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Corinna School

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The development of strong relationships requires a deliberate approach to the inclusion of parents/caregivers in all aspects of school activities.

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Aim/Focus: Community

  • Developing school–parent relationships through a Family Fun Afternoon.

Background

Corinna School is in Waitangirua, Porirua City. The school population of approximately 315 is 70% Pacific Island, 25% Māori, with European, Asian, African and other nationalities making up the balance of 5%.

Parents and caregivers in our school community are interested in and committed to their children’s success through education. Developing Home–School Partnerships was the basis of our approach for consultation in mathematics and literacy in 2006, and it was agreed we would use a similar approach for health and physical education (PE) in 2007.

We had felt that every effort was made in previous years to ensure our consultation approach and parent–teacher interaction processes were as inclusive and as fully supported as possible. However, typically only about nine or ten parents/caregivers per class level group (about 36 to 40 in total) attended the informal briefings in each of the previous two years. We felt there was potential to improve the level of parent/caregiver participation in school activities.

Corinna School has been actively reviewing all areas of the curriculum over the last few years, including an outcomes-based approach to physical education. The School Community Physical Activity Project (SCPAP) project provided an excellent opportunity to build on the strengths of our parent/caregiver relationships, the work undertaken within the PE curriculum and, at the same time, to try a different approach to encourage greater parent/caregiver participation and involvement.

Process undertaken

A planning meeting involving the Deputy Principal and health and PE teams was held in early February 2006.

A Family Fun Afternoon concept was developed and objectives drafted. The idea was presented for discussion at a subsequent staff meeting. The idea was endorsed, developed, and the aims and objectives were agreed. Staff promoted and supported the idea of a whole-school approach to this event.

Objectives

The Family Fun Afternoon concept provided an opportunity:

  • for parents/caregivers and staff to meet each other in a relaxed, informal environment
  • to inform parents/caregivers of initiatives being developed at Corinna School to ensure that students are given information and opportunities to enable them to make choices to be healthy and active
  • to encourage parent/caregiver support and involvement in the achievement of our health and physical activity goals
  • to foster parent/caregiver and school relationships to encourage ongoing active participation in all aspects of their children’s education.

Format

The format of the afternoon was planned in three parts:

  1. Games and activities involving students and parents/caregivers 
  2. A presentation to parents/caregivers by the regional Active Schools Facilitator
  3. Sausage sizzle, fruit kebabs, drink – mixes and mingles.

The date was set for Thursday, 22 February from 3.30pm to 5.00pm, and the students wrote the invitations to parents and caregivers.

One of the wider school goals in 2007 was to develop the student voice within our school community. Year 7 and 8 students were involved in the development of games and running a ‘tabloid’ sports day at the end of 2006. It was decided to involve them in the development of the games and activities for the Family Fun Afternoon.

What happened on the day:

  • 3.30pm to 4.00pm, physical activity/games: skipping, Jump Jam, volleyball, fun relays, and Italian golf. 
  • 4.00pm to 4.30pm, hui: kōrero with whānau and Active Schools Facilitator outlining how whānau can be involved, a brief promotion on Pioneer Families, and wrap-up/thanks by the Principal, Kerry Hoskin.
  • 4.30pm to 5.00pm, kai: sausages, bread, and sauce; fruit kebabs; drinks; mix and mingle; visit classrooms and chat with teachers.

Students were involved in the preparation of fruit kebabs, sausages and drinks, equipment set-up, and the running of the games and activities. Teachers and teacher aides manned the barbecue, mixed and mingled with parents/caregivers, and chatted informally with them in their children’s classrooms.

Outcomes

The Family Fun Afternoon resulted in attendance by 274 parents/caregivers and whānau, in addition to students.

Seventy-eight parents/caregivers met in the classroom with their child’s teacher. This was a 216% increase in parents/caregivers who visited classrooms, and a 760% increase in parents who had visited the school over the previous year.

A number of parents/caregivers indicated that they would be prepared to be involved in supporting activities at school or at inter-school sports events.

Corinna School is a member of the Porirua Primary Schools Sports Association. We participate in two inter-school sports tournaments each term, in addition to other one-off events such as the Pelorus Trust Stadium Sports and the NZ Cricket Players Association Hooked on Cricket tournament.

In past years, we have struggled to gain sufficient parent/caregiver support, so Safety Action Plan requirements have been met totally by teachers and teacher support staff.

In contrast, in 2007 the Pelorus Trust Stadium Sports and each sports cluster event received excellent support and involvement from parents/caregivers. All teams have had adult parent/caregiver leaders and additional adults present to support their children.

Reflection

Why was it successful?

  • The Family Fun Afternoon was run as a whole-school project, encouraging parent/caregiver participation. 
  • Aims and objectives were developed, discussed, and agreed as a whole staff.
  • Students were engaged through preparation of invitations to their own parents/caregivers.
  • Senior students were involved in the development and running of activities on the day.
  • Students were involved in the preparation and distribution of food.

Next steps

  • Ongoing development of all curriculum areas, including health and physical education
  • Development of student focus groups to enhance student voice within the school community. Current focus is on playground activities and facilities
  • Ongoing development of Pioneer Families for Better Health
  • Inter-school sports activities through Porirua Primary Schools Sports Association
  • Promotion of healthy eating – provision of healthy food options through the school canteen
  • Providing appropriate in-school skill development for students, for example, tackle skills through the Youth Development Officer of North’s Rugby Club, soccer skills through Olé Soccer Academy, and extension to the aquatics programme for seniors to include water safety
  • Further parent/caregiver school-based fun activities, for example Whānau (Family) Sports Day.

Many of these steps also provide a sound base for ongoing development of active and positive relationships between the school and parent/caregivers under the Home–School Partnership umbrella.

The development of strong relationships requires a deliberate approach to the inclusion of parents/caregivers in all aspects of school activities.

The process used in the planning and implementation of the Family Fun Afternoon provides a model for future inclusion and participation of our parents/caregivers in all aspects of their children’s education.


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