to providing the appropriate support: ‘It is important that young people in Youth Justice secure residential care are provided with a comprehensive educational screening assessment, and high-quality educational services tailored to their identified needs to help them re-engage in education and catch-up to their peers’.[81]

Trauma-informed practice is an approach that can work with students in residential care.[12], [18], [17], [19], [21] This approach focuses on repairing student’s regulatory abilities and dealing with stress; as well as repairing disrupted attachment capacities through strong student-teacher relationships. The six principles for trauma-informed teacher practice are:

  • always empower, never disempower
  • provide unconditional positive regard
  • maintain high expectations
  • check assumptions, observe, and question
  • be a relationship coach
  • provide guided opportunities for helpful participation.[82]
3. Appropriate pedagogy and meaningful curriculum

Providing a meaningful, responsive curriculum which engages and progresses students from their starting points is crucial. This requires a deliberate approach to implementing teaching practices that work for these students. Quality practices recognise that many of these students have experienced trauma, have a range of complex needs and often have not been well supported or successful in their previous education settings. This requires a deliberate approach to teaching that actively promotes students’ wellbeing.

Research emphasises several important components of appropriate teaching in this context, including trauma-informed pedagogy (outlined above), culturally responsive approaches,[83] and support for students with neuro-diversity disorders and learning difficulties.

In Aotearoa New Zealand there is an established literature base about the importance of culturally responsive practice which addresses the holistic needs of the student and is mana-enhancing.[22],[23],[24],[25] Most examples of models for use with tamariki and rangatahi with complex needs are built on Mason Durie’s holistic model of health and wellbeing, Te Whare Tapa Wha.[84]This promotes four dimensions of Māori well-being: taha tinana, taha wairua, taha whānau, taha hinegaro (physical, spiritual, family and mental health)  – and the importance of giving attention to each of these. The following are examples of models which support a te ao Maori and culturally responsive approach to learning and teaching:

  • Place-based learning[85] and localisation of curriculum is important for helping students understand the importance of whenua and whakapapa which contributes to their sense of identity and connectedness.
  • A cultural framework developed to guide practice when working with Māori students, the Educultural Wheel, promotes identity and connections.[24] It emphasises the importance of Māori values such as rangatiratanga, manaakitanga, and kotahitanga. These ideas have been developed in Te Pikinga ki Runga, which promotes approaches for strengthening cultural identity, positively enhancing attitude, developing resilience and promoting mana motuhake, hononga, hinengaro, tinana.[25]
  • The Hikairo model of curriculum[86] focuses on culturally responsive teaching for different levels of schooling. It focuses on embracing a Māori worldview, revitalising te reo rangatira and building pride in tamariki in relation to their heritage.

Another aspect contributing to student success is the promotion of their agency in the learning process. This is the sense that students feel they can control the things around them, the things that they do and happen to them, and that they are active participants in their learning. It should include developing skills and strategies, which supports decision making skills, growing autonomy, and self-determination. These factors are particularly important where students are in a highly regimented and controlled environment such as in a residence.

4. Positive, nurturing relationships and environments

The literature strongly emphasises the importance of a positive, nurturing environment in the residential education setting, where both the physical environment and the relationships within it are conducive to learning success,[87], [88] and promote a sense of belonging and of cultural identity or mauriora.[89], [90]

The classroom environment becomes an important part of the therapy for these students.[12] The literature shows the importance of incorporating dedicated spaces and resources to respond to the specific needs of these students. This includes, for example, spaces for self-regulation, self-management, opportunities to collaborate, reflection of cultures, languages and identities, and education outside the classroom opportunities. Additionally, learning spaces should reflect the culture of the student: ‘learning environments foster productive and supportive relationships where cultures are visible and valued’.[84]

Thomas and his colleagues[19] note:

The literature places greater importance on creating and maintaining a school environment where everyone is treated with compassion and understanding and is empowered and validated in who they are as students and educators. This includes intentionally building and sustaining meaningful relationships between staff and administrators, staff and students, and among the students themselves (p. 214).

Education success occurs for these students when it is founded on high quality teaching practices, the students feel respected, and feel that their teachers care about getting things right for them. This includes talking to them in a way they can understand, as well as listening and following through on what they say. Having contact with whānau, friends, and someone trusted to talk to is important. Most importantly, these students want to feel safe, respected, and loved.[18]

One model of establishing such relationships is a ‘Talk, Trust, Feel and Repair’. This approach is focused on non-judgmental listening, building and sustain students’ trust and establishing conditions for learning which make students feel they belong and are valued. For students to benefit from this sort of learning environment, residences need to promote stability and focus on healing, connection, learning and empowerment.

An example of this process in action is in the United Kingdom, where the ‘Attachment Aware School’s Programme’[91] develops teachers’ knowledge of children’s socio-emotional needs and supports them to focus on relationship building.[6] This has been shown to positively impact teacher practices and the school climate overall. Other approaches focus on non-judgemental listening to build and sustain students’ trust, and establishing conditions for learning which them feel they belong and are valued.[18]

5. Educationally focused engagement of whānau and caregivers

Strong, learning-focused partnerships are well known to be key to effective educational outcomes for students, particularly for at-risk students.[92]

Durie (2006) identifies three levels of whānau engagement with the education sector: whānau as learners, whānau as advocates for education and whānau educational partnerships. All three levels are key to promoting a sense of ownership and control over learning which has been shown to be a powerful motivating factor.[93]

ERO found a correlation between whānau engagement and accelerated learning progress.[31] Educationally powerful connections between schools, parents, whānau and communities can improve education outcomes for students. ERO found that such connections involved two-way collaborative working relationships that reflected the concept of mahi tahi – working together towards the specific goal of supporting a young person’s success.

In residential care settings, whānau support for learning has the potential to make a big difference to the educational success of these students. This is reflected in Oranga Tamariki’s research [67] which found that the core principles to consider in service development are:

  • the holistic nature of the service
  • seeing the young person as part of a wider whānau
  • connecting the young person to their culture.

