Volume 9_Issue 1_2008.

Volume 9_Issue 1_2008.
VOLUME 9, ISSUE 1: 2008
Weaving educational threads. Weaving educational practice.
Poppy Grant
Torbay Kindergarten, Northern Auckland
Poppy is 4 years old, the middle child of
three sisters. She is outgoing and talkative.
Poppy loves to create artistically and she
is always imaginative in her play.
Her artwork reflects her imagination and she extends her own work
with guidance from her parents and teachers. The piece of art chosen
for the cover of Kairaranga reflects Poppy’s interests and also reflects
the current topic of interest that we have been currently looking at.
Poppy will bring in books and objects from home to support her
interest in mermaids and fairies.
At Torbay Kindergarten we let the children work at their own pace
in their creativity and we also provide art activities that guide them
into new skills. We encourage the children to be observant and will
often repeat an activity while they still show an interest so that they
can cement their skills for future use.
At Torbay Kindergarten we celebrate diversity in our children and
we strive to weave our curriculum around the children’s strengths
and interests. We are very inclusive to children with special needs
and welcome families from different cultures and enjoy their
contributions to our programme.
Volume 9, Issue 1: 2008
Weaving educational threads. Weaving educational practice.
Kairaranga is a New Zealand Journal of Educational Practice
Table of Contents
Editorial, Editorial Board and Contact Details..................................................................................................................2
Innovation and Practicality.............................................................................................................................................3
An interview with Dr Ken Ryba
Jean Annan and Ken Ryba
He Hui Whakatika ..........................................................................................................................................................6
Culturally responsive, self determining interventions for restoring harmony
Sonja Bateman and Mere Berryman
Practice Paper
The New Multi-Ministry Response to Conduct Problems .................................................................................................13
A SWOT analysis
Peter Stanley
Position Paper
Schooling for Happiness ...............................................................................................................................................20
Rethinking the aims of education
Tom Cavanagh
Position Paper
Working Together .........................................................................................................................................................24
An occupational therapy perspective on collaborative consultation
Andrea Hasselbusch and Merrolee Penman
On Children Transitioning to New Cultural and Linguistic Settings .................................................................................32
“When in Rome … it’s okay to be a tourist”
Nadine Ballam
Does the Oxford Reading Pen Enhance Reading Accuracy and Comprehension
for Students with Reading Difficulties in a Classroom Environment? ..............................................................................36
An implementation trial
Ian Johnson
Practice Paper
The Incredible Years Parent Training Programme in Tauranga.......................................................................................44
A research summary
Michelle Hamilton and Angela Litterick-Biggs
The Professional Learning Community ..........................................................................................................................50
A fulcrum of change
John Hellner
Practice Paper
Kairaranga Book Reviews .............................................................................................................................................55
Submission Guidelines ..................................................................................................................................................60
Subscription .................................................................................................................................................................63
Waiho i te toipoto, Kaua i te toiroa!
Let us keep close together, not wide apart.
The art work on the cover of this issue of Kairaranga was
chosen for its depiction of sea life. It was contributed by
Poppy Grant, a 4-year-old at Torbay Kindergarten in seaside
Auckland. In preparing this issue of the journal the editorial
team were struck by the imagery of the picture, and how
well it represented key messages introduced by the authors
of the articles. We have chosen (just as in our journal title)
to weave the themes from the articles as they relate to the
imagery depicted in this artwork.
One of the key purposes of Kairaranga is to both explore
and to encourage an ecological approach to practice. This
approach is evidenced in a number of the articles presented
in this issue. These articles are grounded in fieldwork practice
either in the form of reviewing the tools of practice (Oxford
Reading Pen, book reviews) or in the form of examining the
“how” of service delivery (He hui whakatika).
When underwater we see the world through a different lens
which can sharpen our perceptions into closer relief. The
insight provided by the lens of a SWOT analysis, for instance,
can be applied to our work as illustrated in the article on
the new multi-ministry response to challenging behaviour.
Fish keep together in shoals and their partnership/
collaborative behaviour goes without saying. In a similar
vein, Kairaranga articles espouse collaborative behaviour
focused toward meeting the needs of learners. The reluctant
swimmer can be motivated to brave challenges through the
encouragement and modelling of the rest of the group or
shoal. Similarly, Kairaranga provides models of excellence
in biographical format through our interview series with
special educators who have made a significant contribution
to education in Aotearoa New Zealand (an interview with
Ken Ryba), but also in the articles by authors who share
how they work collaboratively or in partnership.
Water is a very different medium in which humans can
struggle to function, nevertheless with encouragement
and assistance people can “ride the waves”, stabilise
themselves and begin to enjoy the experience over time.
So it is with ecological practice.
Finally, mermaid culture is very different from fish or human
culture, but the maxim “when in Rome … it’s okay to be a
tourist” offered by one of our authors may be relevant to
humans experiencing new settings, or even when wanting
to visit in a yellow submarine.
Let us encourage you to dive into this edition and immerse
yourselves in the ebb and flow of your colleagues’ thought!
Noho ora mai, nä
Jo C, Carol, Graeme, Merrolee, Valerie.
Editorial Board
Alison Kearney
Carol Watts*
Cath Steeghs
Graeme Nobilo*
Dr Jean Annan
Dr Jill Bevan-Brown
Jo Cunningham*
Senior Lecturer, Massey University
RTLB, Ngaruawahia Cluster
RTLB, Fairfield Cluster
RTLB, Fairfield Cluster
Senior Lecturer, Massey University
Associate Professor, Massey University
Educational Psychologist,
Wellington GSE
Jo Davies
Practice Leader, Early Intervention, GSE
Mere Berryman
Manager, Poutama Pounamu
Research Centre, GSE
Merrolee Penman* Principal Lecturer, Otago Polytechnic
Michael Gaffney
Deputy Director, Children’s Issues
Centre, Otago University
Paul Mitchell
Special Education Advisor, Waikato GSE
Dr Roseanna Bourke Director, Centre for Educational
Development, Massey University
Sonja Bateman
Practice Leader, Services to Mäori, GSE
Dr Valerie Margrain* Kairaranga Coordinator
Vanesse Geel
Lead Practitioner, Pakuranga GSE
Warwick Phillips
Professional Practice Manager, GSE
* Denotes current editing team
Cultural Advisor
Dr Angus Macfarlane Associate Professor, University
of Waikato
Typesetting and Design
Typeface, Wellington
Geon Group, Wellington
Two issues per year
Subscription Information
1. For RTLB:
PO Box 12-383, Chartwell,
Email: [email protected]
2. For all others:
[email protected]
Copyright © Kairaranga Editorial Board, 2008
ISSN 1175-9232
The Kairaranga Editorial Board has made every effort to ensure
that all items in this journal are accurate and culturally appropriate.
Views expressed or implied in this journal are not necessarily
the views of the Editorial Board, Ministry of Education or the
New Zealand RTLB Association.
Innovation and Practicality
An interview with Dr Ken Ryba
Dr Jean Annan
Senior Lecturer, Massey University, Albany, Auckland
Associate Professor Ken Ryba
Coordinator, Online Professional Diploma in Applied Psychology,
Division of Applied Psychology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Ken Ryba came to New Zealand from Canada in 1978 to
teach special education courses and to work on his PhD
at Massey University. His PhD was in the area of computer
assisted instruction and he set up the first course on the
subject ever to be offered at a New Zealand university.
Over the years he has written scores of articles on special
education and computers in education. He has also carried
out research projects and published extensively on a range
of subjects in educational psychology and special education.
Ken was instrumental in setting up the Master of Education
(Special Education) degree at Massey University. Following
this, he spent two years at the University of Waikato in the
School of Education developing a new Master of Special
Education degree. With the establishment of the new Massey
University Albany Campus, he was re-appointed by Massey
University and subsequently took the initiative to establish
a Master of Educational Psychology and a Post Graduate
Diploma in Educational Psychology which leads students
toward their registration as psychologists.
J: Ken, what are you doing now?
K: I am working on a contract at the University of Calgary
developing a new online Professional Diploma in
Inclusive and Special Education. This is a post-graduate
programme for teachers who want to develop their
knowledge and skills in teaching students with diverse
needs and abilities. The programme is flexibly delivered
online using real-time class meetings via web
conferencing along with a class website and audioenhanced PowerPoint presentations that are sent out
to students. We have students up in the Canadian Arctic
in isolated places in Nunavut, North West Territories,
British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. The
Professional Diploma can be used as a stand alone
qualification or as a stepping stone to masters level.1
J: In the first edition of Kairaranga, you commented that
today’s diverse and complex schools required on-site
support from professionals with advanced training.
What are your current thoughts?
K: I have strongly supported the Resource Teachers:
Learning and Behaviour (RTLB) initiative from the time
it was proposed in 1995 because it provides the kind
of on-site support that teachers need to provide quality
education for students with diverse needs. Having been
overseas for a year or so now, I can say that the RTLB
school-based approach is “the way to go” in terms of
providing direct and indirect support for teachers. It is
pleasing to me that several of our educational psychology
graduates have continued to work as RTLBs, often in
senior positions as cluster leaders. This was part of my
original thinking about a career pathway in which we
could locate special education and school psychology
support within educational settings rather than offering
a specialist service model. There is widespread concern
amongst Canadian schools about the specialist school
psychology model in which professionals are based away
from the schools. It seems to me that the goal of building
capacity in schools to meet the needs of students with
diverse needs and abilities requires that we build
teams that are located and work directly within the
environments where the students, teachers, parents
and significant other people are located. I know that
there are many reasons advanced for the separation
of specialist services from schools in order to provide
an independent and fair service. However, to my way
of thinking, if we are serious about ecological ways
of working then we need to have ecologically sound
models of professional support. That means that on-site
support should be provided from professionals with
advanced training.
J: You created career pathways for many people.
Can you tell us a little about these?
K: I have always tried to maintain a practical orientation
whether it was teachers returning to the workforce
or people who wanted to do advanced professional
training right up to doctoral level. I was modestly
successful in providing career opportunities for many
people through the development of our Master of
Education (Special Education) programmes and also
through the establishment of the educational psychology
training programme. Unfortunately, I never realised my
If you would like more information or to see a presentation on the new programme,
go to our website http://www.education.ucalgary.ca/apsy
Weaving educational threads. Weaving educational practice.
goal of training RTLBs and creating a pathway for the
creation of RTLB school psychologists. Having said that,
several RTLBs over the years completed educational
psychology training at Massey University and have
gone on to take leadership roles in special education.
It makes me happy to see the success of many of our
graduates and the part that they are now playing in
special education, educational psychology and allied
professional bodies. My greatest satisfaction was to
establish a staircase at Massey University so that students
with an undergraduate degree in education could move
right through their post-graduate certificate, diploma
and masters level to doctoral studies.
J: Ken, you were working with computers long before
many of us knew they existed! What is exciting
about computers?
J: So, your appreciation of this technology to improve
educational conditions has led to some valuable
projects. Can you tell us about some of these?
K: I could say a lot about this but will just sketch a few
outlines.3 My initial work with computers in education
took place in Palmerston North at the IHC sheltered
workshop. The focus of this was on computer-assisted
instruction for teaching practical academic skills such
as counting, time-telling, basic word reading, etc. I
subsequently graduated to the prison and to work
experience classes where we did projects with youth in
transition from school to work. An exciting part of this
was to see students who were “at risk” make significant
gains in their learning with computers.
I then started to write books and articles with a focus
on effective learning strategies with computers. A lot
of this work stressed the importance of computers
for developing thinking skills and learning strategies.
We placed a great deal of emphasis on metacognitive
development and “constructivist” approaches to learning.
I was greatly influenced by the writing of Seymour Papert
concerning children, computers and powerful ideas.
Papert’s ideas about accelerating cognitive development
through the creation of highly interactive and rich
learning environments captured my attention. I was
keen on the idea that technology provided an intellectual
partnership with students who could advance in their
learning through interaction with computers and one
another. This led me to propose many ideas about the
creation of learning communities supported by new
educational technologies.
K: This is a big subject. My initial interest in computers in
education was spawned by the belief that the technology
could be used to create better learning conditions.
My early research with young adults at IHC 2 showed how
capable these students could be when given access to
learning opportunities that they had not previously had.
Being a pioneering type, I was keen to be innovative and
excited about the prospect of applying this new
technology to training and education. I completed my
PhD on the subject of computer-assisted instruction
for teaching word recognition to adults with intellectual
disability. This was in 1980 and, ironically, I had to type
my thesis as we did not yet have a viable word processor.
This work set the stage for everything that followed
in terms of developing new courses on computers in
education, carrying out a range of research projects, and
ultimately writing books on the subject of information
technology in education. In the 1980s I developed the
undergraduate and graduate level courses on computers
and the learning process, then, as the technology
advanced, I sought new opportunities to create better
learning conditions for students with special needs and
abilities. It was always the case that each time I began
to lose interest in information and communication
technology in education there would be a new
development and new inventions that created new
and exciting research opportunities. I always found the
field of computers in education to be extremely positive
and uplifting. It enabled me to work with keen people
and motivated students to see how we could enhance
the teaching and learning process. There has always
been a lot of debate about the “effects” of new
educational technologies on teaching and learning.
Suffice it to say that the machine effects may not
be so important as the people effects. It has been a
pleasure to see what motivated and capable people
can achieve given the right kinds of technology and
the right kinds of knowledge about cognition, learning
and academic achievement.
IHC, including the division now known as IDEA services, provides services and advocacy
for individuals with an intellectual disability and their families.
In more recent years I have been actively involved in
carrying out projects with teams of colleagues in clusters
of schools to study the innovative uses of computers
for supporting the teaching and learning process.
This included the North Shore Schools Net, the South
Auckland Schools Net (both supported by the Tindall
Foundation) and Project Activate (supported by the
Ministry of Education, Digital Opportunities Project).
The outcomes of these projects are recorded in three
special issues of the Computers in New Zealand Schools
Journal.4 All of these projects involved the use of action
research in which teachers and schools carried out their
own projects to study different aspects of technology
for learning. These projects ranged from interactive
whiteboards as a context for teaching Te Reo right
through to monitoring and recording student health
and fitness. All together, our work on these projects has
involved teachers in more than 30 schools. It has been
especially satisfying to see these teachers publish the
results of their projects and to see them present their
findings at educational technology conferences and
teacher professional development workshops.
If anyone wants the details I would be pleased to send them a copy of my curriculum
vitae with all of the research and projects that we undertook.
See Further Reading section at the end of this article.
J: What is the highlight of your career to date?
K: The highlight of my career to date is the satisfaction of
working with so many dedicated and capable people.
I have often said that if I can have a positive influence
on the professional development of just one other
person, then it makes my academic career worthwhile.
It brings me great pleasure to see the achievements of
so many of our past students and to watch the growth
of teachers through our research and demonstration
projects. Where new educational technologies are
concerned, I feel that I have succeeded in translating
theory and research into practice. The sort of applied
research that we did created a lot of synergy amongst
many people who went on to touch the lives and make
a positive difference for the growth and academic
achievement of many students. A high point in my
career was to establish a flexible high quality educational
psychology training programme. This is evident in the
large number of graduates from our programme who
are now located throughout New Zealand. It would not
have been possible for me to achieve anything without
being part of a capable and wonderful team, especially
my colleagues Jean Annan and Mandia Mentis at the
Albany Campus who pioneered the development of
our new programmes.
J: What keeps you working in Special Education?
K: The work is never done and there is always a need for
creation of new ways and new methods of providing
quality education for students with diverse abilities
and needs. It is rewarding when it happens to make
a positive difference in the lives of students and to
watch them grow up into capable people. I see it as my
responsibility to leave the world a better place than it
was when I found it and this is one way that I can make
a contribution.
Dr Ken Ryba
Dr Ken Ryba
Dr Ken Ryba is currently working at the University of Calgary
in his home city. He is the programme coordinator of a
new online Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Psychology:
Inclusive and Special Education. As a registered psychologist
working in New Zealand at Massey and Waikato universities,
he established courses in special education and educational
psychology. His research background spans general
education, special education, educational psychology
and the use of information technology in education.
[email protected]
Dr Jean Annan
North Shore Schools Net (NSSNet). (2002). An ICT community
building approach. Computers in New Zealand Schools,
14(3), 5-8.
Ryba, K., Edwards, T., Duncan, W., & Dysart, B. (2005). Project
ACTIVate: Analysing the effects of teaching and learning
with interactive whiteboards. Computers in New Zealand
Schools, 17(3), 7-10.
South Auckland Schools Net (SAS-NET). (2003). A unified
approach to learning wit ICT. Computers in New Zealand
Schools, 15(3), 3-6.
Dr Jean Annan
Dr Jean Annan is a senior lecturer at Massey University’s
Auckland Campus in Albany where she coordinates the
internship of the Educational Psychology Programme.
Jean has a background of experience working in schools
as a teacher and as an educational psychologist. Her current
research is in educational psychology practice and the
development of effective consultation processes.
[email protected]
Weaving educational threads. Weaving educational practice.
He Hui Whakatika
Culturally responsive, self determining interventions
for restoring harmony
Sonja Bateman
Practice Leader, Services to Mäori, Ministry of Education, Special Education, Professional Practice
Mere Berryman
Manager, Poutama Pounamu Education Research and Development Centre, Ministry of Education,
Special Education, Tauranga
The time has come for kaupapa Mäori1 ideology and
epistemology to move from the margins and claim legitimate
space within the discipline of education. Kaupapa Mäori
ideology provides a dynamic framework within which Mäori
are better able to make meaning of the world and work for
change. Increasingly, kaupapa Mäori is being used to inform
policies and practices across a range of sectors and initiatives.
Research carried out by Bevan-Brown and Bevan-Brown
(1999), indicates that for special educational policies and
practices to be more responsive to and effective for Mäori,
there is a need to incorporate Mäori values and philosophies.
Bishop (1996a) contends that the solutions for Mäori do not
reside within the culture that has traditionally marginalised
Mäori; rather, the solutions are located within Mäori culture
itself. An example of one such solution is the hui whakatika2
process (Hooper, Winslade, Drewery, Monk & Macfarlane,
1999), a process which is underpinned by traditional Mäori
concepts of discipline, and one which is able to be likened to
more recent and contemporary notions of restorative justice.
This paper highlights the role of a kaitakawaenga3 as
he works collaboratively with whänau4 members to seek
resolution and restore harmony by facilitating a hui
whakatika process.
Practice Paper
Behaviour problems, culturally appropriate strategies,
discipline, Mäori culture, parent school relationship,
restorative practices, self determination, sociocultural factors.
Despite the obvious renaissance that has transpired for
Mäori over the past 20 to 30 years, and Durie’s (1997)
assertion that Mäori knowledge has integrity of its own,
Mäori epistemology is still regularly relegated to the margins,
or simply dismissed. Within education, there needs to be
an ongoing commitment to developing and maintaining
learning contexts within which Mäori students are able to
Mäori philosophy
A meeting that seeks to resolve issues and make amends
Facililitator and broker of relationships and services of support for Mäori
Immediate or extended family
bring their own cultural realities (Bishop, Berryman, Tiakiwai
& Richardson, 2003). This paper will illustrate how kaupapa
Mäori ideology can provide a dynamic framework within
which Mäori are better positioned to understand the world
and to achieve more effective outcomes.
According to Mead (1997), the term “kaupapa” implies a
structuring for how ideas are perceived and practices are
applied. Kaupapa Mäori locates this structuring within Mäori
preferences and practices and grew out of a strong sense of
frustration about the effects of rapid urbanisation on Mäori
post-World War II. This culminated in heightened political
consciousness by Mäori, as well as a shift in mindset by
large numbers of Mäori away from the dominant western
dialogue, particularly during the 1970s and 1980s
(Awatere, 1981; Bishop, 1996a; Smith, 1990; Walker, 1989).
This renewed consciousness, described by Bishop (1996a) as
‘the revitalisation of Mäori cultural aspirations, preferences
and practices as a philosophical and productive educational
stance and resistance to the hegemony of the dominant
discourse’ (p. 11), has been responsible for producing many
societal changes.
Kaupapa Mäori theory requires challenging western notions
about what constitutes valid knowledge, so that Mäori
epistemology is neither denigrated nor marginalised
(Smith, 1999). Kaupapa Mäori opens up avenues for
critiquing western perspectives and practices, whereby
Mäori are empowered to lead and determine the
revitalisation and protection of Mäori-preferred perspectives
and practices (Bishop, 1996a, 1996b, 2005). Bishop (1996a)
suggests that kaupapa Mäori provides ‘the deconstruction
of those hegemonies which have disempowered Mäori from
controlling and defining their own knowledge within the
context of unequal power relations in New Zealand’ (p. 13).
As a means of responding to unequal power relations,
Bishop (1994, 1996a, 1996b, 1997) developed a model for
evaluating research which responds to Mäori demands for
self-determination by identifying and addressing the locus
of power and control. There are five critical areas of questioning.
The first explores how the research is initiated; the second
determines who benefits from the research. Locating
research within Mäori cultural perspectives is essential
for ensuring positive benefits accrue for Mäori. The third
element, representation, challenges whose ideas and
realities are represented. The research must be located
within the discourses of Mäori whereby Mäori metaphors,
concepts and social realities are represented. For decades,
Mäori knowledge has been deconstructed and reconstructed
by western researchers from a functional limitations or
“expert” perspective in order that it might be more easily
understood by western readers. The fourth area, legitimation,
defines whose needs, interests and concerns the research
is representing. A Mäori voice must be used if appropriate
meanings are to be made from Mäori experiences and social
realities. Finally, the area of accountability ascertains to
whom the researchers are accountable.
A range of definitions of what constitutes kaupapa Mäori
theory exists, however most researchers agree that Mäori
must determine and define what this is (Cram, 2001, Glover,
2002, Smith, 1999). Reid (1998) and others (Bevan-Brown,
1998; Jackson, 1998; Mutu, 1998) argue that kaupapa Mäori
theory must endeavour to address Mäori needs while also
giving full recognition to Mäori culture and value systems.
Kaupapa Mäori theory must therefore be underpinned by
Mäori epistemology, reflecting Mäori cultural realities,
values, and unique life experiences. This indigenous body
of knowledge is based around concepts such as tapu6 and
noa7, which work to regulate life. Often these expressions
are tribally specific (Cram, 2001; Te Awekotuku, 1991).
Smith (1997) identifies that the essence of kaupapa Mäori:
relates to being Mäori
connects to Mäori philosophy and principles
Bishop’s (1997) model maintains that Mäori must be the
ones to authenticate the language and cultural content.
By maintaining power and control over these critical issues
in the past, traditional western research has been viewed
with suspicion by many Mäori, who refuse to participate
in research where they are without a voice.
takes for granted the legitimacy and validity of Mäori
takes for granted the legitimacy and validity of the Mäori
language, beliefs and practices
is concerned with the struggle for Mäori autonomy and
thus the reclaiming by Mäori of both cultural and
political space.
Smith (2003) asserts that the Mäori language revitalisation
movement that began at the same time produced mindset
shifts that were ‘away from waiting for things to be done
for them, to doing things for themselves; a shift away from
an emphasis on reactive politics to an emphasis on being
more proactive; a shift from negative motivation to positive
motivation’ (p. 2). Smith observes that these shifts involved
many Mäori moving from merely talking about de-colonisation,
to talking about “conscientisation” or consciousness-raising
which places Mäori in a position from where changes can
be made.
This enables Mäori to take greater responsibility for their
own situation by dealing with the “politics of distraction”
(Smith, 2003). A critical element to this is the rejection
of hegemonic thinking and practices (Gramsci, 1971) and
becoming critically conscious about one’s own aspirations
and preferences. Friere (1996) notes that in order to achieve
critical consciousness, it is necessary to own one’s own
situation; that people cannot construct theories of
liberating action until they no longer internalise the
dominant discourse. Smith notes that rather than working
from a reactive standpoint, kaupapa Mäori is a proactive
transformative stance. Kaupapa Mäori repositions Mäori
away from places of deficit theorising to positions of
“agency”, able to take responsibility for transforming their
own condition (Bishop et al., 2003). Drawing from te ao
Mäori5 for the myth messages, discourses and metaphors
is an important part of repositioning (Walker, 1978). It
involves looking back in order to provide guidance moving
forward - to source solutions that ensure cultural identity is
strengthened rather than rendered invisible (Smith, 1997).
Mäori wordview
Bishop (1996a) and Bishop, et al., (2003) argue that
solutions for Mäori do not reside within the culture that
has marginalised Mäori; rather, the solutions lie within
Mäori culture itself and draw from both traditional and
contemporary cultural knowledge. Currently, kaupapa Mäori
theorising and metaphors are being used to inform policies
and practices across a range of sectors and initiatives (Bishop,
2005; Mead, 1997; Smith, 1999). As a dynamic framework,
kaupapa Mäori enables Mäori to work for change, and to
better understand the world.
Phinney and Rotheram (1987) argue that there are
ethnically-linked ways of thinking, feeling and acting that
are acquired through socialisation. The message implicit
in this statement has profound implications for all sectors
of education, given that education provision needs to be
responsive to the intricacies of individuals’ and groups’
sociocultural and learning needs. Understanding others
depends on three specific components: engagement; ways
of thinking and theorising; ways of analysing (Durie, 2006).
Durie explores the marae atea8 as facilitated during the
process of pöwhiri9, as a metaphor for engagement, wherein
aspects such as space, boundaries and time take
on exacting significance.
Durie (2006) describes the notion of space whereby a
realistic degree of distance is necessary until a relationship
has formed. Acknowledging distance provides an effective
stage for clarifying the terms under which parties come
together. Conversely, diminished distance may precipitate
fear and panic, leading to withdrawal, thus impacting
negatively on the process of building relationships and
Weaving educational threads. Weaving educational practice.
Removed from tapu
Space in from of the wharenui, or meeting house.
A ritual of encounter
establishing engagement. The concept of boundaries
explores particular distinctions between groups, that is
tangata whenua10 and manuhiri 11; the living and the dead;
the right and the left; safe and unsafe; men and women;
old and young. Appreciation of these distinctions enables
mutually-respected boundaries to be defined without
pretence, providing a platform upon which respectful
engagement may emerge. The domain of time means that
being “on time” is less important than allocating, taking or
expanding time.
These features are critical to an effective hui whakatika,
and continue to guide contemporary Mäori society when
responding to issues of concern or conflict. The four distinct
phases to a hui whakatika process include:
1. The pre-hui phase – preparing the whäriki 15.
2. The hui phase – the hui proper:
For many Mäori, the same phases of engagement - guided
by notions of space, boundaries and time - are adhered to
during other situations of encounter. These phases broadly
Opening rituals (respecting space and boundaries,
determining who speaks and when).
Clarifying who you are/where you have come from.
