Parents group seeks voice at Raglan Area School

A group of about 20 parents who want a voice in their children’s education held their first meeting at Raglan Area School last week.

Organiser Tara Wrigley says the group – parents of children of all ages at RAS – brainstormed ideas about what they wanted to achieve regarding communication with the school and having an input into their children’s education.

Tara, who has two children at RAS (Tawhia in year 7 and Sylvan in year 6), says she started the group because she felt like she wasn’t hearing about what the school had to offer.

“I did the classic thing mid-way through last year that many RAS parents do. I started thinking ‘right, what school is Tawhia going to go to for years 7 and 8’.”

Tara says she started looking at other schools in Hamilton and spoke to Bronwyn Taihana, the head of years 0-10, about why her son – “who must be one of RAS’s biggest fans” – should continue his education in Raglan.

“I told her I felt like things hadn’t changed that much since I’d been in to see her the year before. Bronwyn was so disappointed to hear that I felt like that and she explained to me all the reasons why she felt that it had. So many wonderful things were happening, especially in that years 7 to 10 area. Better student engagement, less behaviour issues, more options so that the students could all find something they loved, and more focus on interpersonal skills that will really help in later years.

“I was blown away. I just didn’t understand why I wasn’t hearing about these things. I thought if I’m not getting the information then surely other parents aren’t either.”

Tara says communication is a big thing for the parents group.

“The paper notices in the bottom of bags as the main means to communicate does frustrate me. But I also want to know what is being taught to my kids, what the school’s philosophy on education is, what are the school’s goals and objectives?

“I want to know so that I can have a voice. I want the opportunity to agree or disagree, to propose new ideas. That is what we’re doing here in this Parents Group: giving parents a voice.”

Tara says she feels strongly that a parents group can support and contribute to the school, and thereby the children and the community.

“There are so many unique things about Raglan Area School: it’s amazing location, the fact that it caters from years one through to 13, the school’s strong bicultural identity, and the fact that we don’t discriminate based on how smart you are, or how good at sports you are, or on how wealthy you are. It’s about taking this great starting point and thinking about how we can help to make it better.”

Tara says Finland has one of the best education systems in the world and they credit the reason why as parent involvement.

Inger Vos

* The next meeting of the Raglan Area School Parents Group is on March 7, 6.30pm to 7.30pm, in the school staff room. All parents of children at RAS are invited to attend. The group has a Facebook page that parents can join for more information.