• culturally diverse students;
  • supporting learning;
  • student–teacher relationships

Establishing appropriate learning environments for culturally diverse underachieving students continues to challenge educators across a range of international contexts. A synthesis of findings from our studies in New Zealand indicated that teachers and students from Pasifika and Māori backgrounds considered that learning is facilitated by the establishment of positive student–teacher relationships in which their culture and language is acknowledged and valued. Collaboration and co-operation within small groups also supported learning, which influenced engagement as well as achievement. We contend that developing effective and culturally sensitive pedagogical practices that are informed by research offers a way forward, not only for practitioners, but also for teacher education.