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Fono looks at way forward for education in South Auckland

7 September, 2012

Fono looks at way forward for education in South Auckland

A fono in South Auckland on September 15 will be focussing on how we make every local school a great school and respond in particular to the needs of Maori and Pasifika learners.

The event will include people from the community and the education sector.

One of the speakers is Shirley Maihi, principal of Finlayson Park School, Manurewa, Auckland who says one of the keys to lifting achievement in Maori and Pasifika students is to nuture their first language.

She says the skills learnt in their first language development, are then transferrable to learning the second language and this assists with reducing language delays.

“Data analysis and research has been well-documented over a long period of time. This certainly is the way to lift achievement in Maori and Pasifika students.”

She says all teachers at her school have completed TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) training or are in TESOL training.

“With that goes a different style of learning and pedagogy. The methodology is different and there is more interactive (learning) in the classroom which suits the way Maori and Pasifika children learn.”

Another of the speakers, Ant Backhouse, project director at the I Have a Dream mentoring programme, which aims to improve learning in children from low-income communities, says that one of the keys to success for children from many low-income families is to offer a long-term consistent wraparound approach to help children within the mainstream education system.

This includes advocating for the student and their family as well as giving them support, to engage in their education.

“It is about developing quality relationships with the kids, and connecting them with their school, family, mentors, peers, tutors and wider community” he says.

He says poverty presents challenges for student achievement, with some families having to go the extra-mile for their children to succeed.

Ant gives the example of a student who wakes at 3am to help her dad on a paper round before she goes to school because they are doing their best to meet the family’s needs.

“And some children have to look after nieces, nephews and siblings while their parents work.”

NZEI Area Council chair and principal at May Road School, Lynda Stuart, says many community groups have expressed an interest in the fono and will be attending.

She says the attack on education is something that affects the whole community and the whole community wants to get involved.

Some of the guests at the fono include Professor Martin Thrupp who will talk about National Standards and league tables and John O’Neill, Professor at Massey University and Peter O’Connor, Associate Professor at Auckland University Faculty of Education, who will speak about charter schools.

Other speakers include Gil Laurensen, principal of Otahuhu College and a panel discussion entitled “What will make the difference for Pasifika students?” includes Jacqui Passi, a teacher at Waitakere College; Damon Salesa, Associate Professor for Pasifika Studies at the University of Auckland; Efeso Collins, Samoan Youth Advocate; Shirley Maihi, principal of Finlayson Park School and Ant Backhouse.

South Auckland Education Fono, 9am-2pm, Saturday, 15 September, Otahuhu Town Hall.


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