Leaders’ perceptions of the practices and challenges that influence Pasifika achievement in New Zealand secondary schools
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Citation:Atkinson, M. (2013) Leaders’ perceptions of the practices and challenges that influence Pasifika achievement in New Zealand secondary schools. Unpublished thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Educational Leadership and Management.
Permanent link to Research Bank record:https://hdl.handle.net/10652/2401
Within the New Zealand education system, Pasifika secondary school students are identified as being one of the groups most at risk of not succeeding, with large numbers underachieving. The Ministry of Education and the Education Review Office have indicated that leadership may be the key to greater academic success for Pasifika students. This study investigated senior and middle leaders’ perceptions of the practices and challenges that influence the academic achievement of Pasifika students within New Zealand secondary schools and examined the relationship between leadership, school culture and Pasifika academic achievement. A qualitative methodology was employed for this research; the two methods of semi-structured interviews and focus groups were used to collect data. At each location, semi-structured one on one interviews were conducted with principals and deputy principals, and focus groups were held with middle leaders; a total of 21 participants. The findings revealed four major themes; leadership, school culture, practices, and challenges. This research suggests leadership, although indirectly, has a large impact on raising Pasifika academic achievement through the fostering of an inclusive school culture and the development of strategies and initiatives within schools to improve educational outcomes for Pasifika. The findings emphasise leaders’ perceptions of the need to develop a school culture which values cultural differences, is premised on high expectations and is focused on mutually respectful relationships to ensure that Pasifika students are engaged, feel included and participate fully in academic programmes. Various practices were identified which were perceived by the leaders interviewed to have raised Pasifika academic achievement, while several challenges were highlighted as needing future attention in order to continue to improve the academic outcomes for Pasifika students.