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Merivale School – Consulting with family and whānau

Merivale School logo.

Merivale School stands in a unique position as the only decile 1 mainstream school in Tauranga. Within our school we have a Māori immersion class and a bilingual class who make up our whānau unit and we have a satellite class from Kaka Street Special School. 85% of our children identify as Māori and 10% identify as Pasifika.

Traditionally we have had difficulty in consulting with our community as school seemed to be a "no go" area for many of our whānau. Thoughts of how to consult with our community over the vision for the school and new curriculum directions were daunting. Earlier this year a couple of mothers approached the school to assist with the running of a lunch scheme. This was welcomed with open arms and these two mothers encouraged more and more parents into the school. Parents began to feel comfortable around teachers and began to interact freely and openly with them about children's education.

A Board of Trustees member then decided to gather these parents for hui about future directions of the school in homes rather than on the school site. This seemed to be far less threatening for parents and we witnessed a greater turn out than earlier school based hui. It also became apparent very quickly that our parents were far more willing to share in an environment they felt comfortable in.

We are now completing the same consultation around the future direction of our curriculum with some small changes. We are holding fono for our families from the Pacific Islands where they will have the opportunity to share in their first language. Also after work from our last consultation we have formed a partnership with a local marae where we hope to hold some hui for our whānau. We also interact closely with our local kōhanga to hear their wishes for our school.

Our hui and fono in houses are informal and run by our community. Many of families have expressed their feelings of being in control. They have also expressed a new found ownership with the school. As a school we feel we are hearing from more families and getting far better feedback and feed-forward than in the past.

community engagement

Updated on: 21 Nov 2009