The entire roll of Tuturumuri School hits the playground, from left, Jazmyn Roseman, 11, Nutrisse Bragger, 5, Garnier Bragger, 11, and Cameron Roseman, 13. PHOTOS/STEVE RENDLE

STEVE RENDLE
steve.rendle@age.co.nz

You only need to drive to Tuturumuri School to appreciate why the community fought so hard to save it when it was threatened by closure last year.

It’s about 30 minutes from Martinborough, and a further 45 minutes to the coast.

That sort of drive for a school run would be tough.

And the school itself is well set up, with a country school’s traditional playing fields, and tennis court, as well as a small but perfectly formed indoor swimming pool, and a community garden and glasshouse.

The challenge, of course, is the roll.

It started the year with seven pupils, but movement of people out of the district saw numbers boosted to four this week, when a new entrant joined two 11-year-olds and one Year 9 pupil, who is studying by correspondence, courtesy of the school’s internet access.

Principal Alistair Morrison took on the job at the start of the year, teaching halftime with another halftime teacher Renita Persico, and his wife Nikeita Emmerson working as a part-time teachers’ aide.

Morrison was previously teaching at Kenakena School in Paraparaumu.

“I like the country and it was a good chance to move up in my career,” he said during a tour of the school buildings, which include a kitchen where the kids plan menus and prepare their own lunches.

Tuturumuri School principal Alistair Morrison works with 11-year-old Garnier Bragger, and schoolmates Jazmyn Roseman, 11, and Cameron Roseman, 13.

Academically, the small roll is definitely working for the pupils, which Morrison says a soon-to-be published report by the Education Review Office will bear out.

“ERO said they were amazed at the accelerated learning [in reading, writing and maths].

“Progress is through the roof – but you wouldn’t expect anything else.”

Each pupil gets their own education programme, Morrison said, which is more of a challenge in larger classes.

“Thirty kids wold be 30 times the work.”

At Kenakena School, two teachers looked after a class of 65-70 kids.

Morrison said he had some fears a much smaller school, in this case with just two families, might lead to more conflict but he was “pleasantly surprised”.

“They get on surprisingly well.”

While correspondence school Year 9 pupil Cameron Roseman is one who thinks having a rugby team might be nice, the school does compete in sports events at other schools, including a cross-country at Kahutara School, near Lake Ferry.

The other two senior pupils, 11-year-olds Jazmyn Roseman and Garnier Bragger, like what they’ve got.

“It’s really fun,” Jazmyn said. “You get one-on-one [teaching].”

Garnier has a different take on the situation.

“There is more chance of there being annoying kids in a bigger school,” she said.

Cameron and Jazmyn’s mother is school board chairwoman Louise Roseman, part of a concerted community effort to keep the school going, which made a real difference, Morrison says.

“The school is very important to the community. They fought really hard to keep it open … I think other schools [that were closed] were larger but the community hadn’t been so strong.”

The community may have another fight coming up, with the school’s status to be reviewed at the end of the year.



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