When a government sets a new agenda for education – as we are currently experiencing in Aotearoa – there is inevitably a bit of a scramble where schools have to work out how the “new suit of clothes” that is proposed, is going to be made to fit and ultimately wear in sufficiently so as to get comfortable. For Integrated state schools with a special character learning journey like ours, a new education agenda, eg a curriculum refresh very often means a very big scramble.
But there is one new government direction that does not offer us philosophical problems and which we are thrilled to be jumping into. It is the new National Learning Priority – announced last November and which is prominently placed in our 2021 Annual Plan – making te reo and tikanga Maori into everyday activities.
We’d like to think you’ve already noticed our efforts in this area and that you are willing to join us in developing for all akonga an understanding of all that it can mean to be either tangata whenua or tangata tiriti – either people of the land or people living here by virtue of the Treaty of Waitangi. And to achieve that we have several strategies.
The first is to actively promote the use of Te reo Maori throughout the whole community with a particular focus on supporting correct pronunciation through opportunities to learn and practice without judgement. Again we’d like to think that you have noticed our efforts both in writing and in person to increase the amount of te reo we all hear see and speak daily. Certainly many of you who saw the Class 6 Matariki play commented on the high standard of fluency and articulation reached and which offers a model and standard for the younger children to aspire to.
In terms of teaching and learning we have two strategies we continue to push. The first is the integration of te reo Maori throughout the curriculum, not just as once a week event but looking to te reo as a source of inspiration for our teaching both through the development of new main lessons and in the use of Te Ao Maori concepts and symbols.
The second is a many pronged strategy to increase teaching capability knowledge and skills in te reo Maori and tikanga Maori for all staff. Like the community at large we are all at different starting points so some of us have been having weekly lessons, several staff are enrolled in online courses, others are involved in initiatives with neighbouring schools and two are about to embark on 10 day intensives which will offer their classes short term challenge for long term gain. Please do take a long view here and support and encourage tamariki to manage the inevitable breaks in routines and make the most of opportunities to learn from adults other than their regular class teachers. Our intention is to build steadily and sustainably towards the goal of tikanga and te reo Maori being part of the very fabric of our community and school life and our great hope is that you play a part in us all reaching that goal too. That’s all for now.