Supporting school leaders to meet the challenge of equity

by Marion Fitchett


In this short article Marion Fitchett looks first at the evaluations of the professional learning programmes for principals that are supported by Ministry of Education: the First-time Principals programme, the Leadership and Management advisory work, and the Experienced Principals development project.

In reviewing these evaluations she reports that although most programme participants were seeking to improve their delivery to Māori students and whānau, many indicated that they needed more support to help them on how to go about it.

She tells us that each of these programmes now includes an explicit focus on developing culturally responsive leadership in order to address the needs of Māori students and their whānau. The article lists the areas of focus for this development and suggests approaches that principals, other school leaders, and their communities can work on to support Māori students to achieve their full potential. The focus areas and suggested approaches are very accessible and already many schools are using them.

Marion Fitchett reminds school leaders that strategies that work well for Māori students are also effective for non-Māori students. She invites readers of the article to email examples of these strategies to her and any others that they are using to improve the outcomes of Māori students.

Reflective questions

These reflective questions may guide you in your reading of this article:

  • What areas of focus does your school need to work on in order to improve learning outcomes for Māori students and other students in your school? Develop a list of priorities from the areas suggested in the article that best meet your needs for the next three years.
  • Look at the approaches suggested for working with parents, family and whānau. What are the best ways for your school to implement these approaches?
  • The articles also emphasises the need for professional learning for school leaders and for teachers. Identify the next steps that you and your teachers need to take in order to improve educational outcomes for Māori.


Fitchett, M. (2010). Supporting school leaders to meet the challenge of equity. In New Zealand Principal, Te Tumuaki o Aotearoa, Volume 25, Number 2.

Tags: Culturally responsive leadership

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