Glenholme Primary School ‘Whānau Whare’ a success

Glenholme Primary School is providing an alternative learning environment for a small group of tamariki requiring social, emotional, and behavioural support – a programme that is already proving its worth and supporting a transition to the classroom environment. The Whānau Whare supports the teaching of social and emotional skills, as well as self-regulation skills in a safe and inclusive environment with the outcome of transitioning them to the classroom when they are ready.

Now, Rotorua Trust is supporting the initiative with a $15,000 grant to cover a teacher aide salary for two terms to work with junior pupils in the new space.

Glenholme Primary School Board Trustee Donna Burns says the purpose of the programme is to ensure tamariki become successful learners that are achieving, participating and contributing at school.

“The sooner we identify these tamariki and engage them, the better chance we have to guide them so they have every opportunity to learn, grow, and become contributing members of society when they get older.

“The results have been incredible so far. Three Whānau Whare pupils have transitioned back into their class successfully for most of the day. The feedback from teachers has been very positive as they have noticed a huge change in these pupils, while parents have been overwhelmed with the improvements.”

Ms Burns says some of the growing issues of poverty, employment, and housing have led to an increase in the level of behavioural issues amongst school children.

“Sadly, last year we had a number of challenges with pupils who were aggressive and sometimes physically violent. Sadly, it’s not just the children struggling, it’s the teachers too.

“Our Assistant Principal visited another local school with a successful Nurture Room. After some research, we found that these types of programmes can be an effective way to address social and emotional skill development in children.“

The Whānau Whare currently has five pupils, with another expected to join this term. It has a kitchenette and TV area, with dedicated spaces for resting, playing, and learning.

“We are delighted to receive this funding from the Trust. The results have been incredible so far. We truly feel like we are able to make a difference with this room.”

Rotorua Trust Chairman Stewart Edward says children with behavioural issues need to be nurtured and taught social and emotional skills that they may not have developed at home.

“The dedicated classroom for children is essential, not only so that these children are supported, but also for the wellbeing of the teachers, other pupils, and to ensure they have the best possible start to their education.”