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Te Kauhua phase 3 case studies: Ranui Primary

The Ranui Primary School case study is part of the Te Kauhua case studies report (2010), prepared for the Ministry of Education by Dr Ruth Gorinski. As part of their action research for Te Kauhua phase 3, Ranui Primary School investigated the impact that parents can have on their children’s reading when they are given knowledge and strategies to help their children read.


Ranui Primary School is a decile two, West Auckland School with a roll of 496 students of which 40% identify as Māori. The school has been involved in the Te Kauhua initiative since 2006.

Research Question

What impact can parents have on their children’s reading when they are given knowledge and strategies to help their children read? 

Impetus for the initiative

The impetus for the initiative arose from a request by some whānau members for support to help their children’s reading at home. These whānau expressed a desire to learn about effective strategies for reading with their children and then facilitate professional development programmes themselves with other whānau. The project was premised on the belief that children learn better if their whānau are involved in their learning and when whānau are empowered with the skills and knowledge to support them. 

What was done?

Jean Biddulph’s Reading Together programme was purchased by Ranui Primary School. Three Reading Together courses were offered in 2009. The first programme was facilitated by teachers with support from a parent. The local librarian, school literacy support person, and whānau representatives helped facilitate the second programme, and whānau - with support - facilitated the third programme. Students involved in the programme were sons and daughters of the whānau participants.

Participants learned a range of skills to support reading at home with their child and they trialled these at the workshop sessions. They then implemented the strategies at home in between workshops.

After trialling the Reading Together programme, whānau were unanimous in their decision to tailor a ‘Ranui’ parent education programme to meet the needs of the local community. A new reading programme named Kahikatea was developed by the school and whānau in partnership. The goal of the programme is to raise the literacy levels of Ranui Primary School students through parent support. This tailored reading support programme is being trialled in 2010 at the school. 

What was the impact on student learning and achievement?

All students involved in the Reading Together programme now find reading at home a positive experience. A student commented: “Mum used to growl when I didn’t know the words but now we talk about the pictures.”

The reading data of nine students whose whānau attended the Reading Together workshops revealed that only two students moved bands from reading below national expectations, to at or above national expectations. Each child involved however, made significant individual gains of between 4 and 12 PM benchmark levels from March 2009 to November 2009, with an average shift of 7.5 levels. The three students with the lowest scores in March made the greatest gains.

In March 2008, the reading data of the total Māori student cohort at Ranui School showed that 68% were reading below national expectations. By November 2008, this figure had reduced to 32% and by March 2009, only 29% of Māori students were reading below national expectations and 53% were reading above expected expectations. 

Key learning

  • Whānau are more likely to participate in supporting their child’s learning – both in and outside school – when they feel confident about their role in supporting their child’s reading at home.
  • Whānau are more confident with the concept of ‘reading together’ than ‘listening to reading.’
  • Parent professional development is most successfully run during school hours when child care facilities are more readily accessible.
  • Practical ideas for reading together at home are particularly valued by whānau.
  • Co-construction of a place-based reading together programme is a natural progression from a “pre-packaged” professional learning programme. A school needs to be receptive to the ideas whānau have about tailoring initiatives to their needs.
  • A focus group of whānau members who contribute to the direction of any professional learning programme is key to ensuring their ‘buy in.’

Challenges and opportunities

  • Finding a time that is suitable for the greatest numbers of whānau participants to engage with the programme.
  • Ensuring that a reading programme is relevant for whānau – there is a much increased likelihood of learning being implemented if the content is relevant and meaningful.
  • Accessing whānau who are prepared to serve as tutors in a professional learning programme.

Reflective questions

  • How can our school initiate a programme like Kahikatea? What data might we need as a starting point?
  • What skills and knowledge would a whānau facilitator need, before assuming leadership of a programme of this nature?
  • What could you as a teacher/leader/ literacy expert do to support whānau in their role?

Filed under: Productive partnerships | Te Kauhua

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