Principal, Roger Hornblow describes their two and a half year journey to build culturally inclusive practices at Pegasus Bay School. They began by involving whānau and the community to develop their place-based approach to learning. Consultation with the Ngāi Tūāhuriri Education Committee (Ngāi Tahu) was ongoing from the early stages of designing the new school.
When we started two and a half years ago, we wanted to really go down the track of being genuinely culturally inclusive in our practices and what we wanted to do, and looking at the importance of the area, looking at our place-based learning, involving whānau. Where we are geographically is a really significant area here in North Canterbury. We’ve got the Kaiapoi Pa which is a stone’s throw away from here. So the place-based learning for us is really significant from Rakahuri Ashley river right through to Maungatere. Each of the learning communities has names and stories around them.
We’ve had a really solid consultation with the Ngāi Tūāhuriri education committee for a while now, right from the early stages of designing the new school. There’s a whole lot of roll growth, organisational growth, pedagogical growth happening for us and to get the te reo levels up, the culturally responsive practices up for our school. There was a whole range of practices that we’ve used, e.g. Te Reo Puāwai, also Huakina Mai trial, as did two other schools in our area, and it was really important for us that two other schools did because we could share the journey together.
I think that when we’re looking at part of the journey, it needs to have a really strong research base to it as well and Huakina Mai did. It’s been two years of really significant PD. There are two main focuses, one being behaviour and one being te reo Māori. When we’re looking at the behaviour part of it, the restorative practice focus of it was really significant and that’s been quite world changing for us here as far as our practice goes. We’ve had training across the whole staff. There’s been teachers’ inquiry. That was great. The restorative practice though, it’s as much for the kids and the parents and there’s quite a mind shift that’s had to happen for them as well. Flowing out of that is procedures, like relationship procedures that we’ve had to update. The connection with whānau has been really quite extensive. They’ve been part of a steering group as well but that’s big picture te ao Māori tikanga right the way across.
We have a whānau group. We’ve had matariki evenings and things like that, the whole community coming in, celebrating, and being involved so the inclusive nature isn’t just at times about the language, it’s also about the sharing and caring.
One of the outcomes for me personally with Huakina Mai was, I received weekly tuition, which was great because one of my goals out of it was to be seen as being a learner in front of staff, and in front of children as well. The outcomes for staff have been huge. In how they think their practice is, all on that common journey together – standing up doing their mihis, standing up with the karakia, all those sorts of things, the waiata that we know, the outcomes have been huge really. It’s our bicultural obligation to actually teach it, not be proficient in it, but at least be empathetic and reasonably confident in classroom practice. What are we doing as a school to actually give staff the confidence as well as, in part, the expectation that that needs to happen.
Huakina Mai and Te Reo Puāwai were two of the elements that we’ve done to enhance delivery, but also, it’s part of making sure that it’s seen as business as usual here, by kids, by parents, which has been really big. One of the outcomes for the Huakina Mai project for us, and also Te Reo Puāwai, was when we’re looking at being culturally inclusive and responding to behaviour incidents in a culturally inclusive manner, it’s looking at behaviour as a video and not just a photo. We need to look at the back story of children and why they’re acting like they are, we need to know them as a learner and also as individuals, what’s their family life like, and actually just be responsive to incidents in a far more holistic way. You need to be really deliberate about your culture and the messages you’re telling because you have so many new people coming in all the time.