Polyfest provided Mangere College with the opportunity to re-think curriculum planning and design to improve student achievement results for NCEA.
Mangere College, which has a student population of 78% Pasifika and 19% Māori, was engaged in the Secondary Student Achievement (SSA) professional learning and development initiative for 18 months (2015-2016).
Teachers redesigned their senior school learning programmes so that at least one NCEA achievement standard was linked to Polyfest in English, science, social sciences, and languages. NCEA results improved significantly with record results for the college in 2015.
Students received 4 NCEA credits for their dance performances at Polyfest. Students valued using Polyfest as a learning context. They were motivated by the authentic, relevant learning context and gained a depth of cultural understanding.
During the scoping stages of the SSA work in early 2014, middle school leaders voiced concern that Polyfest dominated and interrupted the academic progress of their students in term one putting students at risk. The festival, which has students and schools competing for awards ranging from speech competitions to cultural dances and performances, involves around 75% of the students every year.
To confront this challenge, middle leaders at the college agreed that their professional learning and development (PLD) should be restructured to focus on making Polyfest an opportunity for learning.
Students, Zahra and Chris describe making the background mural for Polyfest as part of the Art curriculum.
Students, Edna, Sesiona, and Mark describe e-posters they designed as part of their visual arts NCEA assessments to reflect their identity and culture.
The graphs below show increases in internal NCEA level 1 credits from May 2014 to May 2015.
In May 2014:
In May 2015:
By the end of 2014:
In speeches, the college gained: five first placings, 3 seconds, and 2 third placings across years 9-13 in the Tongan, Samoan, and Cook Islands stages. The Samoan and Tongan cultural groups were the overall winners in their stages.
The professional learning and development (PLD) goals set in 2015:
"My whole relationship with the priority students has shifted."
"It’s not the Team Solutions facilitators anymore who are presenting the data analysis to the whole staff. It is us doing it now."
One of the key foci for the SSA work is enhancing the quality of teaching and learning in each learning area across the school. To support this goal, middle leaders co-designed a reflective a tool from a range of research and resources such as the BES series, Leading from the Middle, Action Plan for Pacific Education, Ka Hikitia, Success for All, Practising Teacher Criteria, and ERO national reports. Middle leaders have taken this aspect of the SSA work on board and are now themselves leading the trial of the tool in a variety of settings to ensure its robustness and relevance for its intended purposes.