The Values from the Special Character
These values come from the eight main areas of emphasis developed to describe our Special Character. Refer Appendix A – Special Character.
Emotional and social growth
Emotional and social growth are regarded as the base for cognitive development, and strategies which support these growths have priorities over all other activities. Tamariki operates in many ways more like an extended family, offering support and encouragement to all its members. It seeks homeliness and limits its numbers to sixty so that all members may know everyone else. Children mix freely irrespective of their age or gender.
The school values and works to achieve close relationships between teachers and children, children and children, and parents and teachers. These are based on trust, and we accept that children may need to test the reliability of teachers before learning takes place. Teachers are expected to be emotionally nurturing of the children, willing to cuddle them and to accept as natural a child’s need for physical contact. Teachers are also expected to physically restrain and hold a child when appropriate.
Participation in rule making and group meetings
The children are deeply involved in creating and maintaining the social structures by which the school functions. This involves rule-making and dispute resolution through the mechanism of whole school and small meetings, which, when called take priority over all other activities. The school rejects punishments as a source of control or as a response to inappropriate behaviour.
Learning under child's control
The child’s learning is to a very great extent under the child’s own control. In this way children can genuinely advance at their own pace in response to their unique developmental sequence. Attendance at classes is generally voluntary, and exceptions must be justified. Such justification would normally be that the child is afraid of taking the risk of failing and compulsion would be applied for a limited period mutually agreed, to carry the child over the risk period. Mistakes are regarded as important learning information and public grading is NEVER done. The child’s learning belongs to the child, therefore the child is responsible to itself for this learning—a teacher can assist and support, but is not responsible for the outcomes chosen by the child. No adult has the right to demand to see the child’s work and such access is always under the child’s control. There are no class stratifications until the child enters Year 7. Children always work at their individual level of competence.
Learning follows own developmental patterns
Children can genuinely advance at their own pace in response to their unique developmental sequence and their individual level of competence.
The focus of teaching strategies is to acknowledge and support what children do well, and use these strengths in areas of weakness. We do not use norm-referenced tests as they are incompatible with our emphasis on the individual. However, we do use criterion-based assessment methods to assess the children on an individual basis against the New Zealand curriculum, and their progress is monitored. Other private assessments are seen as being useful at times. Competition is not regarded as a desirable learning activity.
Self-reflection and goal setting
The children are encouraged at all times in all areas to compare their work and skills with their own previous achievements and their own goals. Self-examination is constantly fostered, and the capacity to use a skill and to generalise from it, is taken as demonstrating possession of that skill.
Working with individual strengths
As mentioned, the focus of teaching strategies is to acknowledge and support what children do well, and use these strengths in areas of weakness.
Learning through play
Play is regarded as children’s work. By playing with ideas and objects they develop functioning cognitions about their world. The children may and do use all the materials in the school for their own purposes. We require an environment in which unstructured play freely occurs, with access to trees, sand, water, mud, junk materials, puzzles, games and other resources. We also respect the child’s need at times to be still and quiet.
Control over environment
The children have a very large measure of control over the environment and the adults in the school recognise the environment as a most important resource for children’s development in all areas. Accordingly, they will defer their need for an orderly and tidy environment to the child’s need to experience cause and effect; to experience why order and tidiness are desirable. The school values and fosters a child’s full and committed engagement in any activity and this engagement can be inhibited by a concern about mess, so we accept that mess may be created at times.
Involvement of whanau
Parents are welcome in the school, have unrestricted all-day access, and are not required to fill any particular role. In keeping with the school’s function as an extension of the family, pre-school siblings are welcome and enjoyed by the children.
The Values from the NZ Curriculum
The values of the New Zealand Curriculum are woven into Tamariki school culture in a manner that reflects Tamariki Schools’ Special Character.
· Children are encouraged to apply their focus and energy to the learning that they are engaged in
· Acknowledging an aspect of each child’s unique pursuits through an end of year award created especially for them
· Reflecting the child’s achievements back to them through discussion and learning stories
· Supporting children through difficult steps or stages
Innovation, Inquiry and Curiosity
· Child initiated play and activities
· Small and large meetings/hui
· Resource freedom and responsibility
· Enthusiasm in sharing interests
· Rulemaking, school governance, democracy
· Working and playing together
· Opportunities such as hut building
· Development of economies e.g. the kids fair, restaurants and cafes, selling rides on child made carts and bikes. All of these are part of the children’s free play
· Gaming - the games range from card, board and computer games to physical games. Some of these are child created and developed and others are pre constructed
· Mistakes are considered as learning opportunities
· High adult to learner ratio
· Involvement of the community to share topics of interest
· Freedom to inquire and follow own interests, skils and talents
· Easy transition and connection between learning at home and school (J Holt)
· Reflection through internal thought and with others
Refer to Bob’s Play research in the Appendix (to be inserted). This describes an observation of a group of children playing over a period of a few days, and offers insight into how through play the values of innovation, inquiry and curiosity are developed.
We foster and celebrate diversity through:
· Tamariki School meeting system and conflict resolution
· Children role playing to experience being another person, creature or tribal group, and in consequence they gain insight into how others live
· Community life
· Respect for all people regardless of race, religion or social background
· Tamariki school community is inclusive of children with special needs
Tamariki Schools Special Character is ingrained in values which ensure equity, social justice and fairness. Equity at Tamariki School is experienced through:
· Tamariki School’s meeting system where all members of the community have equal rights to vote, bring concerns to the community and everyone’s voice is heard.
· All children’s contributions are valued
· Competition is not regarded as a desirable learning activity
· Tamariki Schools Teaching Practice (refer to pointers of good teaching practice)
Community and Participation
We support community and participation by;
· Operating like an extended family
· Providing a place where children of all ages and stages interact, play and learn alongside each other
· Parents and extended whanau have all day unrestricted access to the school
· Pre-schoolers are very welcome at Tamariki and the children’s’ emotional intelligence and community participation is truly enriched by their presence
· Using the small meeting system for conflict resolution
· Using the whole school meetings for rule making and decision making
Ecological Sustainability is further developed through:
· Using trash to create treasures e.g. cardboard boxes, wood, scrap material
· Access to our conversation area alongside the creek at the back of the school
· Highlighting our impact on the environment
· The children’s gardens, fruit trees and caring for nature
Personal integrity is developed through a culture that:
· Is non-competitive
· Values personal growth highly (considering needs, setting goals and reaching them)
· Is respectful and emotionally safe
· Supports children through their personal difficulties at school
· Follows tikanga Maori regarding ako (genuine learning) as sacred
· Assumes that the children are responsible for their behaviour
· Involves children in dispute resolution
· Supports children when they ask for help
· Holds each child accountable to the other children for their behaviour – and maintains this via the request and meeting system.
Developed through a culture that:
· Values different ways of doing and seeing things
· Values other backgrounds and viewpoints through discussion in meetings
· Models respectful language during tense moments through the request system ‘I request you not to…’
· Teaches that at Tamariki nobody hurts or “puts down” each other or themselves. Swearing is accepted but put-downs are never an acceptable form of behavior.
· Cares for the environment
· Cares for other people’s property – you may not touch another person’s property without their permission.
· Follows tikanga Maori regarding respecting the tinana (physical body)