Tamariki School

Special Character

Extract from the Integration Agreement 1990

Our Special Character is officially defined as...

Providing an education along the lines of the principles developed by A.S. Neill, the essential elements of which are:

  • A value for emotional, physical, spiritual and social, as well as intellectual, development.
  • A value for group involvement.
  • A value for trust, co-operation and emotional health.
  • A respect for individual learning rates and patterns.

Introducing the Tamariki School Special Character Statement

Prior to becoming a state-integrated school, the Tamariki community developed a Statement that included the aims of the school and an explanation of how the Special Character, described in the Integration Agreement, would be achieved. The Statement provided a way for the school to clarify how it was interpreting the principles of A.S. Neill, and to provide a guide for the operation of the school. Since then, the statement has only been changed in a minor way (to alter the grammar used or improve readability).

The Statement includes eight areas of emphasis; 

What we value at Tamariki…
  1. Emotional and social growth
  1. Close relationships
  1. Participation in rule-making and group meetings
  1. Child-control over learning
  1. Self-reflection and goal setting
  1. Learning through play
  1. Child-control over environment & resources
  1. Involvement of whanau

The Tamariki School Special Character Statement

Tamariki’s aims have been summarised as:

  • To equip each child, according to the child’s nature and talents, to lead a personally satisfying life, and to be an effective and contributing member of a democratic society.
  • To be a supportive community that nurtures its members.

There are eight main areas of emphasis:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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. The focus of teaching strategies is to acknowledge and support what children do well, and use these strengths in areas of weakness. We reject norm-referenced tests and examinations as incompatible with our emphasis on the individual. However, private assessments are seen as being useful at times. Competition is not regarded as a desirable learning activity.
  6. 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 and junk materials. We also respect the child’s need at times to be still and quiet.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.


This page was last modified on: 17 Jun 2017 01:56:32