What is the RSST? How do they support the Special Character of our school and kindergarten?
Thank you for the feedback
It has been great to hear from our parent community that there is strong support for the special character at Michael Park School (MPS). You will often hear the phrase “Special Character” - we use this term to include both Steiner education and also Steiner values and actions within the whole school community. The Rudolf Steiner School Trust (RSST) has reflected that we can strive to do a better job at communicating to the parent community the work we do to support Michael Park school and particularly it’s special character.
What is the role of the RSST?
The role of the RSST is one of governance – this means that we focus on planning for the future and provide oversight. We work closely with the College of Teachers (COT), who hold the expertise for Steiner education and who bring the theory into practice in a considered way. We also collaborate with the Board of Trustees who hold the governance of the school’s everyday activities and Ministry of Education requirements. While the three bodies work closely together, we also have clear and distinct roles. The RSST is not involved in the day-to-day operations and management of the school and so if we receive letters or comments in these areas we direct them to the Principal to respond.
What the RSST does to support special character
The work that the RSST engages in can broadly be explained as responsibilities as the proprietors of the land and buildings, the governance of the Kindergarten, providing resources for the school to deliver the Special Character, and supporting the future development of the Special Character. Some of the work we do is compliance with Ministry of Education policies, Trust policies and Governance responsibilities, and some work is future development. The RSST engages in a range of other projects that support special character when we have the capacity, including currently, developing the MPS alumni database, supporting the 40th anniversary celebrations of MPS and creating special character speaker events for the community.
Where does the money come from and where is it spent?
The RSST receives limited funds from the Ministry of Education (for buildings), attendance dues from families, and funds from fundraising activities. The Special Character Donation is an important stream of funding to support the Special Character. The vast majority of the donations go directly to Steiner related activities at MPS such as Special Character teacher expenses (paying for Outdoor classroom, Handwork, Eurythmy and Music teachers), training and development (60%), and Special Character resources such as quality paper and art supplies, curriculum and festivals (22%). The rest goes towards supporting the broader Steiner initiatives in New Zealand/Aotearoa and future development, such as the Steiner Federation levy (16%) and miscellaneous other costs (2%).
Sometimes there is an urban myth that “nobody pays their RSST donations” – this is NOT true and would mean we couldn’t support or offer the Special Character aspects of our school. Currently, we are tracking in line with previous years for the collection of donations from families. On average we receive 92% of the total donations requested each year. When we ask other schools about their collection rates, we are doing well by comparison. So if you aren’t paying because you think no one else does, please reconsider this as the shortfall each year amounts to $31,000 - just think what we could do with that!
What guides the work of the RSST?
We have a Trust deed that explains how the trust must work. We follow the MPS Vision, for which there was extensive parent consultation. From this we develop an Annual Plan to help us prioritise goals.
Members of the current RSST
We are all volunteers on the RSST, and we do this with the best intentions and interest for the whole community at heart. Currently the RSST has six members – Melanie Woodham (co-chair), Rochana Sheward(co-chair), Nadine Seidel (COT representative), Suzanne Brunner, Craig McColl and Mary Miller. We are currently looking for two new members, preferably with skills in property management or Early Childhood education experience, although other areas of expertise may also be useful (expressions of interest to [email protected]).
As Steiner emphasised the school is strengthened by the whole community working together.
A healthy social life is found only when, in the mirror of each soul, the whole community finds its reflection, and when, in the whole community, the virtue of each one is living.
What can you do?
Lots! This list is not exhaustive, but provides some suggestions for ways to support and participate in the special character you care about.
- Pay your annual special character donation.
- Support your class teacher with what they need so that they can spend their time and energy teaching your children.
- Attend events with a special character focus, such as festivals and speakers to develop your understanding of the special character and show your ongoing commitment to supporting your child’s education.
- Engage in fundraising initiatives such as the school fair. Working together creates a stronger community and the proceeds go back to strengthening the Special Character.
- Respect and support Special Character student guidelines, such as appropriate clothing, lunchbox items, and limiting technology especially in the Kindergarten, Lower and Middle schools.
- We often hear that parents want better communication, and we can always do better. We understand that different families like different methods of communication. We also need parents to listen out for messages in the Friday Flyer, through class emails, on the website, and on Facebook.
- Our students are taught to THINK before they speak (is it: True, Helpful, Important, Necessary, Kind). As a community we can model good communication to our children and each other.