The Kia Eke Panuku (KEP) project at Kuranui College has boosted NCEA performances at the school, especially among its Maori students, principal Geoff Shepherd said.

Mr Shepherd said the scheme was in its second year at the school and 2015 NCEA roll-based data showed that significant progress had been made in accelerating the achievement of all students, including a significant increase in pass rates for Maori students.

At NCEA Level 1, for example, the pass rate rose from 66.1 per cent in 2014 to 76.6 per cent last year. The Maori student pass rate increased markedly from 48.7 per cent in 2014 to 76.2 per cent last year.

The KEP programme has as its goal the acceleration of Maori educational success, Mr Shepherd said.


"A key focus is working with schools to ensure that Maori students achieve success as Maori," he said.

Schools that have been successful in achieving these goals demonstrate three key features, including cultural responsiveness and strong relational pedagogy in the classroom.

"This means that students are encouraged to bring a sense of who they are into the classroom. The school should have a strong connection to whanau and whanau are encouraged to participate actively in the student's education. There also needs to be school systems and processes that support literacy, numeracy and te reo across the curriculum.

"Kuranui staff are making very real changes to their pedagogy, they're making it more relational ... and they are expecting more from Maori students, there is no more deficit thinking," he said.

"KEP focuses on what we can do at the college. We cannot change what is happening at home, but we can change what happens at school."

A "determined initiative" for Mr Shepherd was the encouragement of family and whanau to attend the biannual family learning conference "and this includes personally ringing families of students who might not make it and motivating them to take part".

There had also been a big shift towards embracing Maori tikanga by college staff, he said.

"They have been attending weekly before-school tikanga sessions to learn haka powhiri, waiata, te reo pronunciation and other aspects of tikanga. There is a very real willingness to embrace and understand tikanga and this is spilling over into the classroom," he said. "The whole school is using te reo wherever possible.

"By the end of the year we plan to have all teachers 'shadow coached'. This involves trained teachers working one-on-one with others to observe their teaching and to help them to become more culturally responsive in their classroom practice," he added.

Mr Shepherd acknowledged the importance of work by the college over the past five years that included the Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L) programme

"We are working to bring both the PB4L and KEP work in line with each other. They are both about culturally responsive philosophies, which are based on respect for each other and each other's culture.

"We have worked very hard to ensure that the core values of the college underpin everything we do. We call this 'KC Kawa', the way we do things around here."