Canterbury educators funded $300,000 to improve wellbeing for learners

05 December 2018

A collaborative university-school project bringing together teachers, whānau, hapū and iwi to enable a holistic approach to education, led by the University of Canterbury, has won $300,000 in funding from the Teaching and Learning Research Initiative.

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    A collaborative university-school project is bringing together teachers, whānau, hapū and iwi to enable a holistic approach to education. Pictured (left to right) are: Hornby Primary School Principal Gary Roberts, Professor Letitia Fickel of the University of Canterbury’s College of Education, Health and Human Development, and Hornby High School Principal Robin Sutton.

A collaborative university-school project bringing together teachers, whānau, hapū and iwi to enable a holistic approach to education, led by the University of Canterbury, has won $300,000 in funding from the Teaching and Learning Research Initiative.

The research partnership will bring together educators and leaders from the University of Canterbury (UC), Hornby High School, Hornby Primary School, and Te Taumutu Rūnanga in Christchurch. The collective focus for the project is the co-construction of a culturally and linguistically sustaining, Te Tiriti-based Ako framework for socio-emotional wellbeing in education.

“This collaborative approach to socio-emotional wellbeing is guided by Kaupapa Māori research principles, involving teachers, whānau, hapū, and iwi,” says project leader Professor Letitia Fickel of UC’s College of Education, Health and Human Development.

“It aims to support teachers to enhance and sustain student wellbeing in the classroom, through socio-emotional learning (SEL) education. It will enable teachers to develop and integrate these SEL strategies within their programmes to enhance support for the identities, languages and cultures of their students.”

International research has demonstrated high correlation between SEL and student wellbeing outcomes and academic achievement, Professor Fickel says.

Hornby High School Principal Robin Sutton notes the importance of this project to enhancing student learning and success.

“Personalisation is key to improving educational outcomes for all learners, and it cannot take place unless it occurs in the cultural context of the individual. This research will offer new insights into best practice as it may look in the classroom as we work to ensure that learning is firmly anchored within the learner's own cultural world,” Mr Sutton says.

Collaboration between the schools and the university is an important feature of this project, as it brings together the complementary expertise of members of the team.

Principal of Hornby Primary school Gary Roberts says that the school is very excited to be working on this collaboration to improve wellbeing and learning outcomes.

“This project will strengthen the school’s approach to wellbeing and partnerships, and ensure a safe secure environment for all of our learners,” Mr Roberts says.

The Teaching and Learning Research Initiative (TLRI), which supports partnerships between researchers and educators by funding projects expected to improve outcomes for learners, has provided funding of $300,000 over two years for the project. The TLRI is funded by the New Zealand government and administered by the New Zealand Council for Educational Research | Rangahau Mātauranga o Aotearoa.

The project leadership team includes: UC education academics Professor Letitia Fickel, Dr Rachel Martin and Dr Veronica O’Toole; Liz Brown of Te Taumutu Rūnanga (who is also UC’s Assistant Vice-Chancellor Māori); Gary Roberts and Kate McLachlan of Hornby Primary School; and Robin Sutton and Simon Scott from Hornby High School.

For further information please contact:

Margaret Agnew, Senior External Relations Advisor, University of Canterbury
Phone: +64 3 369 3631 | Mobile: +64 275 030 168margaret.agnew@canterbury.ac.nz
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