Role of parents
In New Zealand, parents are encouraged to be involved with their children's education and in touch with their schools.
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As a parent, you decide when you need to contact your child's school. But there is one situation where you must contact the school - that is if your child is going to be absent for any reason.
Attending school full time is compulsory between the ages of six and 16, so you must let the school know if your child cannot attend.
Keeping in touch with your child's education
There are many ways you can keep in touch with what is happening at your child's school:
- Schools regularly give children newsletters to take home. Ask your children if they have a newsletter for you - they often get lost in their school bags
- Keep in touch with the teachers at the school. You can make an appointment to talk with them at any time
- There are also regular 'parent-teacher interviews' (meetings between parents and teachers to discuss your child's progress). These are usually held in evenings after work hours.
There is a helpful booklet in PDF format on the Education Review Office (ERO) website. It has more information on how parents can keep in touch with their children’s schooling.
Helping your children at home
Parents in New Zealand are expected to support their children's education when the children are at home. For example, you should encourage your children to do any homework the school has set and help them with it if needed.
Different schools have different policies on homework. Some set homework for older students but not younger ones. Others set homework for all their students.
You should ensure there is somewhere quiet in your home where children can do their homework. A good ideas is to set up a routine that allows your children enough time for their homework.
There is more information on the Ministry of Education’s website. This site also has helpful information and tips on how you can get involved in your child's learning while they are at primary and secondary school.
Helping with course choices
When your child starts secondary school it is important they choose subjects and courses that will lead them into the sort of work they want to do. You have an important role in helping them decide on the right courses.
The careers.govt.nz website has excellent advice for students and their parents.
There are tools available on the government's Youth Guarantee website that can help young people develop 'career maps' and plan what to study to get the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) qualifications they need to meet their goals.
Getting involved in the school community
There are two main ways you can get more involved your child's school community. You can:
- become part of a parent group, or
- join the Board of Trustees (BOT), or
- do both.
Parent Teacher Associations
Parent groups are also known as Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs).
PTAs are groups of parents who come together to support their children's education. They are fairly informal and can choose their own role in the school.
PTAs usually do things like:
- raise funds for special projects
- facilitate communication between home and school
- support parents as partners in their child's education.
The Ministry of Education and NZ Parent Teacher’s Association websites both have more information.
Board of Trustees
A Board of Trustees (BOT) is made up of parent representatives, staff members and sometimes representatives of other groups such as students, Maori, Church, etc. It is a statutory body (set up by law and authorised to enforce legislation), and must comply with many regulations.
The BOT sets the strategic direction for the school and makes sure legal requirements are being met (known as 'governance'). Candidates must be able to live in New Zealand for a full 12 months.
The School Trustees Association website has more information.