Parents to discuss bullying

More than 20 parents – and members of the public were in attendance at last week’s May meeting of Te Awamutu College’s board of trustees.

A public meeting called by parents of Te Awamutu College students is not designed to point the finger at anyone, organisers say.

Instead, those behind it hope the gathering – planned for next Wednesday evening at Te Rahu Hall – will “…draw the community together to find a collective, constructive solution” following complaints of bullying among students.

Jenni Williams, a former college student, and Lee Smith said during the public forum of last week’s meeting of the college’s board of trustees they had called the meeting.

Both Jenni and Lee have children at the college.

More than 20 members of the public attended the board meeting.

“I’m speaking not just as a mother of students, but on behalf of concerned parents,” Williams said. “I acknowledge the hard work which goes into being a teacher – especially where teenagers are involved. We know teachers can’t be everywhere, all the time We want to support staff, and we care about our children’s experience while they’re at the college.”

Williams said while there were no easy fixes, it was imperative reported issues were resolved quickly, and that both sides of the story were heard. A tipping point on social media, she said, was a student’s post expressing worry about their younger sibling being bullied which attracted more than 500 comments.

“Collectively, we need to get to the bottom of these problems as soon as possible.

“It’s about our community’s future – if we don’t address issues now, students will leave school and end up in a broken society.”

Urging college staff to not be afraid to ask for help, Williams suggested bringing together a group of parents, youth officers, teachers and community organisations to sit down and hash these issues out and support staff in other ways.

Lee Smith (left) and Jenni Williams.

In communications ahead of last Wednesday’s meeting, Te Awamutu College Board of Trustees chair Craig Yarndley said, “…the principal, senior leadership team and staff have our full support. We’d ask for your support as we continue to oversee the college. We are here, and we are listening…”

At the meeting he reiterated, “…we are aware of, and are taking, these incidents seriously. We’re not ignoring them; we know they’re a concern.”

Smith told The News parents were not there to play the blame game and nor was that the purpose of next week’s public meeting.

“We’re here because we care… teachers are doing an amazing job in so many ways.”

Attacking the college verbally was counterproductive, and not the intent, Smith said.

“We’re not being accusatory or making assumptions. We all know there is an issue – we simply want both sides of the story to be heard, and our kids to enjoy school.”

Not dealing with the issue though “won’t help anything”.

Williams, part of a Facebook group made up of “concerned mothers” agreed.

“We don’t want college staff to feel like we’re against them, we’re not…”




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