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Community-focused schooling success

HAMISH MACLEAN
Last updated 05:00 19/12/2012
WE Connect

CONNECTED YOUTH: Students at WE Connect have shown a new enthusiasm for learning, their teachers say. And it’s due to getting them engaged in their community.

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A new approach to schooling has wrapped up its first term in Kaikohe.

WE Connect is designed to get kids engaged and focused on helping their community. Teachers at Kaikohe West and Kaikohe East schools say it is an inspiring success.

Te Ahua Park from Kaikohe West and Stevie Woodman from Kaikohe East say they hope their students' successes can be used as a model for future efforts.

They say the programme looks for changes in education that will allow students to do more in the community.

Keeping lessons relevant will keep pupils engaged, Ms Park says.

Classes met in a central Kaikohe location over the term in a space gifted by Top Energy and spent a lot of time focused on how to make the town they love better.

"We think it's a great place," Ms Park says.

But the kids identified issues that worry them in Kaikohe and issues were brought forward by community groups.

Five key issues that emerged for the children are: Vandalism Bicycle safety Litter Saving Castle Duo Helping out the small businesses in town.

"They're really quite mature students for their perception of town and what they think needs to be changed and what's happening," Ms Park says.

Ms Park says a lack of that understanding has led to vandalism in Kaikohe over the years.

They eat their lunch in the skate park at Memorial Park in Kaikohe, a short walk away from their base in the Top Energy building.

The children have started to take ownership of the park.

When they arrived one day to see the skate park hit by vandals the class was "gutted", Ms Woodman says. "They were like, ‘this is our park, we have lunch here, somebody has done this to our park' - that's cool."

Ms Park says she'd like to see more schools around Kaikohe getting involved in the kind of community learning.

And Ms Woodman suggests teachers in Kaikohe should ask how they can implement the same kind of thinking in all classes.

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