Auckland lawyers appeal pupils' homework

Pupils Hingano Malakai and Mele-Folau Kamitoni show their work off to law clerk Laura Eaton.
ALASTAIR LYNN / FAIRFAX NZ

Pupils Hingano Malakai and Mele-Folau Kamitoni show their work off to law clerk Laura Eaton.

Litigation, affidavits and depositions are not what you would typically find in the classroom.

But that hasn't stopped clued-up lawyers trading the courtroom for some impromptu lessons in maths, science or English.

And the pupils of Wesley Primary School are soaking up this new wealth of knowledge.

Ako Hiko Education Trust patron Phil Goff helps  Alipate Vaka, William Pasa and Jairus Hulbert-Matthews with their homework.
ALASTAIR LYNN / FAIRFAX NZ

Ako Hiko Education Trust patron Phil Goff helps Alipate Vaka, William Pasa and Jairus Hulbert-Matthews with their homework.

Every Wednesday staff from law firm MinterEllisonRuddWatts head along to the school to share their expertise in the Homework Help Club.

Partner Stacey Shortall began the project in Wellington to connect staff with the community; it's ongoing success has since seen it expand.

Construction and property lawyer Janine Stewart has taken up the baton for Auckland.

Lawyer Rob Harris, left, and administration assistant Sebastian Bennett get swept up in Sopheighra Leota, Lillian Akeli ...
ALASTAIR LYNN/FAIRFAX NZ

Lawyer Rob Harris, left, and administration assistant Sebastian Bennett get swept up in Sopheighra Leota, Lillian Akeli and Anaiyah Latu's school work.

"I thought it was a fantastic idea to share our experience with what hopefully helps children and has a positive influence," she says.

"Kids need a range of mentors so this is just a critical way we can provide that because there's such a wealth of knowledge available schools perhaps normally can't tap into."

The homework club began in term 2 and has quickly increased in popularity with 55 pupils now attending the weekly sessions.

Wesley Primary School principal Brenda Martin says a homework club wouldn't be able to operate without the help of volunteers.

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"Parents were really pushing for a homework programme then this opportunity came along."

Martin says the weekly sessions have had a lasting impact on the pupils.

"It can be torrential rain, they still come.

"Building those relationships over time has been really valuable. It's the end of the school day but they're still here and they're highly engaged.

"The help not only builds capacity in our young people but gives them opportunities to be exposed to a wider range of role models."

The project combines with the Ako Hiko Education Trust to ensure children at low decile schools have equal learning opportunities.

Wesley School is one of eight low decile schools in central Auckland to receive ongoing technological support.

Ako Hiko patron Phil Goff says the partnership helps make school a more exciting place.

"It's something that brings the whole community together," he says.

"The more we can encourage that, the stronger a well-rounded education will be."

 - Stuff

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