The role of individuals and interest groups in supporting Ridgway School - part 1
When prospective parents visit Ridgway School they often ask about how they can be involved with their child’s school experience. They ask how other parents get involved. I am sure that they are also keen to know if they are likely to find other parents to connect with that will share their child’s schooling journey with them. We all need to feel that we belong and prospective parents look around and ask themselves (perhaps unconsciously), is this a community I can picture myself belonging to?
I am always very proud to speak about the highly supportive community that make up Ridgway and the various groups of parents that support us in a diverse range of ways. I know that our parents are friendly and welcoming of others and that many new friendships are forged between parents in the early years of their child’s schooling. Sometimes these social relationships have grown out of the opportunity to volunteer in some way.
Junior classes are always grateful to parents that can come along and help out in the classroom, and as students get older we are always asking for parents to join us on trips and outings. We have parents that keep our garden tidy, are on call at weekends for security call outs, supervise the walking school-bus, and some that have a scheduled spot on the crossing duty roster. Other parents have rallied at the sausage sizzle to raise camp fees to ensure that no student misses out.
While we don’t have a formal “Home and School” or “Friends of Ridgway” group, we do have strong support from our parents who often show this through their particular areas of interest. At different times groups of parents have banded together around a common purpose including for music, ICT, the library, the gala or the Food Fiesta. These groups have been important for establishing new initiatives and strengthening aspects of the school, and all of our staff are forever grateful to everyone that has been involved in the past and the work that they have done.
The ICT group formed a few years ago to ensure that Ridgway students were not left behind as other schools forged ahead with digital technologies and are responsible for establishing our website and the strategic direction of ICT across the school. We have desktop computers in every room that have been rebuilt, installed and are maintained largely by one parent.
We have been able to build the Big Space, install the sports court, purchase picnic tables, planter boxes and basketball posts and hoops with money raised at galas, food fiestas, and movie nights. Resources for maths and reading, Samsung tablets, and science equipment have all been bought with money raised from our parents fundraising efforts.
We have an excellent library, larger than our school size would suggest likely, and a ‘smart’ library catalogue system due to the work of a small group of dedicated parents over the last 5 years. Our library system while fully functional, is still being tweaked and improved, and tailored to our needs, again by a dedicated parent with the expertise and interest.
Recently a group of parents have worked together to help us strengthen the role of music in the school. We’ve offered workshops in playing the marimbas and invested in a set of ukuleles for students to learn in class. We have grand plans to make the upcoming concert a frequent and regular event in our school calendar, to enable our students to perform and showcase their skills and talents.
The newly established Whanau group have met regularly this year, establishing priorities and next steps for the school to enable our Māori tamariki to enjoy success as Māori at Ridgway. They successfully ran the Matariki evening in June and provided support and encouragement for our kapa haka group that got underway last term.
It’s an exhausting list, and there are other things that could be mentioned if there was more time and space.
All of these groups have made an important contribution to the life of Ridgway School and all have helped to bring us to where we are now. There is indeed a great community supporting Ridgway School, and a place for everyone who would like to contribute. Getting involved in supporting the school in some way is also a great way for parents to meet and get to know each other better.