Outbreak of twins keeps school guessing

DOUBLE-UPS: The twins and pupils of St Paul’s School in Richmond.
DOUBLE-UPS: The twins and pupils of St Paul’s School in Richmond.

Teachers are seeing double at St Paul's Catholic School in Richmond this year.

With a roll of only 220 pupils, this year the school has nine sets of twins.

Principal John Dorman said he had no idea why the school would have such a high number of twins, and he was the only one who seemed to get them confused.

He said the school usually had two classes at each year level so the twins got split, although sometimes parents wanted to keep them in the same class.

"We kind of have a policy of separating them. It's quite good for them to have their own identities.

"Sometimes they are seen [in society] as a unit, not as an individual."

Five of St Paul's sets of twins are fraternal with the other four being identical. Another twin is at the school, but her brother is homeschooled.

Identical twin Megan Fisk said she had not realised there were so many pairs at the school because they did not all look the same.

Megan's sister, Georgina, said the school was a "twin magnet". She said they had even thought about swapping classes to confuse their teachers.

According to the New Zealand Multiple Births Association, 2 per cent of births in New Zealand result in twins. Of those, a quarter are identical.

Carolyn Lister, president of the association, said the high number of twins at St Paul's could just be a random coincidence and there were a number of factors that could cause higher rates of multiple births.

"For example, there is a higher chance of multiples with older mothers.

"Identical twins are said to be totally random, although in odd cases there do seem to be clusters."

She said the association's view was that schools should not have a specific policy on separating twins.

The decision should be made on a case by case basis, Lister said.

"Some twins work better together and others separate and it comes down to the individual's relationships and how much they function on their own or as a unit."

As a parent of twins, Lister said it was important to work in with the school to find what was most suitable for their children.

"Get both parents' and teachers' perspectives as I've found relationships between twins can be quite different in a school environment versus home."

The Nelson Mail