The Pasifika Teacher Aide Project was developed out of a Ministry of Education research and professional development pilot project: ‘Supporting Pasifika bilingual teacher aides in mainstream classrooms’ which took place from June 2005 until January 2006.
The aims of the project were to examine the literacy teaching and support strategies adopted by Pasifika bilingual teacher aides working in mainstream classrooms with Pasifika learners. It investigated teacher aide practices, focusing on the extent and capacity of Pasifika languages utilisation in the support of student learning. Its identification and development of characteristics of good practice has been incorporated in the professional development handbook and programme for teacher aides working with Pasifika students in mainstream classrooms. The programme is composed of a series of workshops designed to support Pasifika teacher aides, and teacher aides of Pasifika students in English-medium and bilingual classrooms.
The Ministry-contracted project is directed and facilitated by Rae Si’ilata of The University of Auckland, who also founded the initiative, and has reached more than 355 schools, 347 coordinating teachers, and 1021 teacher aides. Rae works with regional facilitators in delivering the programme nationwide. The criteria for selection are wide-ranging and include the number of enrolled Pasifika students, the recommendation of ESOL verifiers, and particularly those needing support in meeting the needs of Pasifika students.
Schools register one coordinating teacher and at least two teacher aides in order to participate; around 8 schools and 32 participants then form regional cluster groups for the purpose of facilitating the programme.