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Communities rally as school begins

Fairhaven School principal Paul Hunt ensures the school does what it can to help families with school costs.

School is back and some families are struggling to afford new uniforms and stationery.

Many schools and the community are doing what they can to ensure no one goes without.

Fairhaven School principal Paul Hunt say the school has chosen not to have uniforms, to remove the cost barrier for families.

The school also tries to keep stationery requirements to a minimum and has an in-house shop where the prices are reasonable, says Paul. There is also no requirement for students to have their own laptop or device.

He says there are some families that were struggling before COVID-19 and some that have been affected since the pandemic.

Compared to other communities Te Puke has fared well, he says.

“We've been fortunate in Te Puke that the horticulture has carried on and the farming’s carried on.

“We still have parents that will be struggling, so we have to be mindful of it and try help support [them].”

The school can apply to organisations for support with school costs and clothing for those that need it. They also allow parents to pay things off over time if they need to, he says.

Fairhaven School is able to access the Ministry of Education school donation scheme, where they receive $150 per student, which is used for school camps and trips.

The school missed out on the government’s healthy school lunches programme, where children are provided with free lunches.

Paul says they have families that make an extra lunch for those that need it and there is a breakfast programme through Sanitarium and Fonterra.

“There's a lot of support structures that we've put in place to try and help, because if a child’s hungry they can’t learn.”

Merivale School is part of the school lunch scheme and principal Tom Paekau says it’s working really well for the school and the children look forward to sausage rolls on Fridays.

So far this year Tom hasn’t had any families come to him saying they need financial support or are struggling but as the only decile one school in Tauranga the school is well supported by the community, he says.

“We’re very fortunate with the support that we're getting from our community.”

They received a donation towards the children’s stationery packs which meant the price could be reduced from $25 to $20 for every pupil.

The school is also part of the donation scheme and this year they have used some to help with stationery costs.

Last year there were families from the school that needed help especially after COVID, says Tom.

“After COVID things were really up in the air and they are going to be still up in the air for a little while as well.”

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