Scaling up education reform: addressing the politics of disparity

    Impact: Social Impact

    Impact summary

    The project asked Maori high school students to identify which teaching practices they find effective. From this work an ‘Effective Teaching Profile’ was developed and trialed. The trial was effective and Scaling-up education reform studied ways of replicating and institutionalising these effective practices.

    The impact has been to improve classroom teaching practices in New Zealand and Canada, teacher training programmes and support programmes for indigenous students in universities with benefits for policy makers, school principals, teachers and indigenous students. Indigenous civil society has also used the work in its policy advocacy.

    My book 'Scaling up education reform' with Bishop and Berryman provided the ‘theoretical foundation’ of a New Zealand Ministry of Education $33 million leadership training programme for approximately 100 secondary school principals (Kia eke panuku: building on success, 2013-2016).

    The book is being used as the project’s conceptual foundation because as the Ministry’s deputy Secretary, Dr Graham Stoop puts it “We know Maori students do much better when education reflects and values their identity”. The school inspectorate, the Education Review Office, uses an “indicator framework” in the evaluation of all New Zealand schools. The book provides the basis for several of these indicators. Aitken et al. adopt its precepts in their Ministry of Education commissioned discussion paper on national standards for graduating teachers.
    In 2015 the Minister of Education’s remark to the House of Representatives that the project ‘has seen Maori [school] suspensions halved’ exemplified my public policy and professional influence. In a report to the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, that quotes extensively from my book, the Principal of Bairnsdale Secondary College, Victoria, notes the project’s cross-jurisdictional potential: ‘There is much to learn… and much that can and should be considered in Australian schools’.

    The book is cited in the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples’ education policy, and, in 2012, it was among a small number of works referred to by the Office of the Auditor General as constituting the ‘main evidence’ it would use in its auditing of Maori education.

    A public education review, commissioned by the Government of Saskatchewan, commends the book’s utility in the development of policies to raise teacher expectations of Indigenous achievement. The Ontario independent policy think tank, the Northern Policy Institute, uses the book to argue ways of enhancing Indigenous achievement. Further Canadian work develops the book’s argument that schools ought to provide ‘more culturally responsive and relationally focused’ education and to support arguments for increasing the number of Inuit teachers in Québec. Mehisto places the book among his select list of recommended readings for First Nations’ school principals and its pedagogic precepts are strongly advocated in the Canadian First Nations’ Schools Association’s Handbook for Principals in First Nations’ Schools and the Metis Nation of Ontario’s Social Innovation Research Project.

    Bristowe et al. found its principles transferable to the higher education setting and ‘integral’ to their work at the University of Otago as did the authors of Brock University’s ‘community based’ teacher education partnership with the Canadian Nishnawbe Aski nation, Memorial University’s Celebrating Aboriginal Culture and Cultivating Inclusion and the Australian National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education’s Path+Ways: Towards best practice in Indigenous access education.

    'Scaling up education reform' was published in 2010. It is part of a large teacher professional development programme, Te Kotahitanga, and its impact is ongoing. The New Zealand Government has committed to its continued funding in the Coalition Government Agreement (2017) between the Labour and New Zealand First parties
    Impact date2010
    Category of impactSocial Impact
    Impact levelEngagement


    • education reform
    • Indigenous disparity
    • leadership training
    • First nations

    Countries where impact occurred

    • Australia
    • Canada
    • New Zealand