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Equity Awareness Project Scope - Teacher Development Cycle


New Zealand has one of the least equitable education systems in the world (UNICEF, 2018). The purpose of this project is to improve equity in the classroom through teachers being equitable in their delivery of the curriculum by creating a classroom of equity.. 

The key identified  behaviours of adults in the learning environment that impact equality are:

Implicit Bias



Secondary Trauma 

Mind Health

Work Avoidance

Underpinning this project is a developing school wide systematic approach to equity. This systematic approach to addressing equity has a specific focus on learning, behaviour, health and social needs. Each of these 4 areas have key performance indicators established by the Mayfair School Board of Trustees.

This project will identify and implement digital platforms to support the systematic approach and use an evaluation cycle to improve or change platforms. 

Identified Problem

New Zealand schools deliver an inequitable education. Thus implies Mayfair School Staff are not equitable in their delivery of the curriculum through creating a culturally safe classroom.. 

Nationwide Evidence:

In 2017 age-standardised stand-down, suspension, exclusion, and expulsion rates all increased. (Ministry of Education, 2018)

There were 17,724 stand-down cases in 2017, which were received by 13,341 different students. (Ministry of Education, 2018)

There were 3,134 suspension cases in 2017, which were received by 2,827 different students. (Ministry of Education, 2018)

The decrease in attendance was evident among schools common to both the 2016 and 2017 surveys, which suggests that this decrease was real and not due to a change in the composition of schools responding to the survey. (Ministry of Education, 2018)

One in six New Zealand adults had been diagnosed with a common mental disorder at some time in their lives. This includes depression, bipolar disorders and anxiety disorders.  ("Mental Health and Illness | Community & Public Health", 2019)

Students who identified as Māori and Pasifika had lower rates of regular attendance than other ethnicities (50% and 52%, respectively). ("New Zealand Schools Attendance Survey: Term 2, 2017 Results | Education Counts", 2018)

Māori and Pacific have higher rates of being diagnosed with mental disorders or experiencing psychological distress than the rest of the population. Mental health service use by Māori is rising.  ("Mental Health and Illness | Community & Public Health", 2019)

People living in the most socio-economically deprived areas were nearly three times more likely to experience psychological distress as people living in the least deprived areas – after adjusting for age, sex and ethnicity.  ("Mental Health and Illness | Community & Public Health", 2019)

The number one challenge facing the New Zealand education system is to achieve equity and excellence in student outcomes” (ERO. 2016).

New Zealand ranked 33rd out of 38 countries for educational equality (UNICEF, 2018)

Local Evidence:

Mayfair is a New Zealand School and part of the national equity issue.

Rongohea te Hau walk through data completed in Term 3 2019 has identified that on a scale of 1 to 5 that we sit at a ⅔ for culturally safe classrooms across the school. We had 2 classes at a competent 4 and 1 class at an unsafe The remaining 8 classes rated at a 2 or 3. Teachers are at different stages of journey with range of practice across the continuum

Term 3 2019 - Data Analysis from parents, staff and students consultation resulted in four clear discrepancies between groups. Question 2 - In my school I have opportunities to do all the things I want to? Both Maori and Non Maori students feel that they sometimes have opportunities where the other groups felt this always happened.

Question 4 - In my school Maori students are achieving? While most groups felt that Maori are always achieving. 35% of families surveyed marked “don't know”, why don't they know? What does achievement mean for these families?

Question 6 - Teachers in my classes respect me and I respect them. Maori students did not fit with the rest of the cohort. They feel that this is less for them. Why?

Question 12 - Teachers in my classes let us help each other with our work. Again families were the discrepancy. 27% surveyed said they didn't know. This means they don't actually know what happens in the classroom. Why and how do we demyth the classroom?

Management observations noted that Relationships were stronger than pedagogy, Inquiry-minded and power-sharing appears to make some good gains and there are some disparities between Māori and non-Māori in terms of working together

Project Goals

Establish and lead a team focused on equity for all.

Improve equity for students at Mayfair School through teacher development using workshops and professional development.

Measure the success of equity in the classroom using culturally responsive tools for assessment.

Impact of Research

Research into this area through an equality project could mean a complete relook at how schools are managed or appraised in terms of student excellence and equality. 

The Ministry of Education and Health and Social Development  are interested in this project and its outcomes. They care about it enough that they are already looking at ways to support me and the project moving forward. It is an educated risk with some very left field thinking.

Students that have equality will have a greater chance at being successful learners. Those that don’t, won’t. Teachers who are unaware of their thoughts and actions will continue to make equality unseen in teaching and learning. 

The project will change this by bringing to the forefront the impact adults have on learner equity. This is a complete change to what is currently happening in schools  in a traditional and assimilated environment. Initial work has been completed as the foundation of the project.

The impact and expected outcomes of the project will be collected by the equity team measured using data from further:

Rongohea te Hau walkthrough data - we expect to see a vast improvement and progress from the initial base data.

Rongohea te Hau consultation - We expect to see an improvement of student and parent voice and understanding.

Wellbeing student surveys - we should see a development in the students well being towards learning in the data.

Regular professional learning conversations with staff - We should expect to see rich learning conversations that are documented in Teacher TAI documents.

The collection of the data will serve to inform the progress of the project and drive the professional learning areas for each individual staff member.

There is an opportunity here to also involve other key stakeholders such as parents and the board of trustees. Again this will be dependant on the timeframes and the ability to keep this project focused and not to go too wide.

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