Building inclusion into the environment

Issue: Volume 103, Number 8

Posted: 27 June 2024
Reference #: 1HAh29

Woodstock School in Kirikiriroa Hamilton has built an accessible environment that honours its school values and the physical abilities of all of its students.

The school has installed a wheelchair carousel in the playground.

The school has installed a wheelchair carousel in the playground.

Woodstock School sits close to the Waikato River on Kirikiriroa Hamilton’s east side, not far from the city’s centre.

“It’s the coolest little school,” says tumuaki Paula Wine. It is a community proud of its picturesque green environment and its vision of ‘growing greatness’.

“Our Woodstock learners are caring, inclusive and welcoming, and our staff are, too. Here, we are committed to ensuring our school is a place where we value diversity, we aim high in our learning, and we are kaitiaki of our environment.”

Not one to simply talk the talk, the school is making sure it is walking the walk and modelling its values every step of the way.

Inclusion is woven into its fabric, says Paula. “How this looks and feels at Woodstock is omnipresent.”

“Starting with the playground, our recent inclusive installations ensure that our tamariki can play together and all children have access to the playground. We have also installed an elevator to our stage in the hall so that all children can come up on stage for production or for their assembly.”

Woodstock has two different units based on site and learners with special needs in their mainstream classroom.

“We are a unique, wonderful kura,” says Paula. “Our school is made up of 15 mainstream classrooms and one ‘conductive education unit’ for learners who have physical needs. There are two Patricia Avenue [Specialist School] satellite classrooms. We invite each other to our school events, and we all share the playground.

“Being inclusive is one of our core values and we have created really neat opportunities for our children to mix, play and learn together.”

Enhancing mana

The school spent the past year fundraising to pay for additions to its junior playground to ensure it is not only wheelchair accessible, but an exhilarating experience for all users.

“We are installing a wheelchair trampoline, a trio ensemble for wheelchairs and a wheelchair carousel.
This has been achieved by fundraising and combining funds up to $60,000,” says Paula.

She explains how the recent developments in the school’s environment sit within its core values.

“Our core values at Woodstock are mana, manaakitanga, kotahitanga and whanaungatanga. All of these encompass the concept of inclusion. We are all about ensuring that every person feels a sense of connection and belonging at our kura.”

Building inclusivity into every aspect of the environment

Building inclusivity into every aspect of their environment, the kura is proud of how this concept translates across the school and its mahi.

The new additions ensure all children have access to the playground.

The new additions ensure all children have access to the playground.

Paula proudly lists some of the ways the school has embedded inclusion in its everyday teaching and learning.

“Our conductive education unit (CEU) learners come join our mainstream learning for literacy and numeracy,” she says. “The CEU learners have buddy classes who they visit some afternoons and do wellbeing activities together.

“CEU learners are included in the Jump Jam team, as well as in the school’s gymnastics team – they’re set to take part in an upcoming competition.

“Both our CEU and Patricia Ave students are also included in weekly assemblies and singing assemblies, and we have even held full-school events that celebrate wheels of all kinds.”

Professional learning and development

Full staff professional learning and development (PLD) takes place regularly on how to be truly inclusive. Most recently this was delivered by the Halberg Foundation.

Paula says staff are grateful for the many supportive, active community members who “fully involve themselves in school life”.

“Our staff are open, welcoming and committed to doing whatever it takes to ensure that each learner is stretched in their learning and their personal development,” she adds.

“We are not aware of many other schools with such diversity and with facilities to cater for play, social and learning needs. Our school is 70 years old, so it certainly is not a new build,” she smiles. “We feel the older character of our school is an asset. What we’re doing now is enhancing it by making our kura more inclusive.”

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 11:39 am, 27 June 2024

Get new listings like these in your email
Set up email alerts