From The Aucklander, 21st May 2009
[b]Check it all out at school[/b]
[i]A West Auckland school has set up a centre geared to giving parents good advice, as Debrin Foxcroft discovers.[/i]
Need a lawyer? Check.
Need a Justice of the Peace?
Need a public health nurse?
Need a budget specialist or tough love expert? Check and check.
These services for parents are now on offer at a local primary school. The way that Matipo Primary School sees it, the future role of the school is to be a community centre.
In the empty dental clinic, principal Wayne Bainbridge has created a drop-in parent centre, one of the first for a primary school in West Auckland.
“The idea is that parents will have a wrap-around drop-in centre,” he says. “It seems like such a simple idea, I am surprised that no government or local authority has provided it in the past.”
From June 9, parents of Matipo students will be able to take their children to school and be able to have access to a JP, tough love behaviour advice, a budget service, nurse and
lawyer. The free services will be available once a month.
“Schools are the centre of the community,” says Mr Bainbridge. “So here is a real service for parents, an opportunity to tackle issues before they become major problems.”
The idea has been percolating for a while. It has taken time to coordinate schedules.
“These specialists are people with knowledge who all live [in] and are involved in the local community,” he says. “And they have volunteered their time.”
Mr Bainbridge is realistic about the possible responses from parents in the first few months of the service.
“It may not be that popular straight away, but once parents realise that the centre is up and running and there for them, I think it will be good, he says.
“Knowledge is power for parents.” Carol Ngawati, chairwoman of Waitakere Education Sector Trust, says more and more schools around the country are looking seriously at the
value of wrap-around services.
“This is about looking at the whole child and that includes the family,” she says. “Schools are once again becoming the hub of communities. It’s the way it used to be way back in the day.”
Teachers can spend so much time trying to help children with what’s going on in their lives outside school that it distracts from their education. A drop-in centre like this one offers families information and help that they need, letting teachers get back to the job of teaching.
Mr Bainbridge agrees. “The core purpose of a school is the kids. This service for parents is being set up with the ultimate hope to put in early interventions to help kids and families. It ultimately helps their education.”