Outcomes for Te Puna Taiao
And to influence not just academic outcomes, but also to make much-needed improvements to the spiritual, mental and physical health outcomes of our tamariki and communities.
With this kaupapa schools could become a little oasis in the lives of our tamariki and their communities and provide a place where children can connect with each other, their environment, their community, their whakapapa, and themselves, and be stronger for those connections.
It would provide key support to many existing programmes of work already underway in New Zealand schools, such as the Health Promoting Schools, EnvironSchools, Garden to Plate, and Fruit in Schools initiatives and could play a key role in reducing inequity in our education system, making our schools more inclusive places for children of all backgrounds and abilities.
Although the changes may be especially beneficial for our Māori and Pasifika students and tamariki with disabilities, it is anticipated that all children would reap benefits.
Focus Outcome Areas
We have four outcome focus areas:
1. Improving transitions from early childhood care and education/home to school
The evidence is clear that patterns established in the first two years of a child’s schooling set up their experiences throughout their education, so it is crucial that all schools get this transition right for each child. Te Puna Taiao creates a built environment more similar to that our high quality ECE centres and better allows schools to provide a learning environment and teaching practices that cater to the developmental needs of all children and all abilities in those first two crucial years. That is, quality learning environments that are both indoor and outdoor, to better optimise the mix between opportunities for both child-led, free play and for more traditional and formal academic learning.
2. Improving mental health and resilience of our tamariki and communities
We know that providing enriched play opportunities, especially in natural settings, helps to build resilience and self-control. And we know that lack of these skills in our tamariki creates both disastrous personal outcomes later in life as well as huge economic costs to society. Implementation of Te Puna Taiao give kids opportunities to build the skills they need to lead collaborative, happy, healthy and productive lives.
3. Improving equity for tamariki Māori and other minority ethnicities
Through time the New Zealand education system has been persistently inequitable for Māori learners by for example, low inclusion of Māori themes and topics and failure to uphold mana. We know that successful Māori students cite ‘having their culture and values celebrated at school’ and ‘developing and maintaining spiritual strength’ as key to their success. A taiao firmly grounded in Te Ao Māori and in the culture of the families that make up the school’s community, has potential to help remove these inequities and to actively promote cultural themes within a kura.
4. Making schools and communities more welcoming places for people of all abilities
We know that schools in New Zealand have not always been places that are and welcoming for children with disabilities. We know too that the incidence of mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression and conditions on the autism spectrum are rising in New Zealand and around the world and that interventions are needed early in children’s lives to address this. We foresee that schools implementing Te Puna Taiao as being better placed to meet the diverse social, cultural, emotional and developmental needs of all children and for all kids to experience an education system that works for each child.