Topic: Kio Kio School

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A short history of Kio Kio School, which opened in 1905. (Source: Otorohanga Friends of the Library Commemorative Family Histories, 1998.)

Yesterday's schools

Kio Kio School was opened in 1905 with a roll of 20 pupils. The first pupil to be enrolled was Elizabeth Ramsay, who commenced on 5th June 1905, with Miss Hamilton as the Head Teacher. The original school building is still part of the school today. It has been recognised as an historic building by the NZ Heritage Society and remodelled appropriately in 1996 ot be our feature New Entrant classroom.

From small beginnings more that 90 years ago, Kio Kio School has continued to grow and develop, becoming an integral part of the district. Many of the present families at school are third generation Kio Kio residents, which reflects the stability and strength of the community.

Throughout the years the school roll has seen dramatic changes. The first 70 years saw the roll grow from 20 pupils to 180 pupils in 1975. The roll then dropped to 46 pupils in 1985, and today is steady at around 150 pupils.

Over the past 90 years the school has seen many notable achievements, inclduing a pool in 1944, a library in 1970, an adventure playground and fitness circuit in 1992, a 6th classroom and resource room in 1996, an enlarged carpark in 1998, and in 1999 a new library and community facility. These improvements to the school have come about largely due to the efforts of parents and the support of the wider community. Working bees have always beena common sight at Kio Kio School and, coupled with a variety of fundraising ventures, these have been valuable ways fo people practically contributing to their children's education.

Tomorrow's schools

1989 saw a dramatic change in the way schools are administered. The devolution of the old Education Boards saw the transitions of management from the Government to individual schools and their communities.

The opportunity and challenge to become self-managing has been welcomed by Kio Kio School. It has enabled the school too move into the age of technology, with computers now found in every classroom, as well as a computerised office and library. Various school buildings have been remodelled and the school as a whole is maintained to a high standard.

Kio Kio School now employs a Principal, Secretary, 6 full-time teachers, 2 special needs teachers, 2 teacher-aides, a caretaker and cleaner. Parent help is also a real strength at Kio Kio School, whether directly assisting the children, staff or in administration.

A strong initiative in the Otorohanga area is COPS (Combined Otorohanga Primary Schools) which was founded in 1980 with interschool sports, music festivals and the like and has grown to such proportions as to attract Government funding and become a model for other areas. Within this group, principals are able to support each other, upskill, share resources and investigate new initiatives to benefit the pupils of the 10 schools involved.


During the first half of this century the curriculum focused on the "Three R's" with a developing awareness of health and nutrition. Regimental type fitness drills became a daily practice as the educators of the day realised that a healthy mind works better in a healthy body. A feature of these early years was the large class numbers with 40 children not an uncommon sight in classrooms. The delivery of the curriculum was very structured and teached directed with chhildren seated in rows and talking frowned upoon. Handwriting using inkwells and formal grammar lessons were part of the daily routine, as were the traditional flag raising, the singing of the national anthem and marching to music.

The second half of the century has certainly seen a huge change in the way the curriculum is delivered. Gone are the large class numbers and formal seating arrangements. Children now play a very active part in both the planning and evaluation of their work as the emphasis focuses on child centred learning. This approach has meant a huge change in direction for the teachers of today, whose role has changed from one of a source of knowledge to that of a motivator and facilitator for learning. The national curriculum has undergone dramatic changes, with several new areas being introduced, such as languages, technology and a more integrated curriculum.

Kio Kio School may pride itself on keeping abreast of the latest changes in education, but tradition still forms a large part of what makes Kio Kio School special. Such events as Calf Club (now Agriculture Day), the Fancy Dress, District Welcome-in and School Picnic have been staged for as long as many of us can remember. The strength of our school still lies in its community with parents and friends continuing to support it through fundraising ventures, educational excursions, class camps, sports days and the like. The continued involvement of the wider community is of special pride to our school today.

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