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Post date: Tuesday, 14 March 2023

What does strategically planning for te reo Māori growth look like in schools?

By Nicola Bright and Esther Smaill

In our report He reo ka tipu i ngā kura – Growing te reo Māori in schools, we spoke with 40 Māori and non-Māori pou reo from 10 English-medium schools who were actively supporting reo Māori teaching and learning.  

Through conversations with these pou reo, we identified four types of good practice that they saw were positively impacting reo Māori teaching and learning – key among these was the practice of strategically planning for reo Māori growth in a school.  

What is strategic planning for reo Māori growth?  

Some of the schools we visited had undertaken extensive Māori language planning and were able to share important insights about how they had grown their schools’ reo Māori provision over time. This involved setting realistic goals for growing the language in their schools, and putting into place all the necessary steps to achieve their long-term goals.  

For example, to increase their reo Māori provision, one school was actively recruiting reo Māori speakers from their own community, either as kaiāwhina who supported other teachers to use more Māori in the classroom, or as consultants who provided PLD for staff. They also encouraged some of these people to become qualified teachers.   

Clarity of vision was essential, and schools that had been strategically working to grow te reo Māori provision for a number of years had gotten to the stage where they were able to offer higher levels of Māori language education through dedicated immersion classes. While none of these schools yet had the capability to provide high levels of immersion in te reo Māori across the whole school, they were continually working towards achieving this. These schools were also able to provide whānau – who have a range of aspirations – with more options for learning te reo Māori than most English-medium primary schools.  

Whānau aspirations  

Involving and gaining the support of whānau and the wider community is essential to the success of a Māori language plan. Pou reo played a critical role in working with their communities to understand whānau aspirations for te reo Māori and incorporate those aspirations into their planning. In some cases, pou reo – both Māori and non-Māori - were working hard to overcome long held resistance to te reo Māori in their communities and within their own schools. 

For schools that are contemplating beginning their reo Māori journey, the development of  three-year strategic plans- (these plans will replace charters in all schools from the beginning of 2023), provide a perfect opportunity to work with their communities to get a plan in place now.  

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