Nurturing the confidence, capabilities, and wellbeing of tamariki

Issue: Volume 101, Number 6

Posted: 13 May 2022
Reference #: 1HAUC2

Having a strong emphasis on wellbeing is one way that schools can create a more inclusive environment. A new report looks at themes and narratives from six schools on a journey to enhance the wellbeing of students.


“Caring for the whole child is first here. You can’t learn if those things are not in place.”

These were the words of a whānau member about their school, one of six unidentified primary and intermediate schools included in an NZCER report  Manaakitia ngā tamariki kia ora ai - Supporting children’s wellbeing, (external link)released November 2021.

The schools were invited to take part in the study because they had high levels of student wellbeing as shown by Wellbeing@School student survey data.

The main focus area of the study was how schools promote the wellbeing of tamariki, looking particularly at how school actions foster students’ sense of belonging and identity. It also looked at how schools deal with things that impact on wellbeing, such as racism and bullying behaviour.

The study identified some common themes across the schools. All the schools were on a long journey to better support the wellbeing and learning of tamariki. Key to this journey was support from Māori champions, two-way partnerships with whānau, a commitment to long-term professional learning and development, and leadership driven by core values and a holistic view of wellbeing. Some of the common beliefs and practices that stood out included: 

  • A prioritisation of wellbeing and the view that students were not ready to learn unless they felt a sense of belonging and safety at school, and that their identities were valued.
  • A commitment to reducing the separation between home and school through a focus on whanaungatanga and upholding relationships. All those in the school community were viewed as part of a large whānau. This commitment helped schools deal with racism and conflict such as community members who were not supportive of the school’s focus on mātauranga Māori.
  • A commitment to placing mātauranga Māori in a more central place in school life. For example, developing tikanga for the school, and supporting tamariki to learn about themselves and their connection to local histories, people, spaces, and places.
  • A commitment to celebrating diversity in all its forms.
  • Schools’ desire to do the best for students. Schools had multi-faceted approaches to building students’ sense of belonging and pride in their school. They offered students many opportunities to find passions and interests at school.
  • A commitment to building students’ capabilities in two main areas: recognising and understanding their own and others’ emotions so they could build empathy and positive relationships; and developing leadership skills.

The report notes that the six schools have multi-dimensional approaches to nurturing the confidence, capabilities and wellbeing of tamariki so that they can take their place in an increasingly diverse world.

“These approaches are assisting tamariki to know who they are, feel a sense of belonging and connection to school and community, and develop a range of wellbeing-related capabilities.” 

The publication, Manaakitia ngā tamariki kia ora ai Supporting children’s wellbeing: Learning from the experiences of six good-practice schools was written by Sally Boyd and Nicola Bright, with Maraea Hunia and Elliot Lawes. This project was part of NZCER’s Te Pae Tawhiti Government Grant programme of research, funded through the Ministry of Education. It can be accessed here(external link).

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 9:30 am, 13 May 2022

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