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Literacy Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Supporting Pasifika learners

Successful literacy learning is the backbone of success at school. All learners in New Zealand classrooms need to have strong literacy teaching. Teaching in a way that is responsive to the diversity in our classrooms has the most profound effect on our literacy learners. Strong school–whānau relationships, culturally responsive classrooms, and the deliberate use of effective teaching strategies can all help Pasifika learners achieve success.

Effective literacy teachers

Teachers are central to the learning of Pasifika students and their impact cannot be overstated. Teachers who have a positive impact on students are those who:

  • Understand what it is like to be the “other,” know about the pressures on students’ out-of-school lives and experiences and can link teaching and learning with those experiences 
  • Provide multiple opportunities for students to clarify their learning 
  • Use assessment data from numbers of sources to understand students’ reading and writing in content areas 
  • Can use assessment data to locate their students’ skills and needs within the context and content of their curriculum area 
  • Canvas the views of students about their learning and about their learning needs 
  • Use data with students to measure success 
  • Have in-depth knowledge of the literacy challenges in their curriculum area. 


Pasifika students and literacy in the classroom

Teaching digital stories using tuakana-teina
Irongate School has a focus on improving student literacy levels particularly for their large population of Māori and Pasifika students. The older or more expert tuakana (Year 5/6 students) help and guide the younger or less expert teina (new entrant students).

The impact of using Google Apps on literacy learning in the classroom
Liz Maclennan from Breens Intermediate shares how she is using Google Apps with her students to raise literacy levels, particularly for Māori and Pasifika students, in her classroom. Through the use of Google docs, Gmail, and blogger students are able to share their work with parents, their teacher, and their peers. Allowing students access to lesson plans enables students to refer back to learning intentions, assessment rubrics, and key ideas whenever they need them. 


NZC Update 27 - Tula‘i Mai! Making a difference to Pasifika student achievement in literacy
This Update shares messages from research about classroom practices that make a difference to Pasifika student achievement in literacy. 

Literacy strategies for pasifika students
A slideshow created to examine relevant research and discuss effective literacy strategies for pasifika students.

Action Plan for Pacific Education 2020-2030

Through the fono series of 2018 and 2019, Pacific learners, families, teachers, leaders and communities shared what matters to them in education: an education system that is free from racism; that values Pacific children, young people and families as leaders of learning; and supports them to feel safe, valued and equipped to achieve their education aspirations. We know that some things matter even more now because of COVID-19 like access to education, and meaningful pathways that lead to employment, learner and family wellbeing. We have great pleasure in sharing with you the Action Plan for Pacific Education 2020-2030. 

Vaka Moana - Pasifika educational journeys
Natalie Faitala, Head of English at Wesley College, talks about the research she conducted into Pasifika literacy in secondary schools, and the impact on students' subject choice for NCEA. Natalie found that Pasifika students are not engaging with a range of literature and consequently not developing literacy in their homes. She advocates for more resources to be created and used for Pasifika students' literacy learning.

Effective pedagogy for our Māori and Pasifika students
At Sylvia Park School, staff believe that Māori and Pacific student achievement is based on effective pedagogy and that effective pedagogy looks the same for any child. This story explores what these beliefs look like in practice.

Tapasā: Cultural Competencies Framework for Teachers of Pacific Learners
Tapasā is a resource for all teachers of Pacific learners. It is designed to support teachers to become more culturally aware, confident and competent when engaging with Pacific learners and their parents, families and communities. It aims to contextualise quality teaching and planning within a Pacific learner setting by providing a Pacific lens to the Standards for the Teaching Profession and the Code of Professional Responsibility.

Research and readings

Influences on Pasifika students' achievement in literacy
How do students from minority groups develop effective literacy skills? The perceptions of two groups of Pasifika students—one achieving and one underachieving in literacy learning—are compared. They identify pedagogical practices and family or community factors as influential on their literacy learning.

An Investigation of Sites, Uses and Practices for Literacy in the Lives of Pasifika Students 
This thesis considers what can be learned when teachers are better informed of the out-of-school literacy practices of Pasifika students and investigates students’ social and cultural uses of literacy in family and community settings. It explores the argument that knowledge of these out-of-school literacies will inform teachers to make effective connections for students to school literacy. 

Making Connections for Pacific Learners' Success
This ERO report discusses secondary schools where Pacific learners are achieving at or above the national norms for all students. It includes details of initiatives and good practice and how these work together to get great results.

Language Enhancing the Achievement of Pasifika: LEAP is a professional learning resource developed for teachers working in mainstream New Zealand classrooms with bilingual Pasifika students. It is designed for primary, intermediate/middle, and secondary teachers. 

Published on: 15 Feb 2016