Declaring intentions.
Coming together as a group.
Building relationships and making initial connections
(including sharing whakapapa or genealogical connections).
Addressing a particular kaupapa12, using open and
frank discussions, face-to-face interactions, reaching
decisions and agreements, defining particular roles
and responsibilities, allocating time.
Sharing kai 13.
Closing; summarising decisions and agreements,
upholding mana.
- Mihimihi 16/karakia17
- Response from manuhiri
- Reiterating the purpose of the hui
- Whakawhanaungatanga18
- Sharing kai
- How we are being affected, how we are feeling
- Successes to date, strengths
- Barriers/enemies to success
- Seeking out a new story (restorying)
Determining and agreeing on the way forward
What we will do, who will do what …
- Setting a time/venue for forming/consolidating
the plan
Closing: poroporoaki 19
- Whakakapi 20
- Final comments by members
- Karakia21
- Sharing kai
- Informal discussion
3. Forming/consolidating the plan.
4. Follow-up and review – at a later date.
Pöwhiri and hui whakatika are kaupapa Mäori processes
that are also Mäori cultural solutions. Macfarlane (1998)
proposes that the traditional hui 14, guided by Mäori rituals
of engagement, provides a supportive and culturally
grounded space for achieving resolution, and restoring
harmony. Hui whakatika is a unique kaupapa Mäori process
for restoring harmony from within legitimate Mäori spaces
(Hooper et al., 1999). Hui whakatika follows those same
phases of engagement, and is also underpinned by four
quintessential concepts of traditional or pre-European Mäori
discipline. These are:
Each of these phases is critical to the overall success of a
hui whakatika (Macfarlane, 2007). Sufficient time and effort
must be invested in the pre-hui phase, as this is equally as
important as the hui itself. This involves determining who
needs to be involved, establishing a willingness from all
parties to participate, meeting with all parties separately in
order to explain the process and prepare them for what will
happen, hearing their stories, and selecting a venue and
time. Phase two, the “hui proper”, follows the protocols of
engagement as represented by a pöwhiri process. Effective
facilitation of this phase is crucial.
1. Reaching consensus through a process of collaborative
decision-making involving all parties.
This paper now focuses on the role and experiences of a
Ministry of Education, Special Education kaitakawaenga.
The role of the kaitakawaenga is to work alongside nonMäori specialists who are working with Mäori families.
Their cultural expertise and knowledge is invaluable as
they are able to draw from kaupapa Mäori ways of knowing
and engaging.
2. Reconciliation; reaching settlement that is acceptable to
all parties rather than isolating and punishing.
3. Examining the wider reason for the wrong with an
implicit assumption that there was often wrong on
both sides; not apportioning blame.
4. Having less concern with whether or not there had been
a breach; more concern with the restoration of harmony.
(Olsen, Maxwell & Morris, cited in McElrea, 1994).
The kaitakawaenga had been engaged in order to assist a
special education advisor (SEA) working in a mainstream
primary school with two brothers (Mäori), who had been
referred for their severe and challenging behaviours at
Introductions/making connections
Departure ceremony/rituals of farewell
Summing up
school. The brothers, less than a year apart in age, were
in the same Year 6 class. Their parents were separated,
and custodial arrangements meant that they had both
boys, week about.
Due to the apparent severity of the boys’ behaviours at
school, the SEA had hastily put in place a behaviour
intervention plan with little input sought from the whänau.
Subsequently, they had ceased to engage in any of the tasks
that had been allocated to them in the plan. The boys’
behaviours had escalated since the plan had been initiated;
the class teacher and principal were extremely frustrated and
wanted immediate action in order to prevent the boys from
being suspended or excluded. The SEA therefore sought help
from the kaitakawaenga.
Phase 1: The Pre-Hui Phase
It was determined that a hui whakatika would be convened.
The kaitakawaenga met with both parents, initially
separately, and then together, to ensure that there was
willingness on their part to attend. The parents explained
that they wanted to resolve the issues but were suspicious
of the school’s motives, and were consequently reluctant to
meet at the school grounds. The kaitakawaenga listened to
the concerns and aspirations that they both had for their
sons. He explained the hui process mentioning that he would
facilitate with the support of his kaumätua22, who would
welcome them and any other whänau members they wanted
to bring with them. The kaitakawaenga also met with the
class teacher, the principal, and the SEA and went through
the same process. These meetings were critical to gauge
commitment, and to clarify the protocols and purpose of
the hui. The venue was then organised, the room set up,
and food ordered.
Phase 2: The Hui Phase
The hui was held at the Ministry of Education, Special
Education office, in a room that was regularly used for
hui, and reflected many of the cultural icons of the local
iwi23. The parents and boys opted to bring along whänau
support, including the maternal grandmother, the paternal
grandfather, an aunty, and an older cousin. The classroom
teacher, senior teacher, principal, SEA, kaitakawaenga and
special education kaumätua were also in attendance;
14 people in all.
The kaumätua began the meeting with mihimihi and
karakia in order to clear the pathway for the rest of the
hui. The grandfather responded in te reo Mäori, declaring
the family’s willingness to contribute and participate.
The kaitakawaenga briefly reiterated the kaupapa and
intended flow of the hui, and then started the process
of whakawhanaungatanga, whereby everyone introduced
themselves, and made a brief comment about what they
hoped to achieve at the hui. Everyone then had a cup of tea
and a biscuit.
The members listened to everyone else’s stories and perspectives
without interruption. Although initially whakamä24, whänau
members, including the boys, began to contribute more as
the hui progressed. The hui worked from a strengths-based
approach, where positive perspectives were shared. Honesty
was also a key component, and people were encouraged to
share how they were feeling. The kaitakawaenga observed
the ahua25 of the group gradually change as they listened to
each other’s issues and frustrations. Several constructive and
affirming statements were shared, which challenged many
previously held assumptions.
Members started offering positive and supportive comments
which became solution-focused; they also began to see
where they perhaps needed to take more responsibility
for their own attitudes and actions. There was an obvious
willingness to remain respectful of each other, and to
remain committed to the kaupapa. A list of possible actions
was then brainstormed and collated, to be reconstructed
into a more formal plan at a subsequent meeting attended
by all members. Both of the boys contributed to the final
discussion, and offered some suggestions, which were added
to the planning list. The kaitakawaenga then summed up,
everyone was given a final opportunity to comment, and the
kaumätua concluded with a karakia. Formulation of the plan
(Phase 3) took place two days later.
Phase 3: Forming the Plan
At the request of all members, the planning meeting
followed the same pöwhiri process. Several members of
the group commented that having the two days interim
space allowed them to reflect on the things that had
transpired during the hui. According to the whänau, it
had also enabled them to gain even greater strength and
resolve moving forward.
The plan focused on three key areas:
1. Achieving a consistency of routines and expectations
2. Maintaining regular and ongoing communications
3. Developing and maintaining positive and productive
Both parents openly discussed the inconsistencies that
existed between the respective home settings, and defined
some new kawa26 that would be put in place across both
contexts. These kawa included being more clear and
consistent in their instructions and expectations of the boys,
and also included the boys taking on greater responsibility
for their actions, with incentives and rewards playing a
role. The boys agreed that this was fair and reasonable.
Communication protocols were also constructed
collaboratively. These involved setting up home-to-school
positive notebooks, regular phone calls both ways, and an
end-of-week group debrief for the first four weeks. Building
positive relationships required all parties to make time for
each other. The teacher made adaptations to the classroom
Weaving educational threads. Weaving educational practice.
Shy, reserved
programme (content, lesson structure, pace, classroom
responsibilities) and promised to provide more regular
and specific feedback. The teacher and principal wanted
the parents to feel welcome at school, and reiterated the
“open door” approach that they wished to maintain.
Weekly debriefs were planned for Friday lunchtime, and
would include all group members, and kai. A follow-up and
review meeting was scheduled for four weeks time, with the
option of calling one sooner should the need arise.
Phase 4: Follow-up and Review
The hui whakatika took place early in April. At the follow-up
and review meeting in May, feedback from all parties was
extremely positive. The boys were much easier to manage
in both home settings as well as at school, and were actively
engaged in learning. Both parents had been using positive
and consistent strategies in their respective homes, and the
boys had achieved several small rewards. Over the next few
months, both boys also received achievement awards at school.
There were only two minor incidents that occurred at school
post the hui whakatika. School staff said that both incidents
were easily dealt with and were no more challenging than
others that they had to deal with regularly. In early October
that same year, the boys were transitioned to the Resource
Teacher Learning and Behaviour (RTLB) service over a two
week period.
The parents both stated that they finally felt as if they had a
voice in their sons’ education, and were now in partnership
with the school. They put this down to the barriers that had
been broken down during the hui whakatika. School staff
felt more inclined to approach the parents and seek their
ideas and perspectives in terms of the boys’ education needs,
something they would not have actively done prior to the
hui whakatika. At the last RTLB transition meeting, one of
the boys mentioned that he had not been in much trouble
lately. When asked by the kaitakawaenga if he thought that
was better, he said “Yeah, cos I get to learn more stuff, so I
am getting more clever”.
O’Sullivan (2007) declares that Mäori have regularly been
relegated to the position of junior partner within our society.
A determination to reclaim legitimate Mäori cultural spaces
at the nexus between indigenous Mäori and Päkehä27
cultures is a responsive pathway forward if power sharing
and self determination are to be rightfully distributed
(Durie, 2003).
Within such spaces, cultural constructs such as pöwhiri and
hui can provide solutions, determined by Mäori culture and
protocols; new learning and cultural strength may be derived
for both Mäori and non-Mäori. By developing relationships
based on mutual respect, opportunities to see oneself in
relation to others and to learn from these relationships
may arise. People can bring their own experiences, in order
to contribute to the kaupapa28. Power is able to be shared
between self determining individuals and/or groups.
Participants are able to determine their own actions;
actions that are culturally prescribed and understood within
Non-Mäori; settlers, people descended from settlers
relationships of interdependence (Bishop, Berryman,
Powell & Teddy, 2007; Young, 2005). From relationships
of interdependence, independence can emerge.
Bishop and Glynn (1999) suggest that the reassertion of Mäori
cultural preferences and practices can lead to more effective
participation and learning for Mäori students in mainstream
settings. Te Kötahitanga (Bishop, et al., 2007) has shown that
the reclamation of cultural spaces can also benefit non-Mäori
students. For many professionals this may require a shift
in mindset away from familiar and preferred practices to
those which uphold and respect the legitimacy of Mäori
cultural spaces.
Although the epistemological paradigms emerging from the
experiences of indigenous minorities such as Mäori may
challenge mainstream education (Gordon, 1997), continuing
to disregard such alternatives will leave the discipline of
education impoverished. Paying attention, however, will
surely enrich and benefit education, enabling those who
access education services to achieve more positive outcomes.
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New Zealand: Broadsheet.
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Research and Development Conference (pp. 231-246).
Palmerston North, New Zealand: Massey University.
Bevan-Brown, J., & Bevan-Brown, W. (1999). Special education
2000 monitoring and evaluation of the policy: Kura
kaupapa Mäori report. Report commissioned by the
Ministry of Education: Massey University College
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Bishop, R. (1994). Initiating empowering research.
New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies, 29(1), 1-14.
Bishop, R. (1996a). Whakawhanaungatanga: Collaborative
research stories. Palmerston North, New Zealand:
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Bishop, R. (1996b). Addressing issues of self-determination
and legitimation in kura kaupapa Mäori research.
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in Mäori Education (pp.143-160). Wellington: New Zealand
Council for Educational Research.
Bishop, R. (1997). Mäori people’s concerns about research
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Bishop, R. (2005). Freeing ourselves from neo-colonial
domination in research: A kaupapa Mäori approach to
creating knowledge. In N. Denzin, & Y. Lincoln, (Eds.),
Handbook of Qualitative Research (3rd ed., pp. 109-138).
California: Thousand Oaks Sage Publications.
Bishop, R., Berryman, M., Powell, A., & Teddy, L. (2007).
Te Kötahitanga: Improving the educational achievement
of Mäori students in mainstream education Phase 2:
Towards a whole school approach. Report to the
Ministry of Education. Wellington, New Zealand:
Ministry of Education.
Bishop, R., Berryman, M., Tiakiwai, S., & Richardson, C.
(2003). Te Kötahitanga: Experiences of year 9 and 10
Mäori students in mainstream classrooms. Final Report
to the Ministry of Education. Wellington, New Zealand:
Ministry of Education.
Bishop, R., & Glynn, T. (1999). Culture counts: Changing
power relations in education. Palmerston North,
New Zealand: Dunmore Press.
Cram, F. (2001). Rangahau Mäori: Tona tika, tona pono –
The validity and integrity of Mäori research. In M. Tolich
(Ed.), Research Ethics in Aotearoa New Zealand (pp. 35-52).
Auckland: Pearson Education New Zealand.
Durie, M. (1997). Identity, access and Mäori advancement.
Paper presented at the New Zealand Educational
Administration Society (An Indigenous Future)
Conference. Auckland Institute of Technology,
Auckland, New Zealand.
Durie, M. (2006). Foundations for psychological and social
interventions with Mäori. Presentation at Compass
Professional Development Seminar. Auckland Institute
of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand.
Durie, M. H. (2003). Mäori educational advancement at the
interface between te ao Mäori and te ao whänui. Paper
presented at the Hui Taumata Mätauranga, Tuatoru 9
March 2003, Turangi, Taupo, New Zealand.
Freire, P. (1996). Pedagogy of the oppressed. London:
Penguin Books.
Glover, M. (2002). Kaupapa Mäori health research
methodology: A literature review and commentary
on the use of Kaupapa Mäori approach within a
doctoral study of Mäori smoking cessation.
Auckland, New Zealand: University of Auckland.
Gordon, E. (1997). Task force on the role and future of
minorities. Educational Researcher, 26(3), 44-53.
Gramsci, A. (1971). Selections from the prison notebooks.
In Q. Hoare & G. Nowell Smith (Eds. & Trans.). New York:
Hooper, S., Winslade, J., Drewery, W., Monk, G., & Macfarlane,
A. (1999). School and family group conferences: Te Hui
Whakatika (a time for making amends). Paper presented
at Keeping Young People in School Summit Conference
on Truancy, Suspensions and Effective Alternatives,
Auckland, New Zealand.
Jackson. M. (1998). Research and the colonisation of Mäori
knowledge. In Proceedings of Te Oru Rangahau Mäori
Research and Development Conference (pp. 70-78).
Palmerston North, New Zealand: Massey University.
Macfarlane, A. (1998, November). Hui: A process for
conferencing in schools. Paper presented at the
Western Association for Counselor Education and
Supervision Conference, Seattle.
McElrea, F. (1994). The intent of the children and young
persons’ and their families act – Restorative justice.
Youth Law Review, July/August/September, 4-9.
Mead, L. T. (1997). Ngä aho o te kakahu Mätauranga:
The multiple layers of struggle by Mäori in education.
A thesis in fulfilment of the requirements of the degree
of Doctor of Philosophy in Education. Auckland,
New Zealand: University of Auckland.
Mutu, M. (1998). Barriers to research: The constraints
of imposed frameworks. In Proceedings of Te Oru
Rangahau Mäori Research and Development Conference
(pp. 51-78), Palmerston North, New Zealand: Massey
O’Sullivan, D. (2007). Beyond biculturalism: The politics of
an indigenous minority. Wellington, New Zealand: Huia.
Phinney J., & Rotheram, M. (1987). Children’s ethnic
socialization: Pluralism and development.
Newbury Park: Sage.
Reid, P. (1998). Te puripuri i te ao o te tangata whenua. The
impact that Mäori have made on health and society in
New Zealand. In P. Davis & K. Dew (Eds.), Health and
Society in Aotearoa New Zealand (pp. 51-62). Auckland,
New Zealand: Oxford University Press.
Smith, G. H. (1990). Taha Mäori: Päkehä capture. In J. Codd &
R. Nash (Eds.), Political issues in New Zealand education
(pp. 77-82). Palmerston North, New Zealand: Dunmore
Smith, G. H. (1997). Kaupapa Mäori as transformative praxis.
A thesis in fulfilment of the requirements of the degree
of Doctor of Philosophy in Education. Auckland:
University of Auckland.
Smith, G. H. (2003). Kaupapa Mäori theory: Transforming
indigenous transformation of education and schooling.
Kaupapa Mäori Symposium, NZARE/AARE Conference,
Smith, L. T. (1999). Decolonizing methodologies research
and indigenous peoples. Dunedin, New Zealand:
University of Otago Press.
Te Awekotuku, N. (1991). He Tikanga Whakaaro: Research
ethics in the Mäori community. A discussion paper.
Wellington, New Zealand: Manatu Mäori – Ministry
of Mäori Affairs.
Walker, R. (1978). The relevance of Mäori myth and tradition.
In M. King (Ed.), Tihe mauri ora: Aspects of Mäoritanga
(pp. 19-32). New Zealand: Methuen Publications Ltd.
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(Eds.), Culture and identity in New Zealand, Wellington,
New Zealand: GP Books.
Young, I. M. (2005). Self-determination as non-domination.
Ethnicities, 5(2), 139-159.
Macfarlane, A. (2007). Discipline, democracy and diversity:
Working with students with behaviour difficulties.
Wellington, New Zealand: NZCER Press.
Weaving educational threads. Weaving educational practice.
Sonja Bateman
Sonja Bateman
Sonja Bateman affiliates to the Ngäi Tahu tribe from
New Zealand’s South Island. Her passion for improving
educational outcomes for at-risk students has seen her
move from a Resource Teacher: Learning and Behaviour
(RTLB) to her present position of Practice Leader, Services to
Mäori, a national position within the Ministry of Education,
Special Education. Her work focuses on enhancing professional
practice, and the outcomes that are achieved by learners
who are Mäori.
[email protected]
Mere Berryman
Mere Berryman
Mere Berryman is researcher and manager of the Ministry of
Education, Special Education Poutama Pounamu Education
Research and Development Centre. Her work aims to
investigate and develop culturally responsive approaches
for supporting Mäori students and their families in a
range of Mäori and English language educational settings.
Sociocultural approaches to learning and development
acknowledge the importance of learners developing
relationships, and engaging in learning interactions
with more skilled others, from within their own cultural
experiences. She has found this to be of fundamental
importance if students are to assume autonomy over
their own learning.
[email protected]
The New Multi-Ministry Response
to Conduct Problems
A SWOT analysis
Peter Stanley
University of Waikato at Tauranga
The Inter-agency Plan for Conduct Disorder/Severe Antisocial
Behaviour 2007-2012 (Ministry of Social Development, 2007)
is assessed according to the SWOT dimensions of strengths,
weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The document is one
of the most important statements for the social services in
New Zealand because of the primacy that it gives to current
knowledge about conduct problems and for its endorsement
of research-based practices. The plan’s limitations include its
risk-focused approach, its unsystematic response to 0-2 yearolds in difficult care-giving circumstances, and its lack of
reference to adolescent girls with emotional issues who can
contribute to the next generation of antisocial young people.
As well, the plan might have considered the role of social
systems in regard to conduct problems like the school, the
neighbourhood, and community values. The implementation
of the document could be imperilled by numerous influences,
such as contrasting professional perspectives and nonempirical emphases in education.
Position Paper
Antisocial behaviour, conduct disorder, effective practices,
evidence based practice, integrated services, programme
evaluation, service provision.
The recently released Inter-agency Plan for Conduct Disorder/
Severe Antisocial Behaviour, 2007-2012 (Ministry of Social
Development, 2007), which is hereafter referred to as
The Inter-agency Plan, has four action areas. Firstly,
The Inter-agency Plan will ensure that there is ‘leadership,
co-ordination, monitoring and evaluation’ (p. 3) of
government services for children with conduct problems,
and this work will be overseen by a governance committee
comprised of senior officials from the Ministries of Social
Development, Health, Education, and Justice who will be
advised by an Experts’ Group. Secondly, the Experts’ Group
is to describe the best practices for responding to conduct
disorder/severe antisocial behaviour and this report will be
used to review and refocus the relevant services currently
provided by Government agencies by 2012. Thirdly, to
expand the behavioural services provided by the Ministry
of Education so that up to 5% of children aged 3-7 years
(identified by systematic screening) can receive a
comprehensive behaviour change programme made up of
child, parent, and teacher components. The fourth action
Weaving educational threads. Weaving educational practice.
area is to ensure common understandings, actions, and
workforce development across Government agencies who
work with children with conduct problems. The Interagency Plan is potentially the most important document
that has been written for the social services in this country
and the intention here is to evaluate it according to the
SWOT dimensions.
Briefly, The Inter-agency Plan says that antisocial behaviour
and adult criminality have early beginnings, and so it is
sensible that interventions should be directed at early
childhood. The programmes that we use should be those
that other countries have found to work best, provided that
it is shown that they also work well for all New Zealanders.
To achieve measurable effects, individual assessments and
interventions will need to be detailed and comprehensive,
and be undertaken by highly skilled professionals. It is
understood that conduct issues can be tricky to deal with,
that knowledge in this area is not complete, and that making
a real difference will take time. Nevertheless, state agencies
will need to demonstrate that they are making a difference
for, and with, families and to do these things agencies will
need to work together. Taking these actions for children
and youth with behavioural difficulties are justified because
it is possible to make real changes for them. As well, these
young people do a disproportionate amount of damage
to the social fabric and each antisocial adolescent costs
the country about three million dollars (Ministry of Social
Development, 2007).
The special strength of The Inter-agency Plan is that it is
a research-based document that demands research-based
interventions for children at risk of negative life courses and
outcomes. The document largely aligns with what is known
about the development of serious antisocial behaviour; and
there has been much success in mapping this developmental
sequence (Reid, 1993). For instance, work by Patterson and
others at the Oregon Social Learning Center has shown that
a particular dynamic develops between a child with conduct
problems and his/her parent(s) that is characterised by
accelerating coercion on the youngster’s part, as evidenced
in tantrums and ultimately physical attacks, and progressive
retreat and disengagement by the mother/father (Patterson,
DeBaryshe & Ramsey, 1989; Reid, Patterson & Snyder, 2002).
Research has also shown that it is possible to change factors
during the transition to school that markedly alter a child’s
trajectory of antisocial behaviour (Reid & Eddy, 1997).
Professionals need to be proactive, and they should respond
to the full complexity of the influences that are acting on the
child. Interventions that ignore ecological factors are invariably
limited (Luthar & Zelazo, 2003). Hence, there is the expectation
that programmes will contain multiple components, be
developmentally adjusted, and can cut across conventional
health, education, and human service delivery (Hawkins,
Catalano & Miller, 1992).
To respond to our most at-risk young people, The Interagency Plan requires the implementation and coordination
of individualised interventions for 3-7 year-olds, skill
development for parents, and training for teachers to assist
them to cater for the identified students in the classroom.
The new interventions are to be distinguished by their
accessibility, breadth, depth, duration, and therapeutic
fidelity. Professionals will engage with vulnerable families
in ways that ensure that they stay with the programme.
All of the child’s key settings are to be targeted, as are the
family’s needs; and these include such requirements as
mental health services, housing, and income support.
The initial interventions are to be of sufficient intensity to
effect change, and help will also be available to the young
person for transitions and stressful events in later years.
It is recognised that proven therapeutic programmes must be
delivered faithfully and in accord with associated protocols.
It may be that we have generally underestimated what is
needed to assist antisocial young people. Interventions
have to be powerful enough to cross thresholds and achieve
critical effects, since ‘rooted dysfunction resists change
tenaciously’ (Cowen, et al., 1996, p. 12). As well, programmes
have to persist over time. Rutter (1982), for instance,
contends that if we really want to bring about changes
for young people then there are actually only choices like
adoption, which achieve lasting modifications (see also
Curtis & Nelson, 2003, on this point), otherwise we
should make assistance available throughout periods of
development. To deliver a behaviour change programme
with fidelity means to follow the original model exactly,
in terms of the number of sessions provided, the order of
activities undertaken, the materials utilised, the methods
deployed, and the group leaders being appropriately trained
(Webster-Stratton, 2004).
A particularly attractive aspect of The Inter-agency Plan is
that it gives prominence to empirically-supported parent
training programmes. Over twenty years ago, Loeber (1987,
cited by Zigler, Taussig & Black, 1992) observed that parent
training was the success story in responding to children
with conduct issues. As an intervention, parent training
(typically mother training) deserves precedence for at least
five reasons. Firstly, the family is the primary, the most
proximal, and the most enduring socialising influence on
children (Luthar, 2006). Secondly, the effects of important
events in children’s lives (e.g., divorce, community influences)
tend to be transmitted via the parenting relationship (Kalil,
2003). Thirdly, parent training is probably the most studied
treatment for conduct issues and it impacts positively on an
array of child outcomes (Kazdin, 1997).
A fourth reason in favour of parent training programmes
is that the entire family dynamic may be altered, which
can mean that siblings of the target child benefit as well
(Kadzin, 1997), and the mother also develops in selfsufficiency - emotionally, behaviourally, and socially
(Luthar & Zelazo, 2003). A further justification for this
intervention is that young people who have been advantaged
by it can take the positive effects with them (predispositions,
relational skills) whenever they venture into other settings,
such as at school or when engaging with peers (Reid & Eddy,
2002). In the light of such arguments, leading resilience
researcher Masten contends that ‘the first order of business’
is to ensure that children have a strong bond to a caring and
competent adult (Masten & Reed, 2002, p. 83).
In fact, considerable progress has already been made
in the implementation of research-based parent training
in New Zealand. Reference is made to this in The Interagency Plan with respect to the Incredible Years series,
pioneered by Webster-Stratton of the University of
Washington. The utility of the Incredible Years parent
programme has been demonstrated in independent,
randomised controlled trials (e.g., Hutchings et al., 2007)
and it has been taken up in 20 countries. In New Zealand,
Incredible Years has received endorsement from the Werry
Centre for Child and Adolescent Mental Health. It is currently
being offered on 28 sites by the Ministry of Education and also
provided through other organisations. Efforts are being made
to evaluate the parenting programme in this country, and
pre-test/post-test data reportedly show good therapeutic
effects for both New Zealand European and Mäori participants
(L. Stanley, personal communication, November 28, 2007).
As well, Incredible Years has been the subject of several local
postgraduate investigations (Lees, 2003; Hamilton, 2005).
An advantage of the Incredible Years series is that it is a
multi-component intervention system; the parenting programme
(Basic) can be used as a prevention strategy; and it can also
function as the core of a response (made up of child, parent,
and teacher engagements) for more challenging children and
their families (Stanley & Stanley, 2005).
