Catherine Delahunty

Miramar South School – Low Decile and High Quality

by Catherine Delahunty

As the debate rages about the proposed merger of two Miramar schools I want to challenge the perception that these schools have a lower quality of education, teaching staff and student behaviour.

For the past two years I have been a proud supporter of activities at Miramar South School, presenting books to students and attending their special events and prize givings. I have been so impressed by the atmosphere even though the buildings do need an upgrade.

A school however is more than the paint job on the hall and this school is a remarkable and spirited mix of cultures. The teaching staff are a dedicated group of people who believe their students are entitled to the best that a quality public education system can offer. Their approach is reflected by the students who appear to have a high level of motivation to participate in all school activities. These children, from places like Somalia, Afghanistan and across the Pacific, as well as Maori, are well supported by the parents who are always present in numbers at the school events. There are a few Pakeha families involved in this school and they are having the rich experience of being a cultural minority in an environment that fosters respect for everybody.

The school works well with the local community, a recent example being the senior students’ camp which required major fund rising as parents and the school have no extra cash. The school worked with local youth workers who participated in the camp, providing energy and role models to the 12 year olds who are about to move into a bigger world.

Miramar South School is open about their experience of “white flight” but utterly reject the notion that they offer a lesser quality of education or that their students are more disruptive than higher decile schools. According to staff who have worked in others schools the percentage of children with behavioural issues is no different to that experienced in higher decile schools.

My observations are purely anecdotal, but I keep going back to events at the school because of the warmth, energy and passion for learning that I observe. I recently attended a school camp “thank you’ event held for those of us who had helped make it happen. A young girl came up to me utterly unprompted just to say “thank you for your support”. Whatever happens with the merger let’s not pretend low decile means low quality. These children represent a new cultural demographic and this school is bringing out the best in them.

Published in Environment & Resource Management by Catherine Delahunty on Tue, May 31st, 2011   

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