SPARKLERS / Kindness & friendship

Culture of Kindness

Co-Design: A whole of school-community approach to creating a culture of kindness.
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Print off one Culture of Kindness Kōrero Worksheet for each student.

Why we love it

This is an opportunity to get ‘real’ feedback about your school and be inclusive. It’s the very beginning of building a culture where everyone is important and has important things to contribute.

This activity helps to:

  • strengthen tamariki-whānau relationships,
  • strengthen the relationship between school and whānau (which can help to support the effective prevention and reduction of bullying behaviours)
  • inspire tamariki by learning about what their whānau really care about and wish for them.

Tikanga tips

Some of the responses that come back from whānau members may reflect their own difficult or unhappy experiences of school, possibly resulting in indifference about education or even negative perceptions of schooling. Approach this learning opportunity with empathy and compassion. We recommend that if this happens you facilitate a conversation about where these feelings may come from and how things have changed or could change so that those experiences aren’t repeated for the current generation of ākonga/learners.


We have created two different versions of this activity. In this activity (Culture of Kindness), students take home a worksheet and interview a whānau member about their own experiences of school, and what their hopes are for their child’s experience of school and education. We recommend this option as it enables the school to truly engage with the community in a co-design process. It also provides a deeper learning experience for tamariki. However, if this activity won't work for your setting, check out the in-class option - Journey to the Future. This in-class option can also be done as a precursor to this one.


We spend about 1,152 hours every year at school – that’s the equivalent to nearly 15,000 hours by the time you graduate from high school!

For somewhere where we spend so much of our lives, it’s important that we learn (after all, that's why we're here), but we also feel happy and safe during all this time.

  • What would help to make a school a happy and safe place for everyone?
  • What things might get in the way of students, staff or whānau feeling safe and happy at school?

Think about what school might have been like for your parents or grown-up whānau.

  • What things are still similar and what things have changed?
  • How do you think your whānau members’ own experiences of school might impact the way they feel about you being at school?

Often our parents, caregivers, or members of our whānau have real hopes and dreams for us at school.

  • What do you think your whānau want you to get out of your school days and education?

Sometimes we don’t really know, and sometimes it’s all they talk about!

What else do you think influences what they want for you? Some ideas might be:

  • Things they didn’t get to do while they were at school
  • Things they think you’re really good at
  • Whānau think education is REALLY important
  • Whānau think school is a waste of time
  • They want you to have the best future possible

It would be great if tonight you could ask some of your whānau about their own experiences of school, and also what their hopes are for you and your schooling.

Why do you think we want to know about this?

  • So we can understand why they have some of their goals for us
  • So we can talk about the differences between our school experiences
  • So we can look to include what they want in our school
  • In order to work out how we can best keep whānau in touch and involved in our school as part of our school community.

What to do

Hand out the take-home kōrero worksheets, and explain that you’d like each student to use this to kōrero with whānau members. Give as many worksheets as needed.

Students will need to ask someone at home these questions, note their answers, and then bring the worksheet back to school.

Some tamariki may forget, and perhaps it might be good to allow some free time for them to call a whānau member to ask the questions. Perhaps schedule this in for the following day!

Once you have as much feedback as possible, come together as a class. Let students know you’re going to do some thematic analysis (ooooo!) on the work that they’ve done, but firstly the most important thing.


  • Who enjoyed interviewing a whānau member?
  • Who learned something new from this time together?
  • What other things were important about this time?
    • Jot these things down if they’re relevant to new policy or procedure development.

Ask tamariki to work together in groups of about 4. Go through each question and look for the ‘in-commons’.

Now it’s time for the interviewers to become the interviewees! In groups, have students record their own opinions about the questions.

Re-group (this could be the next day) and go through the ‘group’ themes compiling them to the class whānau themes.

Explore how these themes could be incorporated into a new school policy around:

  • Bullying Prevention
  • The School Mission
  • School Values

Each class can then submit to the principal their own proposed ‘culture of kindness’ guide, which can then contribute to new school policies.

For help with building new policy, check out Bully Free NZ or Work Safe for templates.

What next?

  • Staff could complete a similar activity and consider what things they wish for themselves and their students to experience as part of the school's culture
  • Celebrate the establishment of your policies and to thank whānau, staff and students for all their valuable input.

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