The following shortcomings are identified in The Interagency Plan: it does not insist on systematic and rigorously
evaluated professional services being offered in early life;
it is preoccupied with male varieties of externalising
behaviour; it is a risk-focused strategy and, as a corollary
to the aforementioned point, it does not give due regard
to protective factors and the resilience approach. One of the
plan’s key principles is that interventions should be provided
as early as possible, which here means when children
are three years of age. The plan suggests that systematic
screening and intervention can be delayed until 36 months
because there are services presently available to the younger
age group, and these services are being expanded (these
responses are described on page 36 of the plan). The Interagency Plan is not strong at this point and, for a document
dedicated to verifiable outcomes and best practices, there is
a disappointing silence with respect to accessibility, breadth,
depth, duration, and therapeutic fidelity of the current (and
intended) provisions for children under three years.
The first years of a child’s life matter greatly, and can implant
the ‘vile weed’ (Patterson, Reid & Dishion, 1992) of antisocial
behaviour. For instance, Shaw, Keenan and Vondra (1994),
in a study of 100 infants from low-income families, found
that there was a progressive developmental sequence for
boys made up of maternal unresponsiveness at 12 months,
child noncompliance at 18 months, aggression at 24 months,
and externalising problem behaviour at 36 months. Shaw et
al. (1994) cite Bates and colleagues (1985), who have
reportedly shown that a mother’s perception of her child’s
level of difficulty in the first year of his/her life is predictive
of behaviour problems at three years of age. This work
accords with research by Farrington (1978, 1991) and Loeber
and Dishion (1983) who established that, while early child
adjustment problems are strong indicators of subsequent
antisocial behaviour, an even better predictor is poor
parental discipline (cited by Reid, 1993).
A second area of deficit in The Inter-agency Plan is that it
is basically about boys and externalising behaviour. These
emphases are common in contemporary prevention, and
they can ignore the interrelationships of emotions and
behaviour, and the possible, relative contributions of males
and females to the maintenance of maladaptation. As we
know, there are at least two distinct trajectories of antisocial
behaviour: adolescent-limited and life-course-persistent
(Moffitt, 1993). What may be less readily appreciated is that
depression has separate pathways as well, and again the
episodic/persistent distinction is pertinent (Jaffe, et al.,
2002). Depression is mostly a female phenomenon, but
it can connect with externalising conduct and, as maternal
depression, it is associated with a range of adverse child
outcomes (Belsky & Jaffe, 2006). These outcomes may
contribute to the cross-generational transmission of
antisocial behaviour.
A third aspect of The Inter-agency Plan that is likely to prove
problematic over time is that it is essentially a clinical, riskfocused statement. It stresses the need to screen, identify,
and intervene with the most needy young people.
Conceptually, prevention and intervention are not mutually
exclusive dimensions and, in practice, there needs to be a
continuum of interventions to achieve prevention goals with
different sectors of the child population (Walker et al., 1996;
Walker & Sprague, 1999). There are real risks in focusing on
the “worst of the worst”, and included here is that we can
‘invest larger and larger amounts of our resources in return
for weaker and weaker therapeutic effects and outcomes’
(Walker & Sprague, 1999, p. 71). If we allow ourselves to be
preoccupied with the most extreme cases we will never
respond to the true scope and magnitude of the task
(Albee, 1999).
The Inter-agency Plan makes brief reference to the resilience
approach (refer to pages 10-11 of the plan) and it is suggested
that the new multi-ministry strategy is more likely to succeed
if this approach is more completely embraced. Attempts
have been made by Stanley (2003a, 2003b) and others
(e.g., Masten & Powell, 2003) to outline the theory and the
casework implications of resilience. With respect to practice,
Katz (1997) says that, when we attend to protective factors,
Weaving educational threads. Weaving educational practice.
we start to see the needs of children and families very
differently. Amongst other changes, strengths and talents
take on special significance, additional importance is
attached to the presence of responsible adults, and extra
recognition is given to neighbourhood resources and
support. Appropriately utilised, resilience provides a new
framework for intervention and prevention that gives priority
to positive goals. In this regard, Masten and Reed (2002)
observe that ‘Promoting healthy development and
competence is at least as important as preventing problems
and will serve the same end’ (p. 84, original italics).
Fundamentally, The Inter-agency Plan recommends the
reform of all government agencies that have responsibility
for young people with conduct issues. We may legitimately
ask, “Why stop here?” If the job is to be done well, it should
be done completely, and suggestions could be made
with respect to the extra-familial settings that impact
on behavioural problems, and these are schools,
neighbourhoods, and the community.
The school is the second most important setting for most
children and it is uniquely situated for operationalising
protective factors. In Werner’s classic resilience research
(Werner & Smith, 1989) it was found that teachers played
a key role for students who did well and who came from
difficult backgrounds. The teachers were available and
especially helpful to the young people when their family
lives were most challenging. Similarly, Rutter (1984)
determined that well-functioning women with institutional
backgrounds often had positive experiences when they were
at school. A systematic relational approach by teachers might
represent an ‘implicit challenge to the grammar of schooling’
(Baker, Terry, Bridger & Winsor, 1997, p. 597). However,
student support and guidance probably should really come
from ordinary teachers rather than school-based helping
professionals. For instance, Stanley (1991) argues that the
localisation of caring in designated roles, such as with
guidance counsellors, may lessen the nurturance obligations
of other school staff. Gilligan (2001) also comments on the
“professionalisation” of problem behaviours:
We may too easily underestimate the healing potential
that may lie naturally within children, in their normal
daily experience or their social networks. Instead
we maybe drawn excessively and prematurely to
professional and clinical responses which may not
engage the child, or may not resolve the problem
(or may aggravate it) or, worst of all, may discourage
interest by natural network members who may be left
feeling irrelevant, marginalised or de-skilled. (p. 181)
Neighbourhoods vary substantially in terms of socioeconomic
status, as indicated by the decile system that is used for
ranking schools in this country. The effects of poverty are
widespread and enduring (Jack, 2001). Indeed, poverty in
childhood is the most consistent predictor of maladaptation
in adulthood (Davis, 1996; Doll & Lyon, 1998). Offord (1996)
believes our preventative efforts should be directed
at established risk factors with high attributable value.
Other commentators go further when they say of casework
interventions in risk-ridden neighbourhoods, that ‘Without
also focusing our scientific and preventive energies on
developing strategies that modify these broader social
domains, even the best conceived family- or school-based
interventions are unlikely to succeed’ (Reid & Eddy, 1997,
p. 354).
For The Inter-agency Plan to triumph, there are also things
that need to be done at the macro level of the community
(Bronfenbrenner, 1979a). Walker et al. (1996) suggest that
violent societies need to change the norms and expectations
associated with aggressive behaviour. More particularly, Coie
(1996) also argues for changes in the values of adolescent
culture as a means of reducing youth violence. Finally, given
the primacy of positive relationships to wellbeing (Luthar,
2006), we need to promote connectedness within our
community at every opportunity. At a proximal level, this
means constantly looking for ways of ensuring that more
young people have continuing access to adults who feel
responsible for them (Masten & Reed, 2002; Rich, 1999).
More distally, it requires greater acceptance that raising
children is a shared and demanding endeavour that requires
the collaboration of caregivers, schools, and the larger
community (Falbo & Glover, 1999). Bronfenbrenner (1979b)
puts the last point in human development terms when he
says ‘The developmental potential of a child-rearing setting
is increased as a function of the number of supportive links
between that setting and other contexts involving the child
or persons responsible for his or her care’ (p. 848).
Kauffman (2001) states that we have known about the
need for early identification and prevention for more
than 40 years and yet we continue with ineffectual, reactive
responding and services that are guided by vague
philosophical ideas. Our knowledge about children with
severe behavioural issues is not perfect, but we know
enough, and we have the strategies to act. Kauffman
comments, however, that:
Turning the ideas into coherent, consistent, sustained
action will require scientific and and political finesse
that previous generations could not muster. As the
21st century opens, it is still the case that children are
unlikely to be identified for special services until their
problems have grown severe and have existed for a
period of years. (2001,p. 88)
There are many threats to The Inter-agency Plan and
Kauffman provides an excellent overview of the dangers
to be encountered in his 1999 paper, How We Prevent
the Prevention of Emotional and Behavioural Disorders.
The author believes that it is professionals who derail
preventative efforts, and the general public takes its lead
from them. Prevention-denying thinking and strategies are
pervasive and include objecting to identification, preferring
false negatives in screening, maintaining developmental
optimism (“He’ll grow out of it”), protesting the percentage
of students served, and denouncing disproportionality,
defending diversity, and denying or dodging deviance
(Kauffman, 1999a).
Kauffman’s (1999a) article provides an extensive catalogue of
prevention precluding gambits but this listing is incomplete,
and there are at least two other major difficulties that have
to be overcome before prevention can succeed. The first
of these hurdles is concerned with what people regard as
“evidence” of worthwhile therapeutic activities. The Interagency Plan is committed to evidenced-based interventions
and by this it is understood to be programmes of proven
efficacy and, preferably, programmes that have been shown
to have clinically significant effects in randomised controlled
trials (Kazdin, 1997). However, the term “evidence-based” is
open to a range of interpretations (Sugai, 2003), and it can
mean any and all data concerning a case. For this reason, the
descriptors “empirically-supported” and “research-based” are
to be preferred, as these relate directly to empiricism and the
public verification of effectiveness.
Arguably, The Inter-agency Plan is a document for education,
as it is in this sector that the big growth in services is to
occur. But educators as a profession may be distinguished
by the ease with which they accept unsubstantiated methods
(Simpson, 1999). For instance, some primary schools ban all
positive reinforcement because teachers hope to encourage
intrinsic motivation (J. McGovern, personal communication,
November 29, 2007). The problem with using unproven
interventions is that we can waste people’s opportunities
for assistance (Kauffman, 1999b), and we can do them harm
(Rutter, 1982). In working with young people at risk, there
may be legitimate criticisms that can be made of empiricallysupported therapies but interference with the delivery
of sensitive, professional services is not one of them.
The United Kingdom Department of Health (2000) states
‘The combination of evidence-based practice grounded
in knowledge with finely balanced professional judgement
is the foundation for effective practice with children and
families’ (p. 16, quoted by Adcock, 2001, p. 96).
The second major obstacle that is to be discussed is
anticipated by The Inter-agency Plan, and it is reconciling the
competing perspectives of the professional groups that work
with young people with conduct disorder/severe antisocial
behaviour. The conflicts that are inherent here can run very
deep, as they are associated with fundamentally different
views of human nature (Walker, Zeller, Close, Webber &
Gresham, 1999). Stanley has commented extensively on the
debates (Stanley, 2006a, 2006b, 2006c), and it is arguable
that the medical/psychiatric interpretations of behaviour
have simply not kept up with the advances in developmental
theory (Masten & Curtis, 2000). We now utilise new ways
of seeing, whereby maladaptation is regarded as a process
that extends over time rather than as an entity or outcome
(Wyman, Sandler, Wolchik & Nelson, 2000). The contemporary,
complexity models of human development (Sameroff, 2000)
are concerned with all the domains of development (the
“whole child”), the many contexts in which youngsters
transact their lives, and the antecedents of personal
competence as well as of dysfunction.
In the 1970s and 1980s it was recognised that human
development studies had relevance for preventive
interventions for maladjusted young people (Dishion &
Patterson, 2006). What we now know is that the antisocial
developmental trajectory is invariably associated with
numbers of the following antecedents and outcomes:
premature and low-birth-weight deliveries, child
maltreatment, learning problems, special education
involvements, school dropout, poor physical health, drug
abuse, delinquency, violence towards others, social service
engagements, depression, early sexual activity, sexually
transmitted infections, teenage pregnancy, misuse of
motor vehicles, unemployment, incarceration, and higher
hospitalisation and mortality rates (Fergusson, Poulton,
Horwood, Milne & Swain-Campbell, 2004; Reid & Eddy, 1997;
Walker, Ramsey & Gresham, 2004). The costs to individuals,
to families, and to our society are colossal. The revolutionary
contribution of The Inter-agency Plan is the leadership it
provides in addressing antisocial behaviour and, specifically,
for promoting decisions that are ‘truly rational, grounded
in solid theory, based on replicable empirical evidence,
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This article had quite a journey from its inception, to the
first submitted draft, to its present published form. I wish
to acknowledge contributions and critical feedback from
John McGovern, Margaret Evans, and the Ministry of Social
Development; and to Kairaranga’s own reviewers, both of
whom provided extensive and constructive critiques.
Peter Stanley
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Peter Stanley
Peter Stanley is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of
Human Development and Counselling at the University
of Waikato at Tauranga. He has had previous work
engagements with antisocial young people as a police
constable, probation officer, teacher, guidance counsellor,
and psychologist.
[email protected]
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Weaving educational threads. Weaving educational practice.
Schooling for Happiness
Rethinking the Aims of Education
Dr Tom Cavanagh
Wilf Malcolm Institute for Educational Research, University of Waikato, Hamilton.
The release of The New Zealand Curriculum causes us
to rethink the aims of education. Dr Cavanagh offers
an alternative set of aims to the vision outlined in the
Ministry of Education document, which is based, at least
in part, on socialisation into the corporate industrial world.
Dr Cavanagh’s position is focused on putting relationships
at the centre of who and what we are as schools. He believes
if we create a culture of care in schools, students will be
happy and flourish. As a result, the two major domains of
schooling will be joined together – student behaviour and
teacher pedagogy. This emphasis will help students and
teachers to build their capacity to solve problems nonviolently by learning how to build healthy relationships
and heal broken relationships.
Position Paper
Educational policy, inclusion practices, peer relationships,
restorative practices, school culture, society, teacher
student relationships.
Consider the following. We humans are social beings.
We come into the world as the result of others’ actions.
We survive here in dependence on others. Whether we
like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when
we do not benefit from others’ activities. For this reason
it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises
in the context of our relationships with others.
What does this tell us? It tells us that genuine happiness
consists in those spiritual qualities of love, compassion,
patience, tolerance and forgiveness and so on. For it is
these which provide both for our happiness and others’
happiness. (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, 1999)
In November, 2007, Prime Minister Helen Clark and
Minister of Education Chris Carter released The New Zealand
Curriculum (Ministry of Education, 2007). This document
goes to the heart of the aims of education in New Zealand.
Yet, in a democratic society the aims of education are not
a given, to be imposed on educators by those in power.
Those aims are continually up for reflection and discussion.
If we adopt a political agenda where the purposes of
education cannot be questioned, we restrict schools to
the technical role of delivering an education based on
what works or what is effective, and do not allow each school
to answer the moral question of ‘what is appropriate for
these children in these circumstances?’ (Biesta, 2007, p. 11).
This article then is based on the idea that The New Zealand
Curriculum (Ministry of Education, 2007) is an empowering
rather than a prescriptive document.
To understand the stance taken in this piece, I draw on the
position taken in a recent article outlining a Mäori worldview
of the curriculum, noting that the ‘differences in meaning
and understanding should not be seen as sites of conflict,
but rather as opportunities for improving and enriching
the quality of education of all New Zealanders’ (Macfarlane,
Glynn, Grace, Penetito & Bateman, 2008, p. 123).
In the light of expanding the conversation about the
aims of New Zealand education, it appears that one of the
major goals of education presented in the curriculum is
socialisation into the corporate industrial world by making
our young people entrepreneurial. By way of explanation
the New Zealand Conference of Catholic Bishops (2006) said,
‘This “competency” has its home in the world of business …
On the other hand education should serve the “common
good”’ (p. 1).
Schools are encouraged to achieve this goal by giving
students a bit of knowledge in a number of areas and specific
knowledge about one or two fields, alongside training about
how to be a good employee. The question we should ask is:
“Is this the goal we want for our children?”
To answer this question we need to ask another question:
“What are the aims of education?” Far too often today we
talk about schools in terms of curriculum standards and
testing rather than aims. We appear to be focused more
on ways and means, rather than directions and aims.
Initially, let me establish a foundation for talking about
aims. At a meeting of the United Nations’ Convention on the
Rights of the Child in 1989, participants adopted Article 29,
which states …
Education needs to address the development of the child
to his or her fullest potential and promote respect for
human rights, the child’s own culture, and the natural
environment and to promote values of understanding,
peace, tolerance, equality and friendship. In other words,
education must not be limited to the basic academic
skills of writing, reading, mathematics and science.
(United Nations Children’s Fund, 2007, p. 118)
At the heart of this article are relationships – building
healthy and caring relationships with (a) our parents and
people who share our cultural identity, language, values,
and country of origin, (b) people from other cultures, (c) the
land. These relationships are based on a belief in dignity,
that each of us is born with inherent dignity that cannot be
denied or taken away from us and is not dependent on our
behaviour. This understanding of relationships forms the
basis for how we relate to others as adults and as peaceful
and non-violent people.
With this understanding, we can, along with our children,
begin to examine whether our current societal aims and
goals are appropriate for us, are fair to others and to the
environment. Also, we can explore whether they will lead
to improving the quality of life we are creating for ourselves,
our children and grandchildren, and those who are yet to
be born. Hopefully, schools will be places where our children
can learn to critique and challenge the aims of society and
our public leaders. Hopefully, schools will not be places to
meet the aims and goals of policymakers, business people,
and those who hold positions of power and wealth.
When students, educators and those interested in education
enter into broader discussion of society’s aims, they learn
that not only are schools shaped by policymakers and
others in power, but that schools have a moral duty to
shape the aims of society. In this way, hopefully schools
can be places for modelling what a tolerant and humane
society looks like and acts by way of engaging, teaching,
learning and valuing people who are different than the
dominant culture.
My research supports this discussion about aims
(Cavanagh, 2003a). This paper draws on research projects
I was privileged to participate in, including my dissertation,
Fulbright Fellowship, and current work as Senior Research
Fellow for a research project focused on improving
indigenous student achievement. My research is grounded
in ethnography as the holistic study of schools as systems.
My passion is exploring how we can create peaceful and
nonviolent schools (Cavanagh, 2003b). I am pursuing that
work by investigating how to create a culture of care, focused
on building and maintaining caring relationships, where
the theory of restorative practices underpins responses to
problems related to student behaviour, and the theory of
culturally appropriate pedagogy of relations underpins
teacher and student relationships and interactions in
classrooms. I have reflected on my research experiences
over the past five years in writing this piece.
From my research I have come to realise that when the focus
of education is on curriculum and testing, the importance
of relationships is forgotten. From this perspective, the
curriculum learning our children encounter needs to be
grounded in human relationships, particularly as these
interactions are lived out in classrooms. I have learned that
a school can use the best curriculum, but if the relationships
aren’t right, the school can fail. Fundamentally, relationships
must be central to the aims of education, for if we ignore
relationships we suffer the consequences of such things as
bullying and gang violence.
Weaving educational threads. Weaving educational practice.
Teachers want to have effective interactions and relationships
with students. After all, recognising and talking about
relationships is at the core of schooling and who we are
as educators. It is about treating children as treasures and
recognising what a privilege it is to teach and learn with them.
I’d like to begin this discussion about the aims of education
by considering what parents want for their children. Most of
us would say that we want our children to be happy.
If this is true, then how can we turn these desires of parents
into aims for education? As Noddings (2003) suggests in her
book on Happiness and Education, at the present time we
are focusing on financial aims in schools, educating students
to support a strong economy and to be financially successful
rather than to flourish as adults. We need to remember the
key to what helps us to flourish is living happy and fulfilling
lives. If we want our children to be happy and flourish as
adults, then we need to ask them what makes them happy
and what will help them to develop and achieve in an
impressively successful way.
It is ludicrous for the media and policymakers to be
criticising education, based on a financial purpose for
schools, as being inadequate in a time of economic
prosperity. How do they think the people who created and
maintain this prosperity were educated? Rather, we celebrate
our schools for their contribution to the wonderful lifestyle
we enjoy today. After all, happiness and education are
intimately connected, and education should contribute
to the individual and collective happiness of all persons
who are part of our schools: students, teachers, parents,
educators, and those interested in education.
That is not to say we can’t improve our schools. I recommend
the place to start is by abandoning the notion that there is
one best way to educate our children. However, we do not
need two systems of education: one for the “normal” students
and the other for those who are seen to not fit the criteria for
a “normal” student (whether that labelling is the result of
linguistic, cultural, or disabling conditions that mark a
student as different). If we want our children to think
inclusively as adults, then we need an inclusive education
system that models inclusivity (Macfarlane, 2007). In addition,
if we want our children to be happy and flourish as adults,
we need to help students build healthy relationships and
heal broken relationships.
My purpose isn’t to criticise education and educators, rather
to support their good work and urge them not to bow to
pressures created by the media. Media tends to force blame
for society’s problems on schools. Based on my experience,
teachers by and large get things right, and we don’t want
them to lose sight of the good things they are doing.
Noddings (2003) suggests that educators need to replace
the emphasis on standards and testing with a focus on aims.
She says resurrecting a focus on aims should include the
ideas of people flourishing, developing competencies based
on relationships in both our public and private lives, and
shaping our worldviews and in turn our dispositions.
Noddings (2003) also explains that the combination
of relationships and happiness are what lead to people
flourishing. From my research I have learned that students
are happy and flourish in an environment of care that
focuses on relationships (Cavanagh, 2005). Such a culture
of care is based on the idea of caring for and about others
and responding appropriately to such care. In this culture,
educators care for students as individuals and also care for
their learning.
In conclusion, I urge educators to persist in what they know
in their hearts is right about education. My research supports
them and also shows we do not lack caring teachers; what
we lack are school systems that support caring educators.
Furthermore, I would remind myself and others interested
in education that this is a matter of great importance for
everyone because ultimately focusing on relationships
benefits the children entrusted to our care.
This culture has three elements:
1. Being in relationships by building healthy relationships.
2. Living in relationships by creating a sense of belonging
or community.
3. Learning in relationships through routines, practices,
and customs.
Being in relationships by building healthy relationships in
schools is critical for our children to be successful in life.
From our research we know that students can begin learning
how to be peaceful and non-violent people in primary school
and continue building this capacity throughout secondary
school (Cavanagh, 2005).
Living in relationships happens when people live together
in a sense of solidarity or all for all. We need community
to meet our needs, particularly for recognition. If a school
adopts a model based on how healthy families create loving
homes, children will learn that caring is reciprocal. In that
way students will feel welcomed, respected and comfortable
at school (Noddings, 1992).
When we rely on practices and customs so students are
learning in relationships about socialisation and norms of
behaviour, then they will begin to understand the answers
to “Who am I?” and “Who am I in this group?”. They will
begin to think critically about what makes this group or
school good? This thinking leads to children becoming
reflective adults (Deloria & Wildcat, 2001).
In a culture of care, the response to wrongdoing and conflict
must be one of restoration, particularly of relationships,
rather than retribution. As an alternative to using coercion,
particularly in the form of punishment, for example, name
calling and labelling, controlling behaviour, and punishing
students through detentions and stand downs, teachers need
to help children learn how to repair broken relationships that
are harmed through wrongdoing and conflict.
The culture of care I propose is the glue that holds together
the two major domains of schooling – student behaviour
and teacher practice. In a culture of care, student discipline
is based on restorative practices, where the emphasis is on
helping students learn how to solve problems non-violently
by healing the harm resulting from wrongdoing and conflict,
rather than punishment and retribution (Restorative
Practices Development Team, 2003). In classrooms that
have a culture of care, teachers focus on creating healthy
relationships with their students from the beginning.
Educators and those interested in education understand
that the task of education, first and foremost, is about the
transmission of ideas of value more than facts. They support
the desire for our children to understand and make sense
of the world, not in a cynical or negative way, not dividing
people into those that are good and those that are bad.
Rather, it is impotant to honour the dignity of all persons
and values happiness as being at the core of what helps us
flourish as part of the natural world.
Biesta, G. (2007). Why ‘what works’ won’t work: Evidencebased practice and the democratic deficit in educational
research. Educational Theory, 57(1), 1-22.
Cavanagh, T. (2003a). Schooling for peace: Caring for our
children in school. Experiments in Education, 31(8),
Cavanagh, T. (2003b). Schooling for peace: Creating a
culture of care in an elementary school. Colorado State
University, Fort Collins, CO: USA.
Cavanagh, T. (2005). Creating safe schools using restorative
practices in a culture of care: An ethnographic study
conducted at Raglan Area School Te Kura a Rohe o
Whaingaroa. Wellington, New Zealand: Fulbright
New Zealand.
Deloria, V., & Wildcat, D. R. (2001). Power and place: Indian
education in America. Golden, CO: Fulcrum Publishing.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. (1999). Ethics for a New
Millennium. New York: Riverhead Books.
Macfarlane, A. H. (2007). Discipline, democracy, and diversity:
Working with students with behaviour difficulties.
Wellington, New Zealand: NZCER Press.
Macfarlane, A. H., Glynn, T., Grace, W., Penetito, W.,
& Bateman, S. (2008). Indigenous epistemology in
a national curriculum framework? Ethnicities, 8(102),
Ministry of Education. (2007). The New Zealand Curriculum.
Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Education.
New Zealand Conference of Catholic Bishops. (2006).
Education – for what kind of society? Auckland,
New Zealand: New Zealand Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
Noddings, N. (1992). The challenge to care in schools:
An alternative approach to education. New York:
Teachers College Press.
Noddings, N. (2003). Happiness and education. New York:
Cambridge University Press.
Restorative Practices Development Team. (2003). Restorative
practices for schools: A resource. Hamilton, New Zealand:
School of Education, University of Waikato.
United Nations Children’s Fund. (2007). A human rightsbased approach to education. New York: United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Dr Tom Cavanagh
Dr Tom Cavanagh
Dr Tom Cavanagh is Senior Research Fellow at the University
of Waikato. He is a social scientist studying how to create
a culture of care in schools, using restorative practices to
respond to problems related to student behaviour and
creating a culturally responsive pedagogy of relations
in classrooms. Some of his research can be accessed at
[email protected]
Weaving educational threads. Weaving educational practice.
Working Together
An occupational therapy perspective on collaborative consultation
Andrea Hasselbusch
Lecturer, Department of Occupational Therapy, National University of Ireland, Galway
Merrolee Penman
Principal Lecturer, School of Occupational Therapy, Otago Polytechnic
The focus of this study was to explore the occupational
therapy consultation process used with students on the
autistic spectrum attending their regular school. Individual,
in-depth interviews with senior occupational therapists
were employed to collect the data. Grounded theory
(Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Strauss, 1987; Strauss & Corbin,
1998), a qualitative research methodology, was used to
develop a high-level description and conceptual ordering
as an initial step towards developing a consultation model.
Constant comparative analysis of the data revealed three
interactive and interdependent processes, Joining Up,
Finding A Way and Walking and Talking. These processes
often occur simultaneously and greatly influence each other.