However, building relationships with whānau and adults who are significant in these students’ lives in the context of residential education settings can be challenging. Students in these settings are living away from home and have fewer opportunities to maintain connections to significant adults. Many have difficult or unstable relationships with whānau or caregivers. The Missouri Model[14] uses targeted strategies to navigate these challenges: family is integral to the treatment of the young person, and are encouraged to visit and, in some cases, be involved in supporting the young person to return to the community.

Examples of good family and whānau agency support include:

  • reinforcing aspirations and achievements of students and families
  • ensuring practices acknowledge and respond to broader family experiences and circumstances[33]
  • staying in contact with families so that families stay connected with the student and the student’s success. Staying in contact with families allows families’ views to inform the students’ teaching and learning and allows teachers to work with the family to identify and respond to learning barriers[6]
  • encouraging ongoing support from whānau for students as they transition from the residence and potentially enter other education settings or the workforce.
6. Effective leadership and ongoing improvement

The education literature suggests that leadership has a high level of influence over processes, practices and effectiveness.[91] Additionally, it has been associated as a condition for addressing inequities and promoting excellence.[94] In the complex environment of residential care, strong and consistent leadership is essential. It is pivotal that leaders understand the key components of education provision, quality teaching practice and respond to the specific needs of their learners. Qualified and committed leadership can improve outcomes for these young people.[50]

In residential care, leaders also play an important role in liaising across numerous groups and agencies.[95], [96] They set the tone and expectations for collaboration. In New Zealand settings, leadership should take on the role of ‘cultural advocate’[97], [98] taking account of the principle of Rangatiratanga.[99], [10], [100]

What enables good education for these students?

1.  Workforce capacity and capability

Specialised expertise is required in understanding and responding to the particular educational barriers that these students often face, in order to bring out their potential.[10] These students often have acute wellbeing and learning needs, and fostering their educational success requires a high level of specialist pedagogical capacity and capability.

The following aspects have been identified as important for teachers who work with these students:

  • commitment to children[41]
  • cultural competency[13]
  • trauma-informed practice[19], [13], [6], [43]
  • knowledge of identifying and working better with those with neuro-disabilities and their families[44]
  • knowledge of students' need for trauma-informed educational approaches and how these can be supported interagency collaboration[43] 
  • stable, supported workforce[13]
  • educators with high expectations so that students can aspire to and reach their goals with ‘resources and opportunities to release their potential’.[6]

These capabilities extend to all professionals working in these contexts.[44] To respond well to the complexities of educating students in care, it is crucial for teachers, along with specialist staff to have access to the professional support and learning they need.

2. Inter-agency working

Agencies working together effectively is consistently identified in the literature as a key component for system improvement and promoter of educational effectiveness for students with high or complex needs.[45], [46], [47]

For students that have been in care, educational success is influenced by factors related to ‘the care system, including insufficient monitoring of educational progress, a lack of exposure to environments in which education is valued’.[45] To respond to all these factors requires agencies to work together, a problem that has repeatedly been identified as needing to be addressed.[30], [45], [76], [46]

An example of good cross agency working is an innovation is the United Kingdom, where students in care are prioritised by the Department for Education and Employment and overseen at a national level. ‘Virtual School Heads’ were established to promote education for all students looked after by the local authority. Positive evaluation of the piloting of this initiative let to ‘Virtual School Heads’ being legislated.[101] At a policy level, English schools are required to prioritise children in care in their admissions ‘even if schools claim that they are full’.[47] A clear, shared understanding throughout the system of the importance of working together to prioritise these high risk students is a key enabler of their success.

3. Student pathways and transitions

Successful management of learning pathways and transitions through care at an organisational level is a consistent theme in the literature as an enabler of good educational outcomes. However, both in New Zealand and internationally, continuity of learning between settings is identified as highly problematic in care settings. It creates a significant challenge for care and education systems, in terms of providing appropriate support and systems to enable continuity and success:[102], [103]

Some approaches to address these challenges include:

  • providing stable placements where possible.[7],[ 6] In some jurisdictions, this is enhanced by prioritising keeping the child’s current schooling arrangements when they transition into care. 
  • central positioning of Māori culture: ‘Transition from care will only improve when the notion of interdependence that is at the heart of indigenous culture is embraced’.[33]
  • providing opportunities for vocational and ‘life skills’ development to aid in successful transitions out of care.[41], [33]
  • providing care, education, and support beyond age 18.[26]
4. Collaboration with Māori

The importance of including culturally appropriate frameworks for effective residential care, and meaningful participation to overcome historic Māori grievances is well documented by leading researchers in Aotearoa New Zealand.[9], [48], [50]

Community consultation and participation of elders is important to ensure that services are well targeted to address the needs of the community.[30]

Promoting meaningful collaboration and engagement with Māori can be guided by a framework established for New Zealand government agencies. It sets out clear expectations for engaging with Māori aligned to Te Tiriti o Waitangi principles, recognising the value of cultural values and mana enhancing processes. Guidelines are to promote action through: engaging early, being inclusive and thinking broadly.

5. Models of provision

The model of provision can be a key influence on both the quality of education and the consistency of education across sites. The provision of well-coordinated, wraparound support and individualised therapy and learning opportunities has been shown to be a successful model for supporting positive outcomes for students in care. Evidence shows that provision like the Missouri Model in the United States,[14] and Scotland’s Kibble Institute[51] promote improved outcomes for students through features such as:

  • a continuum of residences, ranging from secure care to community-based group homes and supervision
  • tailored curriculum
  • an emphasis on holistic wellbeing support
  • vocational and academic qualification programmes
  • peer mentoring
  • teaching that includes a focus on overcoming learning barriers
  • onsite transition support services
  • supported employment programmes.

Evaluation into the effectiveness of these models have been positive and promising, showing a range of benefits to students including reduced recidivism, decreased learning barriers for students, and higher rates of academic achievement.[51]

In the United Kingdom, a virtual school model has been established to promote a more focused and consistent approach for ‘looked after’ children:[104][105] ‘Its role is to support and improve the educational attainment of young people who are looked after as if they attended a single school’.[100] This includes a ‘Virtual Head’ who oversees and brokers provision for learners.

