End of parent-teacher interviews?
One Porirua school is turning the traditional parent-teacher interview on its head.
Asking a parent to feel comfortable enough to ask hard questions of teachers, or understand all the information about their child, in just 10 minutes was not feasible any more, Holy Family School principal Chris Theobald said.
So he is introducing a programme in which support worker Metua Tengaru visits each of the school’s 120 families in their homes for an hour, three times a year.
‘‘It’s not another job to be ticked. It’s a chance to connect and make a difference for a family, for our children,’’ Theobald said.
‘‘We want to make the parents feel involved with the school, and comfortable enough to ask the hard questions of our teachers.’’
The problem wasn’t that parents weren’t thinking about the hard questions, or didn’t want to be involved. Sometimes they simply didn’t think they had the right, or only spoke up when there was trouble.
Theobald said Tengaru was known in the community through her work for the school and the church, so was well placed to be the point of contact for parents.
She would work closely with acting deputy principal Gina Lefaoseu to run the programme at the decile 1 Catholic school.
‘‘It needed to be someone parents would be comfortable having in their homes.
‘‘When the principal rings up, parents think there’s trouble. If I went to do this, everyone would be on their best behaviour and the connection we want to make would take longer to establish.’’
‘‘It’s not another job to be ticked. It’s a chance to connect and make a difference for a family, for our children.’’
The school will also run workshops for parents on the New Zealand education system, because terms such as national standards, NCEA, Star, EasTTle, OTJs and stanines were often used by teachers, but not understood by parents.
Liana Leiataua, who has three children at Holy Family, was one of the trial families for the programme and said she could not imagine going back to the old parent-teacher interview.
‘‘It doesn’t give a full representation of where your child is at, and is very limited in the infor- mation they can give you in the time,’’ she said.
‘‘There’s a lot of information to talk about in just 10 minutes.’’
Lefaoseu said the school had already had positive results, with improved attendance and homework and more parents coming into the school to see what was happening.
– Chris Theobald Liana Leiataua and her 3 daughters, from left, Ella, 9, Eterei, 7, and Vaolupe Leiataua-Finau, 10.