The central concept was identified as Working Together,
which highlights the collaborative nature of the consultation
process. The context of the inclusive education environment
requires a strong ecological approach as an essential aspect
of therapists’ practice. The consultation process described
uses occupational therapists’ day-to-day experience and is
grounded within the inclusive education setting in Aotearoa
New Zealand.
Key Words
Autism spectrum disorders, collaborative consultation,
ecological perspective, grounded theory, inclusive
education, occupational therapists, professional practice,
school based intervention.
Historically employed by health, occupational therapists
have long worked in special education schools (VaughanJones & Penman, 2004). Recently, the place of occupational
therapists in the inclusive education sector as an
educational- rather than health-based practitioner was
legitimised through Special Education 2000 (Ministry of
Education, 1996, 1999a, 1999b, 2000a), and strengthened
through the New Zealand Disability Strategy (Minister for
Disability Issues, 2001). Implementation of this policy and
strategy resulted in increased employment of occupational
therapists in the general education context (Vaughan-Jones
& Penman, 2004) as an increasing number of students
with special needs choose to attend their local schools.
Occupational therapists newly employed by Special
Education Services (latterly Ministry of Education, Special
Education) were faced with therapy provision within a
general education context. Traditionally, minimising
disability by ‘fixing the child’ (Bundy, 1997, p. 1) using a
‘1:1 model of service delivery’ (Swinth et al., 2002, p. 12)
guided therapists’ practice, but this approach became less
relevant with the focus on enabling the student to attend
school and access the curriculum (Anich, 1998; Hanft &
Place, 1996). Whilst consultation models to guide clinical
reasoning have been proposed by Bundy (1991, 2002)
and Hanft and Place (1996), therapists have continued
to struggle to define their role within the general school
setting (Fairbairn & Davidson, 1993; Meanger, 1990;
Spillane & Sterling, 1996; Vaughan-Jones & Penman, 2004).
Occupational therapists working in inclusive education are
not only challenged by working in the consultative model,
but also by providing services for the increasing number
of students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) (Center for
Disease Control, n.d; Gilberg & Wing, 1999; Individuals with
Disability Education Act (IDEA), n.d.) who present with more
complex issues than the traditional client base of students
with physical disabilities (Case-Smith & Miller, 1999). The
needs of students with ASD differ significantly, specifically
in the area of sensory processing difficulties, affecting their
participation and occupational performance in daily life
(Dunn, 1999; Smith Myles, et al., 2004; Watling, Deitz &
White, 2001).
Clearly changes in employer, work context, service provision
and clientele have challenged occupational therapists.
There is limited school-based occupational therapy research
to guide practice, and what exists is primarily North American.
In addition, inclusive education occupational therapy models
tend to be theoretically-derived, and based on individual
expert opinion and personal philosophy. Differences in
legislation, funding and culture warrant caution when
applying these models to Aotearoa New Zealand practices.
Local research is therefore crucial to develop the knowledge
which can inform therapists’ day-to-day practice. The focus
of this study was to address this need by exploring occupational
therapy consultation practice related to students on the
autistic spectrum attending regular schools in Aotearoa
New Zealand.
Research Design
As a step towards developing a consultation model for use
in Aotearoa New Zealand practice, the aim of this study
was to develop a high-level conceptual ordering (Strauss &
Corbin, 1998) based on therapists’ professional experiences.
To gain an understanding about the social processes which
occur when occupational therapists work in an inclusive
education context, grounded theory (Strauss & Corbin, 1998)
was utilised.
At this point, dimensions of individual concepts were
clarified and the relationships between categories formalised
into a theoretical framework (selective coding). Strategies
employed to promote rigor included:
a presupposition interview carried out by a colleague
experienced with qualitative research and knowledgeable
about the area under investigation
a pilot interview with a colleague who met the
participant selection criteria but was not one of the
ongoing memoing as an audit trail
Eight experienced female practitioners working for the
Ministry of Education, Special Education were recruited by
forwarding information through the occupational therapy/
physiotherapy electronic mailing list, and subsequent “word
of mouth” recruitment by the initial participants. The Ethics
Committee of Otago Polytechnic approved the study, and
the National Office of the Ministry of Education, Special
Education gave permission to approach potential participants.
regular peer review with two occupational therapists
with experience in the area under investigation and
understanding of qualitative research
member checking with individual participants through
face-to-face meetings discussing preliminary results
review of results through the Grounded Theory Group at
Auckland University of Technology (De Poy & Gitlin, 1998;
Strauss & Corbin, 1998).
All participants were provided with information about the
study and gave written consent. With between 2 and 8 years
of experience in working with children, participants were
employed by the Ministry of Education, Special Education
to provide itinerant school-based services in regular schools
in varied geographical areas (urban/rural), for students aged
5-21 years with a wide range of disabilities including ASD.
The students with ASD were verified under the Ongoing
and Reviewable Resourcing Schemes (ORRS), which include
teacher-aide and specialist teacher support, specialist
support services and funding for resources. All participants
worked within a consultation framework of service delivery.
Two of the eight participants had an occupational therapy
diploma, four a bachelors degree and two had completed
postgraduate studies, with all having attended at least one
sensory processing and ASD course.
Face-to-face, one to two hour semi-structured interviews
were undertaken with participants in a location of their
choice. Participants were initially asked to share a story
in which they worked with a student with ASD attending
his/her regular school. Questions were used to encourage
the participant to expand, to clarify, or as a prompt for
further detail. To elaborate on their points, participants
frequently drew on other experiences where difficulties
occurred, or where everything had gone to plan.
As shown in Figure 1, the central concept emerging from
this study was Working Together, emphasising the notion
of collaborative consultation. This concept was strongly
reflected in all three interactive, but distinctly different
processes that were in the participants’ stories. The processes
of Joining Up, Finding A Way, and Walking And Talking are
not linear nor independent. Although one of the processes
might dominate at any one time, the processes can also
occur simultaneously, overlapping and blurring into each
other, and can take place during one visit, or over a period
of time.
The Inclusive Education Context
Joining Up
Underlying Concept: Building
Working Together
All interviews were audio-taped and transcribed for
data analysis with pseudonyms used to protect anonymity.
In keeping with grounded theory, the constant comparative
method of data analysis was used. Each piece of data
(a phrase, a sentence or paragraph) was compared to
other data to determine similarities and differences
(Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Strauss, 1987; Strauss & Corbin,
1998). Consistent with Strauss and Corbin’s (1994, 1998)
descriptions of coding, data was first divided into small
pieces (open coding), then developed into concepts and
finally linked into conceptual families (axial coding).
Weaving educational threads. Weaving educational practice.
Finding A Way
Underlying Concept: Trying
Walking And Talking
Underlying Concept: Finding
Figure 1. Working Together.
Each process is discussed in depth in the following sections.
Joining Up: Establishing a collaborative foundation
Judith: … you have to sort of build those relationships
first of all … with the student, with his parents, with
the school. So … the first part of the journey is forming
those relationships …
In Joining Up, the occupational therapist described focusing
on building relationships with the key players: school staff
and parents. Relationships with colleagues in the special
education team, for example the speech-language therapist,
psychologist, special education advisor and physiotherapist,
are also important. All of the key players aim to come
together to collaborate as one entity as the student journeys
through the educational system. Given the number of people
who could be involved with a student with ASD, the therapist
starts by questioning “Where do I fit?” The therapist needs
to find out whom to connect with for this child, at this time,
in this situation and to what level. Therapists particularly
emphasised the importance of connecting with the teacher’s
aide who works with the student every day and often require
support regarding the student’s management. However,
therapists also expressed concerns that building strong
relationships with the teacher-aides might at time lead
to others, particularly the classroom teacher, taking less
responsibility for the student with ASD. It can also be difficult
for therapists to maintain regular contact with parents who
may be in full or part-time employment as most contact time
takes place in the school during school hours.
In order to meet the key players involved, the therapist
enters the school’s patch. Therapists described a temporal
and spatial divide, as all the individuals involved are not
situated in the same place, nor do they share the same
background and perspectives. The therapist may feel a
welcome or unwelcome visitor, which can relate to the
school and family’s previous experience of either occupational
therapy in general, or more specifically, the individual
therapist or Special Education staff. Irrespective of the
welcome, the therapist, in aiming to get to know the
key players, spends crucial time being around the school,
touching base with staff and families.
Liz: In some schools, you do a lot of hanging around
with the teachers, and hanging around with the staff,
or hanging around with the families, which doesn’t
look like you are doing anything, but is actually quite
important to build that relationship.
In order to develop a relationship with all key players,
therapists emphasised the need to clarify expectations,
specifically those related to role and services provided.
Working with members of the other teams over time,
and especially through difficult situations, helped to
build the relationship required to collaborate with
each other effectively.
Theresa: If a student comes into a school where you
are already familiar with staff and they are already used
to seeing you, I think that does make a difference as
opposed to going directly into a whole new situation.
The outcome of the process Joining Up determines if the
therapist partners with the key staff involved for the journey
that lies ahead. Successful partnering means that all are on
the same page with a shared understanding of the issues
and of each other. To ensure this, the therapist adjusts the
pace during the assessment and intervention process to
accommodate that of the school staff and family.
Finding A Way: An ecological assessment process
When reflecting on developing understandings of the child,
family, school staff and school environment, therapists
frequently used descriptions such as “finding out” and
“finding a way”. In contrast to the “withdrawal approach”
to assessment used within health-based services, therapists
working in schools use an ecological approach of assessing
the child in the context of their school.
Judith: I like working in the school because I think
that’s where the students are all day. I very, very
rarely would take a student out of the classroom
or wherever because we always work where they
are; in the classroom or in the gym and usually
within their own group of students.
Aiming to not disrupt the classroom teaching or general
school activities, the therapist becomes an invisible or silent
observer blending into the background. Observation is the
key assessment tool.
Theresa: … you need to observe them [the student] on
a number of different occasions and often in different
environments to really get a good understanding …
Talking and listening to the school staff and family also
provides the therapist with essential information.
Rachel: … it’s through that process of time that you
establish a clearer picture about the team and the skills
and abilities of the child, of the difficulties they face and
the gains that they’ve made in time. Time with listening,
with observation, with reflection, gives you a much
clearer picture of what you’re dealing with, with that
child and with that team.
The use of standardised assessment tools, which require
the child being out of the classroom, are considered
carefully. However, congruent with the ecological process,
all of the therapists used the Sensory Profile (Dunn, 1999),
a standardised caregiver questionnaire focusing on children’s
responses to sensory information in daily life. Completed by
teachers and parents, the Sensory Profile does not require
the student to be withdrawn from class for completion.
The various contributing sources of information provide a
snapshot of what is happening not only for the student, but
also the school staff during daily school life. This snapshot
gives the therapist an understanding of the student, the
classroom context (both human and non-human), the
difficulties which arise and the perspectives and concerns
of the school staff and parents.
Liz: To actually see what is happening is really important
in terms of understanding the dynamics of the school or
the classroom and then checking it out through talking
and through having a cup of tea and saying I noticed
such and such …
Key to the assessment process is accessing the school
staff and family knowledge of the student and their
environment. Therapists join the individual pieces gained
in the assessment process with their theoretical knowledge
of, and practical experience with, ASD to aid their
interpretations. The multifaceted nature of ASD also
contributes to the complexity of the assessment process,
with therapists frequently using the term “trying” to
indicate that the way to understanding is not straightforward.
In the process of trying to understand, the therapist is able
to identify and then prioritise their contribution to the
collaborative intervention process.
Walking and Talking: A collaborative intervention process
Therapists did not view their interventions as one-off events,
but rather as different “pieces of work” they might be
involved in, or contribute to, as one of the members of the
team. When working with children with ASD, “pieces of work”
commonly addressed include issues related to sensory
processing difficulties affecting the child’s behaviour in the
classroom, developing independent toileting skills, and
written communication. These “pieces of work” are shaped
by the school context, for example the emphasis on written
communication in a regular school environment, the
student’s needs, and the concerns of the school staff and
family. What is considered a valid piece of work is also
influenced by the therapists’ understanding of their role in
schools, which focuses on supporting and equipping the key
people around the student to enable the child to attend and
learn in the school context. The occupational therapist
intervenes with words, by providing information (talking)
and through actions, by jointly implementing strategies
and adaptations (walking).
Liz: … and with this child it might be just after observing
all that and making some hypothesis about
it, saying to the teacher’s aide “let’s just see what he
does if you just draw it for him and not say anything”.
Or I start intervening, let’s have a go and see if we put
a yellow highlighter on the mark, will it make it easier
for him to do it more independently rather than with
too much help. So it is an observing, but then also a
“let’s have a look”. It is an observing and an intervening.
Through the use of trial and error the therapist finds out
what might work for the student, the school staff and
family. Each step in the process is a tweaking or making
fine adjustments, rather than the trialing of completely
different solutions. Frequently, therapists - in response to
levels of concern expressed by school staff - would trial a
strategy during their visit, thinking “on the spot” to provide
strategies for situations that have arisen while they are there.
Reframing, which involves offering alternative interpretations,
was an important tool used by therapists to facilitate a
change in the perspective of school staff and family members.
Liz: … one of the key things that I think we do a lot
of re-interpreting for people around autism is “the
behaviour is not about them being naughty, there
is a reason for the behaviour”. This is what I noticed
and this is when the behaviour occurred and this
is how it manifested and this is the interpretation
Weaving educational threads. Weaving educational practice.
I make of it. “How does that sound to you? Does
that fit? Does that make sense?” And when they say
“oh, yeah, that makes sense”, you know you have
reframed something for them.
At times, reframing lays the foundation for offering
possible adaptations, while at other times the altered
perspective achieved through reframing makes
accommodations unnecessary.
Liz: It is about them [the school staff] seeing
it differently, understanding it differently and
then altering their behaviour to match the
child’s behaviour or to match the child’s need
for a different way of interacting or creating
the environment for them.
Adaptations offered commonly focus on the classroom
environment and the task in question with the therapists
ensuring that any suggestions they make fit with the
school staff, the school and classroom. This is achieved
by considering the school culture and the skills and
resources available in a specific school or classroom.
Carrie: … looking at the teacher and the way they run
their classroom. Some classes you can introduce lots of
tactile, messy kind of activities and that is ok, but other
classes and teachers can’t handle that. So you have to
find non-messy ways to get the same sensation.
The desired outcome of Walking and Talking is to get the
match between meeting the student’s needs and what the
school staff and family can provide. In doing so, the key
people are able to take on board the suggested perspective
or strategy. These adaptations enable and facilitate the
student’s participation and inclusion within the classroom.
Donna: … to see him [the student] included in the
classroom with his peers when everyone first started
thought he wouldn’t. Everyone thought he was a
candidate for a special school and now, he’s in
there and the other children accept him.
With a view towards developing a consultative model, this
study aimed to develop a higher level conceptual ordering
(Strauss & Corbin, 1998) based on therapists’ consultation
practices when working in with children with ASD attending
their local school. The therapists have developed a distinctive
practice model in response to the considerable challenges
encountered in employers, work context, service provision
model and clientele. In sharing their stories, the therapists
clearly articulated the processes they use to achieve the goals
of assisting the child to attend their local school, to become
part of the class community and to access the curriculum.
Occupational therapy consultation in schools is grounded
in a collaborative, interactive process reflecting principles
of consultation outlined by Schein (1999) and further
elaborated by Bundy (2002). The process is not linear with
a clear start or finish; rather it is iterative as new issues are
raised by school staff and families. Working collaboratively
with all involved, at different times and in different ways,
therapists – drawing on their understanding of the sensory
processing needs and difficulties frequently experienced
by children with ASD – use a range of tools such as intently
listening to school staff and family during the assessment
process, and adapting their suggestions according to others’
needs. Additionally, the classroom context becomes the
therapeutic media, with the creation of artificial situations
considered less desirable. The therapist utilises as much as
possible the resources, natural situations and skills available
within the school and classroom environment, rarely working
outside of the classroom or playground. This ecological
approach, which is congruent with the occupational
therapy consultation models suggested in the literature
(Bundy, 1991, 2002; Hanft & Place, 1996), was a key feature
of therapists’ practice.
Instead of giving advice as a “one-off” event as an expert
may do, consultation involves ever-evolving support to
school staff and families over months or years, coming in
and out as a visitor in the school as the needs are identified
by those who know the child best. The therapists use
processes to draw out others’ understandings to ensure
joint problem-solving occurs for the benefit of the child
(Mickan & Rodger, 2000, 2005) and the needs of the school
staff involved. Therapists emphasised a general attitude of
being supportive and respectfully aware of the school staff’s
requests and solutions even though these may not be the
most useful or effective ones from the therapist’s perspective.
Working alongside the school staff at their pace, the therapist
may see the perfect solution but does not impose this
immediately; rather they engage all key stakeholders in
the problem-solving process in order to arrive at a jointly
owned solution.
Issues needing to be addressed can be unclear or change
quickly, as can the individuals and teams involved in the
collaboration process. Membership can change due to
staffing changes, but also can change in relation to the
identified issue and potential solutions. Where teams
remain reasonably constant, the process of identification
and solution-finding can be relatively quick as all roles
and unique contributions are known. However, where team
membership has altered significantly or where the teams are
new because a child has entered a school for the first time,
then time and energy is given by the occupational therapist
to the establishment and preservation of relationships
(Mickan & Rodger, 2000, 2005) and determining where
in the group of key people surrounding the child they fit.
Throughout the journey, the members of the family team
(Lesar, Trivette & Dunst, 1995; Rosenbaum, King, Law,
King, & Evans, 1998) are mostly constant, but liaising can
be problematic as parent and therapist availability do not
always match and workload pressures can prevent additional
home visits. Phone calls and emails can ease the
communication, but the therapists were aware of the
pressing need to include parents more in the team
(Brown, 2004; Hannah & Rodger, 2002; Rosenbaum,
King, Law, King & Evans, 1998).
In contrast to existing occupational therapy consultation
models (Bundy, 1991, 2002; Hanft & Place, 1996), therapists
in this study described considerable differences in the level
of relationship and collaboration with specific individuals
from the school, family and special education teams
depending on the respective student, situation, and reason
for involvement. The therapists evaluate and re-evaluate
their role, their position within the overall team and the
level of involvement on an ongoing basis. The complex
collaborative problem-solving process described by the
therapists has a different emphasis than the respective
stages described by Bundy (1991, 2002) who discussed that
the client is primarily responsible for developing strategies
as much as possible, while the therapist contributes from
a repertoire of strategies.
Not only do the families and the teams influence the
outcome of the consultation process but so does the
inclusive education context, which is not surprising given
the ecological approach to practice taken by these therapists
(Bronfenbrenner, 1979, 1989). Therapists specifically
highlighted how the consultation process differs between
schools or within different classrooms within the same
school. The concept of differing cultures between classes in
a school or between schools is a recent acknowledgement
in the educational literature (Stoll, 2000; Gaffney, McCormak,
Higgins & Taylor, 2004). For the therapists in this study, the
inclusive education context in general and specific school
environmental influences shaped their every step and action.
Bundy (1991, 2002) and Hanft and Place (1996) recognised
the need for therapists to consider the overall culture of
schools, however the significant cultural differences between
individual schools and consideration of these differences
within the consultation process is yet to be acknowledged.
Implications for Practice
The results of this research not only have the potential
to inform occupational therapists’ practice within the
educational setting, but also that of other health and
educational professionals.
For therapists commencing in education settings, having
previously worked in health settings, there is a need to
appreciate a different model of working. Hence consideration
needs to be given to the induction of therapists into this
particular field of practice. Novice therapists, even those
with extensive paediatric experience in health, would benefit
from a reduced caseload while transitioning into working
consultatively in general schools. Given the numbers of
teams the therapists will join, additional time may be
required to develop relationships with school staff and
colleagues. Additionally, the complex problem-solving
required might take longer for these practitioners.
Regular opportunities for supervision and peer mentoring
are important to develop these essential skills. Joint school
visits with senior occupational therapists as well as colleagues
from other professional groups within Special Education
would be beneficial to develop the consultation, collaboration
and clinical reasoning skills necessary to practice effectively.
Opportunities to join wider communities of school-based
therapists through the use of technology (e.g. mailing lists
or online discussion forums) to discuss general practice
principles and specific issues may be valuable.
Caution is warranted when trying to generalise timeframes
required in addressing a specific piece of work such as
toileting or handwriting issues, or limiting a therapist’s
involvement to one-off visits or short timeframes of
involvement. Therapists described situations in which
workload pressures impacted on their ability to allocate
the necessary time, which they felt hindered the overall
consultation process. The development of relationships
with key people in one school may take very little time
if the therapist or educational professional is “known”
in the school. However, in other situations much of the
professional’s time will be focused on engaging with and
coming to know and be part of the school. Being engaged
with the school staff has been identified as one prerequisite
of effective practice by therapists in this study, therefore
rushing or limiting the therapist’s involvement is likely to
considerably impede the overall outcome.
The professional development needs of these therapists
are shaped by the specific skills and knowledge required in
this field of practice. However, at present there are limited
opportunities for therapists to build up these skills as part
of their ongoing professional development. Working in
regular schools using collaborative consultation requires
considerable problem-solving by therapists. Therapists need
to be flexible, to juggle many factors within their head, and
to often do this very quickly, i.e. “on-the-spot”. Therefore,
actively engaging the therapists using a problem-based
learning approach and real-life scenarios or case studies
should be an integral component of courses and induction
programmes offered by tertiary institutions and employers.
The content of these courses needs to cover a wide range of
topics which are essential to this area of practice, including:
a sound understanding of inclusion
the general education context and relevant legislation
interactive reasoning skills and knowledge about
concepts such as school culture
practice skills such as adapting suggestions to the specific
school and class context.
Additionally, it would be beneficial to introduce school-based
occupational therapy to preregistration occupational therapy
students. This could be achieved by including relevant
concepts and theoretical knowledge into the curriculum,
use of school-based therapy case scenarios in problem-based
learning sessions and offering fieldwork education placements
within relevant organisations or agencies.
Implications for Further Research
Clearly this is only the start of the development of a model
of collaborative consultative practice that has emerged not
from other discipline’s writings on consultation, but from
the actual stories of Aotearoa New Zealand occupational
therapists as they describe their day-to-day work.
The processes need to be further explored and tested
by a number of therapists providing services to different
student groups who receive services under different funding
schemes. Additionally, as this research investigates just
the occupational therapists’ perspective, exploring the
Weaving educational threads. Weaving educational practice.
consultation process from the standpoint of the school
staff, families and other special education professionals
is essential to gain insights into the shared understanding
of collaborative consultation in schools. Finally, specific
concepts such as the process of adapting intervention and
approaches to address the school culture, as well as skills
and resources available in the respective school, require
more attention in research as these concepts are essential for
effective practice. Similarly, the interactive clinical reasoning
processes used by school-based therapists requires further
investigation as trusting relationships have been identified
as an essential aspect in effective collaborative consultation
practices. Further research into collaborative consultation as
it is practiced by occupational therapists working in inclusive
education will contribute to developing a coherent and
effective collaborative consultation model grounded in practice.
Limitations of this Study
When considering transferability of the results, it is important
to be aware that while congruent categories emerged from
the therapists’ stories, the size of the sample was small and
all were female. In addition, the study occurred within
the framework of a master’s study where timeframes and
resources were limited. A longer time period, observations in
the classroom and inclusion of male occupational therapists
may have led to the introduction of other categories.
Furthermore, the students with ASD mentioned in this study
attended their local regular school and were verified under
the ORRS, which include support staff, specialist services and
funding for resources. Therefore, caution is warranted when
generalising the findings to other settings, such as special
schools, and students receiving funding under other schemes.
Additionally, although the process described is interactive
and collaborative in nature, this research offers only the
occupational therapists’ perspective with further research
required to explore the perspective of all key players.
Grounded theory analysis of the experiences of eight
Ministry of Education, Special Education occupational
therapists provided insight into the consultation process
used by these therapists when working together with the
key people supporting students with ASD attending their
local school. A high-level conceptual ordering emerged from
the data, consisting of the three separate but at the same
time interrelated processes, Joining Up, Finding A Way and
Walking and Talking, which amount to the central concept
of Working Together. This research is an initial step
towards developing a consultation model grounded within
the Aotearoa New Zealand context. In particular, these
therapists’ consultation practice reflects a collaborative as
well as an ecological approach. Additionally, the findings
shed light on the complex problem-solving and interactive
clinical reasoning processes, which are essential components
of the therapist’s day-to-day work. In summary, these
findings contribute significantly to the knowledge-base of
practitioners working within the inclusive education context
in Aotearoa New Zealand.
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Merrolee Penman
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Merrolee Penman
Merrolee Penman (MA(Educ), DipOT, NZROT) is Principal
Lecturer and Postgraduate Academic Leader at the School of
Occupational Therapy, Otago Polytechnic, Dunedin. Merrolee
had been interested in the role of occupational therapy in
schools since her work in Britain in the 1990s. Merrolee has
been Andrea’s primary supervisor for this research project.
[email protected]
Address for Correspondence
Andrea Hasselbusch
National University of Ireland, Galway
Department of Occupational Therapy
Aras Moyola
Galway, Ireland
Andrea Hasselbusch
Andrea Hasselbusch
Andrea Hasselbusch is an occupational therapist with
extensive paediatric experience and specialised
qualifications. She is currently employed as a lecturer
and researcher by the National University of Ireland,
Galway, Ireland. Andrea was employed by the Ministry
of Education, Special Education, from 2003 until 2007.
During this time she supported students with special
needs attending general schools on the North Shore,
Auckland. Her special interest in working collaboratively
with colleagues, school staff and families of students
with autism shaped the focus this research project.
She graduated with a Master in Occupational Therapy
from Otago Polytechnic in March 2007.
[email protected]
Weaving educational threads. Weaving educational practice.
On Children Transitioning to New Cultural
and Linguistic Settings
“When in Rome … it’s okay to be a tourist”
Nadine Ballam
Tutor, University of Waikato at Tauranga
There may be an implicit assumption amongst some
New Zealand educators that minority cultures should
assimilate wholly into the New Zealand way of life,
shedding aspects of their own culture that conflict with
the mainstream. Some others assert that encouraging
minority students to maintain their culture, including
language and traditions, results in positive academic and
social achievement. This paper challenges some of the
possible covert assumptions that may be prevalent amongst
educators; assumptions that prevent these children from
transitioning smoothly into our schools. It outlines the
importance of valuing cultural differences, promoting
a sense of personal identity and encouraging the use of
first languages.
Research Paper
Bilinguilism, cultural differences, ethnic identity, inclusion
practices, minority students, refugees, transition programmes.
The adage “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” is a
familiar expression relating to one culture interacting
with another in various settings. To an extent, it may be
warranted that those “visiting” should take on aspects of the
local culture as a means of showing respect and “fitting in”.
