Who said school
rules can't be changed?
The Waikouaiti School board of trustees has thrown out one of
its longstanding school rules after two of its pupils
presented a convincing case to the board.
Tamati Sagar and Aaron Jones (both 10) love climbing trees,
but the practice is banned for safety reasons.
The duo surveyed all the school's parents and found about 90%
of them were in favour of allowing their children to climb
trees during break times.
The boys prepared a pie chart on their findings and presented
it to the board of trustees and school staff.
Board members were so impressed they relaxed the school rule
three weeks ago, and children are now enjoying the freedom to
climb trees in the playground.
They boys also surveyed parents to see if they could
reintroduce tackle rugby to the playground, rather than the
present Rippa-style rugby.
However, parents were not in favour of that idea.
Principal Trudy Pankhurst said the boys got a 95% response
rate for their survey.
''That's the best response we've had from any survey at the
She said the survey came about because she was teaching
statistics to the year 6 class, and found Tamati and Aaron
were streets ahead of the other pupils.
To keep them engaged, she encouraged them to undertake a
project which involved a survey and graphing the results.
''The kids are connecting their maths and what they're doing,
with real life. It's a great way to show that connectedness.
''I put that wee seed in their heads and they made it grow.
''It's inspired them. They're just thrilled. You see these
two boys - their shoulders have just got a bit broader.''
Mrs Pankhurst said she was pleased the school rule had been
changed because climbing enhanced skills such as
co-ordination, balance and confidence, as well as developing
strength and fitness.
Problem-solving skills also came into play when they had to
work out how to get down again.
While the boys were not entirely sure what their next
campaign would be, they said their ideas were only limited by
Since the boys successfully lobbied the board of trustees,
Mrs Pankhurst said there had been one tree-climbing accident
at the school.
A pupil was airlifted to Dunedin Hospital last week with a
fractured pelvis after falling from a tree.
''But the good thing is, the parents don't want us to stop
climbing trees because of this accident.
''The mum said her son is fine, and that his doctors were
pleased to hear children are climbing trees, and that we
should continue to do it.
''Yes, there has been an accident, but kids are supposed to
have accidents. That's how we learn from things.''
After the accident, the school, with input from the pupils,
had introduced a rule that they could only climb about 2.5m
up the trees, she said.
''We're learning and growing all the time.''
- Additional reporting Bill Campbell