8 Apr 2019

Christchurch Dilemmas: How to save a school

From Christchurch Dilemmas, 10:22 am on 8 April 2019

It’s a huge task to turn a school around, when the roll is dropping and there’s little love from the locals.

At West Spreydon School it’s taken a decade.

It’s also taken courage, inspiring leadership and dozens of working bees to make the school the pride of its community.

This week Frank Film examines how a small, committed group of local parents set a plan in place to make their school great again.

In 2017, a Canterbury University study revealed that each year in Christchurch, high school students alone travel a combined 71,000 kms extra, to attend schools outside of the communities they live in.

For many parents there remains a perception that the local school isn’t going to meet their child’s educational and/or emotional needs.

West Spreydon School Principal, Marriene Langton, says all it takes is one or two dissatisfied parents to leave a school, and others follow.

Word spreads like wildfire. The local school is no good.

So how do you change those perceptions? How do you turn a school around and make it the school of choice?

West Spreydon knows how. Faced with a plummeting school roll and a disenfranchised community, a group of Spreydon parents put a “stake in the ground”.

Leading the way was Duane Major - the man who would go on to save a beach, with the campaign to ensure Awaroa Beach remained in Kiwi ownership.

“The beach campaign was borne out of this context, where people pull together and do stuff together.”

When Frank Film visited West Spreydon School, it was welcoming new families to the school community with a mihi whakatau and hangi. Over 400 pupils, parents, caregivers and teachers had turned up.

This is their story.

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Photo: Supplied

For all Frank stories visit www.frankfilm.co.nz