The Missouri model[14] is well regarded as a model youth justice system, providing a continuum of residential facilities for rehabilitating young offenders. A core element is the view of families as partners in learning, treatment and intervention of these young people. Education in this system involves: a highly structured day of six to eight hours; the authorisation to issue credits and diplomas; a certified teacher and a youth specialist in each classroom and Diversion, community-based supervision, and dual jurisdiction programmes are also provided. 

Kibble Education and Care Centre is a social enterprise in Scotland aimed at providing a stable, safe and happy environment for young people considered high risk and disadvantaged. It features: classes with maximum of five young people; flexible, practical curriculum activities, vocational training and qualifications and academic qualifications; a peer mentoring system and supported employment within KibbleWorks (a collection of small social enterprises). Evaluations have shown that staff have been effective at assisting young people to overcome their barriers to learning and that young people feel cared for and secure, and benefit from having their curriculum tailored to their individual needs.[51]

6. Evaluation for improvement

Knowing what works effectively for these children and young people is crucial for a system that serves such a high priority group.[106] Evidence shows that there is an increasing emphasis on evaluating and demonstrating the effectiveness of education in care. Because of the complexity of provision in this setting, new understandings about pedagogy, trauma, provision for complex learning needs, and the crucial role of cultural responsiveness all impact what is understood to be ‘good’ in residence-based education.

This is reflected in significant shifts to standards and regulations internationally, and in New Zealand. There is a growing body of research, including government investment into longitudinal studies, into the experiences and outcomes of students in care and vulnerable children.[52], [53]

Robust evaluation by the providers and teachers is key to ensuring provision in residences is fit for purpose, and that these practices and processes are benefitting these vulnerable students. Additionally there is a clear need for evaluating initiatives to ensure they are well implemented in a New Zealand context.[107]

7. Student agency

Throughout the literature, it is emphasised that supporting the empowerment and agency of students has a positive impact on students’ learning success. Students’ ability to exercise control over their education experiences impacts on their engagement, and is strongly aligned to stable, fulfilling relationships, attitudes and resilience factors.[108]

Good student agency includes:

  • students having control over their education[7]
  • ensuring students have ways to have their voice heard and raise concerns[41]
  • reinforcing aspirations of students[6]
  • involving young peoples’ voices at policy, service design, and planning stages.[26]

Talking Trouble Aotearoa New Zealand in collaboration with partners carried out research showing to look at the perspectives of students and the impact and potential of empowering them .[109] They found that when student agency was not done well the difficulties they experienced communicating had the potential to leave them feeling as though they had no control or ‘voice’.

8. Whānau agency

The involvement and empowerment of whānau and carers in the education of these students needs to be enabled at an organisational level, to give sufficient resources and opportunities for education partnerships to be developed and maintained. Throughout the literature, it is emphasised that this has a positive impact on students’ learning success. This is particularly important for tamariki and Rangatahi Māori as connection to whānau - ‘taha whānau’, is a core component of health and wellbeing.[82]

Good whānau agency includes:

  • reinforcing aspirations of families[6]
  • ensuring practices acknowledge and respond to broader family experiences and circumstances[48]
  • staying in contact with families to identify and respond to learning barriers[6]
  • encouraging ongoing support from whānau for students as they enter the workforce[11],[33]

One example of a promising approach is The Missouri Model,[14] where a key part is family engagement. Families are positioned as partners in this process, are involved in visits with the young people, and are an essential part of the rehabilitation of young offenders. To enable effective learning in the context of the wider whānau, support structures for their participation must be in place.

Conclusion

This literature review informed our understanding of the students and their needs. It was the basis of the rubrics used in Part 4 to assess the quality of education provision. It also informed our analysis on how education is supported described in Part 5.

Appendix 4: Evaluation Rubrics

Components of Effective Practice with Rubrics

 

Lever 1a: Collaboration for effective transitions IN and pathways

 

Action required

Developing

Developed

Well established

 

1. Effective processes and practices for sharing and using ākonga information

 

1.1. Communication between ākonga, school, whānau, social service agencies and specialist services

Communication between ākonga, school, whānau, social service agencies and specialist services is not occurring for most ākonga

Communication between ākonga, school, whānau, social service agencies and specialist services occurs for some ākonga some of the time

Communication between ākonga, school, whānau, social service agencies and specialist services occurs for most ākonga most of the time

Communication between ākonga, school, whānau, social service agencies and specialist services occurs for each ākonga all of the time

 

1.2. Protocols for sharing relevant information between agencies and services to inform decision-making about required interventions and support for ākonga 

There is a lack of protocols in place for sharing relevant ākonga information

Some protocols are in place. These are not yet consistently followed

Protocols for sharing relevant ākonga information are in place and are usually used to inform decision-making for most ākonga

Established protocols for sharing of relevant ākonga information are always used to inform decision-making for all ākonga

 

2. Assessments appropriately identify the health, physical, emotional, cultural and learning needs of each ākonga

2.1. Identification of individual learning and wellbeing needs through diagnostic information on entry (including developmental language disorders, physical, emotional, cultural and mental health needs)

There is inadequate diagnostic information available and undertaken on entry to identify individual ākonga needs

Some diagnostic assessments are accessed and undertaken on entry for some ākonga to identify individual needs

Most ākonga needs are identified on entry through relevant diagnostic assessments and processes

The needs of each ākonga are comprehensively identified on entry through well-considered diagnostic assessments and processes

 

3. Effective processes for supporting ākonga to transition successfully into residence

3.1. Clear guidance for promoting effective transition

(NB including considerations of cultural identity)

There are no guidelines for promoting effective transition

There are some guidelines for promoting effective transition

Staff have some clear guidelines for promoting effective transition which are often followed

Staff have clear guidelines which are followed consistently and promote effective transition

 

3.2. Appropriate, mana enhancing processes for welcoming and inducting ākonga and their whānau into the residence (whānau – if there is sufficient notice of entry given)

 Appropriate, mana enhancing induction processes are not present

Appropriate, mana enhancing induction processes are enacted sometimes for ākonga

Appropriate, mana enhancing induction processes are enacted mostly for ākonga,

Appropriate, mana enhancing induction processes are enacted consistently for all ākonga and likely to support effective transition

 

