Tamariki School web site

Originally a private school, owned and operated by the parents, Tamariki integrated into the New Zealand state system as a Special Character school in 1990. It has to comply with the National Curriculum within the National Education Guidelines and is audited regularly by the Education Review Office. Its Special Character sometimes makes this a difficult task for the inspectors, but Tamariki meets all the required criteria. What follows is extracted from the Tamariki Teacher’s Manual.


Teaching at Tamariki is very demanding and testing, and very rewarding and satisfying. Teachers need to be:

Open about their own learning, strengths and weaknesses. Patient. Prepared for it to take a long time to be at ease in the environment. Patient. Able to laugh at themselves and with others. Patient. Able to tolerate difference, anger and distress without becoming caught up in it. Patient. Aware of children's developmental patterns, and different learning styles. Patient. Conversant with the New Zealand Curriculum documents, and able to recognise how children's learnings mesh with these. Patient, and yet again patient

The Special Character of the school, as described below, is the best guide for all working there.

1. Emotional and social growth are regarded as the base for cognitive development and strategies which support these growths have priorities over all other activities

It is the teacher's responsibility to:

  • recognise that a child's current needs may relate to emotional, social, or physical, rather than just to academic
  • support children to learn about managing their own social behaviour
  • intervene when s/he judges that a child needs extra support to manage a social or learning situation
  • respect children's social interactions with each other and not to interfere unduly
  • take account of the interdependence of feeling and cognitive learning
  • model the intrinsic pleasures and satisfactions of learning and extending skills

2. Relationships between teachers and children are based on trust. We accept that children may need to test the reliability of teachers before learning takes place.

It is the teacher's responsibility to:

  • come to know each child well and to work to develop trust with each child so that children feel comfortable with the teacher and safe in exploring their learning
  • recognise when a child does not trust or feel comfortable with her/him
  • recognise that a child may wish to work with a different teacher and to allow this to happen
  • respect the integrity of a child's personality
  • be honest with the child about the teacher's own weaknesses and strengths
  • be 'real' with a child
  • Sometimes this involves being honest with the child about the fact that the teacher has to temporarily play a particular role; e.g. sometimes the 'policeman role' if children's behaviour is out of their control
  • take responsibility for safety matters, physical and emotional.

3. Children are deeply involved in creating and maintaining the social structures by which the school functions. It is the teacher's responsibility to:

  • recognise that while teachers have responsibilities, they have no more and no fewer rights than the children at Tamariki
  • be committed to using the request and meeting systems at Tamariki to resolve disputes, even when this seems inconvenient.

4. Children's learning is to a very great extent under their own control. The child's learning belongs to him/herself.

It is the teacher's responsibility to:

  • work at the balance between support and intrusion, and to work on knowing when not to interfere with the child's activity/process
  • listen to the child
  • allow children to direct their own learning: i.e. to choose when to attend a lesson, what the focus of the lesson will be
  • recognise and follow up the child's interests and needs and when appropriate to assist the child in their interests and needs
  • have appropriate materials prepared for when the child is ready for a lesson
  • provide versatile programmes which meet children's needs and interests
  • recognise the significance of the learning which occurs during child- initiated activities; e.g. daily chess games
  • ensure that any teacher-initiated activities are introduced in a non-invasive way, e.g. by having materials available; by the teacher participating in the activity and allowing children to join in
  • recognise that children have different ways of learning and to teach in whatever style seems appropriate to that child
  • allow children to do things for themselves, or to provide assistance to children, rather than doing things for them (even when this takes much longer)

5. Mistakes are regarded as important learning information.

It is the teacher's responsibility to:

  • encourage an acceptance of experimentation and of accepting mistakes
  • model approaches to correcting errors and accepting mistake-making in their own learning behaviour (e.g. in academic and social areas)
  • not set a child up for failure
  • identify where a fear of failure is interfering with a child's openness to learning and to support the child in working through this

6. A child always works at his/her individual level of competence. The focus of teaching strategies is to acknowledge and support what children do well, and to use these strengths in areas of weakness.

It is the teacher's responsibility to:

  • ensure that any lesson is appropriate to the child requesting it
  • ensure that the child's individual needs are taken account of in lessons or teaching interventions
  • assist the child to identify their next step in learning when the child needs support with this
  • allow children to participate and work at their own levels during group lessons

7. Children are encouraged at all times in all areas to compare their work and skills with their own previous achievements and their own goals. It is the teacher's responsibility to:

  • identify and support successful learning and growth in a child
  • identify areas and causes of difficulty for a child
  • ensure that any assessment processes are not invasive and do not provoke anxiety, nor that they impair in any way the child’s ownership of his learning
  • ask a child's permission before retaining samples of their work. In assessment, work always from a 'credit' model, not a 'debit', while staying aware of where a child's difficulties may currently be lying
  • relate a child's learning to the Achievement Objectives in the National Curriculum statements.

8. Play is regarded as children's work. It is the teacher's responsibility to:

  • value and foster a child's full and committed engagement in any activity
  • allow children the opportunity to have physical and practical experiences which will develop into cognitive understandings
  • value the child's choice of outdoors and playground experiences
  • provide as wide as possible a range of materials for creative play.

9. The children have a very large measure of control over their environment.

It is the teacher's responsibility to:

  • allow children to use the environment in their own way for their own purposes (within safety boundaries)
  • provide an environment in which activities may be carried through to their natural conclusion and not arbitrarily interrupted by adult demands
  • allow a degree of disorder and mess in the environment in which s/he is not personally and immediately affected as it has been observed that children's imaginations work best in the context of some environmental disorder
  • encourage children to clear up their own mess when the activity is genuinely finished.

10. Tamariki operates in many ways like an extended family, offering support and encouragement to all its members (including teachers).

The Tamariki website is www.tamarikichch.schoolzone.net.nz


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