Conversely, the question of how much of a person’s identity
should be put aside in order to be accepted by others may be
debated. Right now, the assimilation of cultures is occurring
regularly right on our doorsteps, with students from ethnic
minority groups transitioning into New Zealand schools on
a daily basis (Ministry of Education, 1999). A valid question
may be posed as to how educators should regard their
presence in our classrooms and school communities.
When transitioning into New Zealand schools, should ethnic
minority students be expected to “do as the Kiwis do”, or are
there other approaches that can be taken to ensure that
respect for both cultures remains intact?
In recent years, the number of migrant and refugee students
in New Zealand schools has increased significantly (Kennedy
& Dewar, 2007; Ministry of Education, 1999). These students
hail from a range of backgrounds, with differing experiences
that combine to shape their unique and individual identities.
As a result, schools and educators at all levels have been
directed to acknowledge and value the character of the
communities they are situated in (Ministry of Education,
1997, 1999). The New Zealand Curriculum (Ministry of
Education, 2007) emphasises the value placed on our
nation’s cultural diversity and the traditions of all its people,
outlining that all school students, irrespective of cultural
background, will be accepted in the education system.
The identities, cultures, and languages of all individuals
will be supported, their experiences valued, and learning
needs addressed. This is echoed in Te Whäriki (Ministry
of Education, 1996), the curriculum document for early
childhood education, indicating that it is a priority for ethnic
minority groups in New Zealand. But just how successful has
this mandate been? Baker (1997) suggests that modifying
educational policies to acknowledge cultural diversity is
one issue; however adjusting entrenched attitudes of some
monolingual, monocultural teachers is far more difficult.
Campbell (2000) concurs, saying that such reactionary
teachers often attempt to change minority students to fit
the “norms” of the mainstream culture they are familiar with,
and find easier to teach. They tend to make few attempts to
bridge the gap between home and school, immerse the
student in English language and Western value systems, and
fail to recognise the traditional cultural values that could
academically advantage students from minority cultures.
Research shows that ethnic minority groups generally fail
to achieve either academically or socially to a level that is
comparable with dominant cultures (Chapple, Jefferies &
Walker, 1997; Hirsch, 1990). There are several reasons cited
for this, including an inequitable education system, poor
self esteem, and external locus of control, where individuals
look for fault externally rather than internally (Nowicki &
Strickland, 1973). Campbell (2000) argues that one reason for
poor achievement amongst minority students is the attitude
of teachers. She believes that, while cultural diversity is
now acknowledged and “celebrated” in national education
policies, there is still an assumption amongst some educators
that coming from a minority cultural background is a
disadvantage. This underlying attitude sends mixed messages
to students from minority groups who are readily enrolled
into the system, but who are limited by racial stereotyping
that underestimates their ability to cross the cultural barriers
they encounter in order to succeed. Students who are not
expected to succeed will often fulfil expectations and fail
(Ministry of Education, 1999). Viewing cultural traditions,
values, attitudes and language as deficits devalues the
essence of the child (Blackledge, 1994; Eckermann, 1994).
Alternatively, genuinely acknowledging and appreciating
cultural differences communicates to the minority student
that they are valued as human beings. This has a significant
impact on how they view themselves and others, boosting
confidence, and positively influencing their academic
achievement, social acceptance, and personal well-being.
Sociocultural theories propose that children’s intellectual
and social development are closely linked, and that their
world is constructed through interactive social contexts
(Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Bruner, 1996; Eckermann, 1994;
Erikson, 1968). During transition into unfamiliar social
contexts, in times of change and challenge, individuals
tend to depend on aspects of their self-concept that are
core to their identity (Jackson & Warin, 2000). This may
be paralleled with travel situations, where individuals
spending time in other countries will often become
unusually patriotic or exude more of their own culture
whilst attempting to integrate into an unfamiliar context.
For instance, New Zealanders embarking on the traditional
“OE” (overseas experience) can perhaps be too readily
identified by their “I’m from Down Under” t-shirts and hats,
or accentuated “Kiwi” jargon. As well, many seek comfort
by finding accommodation in suburbs that are known to
be heavily populated by other New Zealanders, and
searching out familiar foods in supermarkets or local bars
to help with their adjustment during the transition. Students
from minority cultures are no different, drawing on attitudes,
values and belief systems that have been shaped through
experiences in environments that may differ vastly from the
milieu they are moving into.
Even when a child from a minority culture appears to be
adapting personally, socially and academically to their new
environment with ease, there may actually be a mismatch
between school and home that confuses this transition.
Baker (1997) refers to this as “home/school disarticulation”,
where norms, values and beliefs within the family unit differ
from those of the education system. Students may merely
“survive” by moving constantly from one cultural context
to another, essentially learning what is “expected” of them
and how they should conduct themselves in each situation
(Campbell, 2000). The Ministry of Education (1999) outlines
the importance of celebrating cultural differences and
valuing diversity, not just to remove possible barriers to
learning, but also to foster positive self esteem and identity.
Paying “lip-service” to culture is demeaning and detrimental
to a minority student’s sense of who they are (Blackledge,
1994). When students from different cultural backgrounds
are supported to develop a strong sense of self, they are
more likely to move through the transition process with
minimal stress (Merry, 2007). Embracing and supporting
the individual ways in which minority students deal with
transitions into the educational environment can deeply
impact on their confidence, perceptions of self, and
ultimately, their identity.
Bourdieu (1997) discusses the concept of cultural capital,
which consists of values held by families that are handed
on to their children. These may exist as beliefs that shape
Weaving educational threads. Weaving educational practice.
goals, attitudes and development, and they are influenced
by economic, symbolic, cultural and social factors (Brooker,
2002). As with any child transitioning into a new school
context, students from ethnic minority groups bring with
them a “package” of individual cultural capital that largely
defines who they are. The cultural capital that is possessed
by the individual, and how it is perceived by others in the
new context, can determine the level of control the minority
student has over their transition. Cultural capital can be
representative of levels of “power”, which are ultimately used
for “negotiating a place” in social contexts (Gibbons, 2002).
The sometimes unfamiliar or threatening cultural capital a
minority student brings with them can result in their peers
or teachers positioning them at the lower end of this scale.
Likewise, the minority student’s own perception of their
worth can have an effect on where they fit in terms of this
assumed power in their new social context. Eckermann
(1994) proposes that people are organised into a series of
hierarchical positions according to aspects of capital such
as class, socio-economic status and culture. She states that:
A group’s culture is relevant only to its own particular
group, it helps to determine how that group perceive
themselves, how they conceptualise or order their world,
what propositions or beliefs they use to explain things,
how they try to cope with their world as well as the
sentiments and values which tell them what is good
and what is bad, their proven mechanisms for dealing
with other people and with material things in their
world. (pp. 2-3)
Clearly, the extent to which these aspects of culture are
accepted by individuals in the new social context will be a
determining factor in how well the minority student copes
with the migration from a familiar to an unfamiliar setting.
In his ecological model, Bronfenbrenner (1979) demonstrates
the influence of different social systems that impact on
individuals, emphasising the complexity of the interaction
between people and contexts. He highlights systems that
range from situations close to the individual, such as home
and neighbourhood, to impacts from further afield, such
as government or international influences, maintaining
that the impact of these layers and the way in which
they are responded to, combine to shape the individual.
As mentioned previously, ethnic minority students can face
challenges in transitions due to a mismatch between home
and school environments. Returning to the illustration
of the Kiwi traveller embarking on their OE, the sense
of disequilibrium experienced in a new environment can
be somewhat unsettling. Despite the exhilaration one may
be feeling about exploring something new, the resulting
apprehension is a factor that can often not be prepared for.
Grappling with language, currency, customs and laws are
all an exciting part of the new experience, but can leave
even the most confident traveller rather perturbed. Just as
the weary traveller must “find their feet” in order to glean
the best from their overseas expedition, students from
ethnic minorities are faced with a similar challenge.
However positive minority students might feel about their
new experience, the likely presence of some anxiety may
impact on their initial engagement with the unfamiliar context.
The addition of another system of influence that in some
situations conflicts with what minority children have
experienced in life to that point can have devastating
consequences for their achievement in the new context.
Corson (1998) suggests that aspects of cultural capital other
than language brought to school by children from minority
backgrounds are what cause inequalities in academic
performance. He states that teacher pedagogy and
organisational arrangements need to be matched with
children’s home cultural values in order to reverse
educational failure rates. In light of this, the relationship
between school and home can impact positively on the
child’s ability to transition smoothly into their new
environment. Schools can assist culturally diverse parents
or caregivers to support their child’s social and academic
success by outlining cultural factors that may hinder
achievement in these areas. Likewise, families can assist
schools and educators to understand cultural traditions
that have shaped their child’s values, beliefs and practices
(Whyte, 2005). This raises the question: Who holds the
responsibility for instigating discussion regarding cultural
aspects? Such dialogue should be considered with sensitivity
from all perspectives, in order to successfully initiate and
foster this relationship.
Language can be a key barrier to social interaction and
academic achievement in the initial transfer to the
mainstream school setting. The communication challenges
experienced by some learners with limited oral English skills
may result in the student being socially isolated by their
English speaking peers, or reduce important interactions
with teachers and other significant adults. In New Zealand
schools, English should add to, not replace, the languages
of minority students, as this acts as a reinforcement of their
cultural identity (Blackledge, 1994; Kennedy & Dewar, 1997;
Waite, 1992). Learning in all curriculum areas is languageoriented, and this can present challenges to students who
are required to master language as well as content. May
(2002) proposes that academic achievement and literacy
development are actually increased when students are able
to use their first language in the school setting, a notion
supported by other experts in the linguistic field (Corson,
1998; Cummins & Swain, 1986). Proficiency in one language
can aid in the learning of another, as linguistic knowledge
is transferred from the native language to that which is being
learnt. When minority students are encouraged to use their
first language in the classroom, this may remove limits on
their ability to communicate meaning. From the perspective
of teacher practitioners and peers, developing an
understanding of basic linguistic terms from minority
students and their parents or caregivers may well be
beneficial. This might enable them to gain insight into
aspects of the student’s culture and background that could
not possibly be communicated by them with their limited
knowledge of English and its meanings.
Supporting minority students to use their first language also
makes it a “normal” occurrence for their peers, as they are
not being influenced to view bilingualism as a “problem”
that needs to be overcome (Smith, 2006), or as a point of
difference that divides them. Such strategies support the
inclusive intent of our national curriculum documents;
however the practical implications for teachers are
considerable. Educators must be open to continual
modification of teaching practices in order to optimise
learning opportunities for students whose primary language
is not English. These may include using non-linguistic
representations (for example, symbols and diagrams) to
complement language use, and fostering support networks
outside of the classroom to allow minority students to make
links with prior experiences and knowledge (Alton-Lee, 2003).
They must also work to create classroom cultures that are
not characterised by intimidation by peers, and that promote
acceptance and understanding of diversity. The New Zealand
Curriculum (Ministry of Education, 2007) states that effective
teachers create supportive learning environments by
attending to the cultural and linguistic diversity of all
students. Obviously, with increasing multilingualism in their
classrooms, appropriate resources will need to continue to
be made available for teachers to cope with this expectation.
Clearly, the smooth transition of students from ethnic
and linguistic minority groups into mainstream learning
environments is impacted on by numerous intricate factors.
Each interacts in such a complex way that it is difficult to
separate any one as being significantly more important
than any others. However, one aspect remains certain – that
educators at all levels need to develop an awareness of the
difficulties faced by minority students when moving into our
predominantly English-speaking school environments. With
numbers of students from ethnic minority groups expected
to increase (Ministry of Education, 1999), it is in the best
interests of New Zealand educators to adapt pedagogy and
practice to support these transitions. This should result in
an increased understanding of how to accommodate and
enhance cultural and linguistic diversity within educational
settings and the wider society. An important feature of the
vision for our education system is to encourage our young
people to create a nation in which all cultures are valued
for their contributions (Ministry of Education, 2007). The
conception that being in a particular social context should
involve putting aside the very characteristics that make
individuals who they are, expired the day that New Zealand,
like many others, became a multicultural nation.
Alton-Lee, A. (2003). Quality teaching for diverse students
in schooling: Best evidence synthesis. Wellington,
New Zealand: Ministry of Education.
Baker, B. (1997). Anthropology and teacher preparation:
Some possibilities and precautions. Queensland Journal
of Educational Research, 15(2), 41-58.
Blackledge, A. (1994). ‘We can’t tell our stories in English’:
Language, story, and culture in the primary school.
In A. Blackledge (Ed.), Teaching bilingual children
(pp. 43-59). Staffordshire, UK: Trentham.
Bourdieu, P. (1997). The forms of capital. In A. H. Halsey,
H. Lauder, P. Brown & A. S. Wells (Eds.), Education,
culture, economy and society (pp. 46-58). Oxford:
Oxford University Press.
Ministry of Education. (1996). Te Whäriki: He Whäriki
Mätauranga mö ngä Mokopuna o Aotearoa: Early
childhood curriculum. Wellington, New Zealand:
Learning Media.
Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human
development: Experiments by nature and design.
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Ministry of Education. (1997). Governing and managing
New Zealand Schools: A guide for Boards of Trustees.
Wellington, New Zealand: Learning Media.
Brooker, L. (2002). Starting school: Young children’s
learning cultures. Buckingham: Open University Press.
Ministry of Education. (1999). Non-English speaking
background students: A handbook for schools.
Wellington, New Zealand: Learning Media.
Bruner, J. (1996). The culture of education. Boston,
MA: Harvard University Press.
Campbell, A. (2000). Cultural identity as a social construct.
Intercultural Education, 11(1), 31-39.
Chapple, S., Jefferies, R., & Walker, R. (1997). Mäori
participation & performance in education: A literature
review and research programme. Wellington,
New Zealand: Ministry of Education.
Ministry of Education. (2007). The New Zealand curriculum.
Wellington, New Zealand: Learning Media.
Nowicki, S., & Strickland, B. R. (1973). A locus of control
scale for children. Journal of Counselling and Clinical
Psychology, 40(1), 148-154.
Smith, H. A. (2006). Seven myths about use of students’
mother tongues in schools. Many Voices 25, 6-7.
Corson, D. (1998). Changing education for diversity.
Berkshire, UK: Open University Press.
Waite, J. (1992). Aotearoa: Speaking for ourselves. Part B:
The issues. Wellington, New Zealand: Learning Media.
Cummins, J., & Swain, M. (1986). Bilingualism in education:
Aspects of theory, research and practice. London,
UK: Longman.
Whyte, B. (2005). Collaborating with diverse cultures.
In D. Fraser, R. Moltzen & K. Ryba (Eds.), Learners
with special needs in Aotearoa New Zealand (3rd ed.,
pp. 117-127). Australia: Thomson/Dunmore Press.
Eckermann, A. (1994). One classroom, many cultures:
Teaching strategies for culturally different children.
NSW, Australia: Allen & Unwin.
Erikson, E. H. (1968). Identity, youth and crisis. New York:
Gibbons, P. (2002). Scaffolding language, scaffolding learning:
Teaching second language learners in the mainstream
classroom. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Peter Stanley, University of Waikato at Tauranga,
for providing editing advice and assistance.
Nadine Ballam
Hirsch, W. (1990). A report on issues and factors relating to
Mäori achievement in the education system. Auckland,
New Zealand: Ministry of Education.
Jackson, C., & Warin, J. (2000). The importance of gender
as an aspect of identity at key transition points in
compulsory education. British Educational Research
Journal, 26(3), 375-391.
Kennedy, S. & Dewar, S. (1997). Non-English speaking
background students: A study of programmes and
support in New Zealand schools. Wellington,
New Zealand: Ministry of Education.
May, S. (2002). Accommodating multiculturalism and
biculturalism in Aotearoa, New Zealand: Implications
for language education. Waikato Journal of Education,
8, 5-26.
Merry, R. (2007). The construction of different identities
within an early childhood centre: A case study.
In A. W. Dunlop & H. Fabian (Eds.) Informing transitions
in the early years: Research, policy and practice
(pp. 45-57). Maidenhead: Open University Press,
McGraw-Hill Education.
Weaving educational threads. Weaving educational practice.
Nadine Ballam
Nadine is a tutor at the University of Waikato at Tauranga.
She has lived in both Australia and Europe, travelling
extensively in several countries, before returning to
New Zealand to complete her primary teaching degree.
Currently, she is doing a PhD in the area of gifted
and talented education of students from diverse
socioeconomic situations.
[email protected]
Does the Oxford Reading Pen Enhance
Reading Accuracy and Comprehension
for Students with Reading Difficulties
in a Classroom Environment?
An implementation trial
Ian Johnson
Resource Teacher: Learning & Behaviour, Hokitika School
This article was undertaken to determine whether the
Oxford Reading Pen (ORP) could enable students with
reading difficulties to read and comprehend text at their
chronological age. A small sample of students with reading
difficulties was involved in a trial to ascertain the impact
of using the ORP within their classroom reading activities.
The results gained were positive and the potential of the
ORP as an effective complementary tool for classroom use
is discussed. The importance of carefully matching assistive
technologies to student needs is highlighted as “one size
does not fit all”.
Many of the referrals RTLB receive are for students who
require assistance and support with their reading. Whilst
a variety of remediation programmes are readily available
within schools, such as Rainbow Reading (Pluck, 1996) and
Reading Recovery (Reading Recovery New Zealand, 2006),
these interventions require time for students to develop
their reading skills. In contrast, the ORP has the potential
to enable immediate decoding and comprehension of
unfamiliar vocabulary, allowing students to engage in
reading at their chronological age immediately. This may
help students with reading difficulties to avoid disengagement
and disaffection, which are common features of students
who are struggling to read (Dyslexia Foundation, 2007).
Complementary ICTs such as the ORP have the potential
to overcome such difficulties.
Practice Paper
Assistive devices, classroom practices, dyslexia, evaluation,
information and communication technology, learning
difficulties, reading difficulties.
This implementation trial set out to identify if the ORP is
an appropriate and effective compensatory Information
and Communication Technology (ICT) to assist students with
reading difficulties in their classrooms. The aim of this study
was to investigate if the ORP could be used by students
independently in their classroom to:
enhance comprehension
increase reading accuracy
enable reading for meaning at chronological age.
The writer approached the trial from the perspective of
a practicing Resource Teacher: Learning and Behaviour
(RTLB) seeking to identify if the ORP was an appropriate
compensatory ICT for students with reading difficulties.
Whilst a variety of ICT solutions are available to assist
students with reading difficulties the ORP appeared to
be able to assist such students at a fraction of the cost,
with minimal training time and little classroom disruption.
An experimental approach was used to test the effectiveness
of the ORP during this small scale implementation trial.
The ORP is claimed to assist people with reading difficulties
(see Appendix) and as such, links closely with the Ministry
of Education ICT policy which highlights the importance
of people using ICT to participate fully in society, including
school (Ministry of Education, 2003). With the recent
recognition of dyslexia within New Zealand (Ministry
of Education, 2007) and the government pledge to assist
students diagnosed with dyslexia, ICTs such as the ORP
may become more common within schools. This trial seeks
to clarify the ORP’s effectiveness in assisting New Zealand
students to overcome reading difficulties.
ICTs combining text-to-speech software and scanners
have been used in New Zealand since the early 1990s.
The literature search examined studies which investigated
ICTs which could assist people to overcome their reading
difficulties. The majority of this originates in the United
Kingdom (United Kingdom Parliament, 2007) and the
United States of America (Slaughter, 2001). These countries
have historically recognised and provided specific screening
and ongoing support for students with reading difficulties
and/or dyslexia.
Balajthy (2005) completed a study summarising the use
of text-to-speech technology as it utilises scanning and
speech technology. He identifies a range of literature which
highlighted the success of computers and text-to-speech
software in enhancing reading and comprehension. Balajthy
identifies that students with the greatest difficulties make
the best gains using these sorts of technologies. An important
factor highlighted is the close matching of the user’s needs
with the technology they are to use. As an example, Balajthy
identifies that text-to-speech software is more successful
for students with low reading ages, but that students with
attention deficits do not generally do any better when using
the ICTs.
Higgins and Raskind (2005) investigated the effectiveness
of one compensatory option, the ORP, for increasing the
comprehension of students with learning difficulties.
They identify a variety of research that shows the ORP
as a viable tool for compensating for reading deficits with
American students. Their study used a sample of 30 students,
training them over two weeks to use the ORP. They received
comprehension tests with and without the ORP and the
results were compared. Their results indicated that the
students did increase their reading comprehension with the
use of the ORP and that it could be used successfully across
curriculum subjects by a variety of students at high school.
Within the research presented above there was wide praise
for the gains which occur in reading comprehension when
text-to-speech software is utilised. The only issue raised by
the authors related to a mismatch between equipment and
the users’ needs. This should not be seen as a criticism
of the use of ICTs, rather that of improper implementation.
Balajthy (2005) identifies a major problem when utilising
laptops or text-to-speech software and scanners being the
time for preparing the equipment and training, as well as
the expensive purchase price.
ICTs are not only valuable in aiding comprehension, but
outcomes of studies suggest that, when used appropriately,
ICTs can facilitate other outcomes. The British Educational
Communications and Technology Agency (Becta, 2004, 2007)
identifies that ICT can motivate children with specific learning
difficulties to acquire literacy skills and give support across
the curriculum. They add that ICTs such as text-to-speech
software (handheld or tabletop), spellcheckers and wordlists
can also foster integration within the classroom and enhance
student independence and self initiated learning. These are
described by Becta as the hidden benefits of portable ICTs.
Perry’s (2003) research on the use of Personal Digital
Assistants (PDAs) within schools supports the ideas of Becta
(2004, 2007). This is relevant as Personal Digital Assistants are
small handheld devices which are relatively inexpensive and
have positive impacts upon student learning. In this respect
they may be seen as comparable to the ORP. With this in
mind, pedagogy must be developed around their use in
schools as has been for graphical calculators. For instance,
could handheld devices be used instead of a human reader
in examinations?
Weaving educational threads. Weaving educational practice.
The ORP has the ability to be used only as a text-to-speech
device with the dictionary switched off and locked by the
password feature. This could enable a student with reading
difficulties to work independently of a human reader,
although they still could not be used in examinations as
presently there are no guidelines for use. This is an ongoing
issue with new compensatory ICTs as the technology
outpaces the processes which need to be developed for the
usage within examination situations. Luckily, reader-writers
are available and students with reading difficulties can use
their complementary ICTs at other times.
Perry (2003) indicates that many schools aim to have
students accessing school websites (for homework for
instance) and that PDAs could be used to achieve this.
ORPs could enable students to access their homework and
school tasks independently as long as they are presented
in a manner in which the ORP could recognise the text.
This would certainly be a cheaper method for both families
and schools to enable students with reading difficulties to
access age-appropriate homework tasks.
Finally, Becta (2004) indicates that a variety of factors must
be considered when using portable ICTs such as adequate
training for staff and students, as well as ongoing
commitment from teacher, parents and student. This aspect,
along with Higgins’ and Raskind’s (2005) article, helped shape
the training aspect of this trial.
Description of the ORP
The ORP is of similar size to a board marker and uses two
AAA batteries. It combines Optical Character Recognition
technology with an on-board scanner, speaker and liquid
crystal display window. It is able to scan printed text and
read either individual words or sentences the user wishes
to read (see Appendix for a full description).
Why was the ORP selected?
For a number of years, the writer has been using a variety
of compensatory ICTs to assist students with reading and
written output including predictive text, speech recognition,
laptops and text-scanning software. When matched correctly
to a student they are highly effective. The major barriers to
successful implementation are the cost of the software and
hardware, as well as the training time for the student and
the adults around them. A further barrier faced by high
school students is that of mobility as a laptop, scanner
and headphones takes time to set up in each class and
are difficult to move around school.
The ORP came to the writer’s attention following a
conversation with a colleague who recommended it.
Following a quick demonstration and “hands on” experience,
and an exploration of relevant research, the potential of the
ORP to assist students with reading difficulties was apparent
and one was purchased to trial in the RTLB cluster. Higgins’
and Raskind’s (2005) study provided a framework for this trial
and clarified the writer’s ideas with regard to how the trial
could be implemented.
Saturday has been scanned and definition is displayed.
Saturday has been scanned and is displayed in large text.
ORP in left hand format – note screen reversal.
ORP in left hand mode being used to scan.
Figure 1. Pictures of the ORP in use. (Pictures courtesy of Westland RTLB)
An initial literature search located a study completed by
Hardy (2004) who did not identify how she had obtained
her viewpoints on the ORP, yet highlighted some potential
pitfalls for this trial. She notes difficulties with scanning if
the ORP is not held correctly, especially if the user does not
have good motor skills. A further difficulty identified is that
of the ORP only scanning from certain papers and being not
appropriate for scanning large tracts of text. These views
I feel are not well-founded as the ORP instruction manual
highlights what it is possible to scan and how much it will
scan in one attempt.
Selection of Participants
Four students who were already participating in reading
remediation programmes were selected as subjects.
The sample of four students represents a quarter of the
writer’s current cases. All four students were open RTLB cases
on the writers caseload and are referred to as Students or ‘S’
1-4 in this article. All the students were selected because they
were reading below their age. The students were of different
chronological ages to each other, enabling a wider cross
section of users to be assessed. Gender differences were
not considered relevant to this trial: three boys and one
girl were selected.
Excellent relationships were already established with the
students, teachers and their parents. The writer approached
the teachers and parents, and explained the scope of the
trial and demonstrated the ORP to them. Permission was
gained from all parties and the writer asked each student if
they were willing to participate, following a clear explanation
of what was to occur. All four students agreed to participate
verbally and written consent was gained from the teachers
and parents.
The ethical dimension of testing the students’ reading
accuracy and comprehension at their chronological age may
be questioned: all students were reading more than 1.5 years
below their chronological age (all participants, parents and
students were made aware of this prior to participation in
the trial). It was important to test at the chronological age
for a variety of reasons. Firstly, the students were presented
with chronologically appropriate written material during
their school day as it was an aim of the trial to identify if
the ORP could help them overcome their difficulties.
Secondly, by using the ORP with the texts at their
chronological age, the pre-ORP trial identified the difficulties
experienced by the students on a daily basis and enabled
a direct comparison to be made when they used the ORP.
Thirdly, the students were well aware that they struggled
with reading at their age and it was important for them to
identify during the post-trial questions if they felt the ORP
helped them. A final ethical consideration was that of the
students being trained and tested within their regular
classroom. This may have been an issue for the students
so it was discussed with them prior to their agreeing to
participate. It was important as the writer sought to identify
if the ORP could be used effectively within a busy classroom
This trial aimed to assess the potential benefits of using
the ORP within the writer’s cluster to enable an informed
decision about its utilisation within cluster schools. Readers
may relate this trial’s findings to their situation but should
be aware that the sample size of this trial is limited and is
relevant only to the writer’s cluster.