3.3. Incorporating cultural protocols and te ao Māori during transitions

Cultural protocols and te ao Māori are not incorporated in transitions

Cultural protocols and te ao Māori are sometimes incorporated into transitions

Cultural protocols and te ao Māori are usually incorporated in transitions

Cultural protocols and te ao Māori are always incorporated into transitions

 

 

Lever 1b: Collaboration for effective transitions OUT and pathways

 

Action required

Developing

Developed

Well established

1. Ākonga are supported to transition successfully out of residential care and on to meaningful pathways

 

 

 

1.1. Responding to the aspirations of ākonga and whānau

Ākonga and whānau aspirations and valued cultural outcomes are not sought

Ākonga and whānau aspirations and valued cultural outcomes are sought

Ākonga and whānau aspirations and valued cultural outcomes are sought, respected and responded to sometimes

Ākonga and whānau aspirations and valued cultural outcomes are consistently sought, respected and appropriately responded to

 

1.2. Effective collaboration and communication between relevant organisations to support ākonga transitions (schools, vocational or training organisations, social service agencies, community and specialist services & whānau etc.)

There is inadequate communication between relevant organisations to support ākonga transitions – no collaboration

There is some communication and collaboration between relevant organisations groups to support transitions for some ākonga

There is good communication and collaboration between relevant organisations groups to support transitions for most ākonga

Well-established connections and effective communication and collaboration between relevant groups support transitions for all ākonga

 

1.3. Whānau and ākonga are informed and involved in transition planning for future options for education, training or work

Ākonga and their whānau are not well informed and consulted about future options for education, training or work

Ākonga and their whānau and ākonga are sometimes informed and consulted about future options for education, training or work

 

Ākonga and their whānau are usually informed and consulted about future options for education, training or work and involved in decisions 

 

Clear and comprehensive information about future options for education, training or work is tailored to each ākonga and they and their whānau are actively involved in decision- making

 

1.4. Tracking of ākonga outcomes, as outlined in their transition plan, after transitions

There are no processes for tracking ākonga outcomes after transition

There are some processes for monitoring ākonga successful transition and ongoing outcomes

There are processes for monitoring ākonga successful transition and ongoing outcomes, and these are usually followed

There are clear processes for monitoring ākonga successful transition and ongoing outcomes, and these are consistently used

 

 

Lever 2: Support for student needs

 

 

Action required

Developing

Developed

Well established

1. Individualised planning effectively responds to ākonga needs and aspirations and promotes their success

 

1.1. Access to assessment information and use in planning documents (including Family Group Conference (FCG) information and All about Me

There is inadequate access and use of assessment information in planning documents  

Assessment information accessed and used in planning documents, are sometimes accessed

Assessment information and planning documents are usually accessed and built on in planning for most ākonga  

Assessment information and planning documents, are consistently accessed and effectively built on in planning for all  ākonga  

1.2. Collaborative goal setting

Goals are not being set, no consultation with ākonga, whānau and relevant parties

 

Goals are sometimes set in consultation with some ākonga, whānau and relevant parties

Relevant and achievable goals are set in consultation with most ākonga, whānau and relevant parties

Relevant and achievable goals are consistently set in consultation with all ākonga, whānau and relevant parties

1.3. Planning occurs in a timely fashion

 Planning does not occur in a timely manner

Planning sometimes occurs in a timely manner

Planning usually occurs in a timely manner

Planning always occurs in a timely manner

1.4. Development of strategies to achieve goals

 

Strategies to achieve goals are rarely developed in collaboration with ākonga/whānau /care staff or relevant specialists or agencies

 

Some strategies to achieve goals have been developed in collaboration with some ākonga/whānau / care staff and relevant specialists and agencies

 

Strategies to achieve goals have been well considered and often developed collaboratively with most ākonga, 

whānau, care staff and relevant specialists and agencies

Strategies to achieve goals are well considered and consistently developed in collaboration with all ākonga, whānau, care staff and relevant specialists or agencies 

1.5. Monitoring and review of ILPs show ākonga experience success and progress

Review of ILPs shows ākonga are not experiencing success and progress

Review of ILPs shows how some ākonga are experiencing success and progress

 

Review of ILPs shows how most ākonga are experiencing success and progress

 

Review of ILPs shows how all ākonga are experiencing success and progress

 

1.6. Use of assessment information in planning documents 

Planning does not respond to needs and aspirations identified through assessment  

Planning makes some links to needs and aspirations identified through assessment  

 

Planning regularly takes into account needs and aspirations identified through assessment  

 

Planning consistently uses needs and aspirations identified through assessment to build on learning for ākonga

 

2. Staff and specialists demonstrate a coordinated, collaborative and culturally appropriate approach to addressing the holistic needs of each child

2.1. Collaborative development of integrated individual care plans for each child

Integrated care plans are not developed collaboratively

Integrated care plans are sometimes developed collaboratively

Integrated care plans are developed collaboratively

Integrated care plans are consistently developed collaboratively

2.2. Timely access to appropriate health, wellbeing and learning support

Ākonga do not have adequate access to appropriate health, wellbeing and learning support

Some ākonga have access to appropriate health, wellbeing and learning support

Most ākonga have access to appropriate health, wellbeing and learning support

All ākonga have access to appropriate health, wellbeing and learning support

 

 

Lever 3: Appropriate pedagogy and meaningful curriculum

 

 

Action required

Developing

Developed

Well established

 

1. Ākonga have rich, relevant and meaningful learning opportunities 

 

1.1. Provision of authentic learning opportunities

Authentic learning opportunities do not happen

Some authentic learning opportunities happen

Many authentic learning opportunities happen

Authentic learning opportunities happen consistently

 

1.2. Learning activities and strategies productively engage ākonga

 

Ākonga are not engaged in learning

Ākonga are engaged to a limited extent – either not all engaged or individuals showing signs of disengagement

Ākonga are engaged in learning

Ākonga are engaged and motivated by the work

 

1.3. Building on ākonga prior learning

No evidence of prior learning taken into account – one size fits all

Limited evidence of ākonga prior learning informing planning – sometimes seen - or seen to a limited extent

Ākonga prior learning is often built on to support continuity of learning and progression

Ākonga prior learning is consistently built on and provides continuity of learning and progression

