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Supporting whānau with learning at Pomaria School

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Improved teaching and learning, greater community engagement, and enhanced student achievement are just some of the outcomes of Pomaria School's journey of curriculum design and review. In this story, parents and teachers describe the way whānau are engaged at the school and the way whānau voice is used to create directions for learning. This film is the third in a series, designed to provide support and inspiration to schools that are in the process of reviewing their own school curriculum.

Professional learning conversations

These questions and suggested actions encourage you to reflect on your own school context.

The School Leadership and Student Outcomes BES found that the most effective home-school partnerships are those in which:

  • parents and teachers are involved together in children's learning
  • teachers make connections to students' lives
  • family and community knowledge is incorporated into the curriculum and teaching practices.

The Family and Community Engagement BES found that the most effective partnerships:

  • treat families with dignity and respect and add to family practices, experiences, values, and competencies (rather than undermining them)
  • build on the strong aspirations and motivation that most parents have for their children's development
  • offer structured and specific suggestions rather than general advice
  • provide group opportunities as well as opportunities for one-to-one contact (especially informal contact)
  • empower those involved by fostering autonomy and self-reliance within families, schools, and communities.
  • Discuss which of the above indicators of effective partnerships are demonstrated at Pomaria School?
  • What do you do at your school to build effective partnerships with your parents, families, whānau, and communities?
  • How can you further empower parents and whānau to support their children’s learning?

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School partnerships self-audit tool 
Use this self-audit tool to gather and analyse information about community engagement at your school to gain an understanding of strengths and gaps that need to be filled.


Kevin Choromanski

Having parents involved within our school and living according to the philosophy around our cornerstones, of matauranga, manaakitanga, turangawaewae, and whanaunatanga, and actually making sure that those four cornerstones are not just something that lies dormant within our school but they are active.  And I think of turangawaewae, and the engagement of our community, in supporting not just our teachers but our children as well.  I guess it brings us to that whole aspect of cultural sensitivity within our school, and how we acknowledge the diversity we have within our school, and how we use our parents as the first teachers of their children, and we acknowledge that pathway, and as teachers and as a school, how we come alongside to work alongside our community for the betterment of our children. 

Kath Aiavao

Something that we do at Pomaria School is that we have community hui.  Towards the end of last year we had a community hui where whānau were invited to come on up to school and to review our journey of learning in 2013, for example.  And out of that hui we gave whānau opportunities to also feed back to us, as a school, what sort of things they would like to see happening at Pomaria in terms of how can we help them to help their children. And that’s how these workshops evolved; it was listening to our community voice. So for example, we have whānau and one of our mums here, I remember, spoke about how they really want to help their child lift their reading levels, but I don’t know how to help them with their comprehension, or their teacher has told me they don’t understand what they’re reading, so I want to help, but I don’t know how to help.  So that’s how we came up with the idea of having a workshop.

Jackie Rogers

Home learning now, since I’ve done the workshops, has become more fun for the children and more relaxed.  We make sure when they get home they get changed, they have a little snack, those are the things I had learnt from the workshop, rather than “Get your homework” sort of thing. So it’s more relaxed, it’s more fun and it’s a controlled timespan as well, so we’re not going to drone on for an hour, which I used to do. Now it’s 15 minutes tops, we’ll get it done and then you can go and play.  So there’s always that reward that if they do it, they’re off.  So home learning has become less of a chore. 

Kath Aiavao

But to see how empowered they felt, at the end of it, when they were able to take away tools that had been shared, and materials like bottle tops, or recycled cardboard, that they could use to then make resources at home for their children.  So that was a real privilege for myself, and I know other teachers have also facilitated reading and maths workshops, but basically it’s based on the voice of our community.

Jackie Rogers

So one of the other workshops I had attended which was community orientated from our hui, was the need for some health issues.  We do live in an area where our children get sick.  So there was a lot of interest in terms of asthma, also school sores.  So it was fantastic that once we fed back that information saying “I’d love more on this”, we had our lovely public health nurse, Rachael, deliver an awesome workshop on asthma. And sometimes when you’re in the thick of it, you’re like “Oh my God”, but if you have these little strategic things that you could check, that would be great.

Arndrea Welch

If you get together with your whānau, to have this community consultation to let them how their children are going – but not only that, it’s hearing how important it is to hear the community’s voice, and that’s building that relationship once again. They feel valued, so they’ll be more open, and that can only benefit their children as well, with their children’s learning. 

Kevin Choromanski

People want to be here and they want to be part of this journey that we are on.  So we are proud of our achievement as a school, and not just student achievement but what we’ve achieved together, because we live by the saying that “Together we do achieve more” and I think that’s what has actually transpired within our school over these last seven years.

Published on: 09 Nov 2014