Each year at the end of June hundreds of New Zealand dairy farmers move from one farm to another.
This is the way many farmers progress up the sharemilking ladder – moving from lower order to 50-50 sharemilking then on to farm ownership – and often it requires a physical move from one farm to the next.
Along with moving farm equipment and often their dairy herds, the family moves as well and this means a change of school for the children. As it is halfway through the school year, the change can be disruptive for some children while others take the change in their stride.
Putaruru College has always had children coming and going at the end of the dairy season.
The South Waikato is heavily invested in dairy farming with many very new conversions from pine forest to dairy farms.
Putaruru College principal Mike Yonke says now the number of dairying families moving around is reduced from the time when a farm was a family unit, rather than the economic unit of today where three or four or more family farm units have amalgamated. Most of the local farms are now larger units with fewer families who move about the countryside.
“New pupils are treated as new students, whether they be farming families or whatever. They go through the induction process of all students. [They are] Introduced to school, to their classes and attempts made to ‘buddy up’ with another student.
Changing schools is a traumatic experience for any student, be it at any time of the year, says Mike.
“Students’ friendship groups are very important and changes of school have a huge impact on students’ lives and consequently their learning unless they can be assimilated into their new environment quickly and comfortably.”
Mike says parents need to support their children during these changes and keep the school informed if there are issues with them settling into the new environment.
“We are finding less impact on our roll from farm changeover than people moving out of city to find cheaper accommodation or students who have been in trouble in the city and are being sent to live with a relative in our area to sort out the problems.”