 

1.4. Linking of teaching strategies and learning opportunities to ākonga ILPs

Teaching strategies and learning opportunities are not tailored to meet ILPs

Teaching strategies and learning opportunities are sometimes linked to ākonga ILPs

Teaching strategies and learning opportunities are often linked to ākonga ILPs

Teaching strategies and learning opportunities are consistently linked to ākonga ILPs

 

1.5. Ākonga agency in learning is fostered including key competencies (KCs) and pro-social capabilities

Ākonga agency, KCs and pro-social capabilites are not fostered

Ākonga agency, KCs and pro-social capabilites are somemtimes fostered

Ākonga agency, KCs and pro-social capabilites are regularly fostered

Ākonga agency, KCs and pro-social capabilites are consistently fostered

 

Lever 3: Appropriate pedagogy and meaningful curriculum

 

1.6. Gathering and acting on ākonga views about learning

Ākonga voice is not sought

Ākonga voice is sometimes sought and sometimes acted on to inform teaching and learning

Ākonga voice is often sought and usually acted on to inform teaching and learning

 

Ākonga voice is regularly sought and acted on to inform teaching and learning

 

 

1.7. Variety of learning approaches

There are insufficient opportunities and/or resources for ākonga to learn in a variety of settings and ways

There are some opportunities and some resources for ākonga to learn in a variety of settings and ways

 

There are regular opportunities and appropriate resources are allocated for ākonga to learn in a variety of settings and ways

There are frequent opportunities and resources are prioritised for ākonga to learn in a variety of settings and ways

2. Teachers demonstrate effective teaching practice

 

2.1. Expectations for ākonga educational success and confronting deficit theorising 

There are low expectations for ākonga educational success and evidence of deficit theorising

Teachers sometimes express high expectations for the educational success of ākonga and are aware of the impact of deficit theorising

Teachers often express high expectations for the educational success of ākonga and usually confront deficit theorising

Teachers regularly express high expectations for the educational success of ākonga and consistently confront deficit theorising

2.2. Matching of teaching strategies to complex needs of ākonga

Teaching strategies do not respond to complex needs of ākonga

 

Some teaching strategies are well-matched to complex needs of ākonga

Teaching strategies are often well-matched to complex needs of ākonga

Teaching strategies are consistently well-matched to complex needs of ākonga

2.3. Approaches to supporting positive learning interactions and behaviours

Positive approaches to behaviour and learning management are not evident in practice

Positive approaches to behaviour and learning management are sometimes evident

Positive approaches to behaviour and learning management are usually evident

Positive approaches to behaviour and learning management are embedded and highly evident

2.4. Demonstration of culturally responsive practice

Teachers do not recognise the significance of identity, belonging and connection and do not demonstrate culturally responsive practice

Teachers are aware of the significance of identity, belonging and connection and are developing culturally responsive practice

Teachers have a good understanding of the significance of identity, belonging and connection and demonstrate a range of culturally responsive practice

Teachers have a strong understanding of the significance of identity, belonging and connection and this is embedded in culturally responsive practice

2.5. Teachers’ use of evidence to improve practice

 

No or limited evidence of teachers using evidence to improve their practice.

There are no organisational processes or systems to support this

Some teachers use evidence to improve their practice; there are some organisational processes and systems to support this

Many teachers use evidence to improve their practice; and there are sound organisational processes and systems to support this

All teachers consistently use evidence to improve their practices and well-established organisational processes and systems to support this

3. Development of responsive local curriculum

3.1. Locally, culturally focused curriculum

 

There is no focus in the curriculum on places, stories and people of cultural significance to ākonga

There is some focus on places, stories and people of cultural significance to ākonga

 

There is cpnsiderable focus on places, stories and people of cultural significance to ākonga

 

There is consistent focus on places, stories and people of cultural significance to ākonga

3.2. Teachers seek out knowledge of ākonga identities, language and culture to use to plan learning programmes

Teachers do not seek out knowledge about identities, language and culture of ākonga to use to plan learning programmes

 

Teachers sometimes seek out knowledge about identities, language and culture of ākonga to use to plan learning programmes

 

Teachers often seek out knowledge of identities, language and culture and use this to plan learning programmes for ākonga

 

Teachers always seek out knowledge of identities, language and culture, and use this to plan learning programmes for ākonga

4. The curriculum effectively promotes te Tiriti o Waitangi principles, te āo Māori perspectives and aspirations for Māori learners

 

4.1. Teachers’ understanding of key Māori values, practices and beliefs

Key Māori values, practices and beliefs are not understood by teachers

There is some teacher understanding of key Māori values, practices and beliefs

There is good teacher understanding of key Māori values, practices and beliefs

 

Teachers have shared, deep understandings of key Māori values, practices and beliefs

4.2. Supporting akongā Māori connection to their culture, language and identity through their learning

Teachers have little to no focus is given to supporting akongā Māori connection to their culture, language and identity and identity needs

through their learning

Some teachers find opportunities to support akongā Māori connection to their culture, language and identity and identity needs through their learning

Teachers often find opportunities to support akongā Māori connection to their culture, language and identity and identity needs through their learning

Teachers consistently find opportunities to support akongā Māori connection to their culture, language and identity through their learning

5. Teachers’ development of effective practice

5.1. Teachers’ engagement in learning

There is little to no evidence of engagement in professional learning / research-informed practice or innovation

Teachers engage in some aspects of professional learning. Research informed practice is developing with pockets of innovation

Teachers often engage in professional learning. Research informed practice is evident supports innovative site-based approaches

Teachers regularly engage in professional learning Research-informed practice is highly evident and well established and supports innovative school wide approaches

5.2. Alignment of teachers’ beliefs and practices to effective models of professional practice

Teachers’ beliefs and practices vary and are not aligned with effective models of professional practice

 

Teachers’ beliefs and practices are generally aligned with effective models of professional practice

Teachers’ beliefs and practices are consistent and align with effective models of professional practice

Teachers have strong, shared beliefs and common practices that are intentionally aligned with effective models of professional practice

6. Ākonga are knowledgeable about themselves as learners

6.1. Ākonga knowledge of learning progress and next steps

 

