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Education Initiative Gets Results In Sth Auckland

Education Minister Nick Smith today received the Strengthening Education in Mangere and Otara (SEMO) annual report, which shows that good progress is being made on improving student achievement in Mangere and Otara.

"I am really excited at the changes in South Auckland. Families are more supportive of their schools, and schools are being more innovative in the way they teach their students. The project is making great progress and we are seeing a real difference in the lives of South Auckland students. Government has committed $7.3 million to the project and I am confident we will continue to get results."

The project was established following a 1996 ERO report expressing concern at both the quality of schooling and student achievement in South Auckland. The three-year project, which began in October 1997 with a five strong Ministry of Education team, aims to increase student achievement in South Auckland by establishing a strong, 3-way, education partnership between the communities, their schools, and the Ministry of Education.

"Schools should be proud of their achievements to date and of the positive difference they are making in the South Auckland community. One school tells me of the unprecedented improvement in student literacy, with the involvement of families in an innovative literacy programme; a group of Mangere and Otara students and their families worked with Learning Media to publish a wall frieze and booklet providing key literacy messages for the home; and a group of Maori teachers, school leaders, families and agency representatives have formed a network to discuss ways to strengthen schooling for Maori students. These are things we would never have seen happen three years ago. SEMO is really changing perceptions and overcoming the historical mistrust and scepticism in the community, families and schools."

Two collaborative initiatives have been established by SEMO. Twenty eight schools are involved in the Communities in Schools via Literacy initiative which brings together families and school personnel, assisted by external experts, to provide a co-ordinated approach to literacy development. Twenty one schools are involved in the second initiative, Early Childhood Primary Link via Literacy, which brings together schools, families and early childhood settings to strengthen the transition to school and the delivery of education in the first two years at school. More initiatives will be developed by the SEMO team and the schools as the project proceeds.

"SEMO is inspiring families to support their local schools. We are seeing huge improvements in student achievement, strong leadership in our schools, committed teachers, and a community that recognises the importance of a good education. I am confident that we will see a turnaround in South Auckland. If we can improve the future for these young people, we will break the cycle of failure and it will be the start of a whole new generation of success."


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