Principal's Letter to Parents 2015-07-16



Dear parents, caregivers and whanau,

I hope you have enjoyed having your children home for the holiday break. I know this is a busy time for families and I am sure you are looking forward to sending them back to school!

Last night Seven Sharp aired an article about one of our families who are going through some difficulties with the education system. These difficulties date back to an incident that occurred while one of their children was attending our school. It is not my intention to discuss or dispute historic events, especially since they occurred before my coming to Arahunga. I would however like to ensure you that we as a school do not condone the shutting of students into small, dark rooms.

All staff at Arahunga are dedicated to the health and well-being of our students, a lot of work has been done at the school since the time of the above incident and the following practises, guidelines and procedures are in place to prevent physical or psychological harm to our students:

-          All teaching staff have completed a Non-violent Crisis Intervention course, this course is designed to help staff deal with agitated people without having to use physical force.

-          All quiet rooms have been checked to ensure there are no locks on them. Quiet rooms remain for the optional use of students who would like some quiet space, these are not punishment rooms.

-          Teachers are working in pairs more often. This is a significant change of practise for our school and one that provides more support for both students and teachers. While it is not possible for two teachers to always be present in the room due to funding levels, each teacher is part of a team and they work collaboratively to provide the education our students deserve.

-          A standing order from myself, as principal, is: restraint is in general unacceptable, it is an absolute last resort, used only to stop serious harm to people, if an extreme event occurs that warrants its use, it must be done with minimum force and for the minimum amount of time necessary. Any uses of restraint require a written report to be submitted to the principal within 24 hours and these will be reported to the Board of Trustees, failure to report to the principal on the restraint of a child will result in disciplinary action.

-          Satellite classes as a group have their own Deputy Principal. This means that parents, teachers and students have a member of the Senior Management who is specifically focused on these student’s learning needs, their teacher’s professional development and ensuring communication with parents.

-          We have also increased communication with parents in the following ways:

o   All class teaching teams have a cell phone and are expected to use it to communicate with parents on a regular basis.

o   Improved reporting to parents twice a year on student achievement, including the opportunity to have a formal discussion with teachers about student progress.

o   Termly portfolios of learning across the school are published and sent to all parents.

o   Letters such as this are sent out by Senior Management to the school community in order to keep people informed about significant events and happenings in the school.

If you have any further concerns regarding this or any other matter please do not hesitate to contact myself or Kay Bannister-Rye (Deputy Principal for Satellites).

I would also like to point out that our Outreach Service has a very good record of helping and supporting students with special needs across several regions, enabling students who would otherwise struggle to be at school to not only attend school, but to learn and be part of their school community.

Yours sincerely,



Daniel J. Price