Ākonga do not know and can not talk about their learning progress or next steps

 

Some ākonga have some knowledge of their learning progress and their next steps

 

Many ākonga know and can talk about their learning progress and next steps

 

Almost all ākonga demonstrate a deep sense of ownership for their progress in learning and are clear about their next steps

Lever 4a: Positive, nurturing PHYSICAL environments

 

 

Action required

Developing

Developed

Well established

1. The physical environment effectively supports learning for all ākonga

 

 

1.1. Organisation and arrangement of physical environments to support self-regulation and engagement in learning

The physical environment is not well organised or arranged to support ākonga to self-regulate and engage in learning

The physical environment is organised and arranged to support ākonga to self-regulate and engage in learning

 

The physical environment is highly effective (high quality) in supporting ākonga to self-regulate and engage in learning

1.2. Appropriate resources and equipment for learning

Provision of resources and equipment for learning is not adequate

There are some appropriate resources and equipment for learning

There are good resources and equipment for learning

There are excellent resources and equipment for learning

1.3. Reflection of the cultures of ākonga and support for tikanga Māori in learning spaces

Learning spaces do not show value for the cultures of ākonga and support for tikanga Māori practices

Learning spaces are beginning to show value for cultures of ākonga and support for aspects of tikanga Māori

Learning spaces show value for cultures of ākonga and support tikanga Māori

 

 

Learning spaces ensure the cultures of ākonga and support for tikanga Māori practices is effectively reflected and supported

Lever 4b: Positive, nurturing EMOTIONAL environments

 

 

Not Adequate

Developing

Good

Very Good

1. The emotional environment effectively supports wellbeing and learning for all ākonga

 

1.1 Setting and communication of boundaries to guide behaviour

 

Boundaries for ākonga are unclear and ineffectively communicated 

Boundaries for ākonga are set and sometimes communicated to guide behaviour

Boundaries are established and clearly communicated to guide behaviour

Boundaries are clearly known and understood by ākonga and guide behaviour

1.2. Support for developing a positive self-view and self-efficacy in learning

Teachers do not support development of a positive self-view and self-efficacy in learning

Teachers demonstrate and promote a positive, strength-based view of ākonga

Teachers consistently demonstrate and promote a positive, strength-based view of ākonga

2. Good relationships are prioritised and supported

 

 

2.1. Promotion of whānau-like relationships

Building and sustaining whānau-like relationships is not prioritised by staff

Building and sustaining whānau-like relationships is sometimes prioritised by staff

Building and sustaining whānau-like relationships is a focus for staff

 

Building and sustaining whānau-like relationships is constant priority for all staff

2.2. Strategies to minimise incidents and physical intervention

Individual needs are not considered when developing and implementing strategies to minimise incidents and physical intervention

Individual needs are sometimes considered when developing and implementing strategies to minimise incidents and physical intervention

Individual needs are usually considered when developing and implementing strategies to minimise incidents and physical intervention

Individual needs are always thoroughly considered when developing and implementing strategies to minimise incidents and physical intervention

2.3. Ākonga report having a sense of belonging

Ākonga report they lack a sense of belonging

Some ākonga report having a sense of belonging

Most ākonga report having a sense of belonging

Nearly all ākonga consistently report having a sense of belonging

2.4. Ākonga understanding of expectations for positive participation in learning

 

Ākonga lack understanding of the expectations for their positive participation in learning

Ākonga have some understanding about expectations for their positive participation in learning

Ākonga have good understanding of the expectations for their positive participation in learning

All ākonga have clear understanding of expectations for their positive participation in learning

3. Practices are well implemented to support ākonga wellbeing and emotional safety

 

 

3.1. Collaboration of staff to promote an environment which fosters a sense of security, safety and belonging

Staff do not work together to promote an environment which fosters a sense of security, safety and belonging

Staff sometimes work together to promote an environment which fosters a sense of security, safety and belonging

Staff usually work together to promote an environment which fosters a sense of security, safety and belonging

Staff consistently work together to promote an environment whānau ich effectively fosters a sense of security, safety and belonging

3.2. Responsive, flexible routines promote post-traumatic healing, self-regulation and socio-emotional growth

Responsive flexible routines are not evident

Responsive flexible routines are evident

Responsive flexible routines are evident throughout

3.3. Consistently enactment of restorative practices

Restorative practices are not in place

Restorative practices are developing

Restorative practices are regularly enacted

Restorative practices are consistently and effectively enacted

4. Ākonga rights are effectively protected and reported

4.1. Ākonga treated with dignity and respect

Ākonga are not treated with dignity and respect

Ākonga are sometimes treated with dignity and respect

Ākonga are usually treated with dignity and respect

Ākonga are always treated with dignity and respect

4.2. Staff advocate effectively for ākonga and young people

Staff do not advocate for ākonga

Staff advocate for ākonga

 

Staff advocate for ākonga

 

Staff advocate effectively for ākonga

4.3. Support is sensitive and responsive to ākonga identity to their right not to be discriminated against (including age, disability, ethnicity, faith or belief, gender identity, language, race and sexual orientation)

Support is not sensitive and responsive to ākonga identity

Support is sometimes sensitive and responsive to ākonga identity

Support is usually sensitive and responsive to ākonga identity

Support is consistently sensitive and responsive to ākonga identity

             

 

 

Lever 5: Educationally focused engagement of whānau and caregivers

 

 

Action required

Developing

Developed

Well established

1. Teachers learn about significant adults in the lives of ākonga

1.1. Teacher knowledge about whānau of origin of ākonga and significant adults and caregivers

Staff are yet to seek and gain knowledge about significant adults of ākonga

 

Staff have some knowledge about significant adults of ākonga

Staff have good knowledge about significant adults of ākonga

Staff have deep knowledge about significant adults of ākonga

2. Learning Relationships between teachers and whānau, significant adults including case workers, care staff are effectively promoted and evident

2.1. Collaboration with whānau/ ākonga / caregivers and significant adults to implement strategies for supporting ongoing success in learning

Teachers do not work collaboratively with whānau and significant adults to determine, implement and monitor strategies for supporting success in learning