Data Collection
Baseline data was collected on the students’ reading and
comprehension levels using the Prose, Reading, Observation,
Behaviour and Evaluation of Comprehension (PROBE) (Pool,
Parkin & Parkin, 1999) assessment in the pre- and postexperimental phases.
Each student received a PROBE test at their chronological
age within their regular classrooms. Following this, a oneto-one training session with the writer on using the ORP
was conducted, again within their respective classrooms.
By the end of their sessions all the students were able to scan
effectively and use the basic functions readily. The students
were then given the ORP to use for a day each within their
classes. Time constraints only allowed for one day’s practice
for each student.
The following week the students were again visited by the
writer individually in their regular classroom settings and
given the ORP for a five minute refresher session and then
tested again using a different PROBE at the same reading
level. The students were then asked questions about their
experiences and thanked for their participation. Quantitative
data (PROBE testing) and qualitative data (individual interviews)
were combined to evaluate the effectiveness of the ORP.
ORP Training Outline
All individual training sessions took place between 0900
and 0930 enabling all four students to practice with the
ORP for the remainder of the day. The training session
covered demonstration and hands-on practice scanning
text, and adjustment of the ORP to match left- and righthanded users. Following this, scanning of individual words
and then sentences was practised along with their playback.
The students were instructed how to use the definition
and history features as well as connecting and using the
headphones as required. Finally, the students were left with
the ORP for the remainder of the day to practise using it.
Each student was asked six questions to gather insight into
what they thought of the ORP. Each student was asked to
describe what they thought of it, what they liked about it,
how they thought it could help them, if they would use it
with their peers around them, if there were any problems
and finally, if they had $500.00 of their own money, would
they buy an ORP?
The results were analysed and shared with the students,
teachers and parents.
Figure 2 compares the chronological age, reading accuracy
with and without ORP, self correction and comprehension
scores for all four students. Figure 2 indicates that all four
students increased their reading accuracy when using the
ORP. Students 1, 3, and 4 also show increased comprehension
scores when using the ORP. Conversely, Student 2 shows a
significant decline in comprehension.
Age / Score
Pre-trial 1
Post-trial 1
Pre-trial 2
Post-trial 2
Pre-trial 3
Post-trial 3
Pre-trial 4
Post-trial 4
Chronological age (years)
Actual reading age (years)
Reading accuracy (%)
Self corrections (numbers)
Comprehension accuracy score
Figure 2. Reading Accuracy and comprehension scores using the PROBE student assessment.
Weaving educational threads. Weaving educational practice.
Pre-trial 1
Post-trial 1
Pre-trial 2
Post-trial 2
Pre-trial 3
Post-trial 3
Pre-trial 4
Post-trial 4
Reading accuracy (%)
Comprehension accuracy score
Figure 3. Reading accuracy and comprehension results with and without the ORP.
Figure 3 shows pre-trial and post-trial reading accuracy and
comprehension results with and without the ORP. Student
1 gained 100% reading accuracy and comprehension when
using the ORP, whilst Student 2 showed a 15% increase in
reading accuracy with the ORP yet reading comprehension
declined by 30%. Student 3 had a 60% increase in reading
accuracy with the ORP and an increase of 20% in reading
comprehension. Student 4 results show a 12% increase in
reading accuracy with the ORP and enhancement of reading
comprehension by 20%.
Figure 4 shows some of the student comments regarding
their experiences when using the ORP. Positive comments
from the students indicated that they felt the ORP helped
them to read and understand more text. The comments
show that the use of the headphones to assist hearing was
down to personal choice, rather than students indicating
it was better with or without them. Some preferred
headphones whilst others did not utilise them. The students
identified the ORP could be used in all subjects and at home
and school. They added that it was acceptable to use with
their peers around, with one indicating that he would ask
his friends to read the definitions to him.
I could hear better
with the headphones
I would use it when I
don’t know a word
Easier than using
a dictionary
I could use it in
all my subjects
I could use it at
home and school
It stopped
me guessing
It would really
help me when I
go to high school
Yes I would use it in front
of my mates, they could
read the definitions for me
I would read more
It’s ok without
the headphones
It would help me
do my homework
Sometimes I couldn’t
understand what the
voice said
It won’t scan
I can’t read
the definitions
Hard to scan,
I’m left handed
I like using it
If I had the money
I would buy one
Figure 4. Summary of student comments following the use of ORP.
Negative comments included students indicating that the
speech was difficult to understand at times and that they
could not read the definitions. Other criticisms included
difficulty with the scanning process and the fact that the
ORP did not recognise all texts.
The ORP was successfully utilised within the regular
classroom by all the students with a high degree of
independence. Students indicated the perceived assistance
they felt the ORP gave them was well-founded, as is
supported by the PROBE results.
Although on trial the speech output appeared to be too
quiet for the classroom even with the headphones, the
results gained indicate that the students could hear and
understand the pronunciation. Whilst headphones were
offered for the PROBE test, none of the students used them.
The speech output of the ORP was well-below the general
noise level in the class. Initially, the students did comment
that the pronunciation was difficult to understand at times
but by the end of the practice they all reported that they
could understand when they used the strategies they
had been shown. These included replaying the speech,
getting the ORP to say each letter in the word on its own
and, as a last resort, asking a teacher or peer. This again
highlights the importance of training users of ICTs to
allow successful utilisation.
The results indicate that the mobility of the unit is also
extremely beneficial to the students. Whilst they only used
it independently for a day, their comments indicate that they
believed they could utilise the ORP across the curriculum.
They also indicated they would use it for homework and
leisure reading and that they were excited about using it.
Unlike the scanner and laptop combination mentioned
earlier, and similar to the PDAs, the ORP lends itself to
high mobility allowing easy use between home and school.
A further benefit, as with the PDAs, is the relatively cheap
price – making it accessible to more families and schools.
A further highly beneficial feature is that the ORP can be
carried in a pocket and is operated by batteries which means
no larger desk or power points are required, minimising its
impact on the classroom environment and enabling the user
to settle to work quickly with no inconvenience to the
teacher or peers.
All the students were able to increase their reading accuracy,
being able to read text at their chronological age. Three of
the four students also increased their reading comprehension
at this level. However, Student 2’s reading comprehension
was significantly lower using the ORP. This result may have
been influenced by Student 2’s poorer fine motor skills.
Student 2 took much longer to complete his PROBE test using
the ORP. He appeared to concentrate more on the scanning
process than the material he was reading which may be the
cause of the poor comprehension score.
A further aspect which may have influenced Student 2’s
performance is that of excessive cognitive load. Miller (2007)
defines cognitive load theory as the effect of overload on the
working memory. Miller suggests that “overload” can occur
when acquiring any new skill. In the case of this trial, the
Weaving educational threads. Weaving educational practice.
students had only a short training session on the ORP,
meaning that the use of the tool required a high degree of
conscious planning. The student was required to not only
recall the contents of the article but to remember how to use
a new piece of equipment. The load on the working memory
was possibly too high for this particular student.
Further research is required but the results indicate that
three of the four students were not affected by excessive
cognitive load as their accuracy and comprehension scores
improved. This again indicates the ease of the ORP’s use
and the effectiveness of a short, structured training plan.
This has positive implications for the ORP’s use within the
school setting as many of the complications implementing
new ICTs are removed by reducing training time such as staff
training costs, withdrawal of students from class, frustration
when learning how to use the equipment, and prerequisite
ICT knowledge.
As identified earlier, technology must be closely matched
to individuals for the best outcomes. The scanning position
is supported by a plastic guide and the students certainly
required assistance to begin scanning in the correct position.
Following the training session all the students were able
to scan effectively without the guide. A week later, following
their refresher, three of the students scanned with no difficulty.
A further issue for Student 2 was that he was left-handed.
A feature of the ORP is that the screen can be flipped,
allowing left-handed people to scan with their left hand.
This was found to be an important feature as some lefthanded people are quite ambidextrous, as was Student 1.
Student 2 found using his right hand very difficult so the
ability to scan with the left hand was of great assistance,
although it is apparent that he needs to further develop
his fine motor skills to use the ORP more effectively.
Overall, analysis of the results highlight the many benefits of
the ORP as identified by Becta (2004, 2007). The students’
comments indicate that the ORP fosters independence,
confidence and enthusiasm which all assist inclusion (Booth,
Ainscow, Black-Hawkins, Vaughan & Shaw, 2000) enabling
the student to read and understand at their chronological
age. Students with reading difficulties commonly lack such
traits (Dyslexia Foundation, 2007) which are inherently
important for successful learning. From the evidence
presented in this study it would seem the ORP not only
enhances reading ability but also fosters the features
commonly associated with successful independent learning,
enabling the students to function effectively at school and in
the wider community.
This trial has identified that the ORP is very effective after
a short training time. Further studies comparing the results
gained with the aforementioned ICTs may be conducted
to clarify this viewpoint. From the writer’s experience it
does seem that the ORP is an economical and effective
compensatory ICT. Hardy’s (2004) comments outlined earlier
seem unfounded by this trial aside from the difficulties of
a user with limited fine motor skills (as Student 2). This trial
found no issues with scanning effectively once the students
had been trained. In contrast to Hardy’s (2004) findings,
Student 3 scanned almost his whole PROBE assessment and
increased both his comprehension and accuracy scores.
This was achieved a line at a time as outlined by the ORP
manual (Quick-Pen, 2007).
The independence the students demonstrated within such a
short time using the ORP was astounding. To be able to read
independently for meaning at their chronological age with a
day’s training on an ICT is indicative of its effectiveness.
Three of the students required no further assistance prior
to their second PROBE assessment when they used the ORP.
They picked up where they left off. Student 2 required some
coaching. The only general issue identified by the students
in general which affected them using the ORP is that of
reading the definitions provided on screen. Whilst this can
be read aloud by the ORP, the students in general still found
it challenging at times. When asked how they would get
round it they commented they would ask a peer or adult.
Becta. (2004). What the research says about portable ICT
devices in teaching and learning. In Becta What the
research says briefings. Retrieved August 31, 2007,
from www.becta.org.uk/research
The trial used a small sample size of students of four
different ages. The results indicate that the ORP can be
used effectively across a range of students ages (see Figure 2)
between 10 and 15 years, supported Higgins’ and Raskind’s
(2005) results. Although the students had varied levels of
skills with ICTs, it would seem that there are very few
prerequisite skills needed to ensure success with the ORP.
One factor which appears to affect successful use is that of
motor skill ability. With careful trialling and training the
appropriateness of the ORP for individual students would
be established (Balajthy, 2005).
This implementation trial has identified that the ORP does
increase reading accuracy and comprehension for students
with low reading ability. With its cheap price and simple
operation, it lends itself to quick and easy implementation
for a wide range of students who find reading a challenge.
Such simplicity and ease of implementation negates many
of the problems associated with more bulky, expensive and
complex ICTs which require weeks of training and lots of
preparation time. As one student commented, “I liked using
it” and another added “I would read more”, the ORP appears
to be an appropriate and effective compensatory ICT which
can be recommended for use in the writer’s cluster schools.
The trial indicates that the ORP is an ICT which can assist
students to participate within school and society (Ministry
of Education, 2003) and as such, its potential for assisting
students with reading difficulties should be embraced.
The ORP may be used in a variety of ways. In examinations
(with the dictionary secured) or silent reading there is
no reason why headphones could not be insisted upon .
The ORP could be easily switched between students if a
teacher or teacher aide was working with a number of
students as the history can be deleted in seconds along
with altering the scanning mode for left/right handed
students. The ORP is possibly an excellent “first” assistive
ICT. If a student is introduced to the ORP and they progress
well and are enthusiastic about its use, it may provide a
springboard for them to use other more complex assistive
ICTs later in their school lives.
Balajthy, E. (2005). Text-to-speech software for helping
struggling readers. Reading Online, 8(4). Retrieved August
31, 2007 from http://www.readingonline.org/articles/
Becta. (2007). Specific learning difficulties and ICT. Retrieved
August 31, 2007, from: http://schools.becta.org.uk/index.
Booth, T., Ainscow, M., Black-Hawkins, K., Vaughan, M.,
& Shaw, L. (2000). Index for inclusion: Developing
learning and participation in schools. Bristol: CSIE.
Dyslexia Foundation. (2007). The second step for having
dyslexia addressed in New Zealand is understanding.
In Dyslexia Foundation of New Zealand. Retrieved August
31, 2007, from http://www.dyslexiafoundation.org.nz/
Hardy, M. (2004). Oxford reading pen. In Becta, SENCO forum.
Retrieved August 31, 2007, from http://lists.becta.org.uk
Higgins. E., & Raskind. M.(2005). The compensatory
effectiveness of the Quicktionary Reading Pen 2
on the reading comprehension of students with
learning disabilities. Journal of Special Education
Technology, 20(1), 29-38.
Miller, M. (2007). Cognitive load theory. Encyclopaedia of
Educational Technology. Retrieved September, 11, 2007,
from http://coe.sdsu.edu/eet/Articles/cogloadtheory/
Ministry of Education. (2003). Digital horizons: Learning through
ICT. Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Education.
Ministry of Education (2007). Ministry improves
understanding of dyslexia. Ministry of Education,
New Zealand. Retrieved August, 30, 2007, from
Perry, D. (2003). Handheld computers (PDAs) in schools.
In Becta report March 2003. Retrieved August 30, 2007,
from http://www.becta.org.uk /page_documents/
Pluck, M. (1996). The Rainbow Reading Program. Nelson,
New Zealand: Rainbow Reading Program Ltd.
Pool, B., Parkin, C., & Parkin, C. (1999). Informal Reading
Inventory: Emphasising Comprehension. Whangarei,
New Zealand: Triune.
Quick-Pen. (2007). New Oxford Reading Pen.
Retrieved August, 31, 2007, from
Reading Recovery New Zealand. (2006). Reading Recovery
New Zealand. Retrieved August 31, 2007, from
Ian Johnson
Slaughter, A. (2001). Erin Brockovich scripts victory
over dyslexia. Retrieved August 30, 2007, from
United Kingdom Parliament. (2007). Key stage literacy
standards. Retrieved August 31, 2007, from www.
Ian Johnson
Ian Johnson is an RTLB working within the Westland cluster
based in Hokitika. He migrated to New Zealand 7 years
ago following 10 years teaching in English mainstream and
special schools. Since arriving in New Zealand he worked
for GSE as a Special Education Advisor with responsibility
for ORRS students and Assistive Technology. He has recently
completed his Masters of Education from Victoria University
of Wellington, following his RTLB training.
[email protected]
Features of the ORP (Quick-Pen, 2007).
New Reading Pen Oxford
The Reading Pen Oxford was designed for people with reading or learning disabilities, such as dyslexia. It is also useful for people who are
learning English, or want the ultimate convenience of having a dictionary at their fingertips.
The pen contains the 240,000 word Concise Oxford English Dictionary. It assists users by providing a definition of the scanned word or line
of text, as well as reading both the words and definition aloud using its miniaturized text-to-speech technology. Individual words are
enlarged on the display, and words may be spelled out, or broken into syllables. If a person is reading and comes to an unrecognized word,
the user can simply scan it, and the word will be spoken in British Real Speak. Because of its complete portability, this pocket-sized reading
technology can be used where and when needed.
Concise Oxford English Dictionary, over 240,000 words
including countries, weights and measures
Large character display
Reads words aloud
SMS (Short Message Service – the shorthand used for sending
text messages on cell phones)
Recognizes 6-22 point size text, bold, italic, underlined,
inverted text
Speaks with Scansoft, British Real Speak
Scans left to right, and right to left
Has special “Test Mode” that allows the dictionary definition
lookup function to be switched off for use during tests
Displays syllables
Spells words out loud
New menu structure makes frequently used options easier
to access
Keeps a history of scanned words
Captures text within seconds (over three times faster than
our original Reading Pen)
Defines word within the definition (cross-reference)
Adjustable for left and right handed users
Improved accuracy
Ergonomic 6” x 1 1/2” x 1”, lightweight - 3 oz.
Displays and speaks dictionary definition
An Opticard lets you input text manually
Single word/Full line scanning
Comes complete with:
User Manual
Quick Reference
2 “AAA” batteries
Card Carrying Case (plastic) with Opticard
The Oxford Reading Pen is available in New Zealand for $NZ 489.00 (supplier: www.workandstudytech.co.nz ).
Weaving educational threads. Weaving educational practice.
The Incredible Years Parent Training
Programme in Tauranga
A research summary
Michelle Hamilton
Dean of Studies, Pan American School, Porto Alegre, Brazil
Angela Litterick-Biggs
Practice Leader RTLB, Ministry of Education, Special Education
The Incredible Years parent training programme is a
research-based therapy which aims to help families
improve the behaviour of children with conduct difficulties
in the early years, while the behaviour is malleable
(Webster-Stratton & Reid, 2003). The short-term goals of the
programme are to reduce conduct problems in children by
increasing parental competence and strengthening families
(Webster-Stratton, 2000). The programme was developed
by the University of Washington’s Parenting Clinic, USA and
was introduced to the Tauranga community in 2002, via the
research of Lees (2003). Due to the success of the programme
trialed in Lees’ research, it was rapidly embraced by agencies
and community organisations.
Concerns about New Zealand youth
Hamilton’s (2005) research is summarised in this article and
was inspired by the rapid expansion of, and enthusiasm for,
the Incredible Years parent training programme in Tauranga.
Rather than following participants’ experiences within the
programme, the researcher interviewed the facilitators.
The perspective taken was that most of the programme
facilitators are highly qualified psychologists and social
workers who collectively have an enormous amount of
knowledge, experience and insight. The researcher captured
the observations and insights of the facilitators who, from
their experience working with the programme, made
valuable contributions to the identification of the barriers
to the programme’s success in Tauranga, the appropriateness
of this empirically supported manual-based therapy in
New Zealand’s bicultural environment, and the value of
the programme itself. The Incredible Years parent training
programme was found to be highly successful in Tauranga
as it provided a supportive group environment in which
parents could share concerns and ideas, and it was adaptable
to different cultural and individual needs.
Behaviour problems, conduct disorder, cultural differences,
early intervention, evidence based practice, parenting,
parent training, programme evaluation.
An examination of the statistics associated with New Zealand
youth show cause for concern, and many remain largely
static in that they are not showing improvement over
time, for example: unemployment rates (Ministry of Social
Development, 2005, 2007; Ministry of Youth Development,
2003); truancy rates (Ministry of Education, 2006); suicide
statistics (Currie, 2003); and educational attainment (Ministry
of Education, 2004a). In 2003, 3.5% of students were stooddown or suspended during the year (the statistics may include
repeat offenders). The most common reasons for the standdowns and suspensions were for being continually disobedient,
physical assaults, and verbal assaults (Ministry of Education,
2004b). In 2006, 16% of students left secondary school having
completed a maximum of less than half of a level 1 National
Certificate of Educational Achievement qualification (Ministry
of Education, 2006). The Ministry of Youth Development
(2002) website shows a steady decline in the personal income
of youth aged between 15-24 over the past decade. Therefore,
many youth are struggling to gain financial independence
upon leaving school and are entering adulthood economically,
as well as educationally, disadvantaged. This is also reflected
in the unemployment rates, as the 15-24 year old age
group has significantly higher unemployment rates than
any of the older ages (Ministry of Social Development, 2007).
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for
New Zealand youth aged between 16-24 years, followed by
suicide (Ministry of Youth Development, 2002). In the 15-24
year age group New Zealand ranked among the highest of
the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
(OECD) nations for rates of suicide in 2002 (New Zealand
Health Information Service, 2002). Following continued high
suicide rates in New Zealand’s youth, it was noted in the 2007
Social Report that ‘New Zealand is one of a small number
of countries which have higher suicide rates at younger ages
than at older ages’ (Ministry of Social Development, 2007).
Suggested causes of difficulties faced by
New Zealand youth
Walker (1999) commented that the American society has
a tendency to minimise children’s behaviour difficulties
and not take action until problems become severe.
Arguably, New Zealand takes the same approach to
children’s behavioural problems. It is often hoped that
children will outgrow their problems as the behaviour
is assumed to be a stage of development which will pass
(Kauffman, 1999). Albee (1999) challenges society to consider
that emotional and mental disorders could be ecologically
based. Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) model of human development,
known as the ecological theory, provides a framework for
understanding the effects of environment on the individual.
According to Bronfenbrenner’s theory, the individual is in the
centre of a series of “nested” systems which impact in varying
levels on the life of the growing individual. Bronfenbrenner
argues that while extended family and cultural expectations
influence a child’s development, it is the people closest to
the child who have the most impact on his/her development
and that is where intervention must begin.
One suggested ecological risk factor is low household income.
Scott, O’Connor and Futh (2006) suggest that it is far harder
for parents who live in the stressful conditions found in
poor neighbourhoods to ensure that a child is brought up
experiencing warmth, love and encouragement within safe
boundaries. In 2001, approximately 25% of the New Zealand
child population was found to be living in a household
with an income of less than 60% of the median national
income (Ministry of Social Development, 2005). Beautrais
(1998) found that New Zealand youth at high risk of suicidal
behaviour often come from disadvantaged backgrounds,
specifically lower socioeconomic status and inadequate
educational qualifications. For low-income families, a
well-designed parent training programme which can provide
group support, encouragement and address individual needs
can be invaluable.
Another suggested ecological risk factor relates to ineffective
or coercive parenting practices. Gerald Patterson of the
Oregon Social Learning Centre noted that many young
children use whining or tantrums to get what they want
and parents who give in to this behaviour inadvertently
negatively reinforce the child’s behaviour (cited in Patterson,
Reid, & Dishion, 1992; Reid & Eddy, 2002). Patterson’s (1995)
research shows clear links between early coercive behaviour
and continuing antisocial acts, including adolescent criminal
behaviour and violence. Likewise, both the Christchurch
Health and Development Study and the Dunedin
Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study longitudinal studies that have followed over a thousand
New Zealanders from early childhood through to adulthood have found that children displaying early disruptive
behaviour patterns, including conduct problems and
attentional problems, have a far greater risk of later
offending (Fergusson & Lynskey, 1998; Fergusson,
Poulton, Horwood, Milne & Swain-Campbell, 2004).
Traditionally, parent training has been hierarchical, with
the “expert” trainer teaching adults the correct ways to
parent. More recently, a collaborative model of parent
training has emerged which promotes partnership between
the trainer (expert on child development, family dynamics
and behaviour management principles) and the parent
(expert on the child and family in question). Together the
Weaving educational threads. Weaving educational practice.
parent and trainer work towards modifying the child’s
behaviour in a positive, supportive way (Webster-Stratton,
1998). The Incredible Years parent training programme
utilises the collaborative model with the addition of
support provided from the group members themselves.
This programme has been developed as a result of over
20 years of research conducted by Carolyn Webster-Stratton
and her team at the Washington Parenting Clinic.
The Incredible Years programme operates a weekly two-hour
session for 10 to 12 weeks. It is an interactive programme
which involves the group watching a video vignette as a
discussion starter. From the discussion, ideas are shared and
strategies evolve that are then reinforced through role play.
Skills targeted for younger children include play, praise,
using rewards effectively, limit setting and discipline
(Webster-Stratton, 2000). The group is facilitated by two
trained leaders, commonly referred to in New Zealand as
facilitators. Webster-Stratton (2001) stresses the importance
of highly skilled group leaders because there is a lot of
emphasis on group collaboration, and judgments must
be made about when to deviate from the manual in
order to best meet the needs of the group participants.
The programme in Tauranga complies as closely as feasibly
possible with all of the expectations for operation outlined
by the Washington Parenting Clinic. Facilitators undergo
training by officially recognised trainers, authorised by the
Washington Parenting Clinic.
This article summarises the findings of two of the research
questions posed by Hamilton (2005):
1. Why has the Incredible Years parent training programme
become such a popular programme with agencies and
parents in the Tauranga area of New Zealand?
2. How does the Incredible Years parent training
programme, as a manual-based, empirically supported
therapy, incorporate the facilitators’ professional
judgment and cultural understandings in order to
meet the individual needs of New Zealand clients?
Ethics approval was obtained from the University of Waikato
before any of the research began. There were no identifiable
conflicts of interest for the researcher when embarking on
this study. The researcher had no prior involvement with the
Incredible Years series, nor has she been employed with any
of the agencies for whom the research participants worked.
Due to the low number of facilitators of the Incredible Years
parent training in Tauranga, all of the facilitators were offered
the opportunity to participate in this research. Sixteen of the
nineteen facilitators in Tauranga agreed to participate, and
one participated in a pilot interview. Fourteen facilitators
came from various agencies including education, health,
social service, and community organisations. Two facilitated
or co-facilitated the Incredible Years parent training
programmes independently, in that they did not work for
any of the agencies mentioned. The facilitators consisted of
thirteen women and three men. Eleven identified themselves
as New Zealand European/Päkeha, three were Mäori, one
was Hispanic, and one was Latin American.
Approaching the facilitators began with a meeting between
the researcher and the chairperson of the Incredible Years
Guardian Group, Tauranga. The researcher was then invited
to attend a meeting of the Group to outline the proposed
research to the facilitators present, and to invite them
to participate in the research. Facilitators were given an
information sheet outlining the research procedures and
the University of Waikato’s Human Research Ethics
Regulations, for their consideration. The facilitators were
extremely supportive of the research idea and although
they were encouraged to take a few days to consider their
willingness and availability to participate, the enthusiasm
was such that all of the facilitators present approached the
researcher immediately for a Research Participation
Agreement. Facilitators not present at the meeting were
contacted individually to have the research proposal
presented to them.
Each facilitator was interviewed individually using a
semi-structured interview format. The interviews were
taped, transcribed and sent to the facilitators for verification
of accuracy. The interview transcripts were analysed in
accordance with the thematic analysis procedures
recommended in Drewery’s (2005) notes, Working with
qualitative data. Due to the openness of the questioning
and the thematic approach taken to the transcript analysis,
the facilitator numbers indicated in the results as making
certain comments or observations does not necessarily infer
that other facilitators had an opposing view. Each facilitator
was assigned a pseudonym to protect his/her privacy.
The pseudonyms were randomly assigned so that females
may have been given a non-gender specific name.
All facilitators, whether Mäori or non-Mäori, were given
a Mäori pseudonym. Each facilitator completed a brief
questionnaire about his/her qualifications and experience.
The most senior facilitator from each agency completed a
brief questionnaire about their agency’s involvement with
and future plans for the Incredible Years programme.
Three main themes relevant to this article emerged from the
data analysis, and within each were sub-themes. The themes
are most clearly expressed in question form as follows:
1. What makes the Incredible Years parent training
programme unique and powerful?
