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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Mostly it’s entirely voluntary, but there is one situation where contacting the school is required - that’s if your child is going to be absent for any reason. Attending school full time is compulsory here between the ages of six and 16.
There are lots of ways New Zealand parents stay informed with what’s happening at school.
Schools regularly give children newsletters to take home. Check with your children - school newsletters are famous for getting lost in kids’ school bags!
You should also 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, usually held in evenings after work hours.
There’s also a helpful booklet available as a PDF on the ERO website with more information on ways parents can keep in touch with their children’s schooling.
Helping your children at home
Parents in New Zealand are expected to support what’s happening at school with what they do at home. That includes encouraging children to do the homework the school has set and where necessary helping them with it.
Different schools have different policies on homework. Some set homework for older students but not younger ones, while others set homework for all students.
Whatever the expectation, parents need to ensure there’s somewhere quiet in the home where children can do their homework. They also need to set up a routine that allows enough time for homework. There’s more information on the Ministry of Education’s website.
The same site also has helpful information and tips on ways parents can get involved in their child's learning while they are at both primary and secondary school.
Helping with course choice
As your child moves on into secondary school it becomes more important to choose the subjects and courses that will lead them to the sort of work they want to do. Parents have an important role here.
Careers NZ has excellent advice for students and their parents.
Tools to develop ‘career maps’ and help young people plan what to study to get the NCEA qualifications they need to meet their goals are available on the government’s Youth Guarantee website.
Getting involved in the school community
There are two main ways parents can get more involved in the community of their school - by being part of a parent group, or by joining the Board of Trustees (BOT).
Parent Teacher Associations
Parent groups are also known as PTAs, Parent Teacher Associations.
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. Their job is usually “raising funds for special projects, facilitating communication between home and school and supporting parents as partners in their child's education.”
The websites of the Ministry of Education and the NZ Parent Teacher’s Association both have more information.
Board of Trustees
A Board of Trustees is made up of parent representatives, staff members and sometimes representatives of other groups (eg. students, Maori, Church, etc.). It is a statutory body and has many regulations to comply with.
The Board’s job is setting the strategic direction for the school and making sure legal requirements are being met - 'governance'. Candidates for a BOT must be able to live in New Zealand for a full 12 months.
The School Trustees Association website has more information.