We tell kids all the time that to solve problems we need to work together. We tell them that community is important – we support our peers, our friends, the school community and the wider community outside the school gates. Teamwork: It’s an integral part of the ethos of every school I’ve ever been in.And that’s not just for the students and staff.
Parents are vital to building a strong school community, giving heaps of help in the form of time, goods and money. They volunteer in the classroom, do sausage sizzles and galas, put books away, help with the gardens – you name it, the parents are there. Actually, not just parents – often help comes from grandparents, siblings, aunties and uncles – the whole whanau. It’s all about feeling part of something. Belonging.
It could be argued that the best kinds of schools are those where the links between home, student and school are nurtured, and many schools such a Holy Family School in Porirua are actively working to strengthen these links.
Holy Family School have begun the So’otaga project. The name So’otaga was chosen as it translates to connection in Samoan, and the goal is to strengthen links between home and school as well as between families and other outside agencies. The project has a dedicated member of staff whose goal is to build relationships, share information and help. Helping the whole family, not just the student. That’s connection. That’s community.
Holy Family’s vision is:
“to work with families in order to develop a better understanding of what school should deliver for their child/ren. It is also to boost the confidence of our families in relation to approaching the school so that they fully understand exactly where their child is at with their learning and can ask some harder questions of the school in regard to delivering the high quality education that their child deserves.”
People, connections, respect, listening, helping, supporting – these are the things that good relationships and good schools are built upon.
Indeed, when schools are faced with closure, it is the sense of community loss, and of hard work and goodwill disappearing down the drain that causes many so much pain, as Catherine Savage discusses here:
To grow our students, we need strong schools.
To get a strong school we need a positive and supportive community inside and outside of school gate.
And to remain strong, there must understanding and support from Ministry of Education and the Minister.
Because at the end of the day, what matters most is the people, the people, the people.
Bryan Bruce Interviews Dr Catherine Savage on her work on School Closures, Redsky Television, Retrieved 12.43am 26.05/16, YouTube