Teachers sometimes work collaboratively with whānau and significant adults to determine, implement and monitor strategies to for supporting success in learning

Teachers usually work collaboratively with whānau and significant adults to determine, implement and monitor strategies to for supporting success in learning

Teachers consistently work collaboratively with whānau and significant adults to determine, implement and monitor strategies to for supporting success in learning

2.2. Regular sharing of information about learning progress, challenges, next steps and successes of ākonga with whānau/significant adults

Whānau and caregivers are not informed about learning progress, challenges, next steps and successes for ākonga

 

Whānau and caregivers are sometimes informed about learning progress, challenges, next steps and successes for ākonga

Whānau and caregivers are regularly informed about learning progress, challenges, next steps and success for ākonga

Whānau and caregivers are very well informed informed about learning progress, challenges, next steps and success for ākonga

 

 

Lever 6a: Effective leadership

 

 

Not Adequate

Developing

Good

Very Good

1. Leaders (organisational, site, curriculum & pastoral) are well supported to build their capability and effectiveness

1.1. Opportunities for leaders to improve their practice through regular reflection, feedback on practice and development of professional supervision

There is insufficient support for leaders to reflect, develop and improve

Some support is provided for leaders to reflect, develop and improve

Support is often provided for leaders to reflect, develop and improve including the provision of professional supervision

Support is consistently provided for leaders to reflect, develop and improve their practice, including the provision of professional supervision

2. Leaders promote effective practice for ākonga with complex needs and /or trauma experience

2.1. Shared, articulated understanding about what constitutes good practice for learning and teaching for ākonga

There is no shared understanding or articulation about what constitutes good practice for learning and teaching for ākonga

There is some understanding and articulation about aspects of good practice for learning and teaching for ākonga

There is a shared understanding and articulation about what constitutes good practice for learning and teaching for ākonga

 

There are highly consistent, shared understandings and clear articulation about what constitutes good practice for learning and teaching for ākonga

2.2. Leadership support for teachers to be effective practitioners (NB high expectations)

Leadership support for teachers’ ongoing development and effectiveness is not adequate

Leadership provides some support for teachers’ ongoing development and effectiveness

 

Leadership provides good support for teachers’ ongoing development and effectiveness

 

Leadership provides highly effective support for teachers’ ongoing development and effectiveness

2.3. Support for teachers’ development of cultural competency, particularly for Māori ākonga

Teachers have received no to limited support to develop cultural competency

 

Teachers have received some support to develop cultural competency

 

Teachers have received sustained, effective support to develop cultural competency

 

Teachers have received well sustained, strategic and effective support to develop cultural competency

3. Changes in processes and practices effectively support improvement

 

3.1. Improving outcomes for ākonga is central to planning for change

Improving outcomes for ākonga is rarely the focus of planning for change

 

Improving outcomes for ākonga is usually the focus of planning for change

 

Improving outcomes for ākonga is the main focus of planning for change

 

Improving outcomes for ākonga is central to planning for change at all levels

3.2. Evidence of improvement over a sustained period

There is little evidence of continuous or sustained improvement over time

There is some evidence of continuous or sustained improvement over time

There is good evidence of continuous or sustained improvement over time

There is compelling evidence of continuous and sustained improvement over time

4. The principles of te Tiriti o Waitangi are promoted and evident

 

 

4.1. Leaders’ understanding and enactment of their obligations in relation to Te Tiriti principles

Leaders and staff show little to no understanding of their obligations in relation to Te Tiriti principles

Leaders and staff show some understanding of their obligations in relation to Te Tiriti principles but do not effectively enact these

Leaders and staff understand their obligations in relation to Te Tiriti principles and promote these in their context

Leaders and staff have a good understanding of their obligations in relation to Te Tiriti principles and consistently enact these in their context

4.2. Effective and meaningful working relationships with mana whenua as kaitiaki

Working relationships with mana whenua as kaitiaki are not in place

 

Working relationships with mana whenua as kaitiaki are developing

 

Meaningful working relationships with mana whenua as kaitiaki are established

 

Effective and meaningful working relationships with mana whenua as kaitiaki are well established and productive

4.3. Tikanga and kawa reflects the mana and dignity of tamariki Māori and is applied as guided by mana whenua

Tikanga and kawa does not reflect the mana and dignity of tamariki Māori and not guided by mana whenua

Tikanga and kawa is beginning to reflect the mana and dignity of tamariki Māori and be guided by mana whenua

Tikanga and kawa reflects the mana and dignity of tamariki Māori and is applied guided by mana whenua

Tikanga and kawa consistently reflects the mana and dignity of tamariki Māori and consistently applied as guided by mana whenua

4.4. Knowledge of local sites of significance, key experiences, needs, expectations and aspirations is sought and valued

Knowledge of local sites of significance, key experiences, needs, expectations and aspirations is not sought or valued

Knowledge of local sites of significance, key experiences, needs, expectations and aspirations is beginning to be sought and valued

Knowledge of local sites of significance, key experiences, needs, expectations and aspirations is regularly sought and valued

Knowledge of local sites of significance, key experiences, needs, expectations and aspirations are continually sought and highly valued

5. Leaders promote the wellbeing of staff

5.1. Effective processes for monitoring and supporting the health and wellbeing of staff

There are inadequate processes for monitoring and supporting the health and wellbeing of staff

There are some processes for monitoring and supporting the health and wellbeing of staff

There are good processes for monitoring and supporting the health and wellbeing of staff

There are highly effective processes for monitoring and supporting the health and wellbeing of staff

5.2 Response to staff voice

There is little evidence that staff voice is sought and responded to

There is some evidence that staff voice is sought and responded to

Staff voice is regularly sought and responded to

Staff voice is routinely sought and responded to

6. There are well-implemented processes for ensuring accountabilities are met

 

 

6.1. Alignment of procedures and practices to legislative and regulatory requirements

Many procedures and practices do not align with legislative and regulatory requirements

Some procedures and practices align to legislative and regulatory requirements

Procedures and practices are generally aligned to legislative and regulatory requirements

Procedures and practices are well aligned to legislative requirements and regulatory requirements

