School leadership for improvement in primary mathematics education: Russell School best evidence in action implementation exemplar

Professor Roberta (Bobbie) Hunter and Dr Jodie Hunter of Massey University have developed a culturally responsive pedagogy for deep learning in mathematics through collaborative problem solving.


The original exemplar [PDF 3.7mB],  the professional learning approach for wider reach, and underpinning research evidence are explained at Developing Mathematical Inquiry Communities (DMIC) and Hangaia Te Urupounamu Pāngarau Mō Tātou. A consideration of the significance of this intervention for equity, excellence, wellbeing and inclusion is provided here [PDF 747kB].

The best evidence in action videos that follow explain critical success factors for implementation over the first two years of the change process at Russell School in Porirua East.

Evidence of improvement: Towards equity, excellence, belonging and wellbeing

"Pasifika learners, did, on average, score lower than their cohort average. There is variation in how wide these gaps started but they all tightened over the 2-year period. By the end of 2016, these gaps were negligible across all cohorts. This could not be said at the start of 2015." Stringer (2017)

"The 2015 Year 5 cohort made almost no progress in 2015…They made a large improvement in 2016, and by the end of the year they were scoring closer to the Decile 8 average."  Stringer (2017)

"While there was variability in the degree of improvement, all cohorts at Russell school improved their scores over time, and by the end of 2016 (the second year of DMIC implementation) all of the cohorts at this school were above the national average scores for Decile 1 schools."  Stringer (2017)

For evidence of improvements in equity and excellence in mathematics achievement progress on standardised Progressive Achievement Tests for Decile 1 Russell School compared with benchmarked norms for Decile 10 schools see:

Stringer, B. (2017). 2015-2016 PAT: Mathematics achievement and progress for a school participating in Developing Mathematical Inquiry Communities (DMIC) [PDF 1mB]. Wellington: New Zealand Council for Educational Research.

For a comprehensive independent report on change data for achievement progress, decrease in bullying and more positive student identity towards the end of the first year of implementation see:

For information about the need, the evidence, the opportunity, and the system challenges see:

Alton-Lee, A. (2017). 'Walking the talk' matters in the use of evidence for transformative education. Invited paper for the International Bureau of Education - UNESCO Project: Rethinking and repositioning curriculum in the 21st century: A global paradigm shift. Wellington, New Zealand: Evidence, Data and Knowledge, Ministry of Education.

"Accelerated progress for many students is evident."  Education Review Office (2017)

"The school is well positioned to sustain improvement and continue to promote equitable and excellent outcomes for students."  Education Review Office (2017)

See more about the profile of, and improvements made at, Russell School in an independent review report:

Education Review Office (2017, October). Russell School (Porirua East) Review Report – 30/10/17 Wellington: Education Review Office.