2. What are the issues associated with the successful
implementation of the Incredible Years programme
in Tauranga?
3. How appropriate is the Incredible Years parent training
programme for the diverse New Zealand society,
particularly with regard to New Zealand’s bicultural
What makes the Incredible Years parent training
programme unique and powerful?
More than half of the facilitators commented that the
concepts presented in the Incredible Years parent training
programme were simple and easy to grasp, and three noted
that the programme covered a comprehensive range of
parenting skills. Although the facilitators realised that the
Incredible Years programme was originally designed for
children with behaviour difficulties, most indicated that this
programme was also appropriate for parents whose children
did not have behaviour challenges. The facilitators noted
that the Incredible Years programme empowered parents
to try new strategies. They observed that the supportive
nature of the group environment reduced parents’ feelings
of isolation and enabled them to help, support and
encourage each other. One facilitator commented:
Marama: If one parent has a problem the other parents
start feeding in. They just support and help each other.
The course is of sufficient length that they actually form
their own support network. It forms a really good
protective network for children and families.
The power of the group dynamic is a definite strength of this
programme and, as such, the programme is not designed to
be adapted to individual parent therapy.
The facilitators commented that because the Incredible Years
parent training programme focuses on improving the parentchild relationship, it has a positive impact on the child’s
behaviour. Facilitators went on to comment that couples
have reported developing a closer relationship between one
another, and individual parents have experienced improved
relationships with their children’s teachers. Ideally, couples
attend the parent training programme together, but barriers
such as work commitments, childcare availability, and single
parent family situations often prevent this from occurring.
Although somewhat dated, the facilitators found the video
vignettes to be an invaluable tool for showing scenarios from
which discussions could begin. Even though the Incredible
Years parent training programme is a prescribed manualbased system, the facilitators commented that there is room
for flexibility within the programme in order to best meet
the needs of the particular group they are working with.
They felt that the flexibility was apparent because they
were able to decide the method of programme delivery
and they had the freedom to enhance the programme
with complementary activities, without making changes
to the fundamentals of the programme. In the words of
one facilitator:
Jo: It looks very structured but there’s a great flexibility
within it in terms of what people will get from it,
relating to what they’re needing.
What are the issues associated with the successful
implementation of the Incredible Years programme
in Tauranga?
Firstly, time constraints were identified as a common
issue for facilitators. Most facilitators were in positions
in which only a portion of their job involved parent
training facilitation. The rest of their time was dedicated
to supporting children and families in need and they were
sometimes required to alter their daily schedule at short
notice to work with a child or family in crisis. When this
occurred it could be very difficult to adequately prepare
for that week’s parent training session. Secondly, the issue
of numbers of trained staff was raised by several facilitators.
Some indicated that there were more clients wanting to
attend an Incredible Years parent training course than spaces
available on courses. Facilitator training must be conducted
by a trainer authorised by the Washington Parenting Clinic,
therefore training sessions for New Zealand facilitators were
infrequent. All of the participants in this research had
received training from a member of the Washington
Parenting Clinic team in 2004 and/or 2005. The training
enabled facilitators to access the wealth of knowledge and
experience of the certified trainer. One facilitator stressed the
importance of attending these formal training sessions and
cautioned that the programme could be run inadequately
by untrained facilitators. Properly trained facilitators of this
programme are far more aware of the programme format,
requirements, topics, and philosophy, and are able to work
together more effectively to meet the needs of the group.
One facilitator commented:
Lee: We hadn’t had the proper training to begin with
and we tried to do it following the guidelines. It’s quite
different from after you go to the training. We didn’t do
a bad job, but we’ve improved considerably I think.
Lastly, participants identified barriers preventing parents
from attending the programme, including transport, access
to childcare services, and work commitments.
How appropriate is the Incredible Years parent training
programme for the diverse New Zealand society,
particularly with regard to New Zealand’s bicultural
As an empirically-supported programme, it is essential that
the Incredible Years parent training programme is delivered
in accordance with the instruction manual. However, the
programme acknowledges the unique needs of each parent
as well as valuing cultural differences, and it has been
designed to enable the facilitators to tailor the delivery
according to the needs of the parent group. One facilitator
Robin: Personally speaking, because I come from
another culture as well, this [programme] doesn’t need
to be changed because it’s applicable to every culture.
It’s been developed in a way that is culturally friendly.
The amount of cultural sensitivity present in the programme
is determined by the facilitator. The facilitator is able to
deliver the programme in a culturally appropriate manner as
described by this facilitator:
Rangi: I think it can meet all ethnic groups in terms of
content … there are some really good things in there
for Mäori. If it’s a particularly strong Mäori group, then
I will start with a karakia. I will make sure that protocol
is upheld. I will probably use a bit more Mäori language
in the way I deliver things. I may use a lot of comparison
to Mäori protocols or phrases.
The facilitators’ opinions on the appropriateness of the
American families portrayed in the vignettes shown
throughout the course were varied. Five facilitators
commented that, in their experience, having American
families portrayed was an advantage for New Zealand
participants because they were not distracted by the way
Weaving educational threads. Weaving educational practice.
the family was portrayed, and there was no emotional
attachment to the people shown. This enabled the
participants to watch the scenarios objectively without
feeling that stereotypes about their culture or ethnicity
were being presented. Television channels in New Zealand
frequently screen American programmes which may explain
the acceptance of American families in the vignettes. On the
other hand, three facilitators felt that New Zealand clients
would more easily relate to the scenarios given if the families
and settings were clearly New Zealand. As there is a lot of
group sharing throughout the programme, the facilitators
stated that they sometimes used families’ experiences
as “real life” examples of the parenting principles being
discussed. In this way, parents were able to have their
individual needs met by getting ideas from the programme
to address their specific concerns.
The comprehensive range of parenting skills covered in
the Incredible Years parent training programme empowers
parents by enabling them to cope effectively with present
as well as future parenting difficulties. These skills provide
parents with alternative models of parenting which are likely
to reduce the use of coercive parenting practices as outlined
by Patterson and his colleagues (Reid, Patterson & Snyder,
2002). At least half of the facilitators in the research outlined
in this article commented that the concepts presented in the
parent training programme were simple and easy to grasp.
A key purpose of the Incredible Years parent training
programme is to intervene early in a child’s life. This
concept was strongly supported by the facilitators
interviewed. Many believed that referrals to their services
would reduce if more parents of children, particularly in
the early childhood age bracket, were able to access and
participate in the programme. Wider accessibility to the
parent training programme for these parents could be
considered a form of primary prevention which can be
universally applied (Albee, 1999). In this way, all families
would have access to the Incredible Years parent training
programme, rather than it being a programme to which
parents are referred following behaviour difficulties being
displayed by their children. Families who need to wait to
access an agency and receive a referral to the parent training
programme are likely to be experiencing severe difficulties
with their child which are more difficult to reverse than if
they had easy access to the programme earlier.
Webster-Stratton’s (1997) research found that the parent
training programme reduces parents’ feelings of isolation
because the group becomes an important support network.
The importance of the group for parents was also observed
by the Tauranga facilitators. They noted that parents
encouraged and supported one another during the parent
training sessions and that the group became a valuable
support network. In the opinion of the Tauranga facilitators,
the Incredible Years parent training programme is relevant
and suitable for all cultures and family styles. Their
observations concur with the research findings of Reid,
Webster-Stratton and Beauchaine (2001), who found that the
Incredible Years parent training programme was effective for
a broad range of families including African American, Asian
American, Caucasian and Hispanic, as well as low income
and single parent families. Although some facilitators
believed that it would be more appropriate to have
New Zealand families on the vignettes which are shown
throughout the parent training programme, a larger
number of facilitators disagreed. The American families
shown are so far removed from the New Zealand culture
that many parents are able to take the message from the
vignette without feeling threatened, targeted, or stereotyped.
While the parent-child relationship is the focus of the
Incredible Years programme, the facilitators in this study
found that parents’ relationships improved in many
unexpected ways. Couples reported developing a closer
relationship between each other, relationships between
themselves and their child’s teachers have improved, as well
as the relationship between themselves and siblings of the
target child. Webster-Stratton’s team have spent over 20
years researching and developing the Incredible Years parent
training programme which is part of a wider series, including
a child programme and a programme for classroom teachers,
that is now recognised by the American Psychological
Association’s Division of Clinical Psychology (Division 12)
as a “well-established treatment” for children with conduct
problems (Webster-Stratton, 2000). In order for facilitators to
replicate the results of numerous studies, it is important that
the programme is followed accurately and with fidelity. Many
of the Tauranga facilitators were concerned that because the
programme was flexible in its ability to accommodate diverse
groups, it would be easy for an untrained or unskilled
facilitator to “water the programme down”, and thereby
make it far less effective. For this reason, Webster-Stratton’s
team insists that facilitators attend training run by a
certified trainer. Tauranga facilitators who had attended
the authorised training sessions placed a high value on
the training they received.
The Incredible Years parent training programme is now
routinely offered by a number of social service agencies
and community groups in Tauranga and other New Zealand
cities. The Werry Centre for Child and Adolescent Mental
Health Workforce Development, located in Auckland, is
actively supporting the programme and is providing official
training for facilitators. The training is currently being offered
in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch and it aims to
enable the programme to be offered as widely as possible
throughout New Zealand.
Albee, G. (1999). Prevention, not treatment, is the only hope.
Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 12(2), 133-146.
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The New Zealand youth suicide prevention strategy.
Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Health.
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development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
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amongst young New Zealand people during the 1980s
and 1990s. Wellington, New Zealand: Korokoro.
Drewery, W. (2005). Notes: Working with qualitative data.
Unpublished notes. University of Waikato, Hamilton,
New Zealand.
Fergusson, D. M., & Lynskey, M. T. (1998). Conduct problems
in childhood and psychosocial outcomes in young
adulthood: A prospective study. Journal of Emotional
and Behavioural Disorders, 6(1), 2-19.
Fergusson, D., Poulton, R., Horwood, J., Milne, B., &
Swain-Campbell, N. (2004). Comorbidity and coincidence
in the Christchurch and Dunedin longitudinal studies:
A report for the New Zealand Ministry of Social
Development, Ministry of Education and the Treasury.
Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Social Development.
Hamilton, M. J. (2005). The Incredible Years in Tauranga:
Practitioner perspectives on purposes, processes and
prospects. Unpublished master’s thesis. University of
Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand.
Kauffman, J. M. (1999). How we prevent the prevention
of emotional and behavioural disorders. Exceptional
Children, 65(4), 448-468.
Lees, D. G. (2003). Parent management training for the
families of children diagnosed with attention deficit/
hyperactivity disorder: Four case studies with multiple
baseline across participants design using the Incredible
Years Parent Training Series. Unpublished master’s thesis.
Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand.
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New Zealand for 2003. Wellington, New Zealand: Author.
Retrieved May 31, 2005, from http://www.minedu.govt.nz
Ministry of Education. (2004b). Report on stand-downs,
suspensions, exclusions & expulsions for 2003. Wellington,
New Zealand: Author. Retrieved February 4, 2005, from
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New Zealand: Author. Retrieved February 17, 2008, from
Ministry of Social Development. (2005). Children and young
people: Indicators of wellbeing in New Zealand.
Wellington, New Zealand: Author.
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Wellington: Author. Retrieved February 16, 2008, from
Ministry of Youth Development. (2002). Young People
in New Zealand. Wellington, New Zealand: Author.
Retrieved May 31, 2005, from http://www.myd.govt.nz
Ministry of Youth Development. (2003). Unemployment rates
(%) by age and sex for selected years between 1986-2002.
Wellington, New Zealand: Author. Retrieved May 31,
2005, from http://www.myd.govt.nz
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Statistics. Wellington, New Zealand: Author. Retrieved
May 31, 2005, from http://www.nzhis.govt.nz
Patterson, G. R. (1995). Coercion as a basis for early age
of onset for arrest. In J. McCord (Ed.), Coercion and
punishment in long-term perspectives (pp. 81-105).
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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Antisocial boys. Eugene, OR: Castalia.
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behaviour: Overview. In J. B. Reid, G. R. Patterson &
J. Snyder (Eds.), Antisocial behaviour in children and
adolescents: A developmental analysis and model for
intervention (pp. 195-201). Washington DC: American
Psychological Association.
Michelle Hamilton
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Antisocial behaviour in children and adolescents: A
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Washington DC: American Psychological Association.
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drug education development project: Guidelines for
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Specialist Education Services.
Michelle Hamilton
Michelle Hamilton is a primary school teacher with 13 years
teaching experience. Her career has consisted of various
school positions including special education needs
coordinator and principal of rural schools. Michelle is
currently the Dean of Studies at an international school in
southern Brazil.
[email protected]
Angela Litterick-Biggs
Walker, H. M. (1999). The path to school failure, delinquency,
and violence: Causal factors and some potential solutions.
Intervention in School and Clinic, 35(2), 67-73.
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community building. The Journal of Contemporary
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of child abuse research and treatment (pp. 183-209).
New York: Plenum Press.
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series. Juvenile Justice Bulletin. Retrieved April 5, 2005,
from http://www.incredibleyears.com
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teachers, and children training series: Leader’s guide
(rev. ed.). Seattle, WA: Author.
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17(2), 96-113.
Weaving educational threads. Weaving educational practice.
Angela Litterick-Biggs
Angela Litterick-Biggs is an educational psychologist who has
implemented the Incredible Years Basic Parenting
programme in Hawke’s Bay. Angela has also been part of a
project which has promoted the programme nationwide
through the Ministry of Education, Special Education. Angela
formerly worked as an RTLB and has recently been appointed
Practice Leader: RTLB within GSE Professional Practice team.
She is looking forward to this new role and the opportunity it
brings to work with RTLB on professional practice issues.
[email protected]
The Professional Learning Community
A fulcrum of change
John Hellner
Teacher Educator, University of Waikato at Tauranga
Paralleling the accelerating pace of educational change
in the last two decades has been the development of
a professional learning community (PLC) in schools.
Characterised by teacher collaboration and a spirit of
enquiry, the PLC represents a response to change and
an opportunity to benefit teachers, students and schools,
using an approach most suited to adults. The paper
undertakes a literature review of various aspects of the
PLC: attributes; evolution; benefits; and measurement
of the PLC.
Collaborative learning, effective practices, professional
development, professional learning communities, teachers.
Individual teacher learning and professional growth no
longer keeps pace with change. If we want to improve and
remain effective, we need to take charge of external change,
rather than being controlled by it. Doing so necessitates
working together in a learning organisation which is
‘continually expanding its capacity to create its future’ (Senge,
as cited in Stoll, Fink & Earl, 2003, p. 132). We need to work
in organisations, collectively developing an understanding of
where they are going and what is important.
In the education sector, the PLC provides a pathway to a
learning organisation: one which comprises ‘a group of
people who take an active, reflective, collaborative,
learning-orientated, and growth-promoting approach
toward the mysteries, problems and perplexities of teaching
and learning’ (Mitchell & Sackney, as cited in Stoll, et al.,
2003, p. 132).
A PLC can enable educational institutions to capitalise
on change, on research, on technology and on self
management, in order to secure the benefits for the school,
for the teachers, and most importantly, for the students.
If we fail to build learning communities, offering a web
of support to all the members, we run the risk of building
castles on shifting sands as existing learning institutions
become increasingly stultified by waves of change.
The literature serves to flesh out fundamental dimensions
or attributes of a PLC. Hord (1997, 1998) suggests five critical
attributes of a PLC, confirmed again in her work with a team
of researchers in 2004 (as cited in Bullough, 2007).
Shared and Supportive Leadership
Firstly, a shared and supportive leadership, in turn nurturing
leadership among staff with a distribution of power, authority
and decision making. Haberman (2004) uses the term
“egalitarianism” and notes a dispensing with formalities as
characteristic of such a community. Stoll, et al. (2003) view
‘concern for individual and minority views …’ (p. 168) as a
defining aspect of a PLC.
Shared Values and Vision
Another attribute, shared values and vision (Hord, 1997,
1998), evolves from the values of the staff and leads to
building staff supported behaviours. The Ministry of
Education (2006) endorses the creation of shared vision
arguing that it is ‘essential this vision-building is carried
out collaboratively and not simply imposed by educational
leaders’ (p. 66). Haberman (2004) and Carver (2004) similarly
embrace the notion of a shared and collaboratively developed
vision, emphasising that the vision must be embedded in
improving teaching practice and an undeviating focus on
student learning. The vision should make teaching and
learning a lasting and powerful experience, not just a
cliché about “learning for all” found in mission statements.
Collective Learning and Collaboration
A third attribute, the practice of collective learning and
collaboration, might be central to the functioning of a PLC
judging by the repetition of the theme in various guises
throughout the literature (Bambino, 2002; Carver, 2004;
DuFour, 2004; Haberman, 2004; Hord, 1997, 1998, as cited
in Bullough, 2007). In a collective and collaborative learning
community, teachers seek new knowledge, skills and
strategies, share information and work together to solve
problems and improve learning opportunities inherent
in real site-based challenges.
Fullan and Hargreaves (1996) present the term “interactive
professionalism” (p. 63). This term ‘serves to capture much
of what is essential in the relationship and communication
necessary to foster reflective inquiry and the co-construction
of understanding about professional practice’ (Ministry of
Education, 2006, p. 59). Collaboration and collegiality
form the twin pillars supporting interactive professionalism.
DuFour (2004) uses an equally indicative phrase, ‘culture
of collaboration’ (p. 8). Carver (2004) believes teachers are
‘empowered as professionals’ (p. 60) by the practice of sharing.
Teachers Sharing Personal Practice
The next attribute, intimately linked to the last, teachers
sharing personal practice, proves equally as prevalent in
the literature (Bambino, 2002; Carver, 2004; DuFour, 2004;
Haberman, 2004; Hord, 1997, 1998). Teachers observing
classroom practice, giving feedback and mentoring each
other, leads to individual and community improvement.
Jianping and Poppink (2007) call for “open lessons” as ‘job
embedded professional development’ (p. 189). Louis and
Kruse (as cited in Hord, 1998) describe it as ‘deprivatization
of practice’ (p. 6), and caution that this practice is ‘not
evaluative, but is part of the “peers helping peers” process’
(p. 16). DuFour (2004) delineates this attribute of PLCs
referring to ‘collaborative conversations … to make public
what has been traditionally private – goals, strategies,
materials, pacing, questions, concerns, results’ (p. 9).
In short, open doors, candid conversations and opportunities
for reflection and discussion should be the norm in a PLC
(Induction into Learning Communities, 2005).
Supportive Conditions
Intrinsic to the first four attributes of a PLC is a fifth
dimension: supportive conditions (Hord 1997, 1998).
Supportive conditions include school structures and
resources, open communication channels, and trusting
and respectful relationships. It seems exceedingly difficult
to imagine a collaborative, supportive and sharing
community without such a fundamental state of affairs.
The last two decades in education have witnessed paradigm
shifts in our views of professional development in response
to an accelerating rate of change and the exponential growth
of a research culture. The 19th century model of “sink or
swim” for teachers has slowly declined, giving way to a
spotlight on random and individual professional development
designed to enhance a personal teaching style. In the 1980s
the shift began to retreat from a concentration on individual
workers to the workplace setting as a learning environment.
The new focus simultaneously converged with the notion
of continuous learning as a prerequisite to a competitive
and productive workplace. As an upshot, both educational
and corporate leaders began seeking to foster and sustain
learning communities to reform organisations and to
improve outcomes (Sergiovanni, 1996).
In 1989, Rosenholtz’s research on the teaching workforce
proposed sharing ideas, collaboration, learning from
each other and improved practice as the gateway to student
benefits (as cited in Hord, Meehan, Orletsky & Sattes, 1999).
In 1990, organisational “guru” Peter Senge’s Fifth Discipline
(as cited in Hord, et al., 1999) promoted the idea of a
work environment in which employees engaged as teams,
developed a shared vision and operated collaboratively to
improve corporate outcomes. These paradigm shifts caught
Weaving educational threads. Weaving educational practice.
the attention of educators. Seminal thinker Sergiovanni
(1996) argued that when a school functions as a community,
its members embrace shared ideals, norms, purposes and
values, which contributed to continuous school improvement.
The label for this phenomena became “professional
learning communities”.
As the shape of the PLC emerged, it became clear that
learning in a community better suited the nature of adult
learners than the outdated model of individual professional
development in isolation.
Writing about collaborative enquiry, an intertwined strand
in the PLC fabric, Jackson and Street (2005) argue for its
potential as a development tool, especially appropriate
to the needs of professional adults, because it offers a
constructivist approach in a social learning environment.
The collegial, self-directed and autonomous nature of the
tasks proves motivating and engaging to adults. The same
arguments apply to the critical attributes of the wider PLC.
A PLC demonstrates constructivist learning theory. Learners
(the professional staff) begin with a current situation, need
or concern stemming from real and relevant site-based
issues or problems. A PLC requires learners to work actively
with new knowledge: drawing on prior knowledge and
experiences; discussing, sharing, reflecting with other
learners; modifying and adjusting beliefs and practices;
and applying them to the specific school setting.
Jackson and Street (2005) echo Vygotskian learning theory
when they note ‘an important development has been a
much more explicit recognition that learning is a social
activity. Most people learn more effectively with others than
in isolation’ (p. 59). They suggest advantages for adults of
learning in a social situation: ‘Working with others offers
the potential for “checking out”, explaining, teaching others,
testing out the concepts and talking through our own
understandings, misconceptions and uncertainties’ (p. 59).
Jackson and Street’s (2005) arguments dovetail nicely with
the characteristics and principles of adult learners in general:
controlling their learning; linking new learning to prior
knowledge; wanting relevant and pragmatic applications
of learning; and benefiting from collaboration. In addition,
being actively involved in the learning, exercising autonomy,
and being self-directed (Billington, 1996; Lieb, 1991).
Much as the value of effective professional development
in fostering teacher growth seems uncontested, the research
and the literature make a strong case for the benefits of the
PLC flowing from teachers, to students and to the school.
Hord’s (1997) summary of the research literature offers a
broad cornucopia of positive results for teachers. The
tangible include reduced isolation, job satisfaction, higher
morale, less absenteeism, and making teaching adaptations
for students. The less tangible include commitment to school
mission and to systemic changes, shared responsibility for
student success, new and powerful knowledge and beliefs
about teaching and learners, increased meaning and
understanding of curriculum and the teacher’s role,
professional renewal, and inspiration.
initiative, a PLC becomes the supporting structure for schools
to continuously transform themselves through their own
internal capacity’ (p. 164). Additionally, Jackson and Street
(2005) submit that continued collaboration proves important
in sustaining the changes.
Teachers who feel supported in their own ongoing learning
and classroom practice are more committed and effective
than those who do not feel supported (Hord, 1997).
Furthermore, says Van Horn (2006), PLC teacher members
are ‘more apt to venture into the unknown, to engage in
long term inquiry, and/or to share what they are learning …’
(p. 61). Van Horn cites policy studies on PLCs and concludes
they can provide educators with ‘purpose, collaboration,
commitment and community’ (Langer, as cited in Van Horn,
p. 60). As a consequence of working in a satisfying and
rewarding professional environment, teachers feel
‘empowered as professionals and responsible for their
own learning’ (Carver, 2004, p. 60) and are ‘more positive
about staying in the profession’ (Darling-Hammond, 1996,
p. 9), contributing to the resolution of recruitment and
retention issues.
Jackson and Street (2005) cite a systematic review on the
positive impact of collaborative enquiry to report changes
to teachers’ behaviour which included greater confidence,
enthusiasm for collaboration, greater commitment to trying
something new and to change in general, and enhanced
self-efficacy or ‘belief in their power as teachers to make a
difference in pupil learning’ (p. 61). The only qualifying
remark on the effectiveness of collaborative environment
for teachers seems to come from Jackson and Street: ‘It is
important to note that the positive outcomes sometimes
only emerged after periods of relative discomfort – things
often got worse before they got better’ (p. 61).
Haberman (2004) suggests the teachers’ attitudinal shift,
reflected in a renewed love of professional learning afforded
in a PLC, is caught by students, not taught. ‘Only teachers
who are avid, internally motivated learners can truly teach
their students the joy of learning’ (Haberman, 2004, p. 52).
Ultimately, greater teacher effectiveness in schools with PLCs
impacts on student results: ‘decreased dropout rates’; ‘lower
rates of absenteeism’; ‘increased learning … more equitably
distributed in smaller high schools’; and ‘smaller
achievement gaps between students from different
backgrounds’ (Hord, 1997, p. 28). Jackson and Street (2005)
note ‘some unanticipated outcomes [for students] in terms
of change in attitudes and beliefs, enhanced motivation and
increasingly active participation’ (p. 61), which may serve to
explain Hord’s (1997) findings. Coming as no surprise, almost
anti-climatically, Hord (1997), Stoll, et al. (2003) and Jackson
and Street cite research linking PLC’s and collaborative
enquiry to improved academic performance.
Teacher growth and enhanced student outcomes interweave
to further institutional adaptivity, reculturation, continuous
improvement, a collective focus on pupil learning and the
creation of new organisational knowledge (Stoll, et al., 2003).
Similarly, Bezzina (2006) notes ‘rather than being a reform
We live in an age of compliance and evidence, based on
measurable evaluation, and so we must measure the PLC.
The evaluation instruments below, only briefly described,
but accessible, can often serve to both diagnose and evaluate
a PLC. As a PLC develops, an analysis tool could provide
indicators of strengths and weaknesses and future directions
for site-based administrators to ponder. After the PLC
emerges, the tool becomes evaluative for researchers,
stakeholders and perhaps funding agencies. In the end,
any evaluation should aim to support and enhance a PLC’s
development and to contribute to continuous learning and
school improvement.
Hord, et al. (1999) describe the development of an instrument
to assess the implementation of a PLC among staff. The
instrument presents 17 judgment descriptors grouped
around Hord’s (1997, 1998) five major dimensions, or criteria,
of a PLC. The rubric format allows a 1-5 judgment range and
fulfills quality standards of usability, reliability and validity.
The article gives examples, but not a complete rubric.
Similarly, Hipp, et al. (2003) offer an instrument with
45 descriptor statements and a 1-4 graduation of judgment
responses to assess perceptions of staff, principals and
stakeholders (parents and community members). The
instrument, developed by Oliver, Hipp and Hoffman
(as cited in Hipp, et al., 2003, p. 29), based on Hord’s
(1997, 1998) five dimensions of a PLC, is presented in its
entirety in their paper’s Appendix C. In Appendix D of their
paper, Hipp, et al. provide guide interview questions for
a research project, also based on Hord’s (1997, 1998)
dimensions. The research project could equally serve as
a PLC evaluation or as a diagnostic tool as schools work
toward reform efforts.
