Our recent education projects have encompassed work in the schools and tertiary sectors. The restorative practices work is a strong commitment of our team.  We believe that restorative schools can raise achievement for all, and especially for those who get into trouble in the system - in other words, those that need the schools the most. Our work in the tertiary sector with Ako Aotearoa and Education New Zealand has helped improve services to students, and supported good teaching and learning practices.

We are committed to a high quality education system, making a difference in Aotearoa/New Zealand.  Some of our projects:

Kiwi Next Generation programme - evaluation for the Salvation Army 2017

This study is underway.

The youth guarantee fees free scheme - two studies 2014 and 2015

Data was collected through winter 2014 at 28 tertiary organisations, and analysis commenced mid-August. The first report was completed in November 2014. The report can be downloaded here.   Papers have been presented at the NZVET conference,  NZARE conference,  APERA conference and the WERA Conference (Budapest) to date, and journal publications are underway. A powerpoint can be downloaded here. As a result of the study a follow up of 72 students was carried out over the summer and completed in March 2015.  The report on this can be found here.

Subject to funding, two further studies are planned in 2016 and 2017.

Massive open online courses 2013-14

This small baseline study of MOOCs in New Zealand was funded by Ako Aotearoa and the Wilf Malcolm Centre.  It covers a range of areas, including:

  • What are MOOCs - connectivity and profit?
  • Are they disruptive of existing HE models?
  • Do they increase the opportunity for public good and collaboration?
  • Can MOOCs and other open learning forms increase access to higher education and how would that work?
  • What are the implications for teachers and learners?

The report is complete and under external review at present. A seminar will be held at the University of Waikato in May.

Success and failure in New Zealand schools 2012-13

This project, for the PPTA, explores issues around what constitutes success and failure in New Zealand schools, who is succeeding and who not, how we perform against other countries and so on. The final report will be released on 8 July and is available here.

Good practice in restorative justice in schools 2011-2012

This project undertook ten case studies of schools that have taken a ‘whole school’ approach to restorative practices. What are the characteristics of such schools? What policies and practices make them successful? Can school stand-downs and suspensions be eliminated by changing school practices? This is an ongoing project, with a significant amount of further work planned. View the executive summary here. View the report here.

Key findings were:

  • Most of the schools previously had high levels of suspensions and ran assertive models of discipline. Some had students involved in specific high-profile incidents that triggered the need for change. Some of the schools had gained a poor reputation because of their problems and were difficult, sometimes dangerous places. Many were looking for ways to change.
  • Two elements were found to be most important in effective implementation: good leadership and excellent systems to support teachers, students and senior staff.
  • The leadership role embraced two separate domains: practical skills and support, and values and beliefs. Both elements needed to be addressed in implementing restorative practices.
  • Teachers interviewed for this study strongly supported restorative practices, especially in the schools that had implemented a whole-school approach. They noted that the new practices lead to better and calmer classrooms, and more focus on learning.
  • All of the schools are reported as calmer places to be. They are settled, smooth, friendly, engaging and focussed on learning. Some are “lovely”. The core reason for this is the good relationships that exist between staff and students.
  • For those schools which have implemented a whole school model successfully, there is a huge reduction in stand-downs and suspensions.
  • Bullying, in the words of one principal, is ‘tailor-made’ for resolution within restorative systems.
  • Restorative practices tend to increase the engagement of students at school, and especially at-risk students. They may create a good context for learning, with quiet and friendly classrooms and good relationships between students and teachers. In some of the schools in this study, the effects on achievement have been significant.
  • The lack of restorative approaches in teacher education is discussed. Only one College of Education offers a course in restorative practices to trainee teachers, which hinders implementation in schools. Finally, the question of the resources needed for effective implementation is briefly considered.

This project was funded by the Ministry of Education. 

Work on international education, student systems and contracts

Our work at the systems level has been well-received by stakeholders.  Altogether we have undertaken four projects.  The first was a study of the potential for a quality mark system for international education, for Education New Zealand.  We interviewed a rnage of industry leaders in areas where there was an existing quality mark system, and provided a range of management issues and approaches.  We received excellent feedback from the agency for this study, which can be found here.

The second study was for Ako Aotearoa, examining student codes of practice and involvement in organisational democracy.  That report can be found on the Ako Aotearoa website.  Once again, we were praised for providing more than was required.  Further work has been pursued by Ako Aotearoa with organisational partners arising from this work.

The third study was our partnership with the University of Canterbury to evaluate the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students.  This work was not publicly released by the Ministry of Education.

Finally, we evaluated a wide range of New Zealand school websites to look at strengths and weaknesses in their online presence.  This also included multi-lingual surveys for students and agents.  Strategies including a range of technical improvements to websites, the use of social media, using alumni on websites to provide effective communication, developing databases and other ways to share information in a fast-changing environment.  Several schools noted on their websites that we had rated their international website prresence highly.  The report is available here.

Inclusive Education and Teacher Education

This is a large ongoing project headed by Dr Missy Morton which seeks to understand why, despite clear policies of educational parity, people with disabilities are often unable to secure a high quality education in mainstream classrooms.

Adult and community education development and research

We undertook a range of ACE projects relating to the content of courses, overlap, distribution (in Christchurch and then nationally), mapping and the relationship with TEC priorities.  The loss of funding from this sector two years ago has meant that research and evaluation activities are no longer possible.

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