Improving Pasifika achievement : Pasifika teachers’ expectations, experiences and perceptions of primary school leadership

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Mauigoa, Sepora
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Architecture (Professional)
Unitec Institute of Technology
Smith, Alison
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
Pasifika students
primary schools
student achievement
Pasifika teachers
school leadership
Pasifika academic achievement
New Zealand
Mauigoa, S. (2014). Improving Pasifika achievement : Pasifika teachers’ expectations, experiences and perceptions of primary school leadership. An unpublished thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Educational Leadership and Management, Unitec Institute of Technology.
Pasifika success in education has been identified as critical for the future of Aotearoa New Zealand. Although leadership has been identified as a key factor in lifting student achievement there is little mention in the literature regarding leadership as it relates to the ‘underachievement’ of Pasifika students. This study set out to investigate Pasifika teachers’ expectations and experiences of educational leadership in primary schools and to identify specific leadership practices which Pasifika teachers perceive as influencing Pasifika student achievement. A qualitative methodology was used for this study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight participants from the primary school sector from different parts of Auckland. The participants’ held various roles in schools and also had varying degrees of experience. The data analysis revealed two major themes: (i) effective educational leadership is perceived to be essential to improve Pasifika achievement; and (ii) reciprocity is perceived to be a key component in building Pasifika success. This research study suggests that although leadership has a direct effect on Pasifika achievement there was an imbalance between leaders’ intentions and their capacity or capability to improve Pasifika achievement. This is reflected in the literature and the research study, which shows that Pasifika achievement has not changed significantly in the last twenty years. Therefore current educational leadership practices are inadequate. The literature and this research study indicate that improvement in Pasifika achievement requires moral leadership and sustainability. The key ingredient to sustainability is reciprocity between Pasifika students, their families and school leaders who are the key representatives of their schools. The recommendations arising from this research may be true for any small groups within schools not just Pasifika. School leaders and the Ministry of Education must be genuine in their intentions to improve Pasifika achievement. Genuine intentions require resolve, hard work, action, accountability and sustainability. Sustainability for the improvement of Pasifika achievement requires moral leadership and leaders working together in a spirit of reciprocity with students and their families to develop school plans for Pasifika achievement, to monitor Pasifika progress together and demonstrate the courage to change direction if current practice is not working. There is no ‘quick fix’; leaders have to persevere. In the words of a Samoan proverb: A fia vave o’o lou va’a, alo na o oe, Ae a fia tuli mamao le taunu’uga. Tatou alo alo fa’atasi. If you want to go fast, go alone, If you want to go far Go together.
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