Lever 6b: Ongoing improvement

1. Inquiry and evaluation are effectively used to promote innovation and improvement

1.1. Effective use of data for supporting decisions about sustaining or changing practices or interventions

Data is not used effectively to support decisions about sustaining or changing practices or interventions

Data is sometimes used effectively to support decisions about sustaining or changing practices or interventions

Data is often used effectively to support decisions about sustaining or changing practices or interventions

Data is used very effectively to support decisions about sustaining or changing practices or interventions

1.2. Use of internal evaluation to improve the learning experiences and wellbeing of ākonga

There is limited to no understanding and use of internal evaluation for improvement

There is some understanding and use of internal evaluation for improvement

There is good understanding and some use of internal evaluation for improvement

There is very good understanding and effective use of internal evaluation for improvement

1.3. Data-informed improvements to transition processes and practices are ongoing

Transition practices have remained the same over time

Some changes to improve transition processes and practices occur

Changes to transition practices and processes occur in a well-considered way

Changes to transition practices and processes are well-informed by relevant data, and impact of changes are evaluated

1.4. Monitoring of change for impact and effectiveness

Change is not monitored for impact and effectiveness

There is some monitoring of change for impact and effectiveness

Change is monitored for impact and effectiveness

Change is well monitored for impact and effectiveness

1.5. Strategic planning is aligned to identified areas for improvement and positive outcomes for ākonga are monitored

Strategic planning is unrelated to identified areas for improvement and does not include monitoring of positive outcomes for ākonga

Strategic planning is aligned to some areas for improvement and includes some monitoring of positive outcomes for ākonga

Strategic planning is aligned to identified areas for improvement and includes relevant monitoring of positive outcomes for ākonga

Strategic planning is well aligned to identified areas for improvement and monitors a range of relevant outcomes for ākonga

1.6. There are appropriate systems for monitoring compliance matters and quality of provision

Systems for monitoring compliance and quality of provision are insufficiently robust

Systems for monitoring compliance and quality of provision are developing

 

There are appropriate systems for monitoring compliance and quality of provision.

There are robust well sustained systems for monitoring compliance and quality of provision.

Questions for Enablers of Effective Practice

1. Workforce capacity and capability, separated into:
  • Workforce commitment
  • Teacher collaboration and development

What is in place to ensure systematic professional development for teachers and cared staff in the residential settings?

What opportunities are there to enhance workforce development?

2. Inter-agency working

How do system leaders identify shared goals, and ways that programs and services link and align to contribute jointly to those shared goals?

Are there ways in which providers work together to help students reach their goals (for example social workers, vocational education providers)?

Are there opportunities for coordination with wider welfare systems?

What are the barriers to coordination?

3. Student pathways and transitions

Is it difficult for students to transition from one programme to another?

Do students sometimes ‘fall through the cracks’?

Are learning programmes well sequenced / how is continuity of learning supported?

4. Collaboration with Māori

How is Māori voice and Te Ao Māori enabled in policy and delivery design?

Are there examples of co-designing delivery models?

5. Models of provision

In what ways do funding models and contracting processes help deliver effective learning opportunities?

Is the funding approach flexible and responsive?

6. Evaluation for improvement

In what systematic ways is learning across the sector enabled and extent to which innovation fostered?

Are there shifts in knowledge about how to bring about positive outcomes?

7. Student agency

How is student agency enabled at the policy and delivery design?

8. Whānau agency

How is whānau voice enabled at the policy and delivery design?

References and endnotes 

  1. Where we have used other terms for students it is because it reflects the source reference, or was the term used in a survey.
  2. Throughout this report we have used the term ‘school’ to talk about when the students are attending the education provided within their residential classrooms. We have used the term ‘provider’ to refer to any of the three education providers.
  3. Neurodiversity is a broad term that includes (but is not limited to) dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, autism spectrum disorder, foetal alcohol spectrum disorder, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, trauma related disorders, and auditory or visual processing disorders (MoE, 2019)
  4. Whittaker, J. K., Holmes, L., del Valle, J. F., Ainsworth, F., Andreassen, T., Anglin, J., Bellonci, C., Berridge, D., Bravo, A., Canali, C., Courtney, M., Currey, L., Daly, D., Gilligan, R., Grietens, H., Harder, A., Holden, M., James, S., Kendrick, A., Zeira, A. (2016). Therapeutic Residential Care for Children and Youth: A Consensus Statement of the International Work Group on Therapeutic Residential Care*. Residential Treatment for Children & Youth, 33(2), 89–106. https://doi.org/10.1080/0886571X.2016.1215755
  5. Berridge, D., Dance, C., Beecham, J. & Field, s. (2008). Educating difficult adolescents: Effective education for children in public care or with emotional and behavioural difficulties. Jessica Kingslea Publisher: London, U.K.
  6. Galton, M., Morrison, I. & Pell, T. (2000). Transfer and transition in English schools: reviewing the evidence. International Journal of Educational Research. 33, 4.
  7. Fernandez, E. (2019). Working towards better education for children in care: Longitudinal analysis of the educational outcomes of a cohort of children in care in Australia. Oxford Review of Education, 45(4), 481–501. https://doi.org/10.1080/03054985.2019.1612345
  8. Sebba, J., Berridge, D., Luke, N., Fletcher, J., Bell, K., Strand, S., Thomas, S., Sinclair, I., O’Higgins, A., Rees Centre for Research on Fostering and Education, University of Oxford, & University of Bristol. (2015). The educational progress of looked after children in England: Linking care and educational data.
  9. Wood, M & Selwyn, J. (2017). Looked after children and young people’s views on what matters to their subjective well-being. Adoption and Fostering, 41, 1.
  10. Atwool, N. (2019). Challenges of operationalizing trauma‐informed practice in child protection services in New Zealand. Child & Family Social Work, 24, 25–32.
  11. Lambie, I., Krynen, A., Best, C., & Parkes, R. (2016). Care and Protection Secure Residences: A report on the international evidence to guide best practice and service delivery (p. 164). Ministry of Social Development.
  12. Arnau-Sabatés, L. & Gilligan, R. (2015). What helps young care leavers to enter the world of work? Possible lessons learned from an exploratory study in Ireland and Catalonia. Children and Youth Services Review. 53.

 

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