In their case study analysis, Liebman, Maldonado, Lacey,
Candace and Thompson (2005) use semi-structured,
qualitative interviews with the principal, the administration
team and key faculty members to gather data. Their paper
reports the interview findings. The interview protocols/
questions, based on criteria honed from literature, are
attached in their appendices.
With an unrelenting focus on student achievement, DuFour
(2004) and Kanold (2006) examine the processes undertaken
with the 4,000 students of Adlai E. Stevenson High School
in Lincolnshire, Illinois. In their view, individual teachers
and/or each faculty and/or the whole school gather baseline
data of student formative assessment, analyse the data,
and set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic
and time bound) goals for improvement. Coordinated
assessment and reporting programmes unflinchingly
monitor student progress.
Adapting the instruments and techniques outlined, either
slightly or extensively, could afford a ready-made and
reasonably site-specific measurement tool for New Zealand
schools. Furthermore, with the shift to standards-based
assessment in recent years, it seems realistic to suppose that
New Zealand educators possess the capability to establish
criteria for a PLC, or use those dimensions delineated in the
literature, and to construct judgment statements or interview
questions which accurately evaluate the PLC’s level of
attainment for a customised and site-specific analysis.
The creation of a PLC, like the creation of the universe,
creates a lot more wobbling and banging about than may
appear on the surface. Too many dynamics, too many
factors, too many people and too many imponderables
generate unpredictable and complex variables on the
pathway to the PLC: each site differs in culture, leadership,
systemic and structural variations, personnel and resourcing.
Compounding the unfathomable combinations of variations,
there are difficult questions around which PLC attribute
evolves first: Does leadership set a direction first, or does
the organisational culture change first? How conceptually
intertwined are culture and leadership? Must structural
adaptations precede all other attributes? As a consequence,
it proves difficult to isolate any single critical factor as
prerequisite to the formation of a PLC. The degree of
variables and the complexity of the questions fail to suggest
a set formula for establishing a PLC. As a result, the pathway
might be described as a model without a model.
The ultimate starting point for the formation of a PLC is
neither the “chicken nor the egg”. Instead, perhaps the
guiding strategy for the PLC model without a model lay
somewhere near an unauthenticated, yet indicative story,
about Franklin Roosevelt’s mandate to his cabinet in 1933.
Roosevelt was elected to resolve the unprecedented and
monumental economic and social dislocation caused by the
onset of the “Great Depression”. He assembled his cabinet for
the first time in an emergency meeting and ordered them to
“try something and if that doesn’t work, try something else
and something else again, until it does work”. And so began
the most extensive and the most unparalleled socioeconomic revolution in 20th century American history.
Bambino, D. (2002). Critical friends. Educational Leadership,
59(6), 25-28.
Bezzina, C. (2006). ‘The Road Less Traveled’: Professional
communities in secondary schools. Theory Into Practice,
45(2), 159-167.
Billington, D. (1996). Seven characteristics of highly effective
adult learning programs. New horizons for learning.
Retrieved July 10, 2007, from http://www.newhorizons.
Bullough, R.V. (2007). Professional leaning communities
and the eight year study. Educational Horizons, 85(3),
Carver, C. L. (2004). A new lifeline for teachers. Educational
Leadership, 61(8), 58-61.
Perhaps the answer to what comes first in developing a
PLC lurks in a most elemental and fundamental building
block: people. Cultural shifts will happen when people
collaborate and share, in constructive and trusting
relationships, in small and incremental ways. When people
benefit from collaboration, culture evolves and leadership
will orchestrate, and a PLC emerges from the smallest
units in the organisation, the individual staff members;
a revolution from below.
Darling-Hammond, L. (1996). The quiet revolution:
Rethinking teacher development. Educational
Leadership, 53(6), 4-10.
If change emerges from the ground up, in small behaviours
and needing trust, perhaps initiating the simplest and least
intrusive of specific practices may prove most effective
in the launching of a PLC. Specific practices could include:
Haberman, M. (2004). Can star teachers create learning
communities? Educational Leadership, 61(8), 52-56.
mentoring systems
joint planning and assessment opportunities
provision for video-based reflections on practice
extending staff input into the planning and running of
meetings on professional matters
formation of study groups to investigate and address real
site-based issues
staff debate and decision making.
This list of specific practices is not exhaustive or prescribed,
only indicative of what may be considered, yet sitedependent, based on existing leadership, culture and
systemic structures.
Weaving educational threads. Weaving educational practice.
DuFour, R. (2004). What is a “Professional Learning
Community”? Educational Leadership, 61(8), 6-11.
Fullan, A., & Hargreaves, A. (1996). What’s Worth Fighting
for in Your School? New York: Teachers College,
Columbia University.
Hipp, K., Stoll, L., Bolam, R., Wallace, M., McMahon, A.
Thomas, S., & Huffman, J. (2003). An international
perspective on the development of learning communities.
Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American
Educational Research Association Chicago, Illinois,
April 21-25, 2003. Retrieved June 22, 2007, from
ERIC database.
Hord, S.M. (1997). Professional learning communities:
Communities of continuous inquiry and improvement.
Austin, Texas: Southwest Educational Development
Laboratory. Retrieved June 22, 2007, from ERIC database.
Hord, S. M. (1998). Creating a Professional Learning
Community: Cottonwood Creek School. Issues …
about Change, 6(2), 1-9. Retrieved June 22, 2007,
from ERIC database.
Hord, S.M., Meehan, M. L., Orletsky, S., & Sattes, B. (1999).
Assessing a school staff as a community of professional
learners. Issues … about Change, 7,(1), 1-9. Retrieved
June 22, 2007, from ERIC database.
John Hellner
Induction into learning communities. (2005, August).
Washington, DC: National Commission on Teaching
and America’s Future. Retrieved June 18, 2007 from
ERIC database.
Jackson, D. & Street, H. (2005). What does ‘collaborative
enquiry’ look like? In H. Street & J. Temperly (Eds.),
Improving schools through collaborative enquiry
(pp. 41-70). London, England: Continuum.
Jianping, S., Zhen, J., & Poppink, S. (2007). Open lessons:
A practice to develop a learning community. Educational
Horizons, 85(3), 181-191.
Kanold, T. D. (2006). The flywheel effect. Journal of Staff
Development, 27(2), 16-23.
Lieb, S. (1991). Principles of adult learning. Vision (Fall).
Retrieved July 10, 2007, from http://honolulu.hawaii.
edu/intranet/communities/ FacDevCom/guidebk/
Liebman, H., Maldonado, N., Lacey, K., Candace, H., &
Thompson, S. (2005). [Address]. An investigation of
leadership in a professional learning community:
A case study of a large, suburban, public middle school.
Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Florida
Educational Research Association (Miami, FL, Nov 2005).
Retrieved June 16, 2007, from ERIC database.
Ministry of Education. (November, 2006). Towards a
framework for professional practice: INSTEP. Retrieved
March 31, 2008, from www.minedu.govt.nz/goto/instep
Sergiovanni, T. J. (1996). Leadership for the schoolhouse.
San Francisco: Jossey Bass Publishers.
Stoll, L., Fink, D., & Earl, L. (2003). It’s about learning.
New York, U.S.A.: Routledge Farmer.
Van Horn, L. (2006). Re-imagining professional development.
Voices from the Middle, 13(4), 58-64.
John Hellner
John Hellner is a teacher educator for the University of
Waikato at Tauranga, delivering the Graduate Diploma
of Teaching (secondary). He first became interested in
Professional Learning Communities through animated
discussions with University staff and private consultants
working in learning institutions to implement the Ministry
of Education’s draft document Towards a Framework for
Professional Practice: INSTEP.
[email protected]
Kairaranga Book Reviews
Geoff Colvin
They say you should not judge a book by its cover. However,
the two photos on the front of this book instantly set the
tone of this book: a teacher facing a single glowering or
finger pointing student. If only life in schools were that
simple with no other students present, no curriculum
demands, no expectations from other teachers, parents
or the Board. Some of the remaining photographs within
the book are of real classrooms but usually of some
confrontation in which the student is presented as the
object to be controlled and checklists that ask you to look
for students with “veiled” or “darting” eyes. Herein lie some
of the assumptions and limitations of the behavioural
method that the book adopts. It favours within-child
explanations for the source of problems, a greater emphasis
on difficulties rather than solutions and it moves away from
the more complex understanding of how problematic
situations come to life in schools (Miller, 2003).
There is now a vast literature on applying behavioural
approaches in schools. What could this book add? It is
easy to read, and well organised with photocopiable
checklists. The use of case studies often scripted between
students and teachers give it a realistic feel. There are many
practical suggestions such as pre-correction procedures,
adapting the classroom environment and teaching pro-social
skills. It offers a framework for teachers to consider the level
of intervention according to the stage they perceive the
student to be at.
1. Calm
2. Trigger
3. Agitation
4. Acceleration
5. Peak
6. De-Escalation
7. Recovery.
As challenging situations evolve, it is assumed that the
students will become increasingly aroused and display
an increased intensity of “acting out” behaviour. Each
of these stages will require a different response from their
teacher. This is likely to be one useful framework for teachers
to proactively plan to work with challenging situations in
their classrooms. Unfortunately, this model is presented
as the only way to understand “acting out” behaviour.
Weaving educational threads. Weaving educational practice.
While these behaviours may differ in their form, settings
and outcomes, there are several common factors. For
example, some students may be angry towards parents
or particular teachers and skip school, vandalize shops in
the neighbourhood or become hostile towards teachers
and become suspended from school. Clearly, each of
these behaviours is different, but they are all motivated
by anger towards parents and teachers. (p. 1)
I would query if all such behaviour is the result of anger
or necessarily accompanied by increased arousal. I would
favour a wider range of possible explanations and
understandings for problematic situations observed in
our schools, for example: solution-focused (Selekman, 1993),
narrative (Bowen, 1996), school culture (Frederickson, 1990),
reference groups (Stringer et al., 1992) and pupil culture
(Newton & Wilson, 2003).
The scope of this book is very ambitious, aiming to apply
its general principles to both primary and secondary school
environments. There is little comment on these different
contexts, for example, the increasing agency a young person
might expect as they get older within a secondary school
setting. The focus is on schools in the United States of
America rather than Aotearoa New Zealand. Although
the author acknowledges the significance of teacher
expectations, he is noticeably silent on the issue of race,
despite many photos featuring students who are black and
over-represented in their national suspension statistics. Any
reader of this book will need to keep in mind research from
this country about the impact of teacher relationships with
students and their response to the curriculum, particularly
Mäori (Bishop & Berryman, 2007).
Inevitably, any book that seeks to provide complete answers
to such complex situations may end up with meaningless
lists of advice that can often appear contradictory. For example,
‘A very effective strategy for reducing agitation is for the
teacher to provide some level of space or isolation from the
rest of the class’ (p. 88) and ‘Consequently, when a teacher
stands near the student during the period of agitation, the
student may be reassured’ (p. 91). Both pieces of advice are
likely to be relevant but making a decision between them
will depend on the student, other students, the teacher,
the relationship, the type of activity and so on.
Overall, this book might be helpful for those who are
unfamiliar with the behavioural method, who would like
to focus on a single approach to working with problematic
situations in schools and who favour the checklist approach.
However, there do seem to be other materials available that
have already covered this ground in an accessible manner
(Rogers, 1994).
Bishop, R., & Berryman, M. (2007). Culture speaks: Cultural
relationships and classroom learning. Wellington,
New Zealand: Huia.
Bowen, B. (1996). Externalising Anger. Context, 26(Spring),
Frederickson, N. (1990). Systems approaches in educational
psychology. Journal of Applied Systems Analysis, 17, 3-20.
Miller, A. (2003). Teachers, parents and classroom behaviour:
A psychosocial approach. Buckingham, UK: Open
University Press.
Newton, C., & Wilson, D. (2003). Creating circles of friends:
A peer support and inclusion workbook. Nottingham,
UK: Inclusive Solutions.
Rogers, B. (1994). Managing behaviour series: Positive
correction, consequences, prevention, repair and rebuild.
Bundaberg, Australia: Quartus.
Selekman, M. (1993). Pathways to change: brief solutions
with difficult adolescents. New York: The Guilford Press.
Stringer, P., Stow, L., Hibbert, K., Powell, J., & Louw, E. (1992).
Establishing staff consultation groups in schools.
Educational Psychology in Practice, 8(2), 17-26.
Quentin Abraham is a teacher, a systematic family therapist
and registered educational psychologist who has worked
in schools for 21 years. He currently works for the Ministry
of Education, Special Education, in Wellington supporting
young people, their whänau and those who work in schools
to resolve challenging situations.
Title: Managing the Cycle of Acting-Out Behavior in
the Classroom
Author: Geoff Colvin
Publisher: Behavior Associates
Date of Publication: 2004
ISBN: 0-9631777-3-7
RRP: $28 USD
Angus Macfarlane
A new book by Dr Angus Macfarlane of the University of
Waikato, Discipline, Democracy and Diversity makes the
point that issues of behaviour in the classroom are not new.
At a time when we are faced with reports and so-called
surveys that tell us that teachers are facing unprecedented
and increasing violence, not simply behavioural issues, it is
salutary to be reminded of this. At a time when genuinely
unprecedented numbers of our students are disengaging
or being disengaged with the processes of education, it is
helpful to have a book such as this.
To use Hone Tuwhare’s terms, we have certainly made the
know-how of teaching and learning into a complex and
technological area which we surround in our very special
monkey language. I search for those who can tell the story
of teaching simply and usefully. The issue with educational
research and education writing is not that there isn’t enough
of it but that so little of it, relatively speaking, is known to
classroom teachers. There is a key role in our system for
those who can take some of this material and present it in
a way that allows teachers to develop a context into which
new ideas can flow like a mangrove seed and perhaps take
root to withstand the daily tides that wash over them.
Macfarlane takes us on something of a journey through
the trends in addressing issues of behaviour. The stages are
labelled: institutionalism and relative isolation; segregation;
categorisation; integration; mainstreaming; inclusion; finally,
in 2007, circumspection described in these terms: ‘because
of the increasing manifestation of behavioural disorders, the
view that every child has a right to a mainstream education
is challenged in some quarters’ (p. 17). I wonder if exclusion
is the next theory.
We are then invited to consider factors that influence
behaviours. Among these is the influence of the family.
The book deals with the power of culture and of teachers’
understanding of it. Basil Bernstein would agree with the
view that the culture of the child cannot enter the classroom
unless it has first entered the consciousness of the teacher.
Macfarlane says ‘Young people do not shed their cultural
nuances at the school gate; they take them with them into
the classrooms and playgrounds’ (p. 39). That is a key and
central challenge. Macfarlane underlines and makes clear
the conclusion that his Waikato colleagues, Bishop and
Berryman (2006), expressed so eloquently titling their book,
giving a clear and unequivocal message to all involved in
education in New Zealand: Culture Speaks.
The book then takes us through a repertoire of understandings
and strategies for coping with what Macfarlane calls ‘mild
to moderate behaviour difficulties’ (p. 51) – are these the
“normal” students? In approaching discipline as both a noun
and a verb we get a strong affirmation for the classroom
with structure and shape. A dig through the archeological
strata of classroom management will ring bells for many as
the catch cries of theories of classroom management move
past in procession – group dynamic, “withitness”, congruent
communication, applied behaviour analysis, assertive
discipline, effective body language and on it goes.
Then we get to what for me is the highlight of the book,
the Hikairo Rationale – seven principles around which
teachers can build a positive and inclusive classroom. This is
Macfarlane’s very personal contribution to our understanding
of the dynamics of teaching and learning.
Bishop, R., & Berryman, M. (2006). Culture speaks.
Wellington, New Zealand: Huia.
Durie, M. (1998). Whaiora. Mäori Health Development
(2nd ed.). Auckland, New Zealand: Oxford University Press.
Huakina mai
Opening doorways
Being assertive
Seeking collaboration
Helping learners
I runga i te manaaki
Caring that pervades
Dr Stuart Middleton
Motivating learners
Nurturing environment
PhD, MA, AIEd(Lond.), DipEd, DipSLT, DipTchg
Executive Director
External Relations and Student Affairs
Manukau Institute of Technology
There follows a careful exposition of the approaches and
techniques for preventing and responding to behaviour
difficulties in the classroom, one which builds on and
preserves the dignity of the learner and the teacher. It is
based on values, respect, commitment, valuing education
and suchlike. Above all, it is designed to establish for learners
a sense of belonging in the classroom, the school and, if
successful, the wider world.
It acknowledges the connections to Mason Durie’s (1998)
Te Whare Tapa Whä and Rose Pere’s (1997) Te Wheke.
The book is, in Macfarlane’s own words, ‘a collection of
methods and strategies for educators … offered to help
educators in their work with students who are experiencing
learning and behaviour difficulties’ (p. 165). He reminds us
that ‘there are no guarantees in the realm of learning and
behaviour, but as change agents, educators must believe
that they can make a difference’ (p. 165).
This is the crucial point and never in our history has it
been more critical. Many facts about the performance
of our education system should worry us and these have
been well canvassed elsewhere. The importance of this book
is that it encourages us to take a good look at what we are
doing. We need different and drastically improved results
and it is simply foolish to believe that we can get a difference
by continuing to do the same.
Pere, R. (1997) Te Wheke: A celebration of infinite wisdom.
Ao Ako Global Learning New Zealand.
Dr Stuart Middleton is Executive Director of External
Relations at Manukau Institute of Technology. He has
been a secondary school English teacher, teacher
educator and principal.
Stuart Middleton has been awarded a Commonwealth
Relations Trust Fellowship to the University of London,
and several QANTAS Media Awards as New Zealand’s best
social issues columnist. He has written a weekly column
in NZ Education Review for the past 10 years. In 2007 he
won a Fulbright New Century Scholars Award and joined an
international group of scholars studying equity and access
in higher education. In September to December 2007 he was
a Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley.
Title:Discipline, democracy and diversity: Working with
students with behavioural difficulties.
Author: Dr Angus Macfarlane
Publisher: NZCER Press
Date of Publication: 2007
ISBN: 978-1-877398-26-1
RRP: $35.20
I cannot recall who said that the issue for us in education is
not incompetence in the classroom, but rather the fact that
competent teachers are doing the wrong thing. This book has
the potential to take good teachers and turn them into better
teachers and for taking teachers who are struggling and show
them the hope that comes from a structured and values
based approach. Classrooms can be a battle for understanding
and against ignorance rather than a battle between each other.
Macfarlane calls the last part of the book “Navigating the
choppy seas”. The sea imagery is so central to New Zealand.
The knowledge wave is really the bow wave of a canoe,
driven strongly by a group that wants to head in the same
direction and who are inspired to put their backs into the
task. The stronger the team work the greater the bow wave.
So too is it in education.
If teachers and schools aspire to see that bow wave
carve a future for our students, then reading this book
will be rewarding.
Weaving educational threads. Weaving educational practice.
Alison Sutherland
This book presents the results of interviews with 25 young
people who were in one of three youth justice residential
schools in New Zealand. The interviews focused on these
young people’s views about their experiences in the schools
they had attended.
Participants were aged from 14 years to 16 years, 11 months.
There were 19 boys and six girls. 68% identified themselves
as Mäori, 20% Pacifika and 12% as New Zealand European.
The interviews were tape recorded and most of the book
consists of verbatim transcripts of selections from the
young people’s comments. This has the effect of focusing
attention on the young people’s voices which, as the author
reports, is a perspective that is lacking in the literature on
this population.
The boys’ stories vary from the extremely moving to the
really scary! Moving because you can’t help but feel sorry
for those whose personal circumstances were so difficult
that developing normally was almost impossible. Scary when
you realise the depth of hostility and alienation some have
expressed and think of what they may do in the future if they
are not helped to develop more positive attitudes and values.
Although the focus on the participants’ voices is refreshing,
I think it would have been useful to have more analysis of
the themes emerging from their comments. Perhaps such
analysis is included in the author’s PhD thesis, from which
the material in the book was extracted (Sutherland, 2006).
One theme which struck me was that most of the young
people reported that they had become troubled during their
time at primary or intermediate school, but that it was at
secondary school when their troublesome behaviour had
escalated to the extent that schools couldn’t cope with them.
Their most positive memories were from their primary school
days, but this is also where things had started to go wrong,
in many cases associated with smoking dope, drinking
alcohol or taking drugs.
In New Zealand, guidance counsellors are found almost
exclusively in secondary schools so most primary and
intermediate schools do not have counsellors who can
identify pupils at risk and begin to intervene before
behaviour problems become too ingrained.
In fact, none of the young people mentioned being helped
by secondary school guidance counsellors, but then none
mentioned having been helped by RTLB, psychologists or
social workers either. This is not to say that they didn’t have
contact with such specialists, it’s just that, if they did, not
much impression was made. Since these young people are
some of the most vulnerable in the school system they are
the ones in most need of specialist help, so they should have
had a lot of contact with such specialists.
Another theme that emerged was that many of the young
people reported that they had experienced difficulties in
various aspects of learning at school. For some, their reading
difficulties were identified because the interview process
required them to read “memory jogging” cards, others
mentioned experiencing difficulties with writing or maths
at school. Also, several participants complained about the
lack of understanding that teachers had shown when they
had found schoolwork difficult. Once again, one wonders
whether these young people’s learning difficulties were
identified by schools and to what extent specialist help
from reading recovery teachers, RTLB and educational
psychologists was involved. None of this is mentioned by
the participants but this may not mean that it didn’t happen.
So for me the book has done its job. It has raised my
awareness of the needs of this very special population of
young people and has highlighted some areas of concern
regarding school provision for such young people and other
aspects which are in need of further research.
Sutherland, A. (2006). From classroom to prison cell:
Young offenders’ perception of their school experience.
Unpublished PhD thesis: Victoria University of Wellington.
Professor Garry Hornby
Garry is Professor of Education at the University of
Canterbury. He previously worked as a residential social
worker, mainstream and experience class teacher and
educational psychologist. Recent research projects include
a follow-up study of ex-pupils of a residential special school
for pupils with emotional and behavioural disorders and an
investigation of parental involvement in mainstream schools.
Title: Classroom to Prison Cell
Author: Alison Sutherland
Publisher: Stead & Daughters Ltd
Date of Publication: May 2008
ISBN: 978-0-473-13386-3
RRP: $29.99
Edited by Anne Meade
Riding the Waves is the second book released from the
Centre of Innovation Programme (COI) in New Zealand.
The COI Programme is a project initiated by the New Zealand
government in 2002 as part of the 10 year early childhood
strategic plan, Pathways to the Future/Ngä Huarahi Arataki.
The purpose of this project was to reflect on innovative
teaching and practice that improved children’s learning
within the context of Te Whäriki, the early childhood
curriculum. The first book in this series, Catching the Waves,
was reviewed by Beryl Overall in Kairaranga Volume 7,
Issue 2, 2006.
The books are one way in which the participants in COI
programme are disseminating their research. The focus
of this book, Riding the Waves, is about early childhood
practitioners’ reflections on their journey of being involved
in participatory action research, what they learnt and how
this has influenced their practice.
Each chapter of this book describes different aspects of
participatory action research and the implications for the
COIs. The reflections from the COIs provide the reader with
illustrations of what this actually looks like in practice.
Most of the centres whose work features in this book are
from the first round of COI. A reference to their full project
findings is provided at the end of each of their contributions.
The centres involved in COI are from a diverse range of early
childhood communities. They have adapted the concepts
of this type of research to answer their questions while
honouring the “culture” of their community. Each centre’s
project questions are described and outcomes of their
projects are linked to sociocultural theory and learning
dispositions. They have detailed changes in teaching practice
that have benefited the children and families/whänau of
their communities, with the focus of these stories being
the process of engaging in action research. Their journeys
have been made explicit.
Riding the Waves will be of interest for anyone considering
doing participatory action research in early childhood or
the wider education sector within a New Zealand context.
An understanding of the philosophy of early childhood
education in New Zealand and knowledge of Assessment for
Learning practices may be required by readers to understand
the COI projects.
The COI programme exemplifies quality teaching practice
and is designed to influence thinking in many areas of early
childhood education. It is one way in which early childhood
practitioners are shown how critical reflective thinking can
enhance teaching practice, children’s learning and can be
the catalyst for change. The research undertaken by the COIs
should be celebrated and shared. I look forward to seeing
more books in this series.
Ministry of Education. (2002). Pathways to the future/
Ngä huarahi arataki. Wellington, New Zealand:
Learning Media.
Sally Barry is an Early Intervention Teacher and Lead
Practitioner (Early Intervention) working for the Ministry
of Education, Special Education, in the Waikato District.
She co-wrote Kei tua o te Pae Assessment for Learning:
Early Childhood Exemplars, Booklet 9: Inclusive Assessment.
Some centres’ reflections from the second round of this
programme included in this book are still involved in
the research phase, and are due to release their research
findings this year.
Anne Meade made a point of saying that action research
implemented in the way described in this book is rare.
For the teachers and parent educators involved they have
had to come to terms with the reality that not only were
they participants but were also in control of their research.
Research Associates, who had been involved in academic
research, were chosen by each centre to support them
through the process of carrying out action research. Forming
collaborative partnerships became an important part of the
process. Ethical issues around practitioners being researchers
and doing research with young children and their families/
whänau had to be addressed.
Weaving educational threads. Weaving educational practice.
Submission Guidelines
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Submissions for Volume 10, Issue 1, 2009
Deadline: December 1st, 2008
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Deadline: April 1st, 2009
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being expressed that do not necessarily reflect the
opinions of the Editorial Board.
Weaving educational threads. Weaving educational practice.
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Weaving educational threads. Weaving educational practice.
Editorial, Editorial Board and Contact Details
Innovation and Practicality
An interview with Dr Ken Ryba
Jean Annan and Ken Ryba
He Hui Whakatika
Culturally responsive, self determining interventions
for restoring harmony
Sonja Bateman and Mere Berryman
Practice Paper
The New Multi-Ministry Response to Conduct Problems
A SWOT analysis
Peter Stanley
Position Paper
Schooling for Happiness
Rethinking the aims of education
Tom Cavanagh
Position Paper
Working Together
An occupational therapy perspective on collaborative consultation
Andrea Hasselbusch and Merrolee Penman
On Children Transitioning to New Cultural and Linguistic Settings 32
“When in Rome … it’s okay to be a tourist”
Nadine Ballam
Does the Oxford Reading Pen Enhance Reading Accuracy and
Comprehension for Students with Reading Difficulties in a
Classroom Environment?
An implementation trial
Ian Johnson
Practice Paper
The Incredible Years Parent Training Programme in Tauranga
A research summary
Michelle Hamilton and Angela Litterick-Biggs
The Professional Learning Community
A fulcrum of change
John Hellner
Practice Paper
Kairaranga Book Reviews
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