Maori school strives to improve

Kura Kaupapa Maori O Otepoti board of trustees chairwoman Eliza Burke says the kura has renewed...
Kura Kaupapa Maori O Otepoti board of trustees chairwoman Eliza Burke says the kura has renewed passion and a path to pursue. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Staff at the Kura Kaupapa Maori O Otepoti in Sunnyvale are reassuring the community they have an excellent Maori education facility and are taking action to address the issues raised by a recent Education Review Office report.

Board of trustees chairwoman Eliza Burke said staff and family were surprised by the report published recently, which found the school's 21 pupils were disadvantaged learners, did not receive high quality education, were not provided with sufficient opportunities to develop free, open and inquiring minds, and did not use the Maori language "confidently or appropriately".

"The report hit the whanau really hard. It was heart-breaking to read," she said.

"Everyone took it quite personally."

Ms Burke disagreed with some aspects of ERO's assessment of the kura.

She said the pupils had all the same educational opportunities as every other New Zealand school, and the remarks about pupils not speaking Maori confidently or appropriately were not true.

"All lessons are in Maori. They [the ERO assessor] may have heard too much English being spoken in the playground."

Despite the criticisms, Ms Burke said the staff were keeping their heads up and working hard to improve the quality of education at the kura.

"In the past, we've had to find our own way and we've learnt some hard lessons from our mistakes. But now, the support is pouring into the kura.

"We're relieved to have support from whanau, the wider community and the ministry. It's taken a lot of pressure off."

The Ministry of Education has provided literacy and numeracy support to help teachers keep up with the latest teaching techniques, and training support has been provided to the board of trustees from the School Trustees Association and the Schools Support Services.

Since ERO visited the school in October last year, Luckie Herewini had taken over as principal and she was also receiving training support.

"We've got renewed passion and a path to pursue. We'll show them how good we can be," Ms Burke said.

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