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Celebrating success at Opunake Primary School

Filed under: Productive partnerships

Tags: Te Mana Kōrero




Family and whānau are a critical audience for students’ work and achievement. Creating opportunities for the celebration of learning is a feature of the Integrated Studies programme at Opunake.

Kay Mourie – Teacher, Opunake Primary School

They’re not just writing it to go into their book and nobody else ever reads it. There’s going to be an audience, and one of the audience is going to be their parents because it’s for their portfolio.

Leo Frank – Teacher, Opunake Primary School

There’s constant talk about what we’re doing at the moment, how it’s going to be presented, what it’s going to look like.

Lorraine Williamson – Principal, Opunake Primary School

Some of the parents come through during the day, but they come back again in the evening with other whānau and their kids to have another look. And the standard of student work has just continued to improve because they have an authentic audience. And we can’t really talk... enough about how important that is.

We’ve often thought, ‘well, maybe we’d just go to one open day per year, or two open days’. But we get such amazing feedback from parents and community, and from other schools now who want to come and have a look, that really open days have become part of the culture of the school. A lot of people make comments to me that they wish school had been like that when they were at school. And they really like that their kids are engaging, and they’re learning, and that we’re trying to make school a good place for them to be.

When parents come to an open day, it’s not just a static display of some projects. The kids will actually be there with a science project, explaining how it works, or they will be doing the experiment while the parents are there.

Kay Mourie

I had a young man started in my class beginning of this year. Hadn’t seen open days before, had no realisation of what they were. And the first one, he hadn’t completed any work. Dad comes up, looks around, sees everything – and that boy was embarrassed. Even though I’d tried really hard to lift the standard of his work, and got the best I could out of him... Then the next open day it was like two years’ progress. The presentation, the use of colour, all that sort of thing – but also the content. He realised that two or three sentences, that he thought were acceptable initially – “Hey, that’s nowhere near what my Dad wants me to do. And my Dad looked at my mate’s work, and their work the first time had heaps more than I did, and I’m just as good as they are”.

Claire McLean - Parent, Opunake Primary School

Just actually seeing their faces light up, you know. That’s for them just learning, coming to school, wanting to come, learning what they do here. And it’s just amazing to me.

Debbie Cooksley and Carmen Quinnell – Parents, Opunake Primary School

They’re so proud to show off their work as well, because they know it’s of their best standard.

Richard Travers - Parent, Opunake Primary School

Open days and anything like this tells you more than a report card. The report card to me is a lot of writing on a piece of paper, but it doesn’t really explain what the kids have learned.

Kay Mourie

The children are proud of themselves, so the parents are proud of them. And we, as teachers, are darn proud of them too.

Lorraine Williamson

I think now when parents come into the school, we are focusing on curriculum and education, and learning, and teaching, and they’re quite positive conversations with people. It’s no longer, sort of like, you get a phone call from the principal because your kid’s been playing up, and that’s all you get. You get that communication. I think I now see people for lots more positive reasons.

Family and whānau are a critical audience for students’ work and achievement. Creating opportunities for the celebration of learning is a feature of the Integrated Studies programme at Opunake Primary School. (Extract from ‘Te ManaKōrero: Relationships for Learning’, 2007).

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