PPTA slams study blaming teachers for Maori underachievement

  • 11/07/2016

A study claiming teacher bias leads to Maori student failure has been slammed by the Post Primary Teachers' Association (PPTA).

The report by consultancy Oranui outlines evidence teachers' low expectations has led to decades of under achievement by Maori.

But PPTA president Angela Roberts says teachers are trained to be aware of the bias they bring into the classroom.

"I think it's dangerous to think that it's a very simple clear problem with a very simple clear solution and if we fix this little bit of our teaching suddenly our Maori students are going to do better," she says.

"It would probably help if we put some energy into lifting them out of poverty, for example."

Ms Roberts says there have been funding cuts to programmes addressing Maori achievement.

The study - which draws from survey data and interviews - argues teachers' low expectations of Maori have impacted on their academic success.

Ms Roberts, says there is research that suggests the situation is not as dire as the report indicates:

"Most Maori students say that they believe their teachers do have high expectations for them, but granted it isn't as high as for pakeha students. So we have challenges, but we're always up for doing more to improve how we engage with all of our students."

Ms Roberts says teachers do a lot of professional development that includes cultural awareness.

"I think the solutions for our Maori students, will come from Maoridom," Ms Roberts says.

"Professional development, such as Te Kotahitanga... really challenged us as teachers to engage more effectively with our students."