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Fruitvale Road School

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The turnout of parents was the highest we have ever had, and they were able to be involved alongside their children, as well as to talk informally with the teachers, Principal, PTA, and Board of Trustee members.

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Aim/Focus: Community

To establish close and positive school/community partnerships that provide for quality regular physical activity (PA) experiences.

It is intended that having students participate in a range of curricular and co-curricular activities will lead to a positive and effective PA culture within the Fruitvale community.

Background

Strengthening community involvement with the school will create collaborative partnerships with parents, extended whanau, and local sporting associations, as well as with local businesses. These partnerships can be developed to better meet the needs of the Fruitvale students.

Previous attempts to involve parents in school activities have not been particularly successful, with maximum attendances of three to five parents.

Process undertaken

School activities such as Meet the Teacher evenings, intended to involve our school community, have previously been poorly attended. This led to a general apathy regarding parental involvement.

The 2006/Fruitvale Community Physical Activity Project (SCPAP) action plan provided an opportunity to elicit community involvement by using sport as a medium. February was traditionally the time for a Meet the Teacher gathering, and after much discussion about previous poor attendance and with our new Principal wanting to meet his school community, it was decided to underpin this annual event with a swimathon. The response, in contrast to previous years, was overwhelming, with great fun experienced by the students and parents. It was an easy and enjoyable way to mix informally with parents, and for parents to meet and get to know the Principal.

The need to strengthen home/school and community relationships became both a priority and an issue. Because the PA context had worked already, we surveyed the community to better understand their attitudes towards closer home/school relationships and towards sports and PA. The response to both was positive, and after enlisting the support of the Principal and teaching staff, it was decided that an afternoon/evening would be planned where the parents could come to school and take part in sporting activities alongside their children.

We formulated an action plan using the teachers’ expertise and integrating experts from our local PA and sports community, PTA, and Board of Trustees. Notices were sent home with students to gauge the level of support, and from here the students were put into teams, ensuring family groups were kept together. We planned to start the afternoon with food for the students and then Jump Jam. Next, the students separated into their teams and moved off to participate in tag rugby, league, hockey, soccer, gymnastics, parachute games, target frisbee, team building, golf, skipping, and netball, all happening simultaneously around the school. The students spent 15 minutes at each activity before rotating to the next.

All of the teachers were able to lead a sport on the evening, working alongside experts from Phoenix Gymnastics, Auckland Golf, Sport Waitakere, and Eden Rugby Club. The PTA ran a very successful raffle and sausage sizzle, ensuring the students were fuelled up and ready to be active. A guest celebrity, Beatrice Faumuina, was invited, and the Fruitvale Hip Hop group and local netball teams displayed their expertise.

Responsibilities

The key teachers liaised with the Principal, teachers, and school and sporting communities. They explored building and strengthening existing community partnerships using sport as a positive medium. On a personal level, teachers stayed beyond the school day and also learned new skills in order to successfully lead sporting activities. Teachers were also used as a contact point for local sporting organisations.

Resources

The largest resource comprised the teaching staff, PTA, Board of Trustees, and parents who helped out with activities on the night. The Active Schools Facilitator from Sport Waitakere provided advice and the contacts for sports and our guest celebrity. Phoenix Gymnastics, Eden Rugby, and Auckland Golf all provided activities and equipment. Les Mills supplied gym information and vouchers. The local Active Movement adviser had information on movement in early childhood and its effect on brain development. The New Lynn Tennis club and local sporting clubs and associations provided information and pamphlets.

Outcomes

The afternoon/evening was hugely successful. It has provided a platform on which other sport/cultural events that involve the school community can be built.

The turnout of parents was the highest we have ever had, and they were able to be involved alongside their children, as well as to talk informally with the teachers, Principal, PTA, and Board of Trustee members.

Parents who were interviewed were all enjoying the fact that their children were active and were able to do this at school.

The students were all happy and actively involved in sporting activities, and were able to experience activities that were outside the school norm, such as golf.

There was a huge sense of pride in the school.

The teachers involved were all extremely positive about the experience.

The local paper ran an article about the evening, which promoted the key aims of positive partnerships and PA.

Positive partnerships were built between Auckland Golf, Phoenix Gymnastics, and Hirepool (which provided lighting for the evening).

Reflection

Strengths

  • The school was portrayed in a positive light to our school community.
  • The opportunity for teachers, support staff, and Board of Trustee and PTA members to mix and talk informally with the Fruitvale parents/community, thereby strengthening and building important partnerships to aid the students’ learning.
  • Gaining more information from the local sport community about the opportunities available within the Fruitvale area.
  • A positive format for continuing to strengthen home/school partnerships.
  • Enabling teachers/PTA/board members to work collaboratively, thereby strengthening the collegiality within the school environment.

Weaknesses

  • The timeframe meant the only opportunity to hold the event was in winter.
  • Being weather-dependent meant the first attempt was rained off and rescheduling to the next week resulted in the loss of nine voluntary assistants.
  • We only had two evenings available, as the next term was dedicated to the school operetta.

Opportunities

  • Building stronger informal relationships with Fruitvale parents, including enabling them to mix and talk with the Board of Trustees and PTA, and building formal relationships with sporting organisations within our local and extended community.
  • Formulating a successful platform for further events of this type.
  • Developing collegiality among the extended Fruitvale staff.
  • Introducing the students to different sporting opportunities.

Threats

  •  Time – teachers, including the key teachers, all have heavy workloads and this evening was outside normal school working hours.
  • Weather – having to reschedule the event and maintain the full support of all involved.

Successes

  • The evening saw the largest turnout of parents for any sporting or Meet the Teacher-type informal event, and provided many opportunities for informally strengthening partnerships.
  • Partnerships have been formed with sports organisations, and these can be used within the school in the future.
  • Establishing a successful format that can be used in the future.

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