Integration into the school and local community
All schools were effectively integrating international students into the school and local community, with just over half doing this in a highly effective way.
Schools encouraged and supported international students to take part in the sporting and cultural opportunities they provided, either in the school or through the local community. These included sports, cultural activities, drama classes, school productions, bands and camps. Some schools interviewed students to identify their interests and encouraged them to participate. Some monitored students to ensure they were involved and that they felt confident to join the things that interested them.
Figure 6: How effectively does the school integrate international students into the school and local community?
Schools used a range of strategies to encourage students to become involved with other students. These included orientation activities, providing buddies, teachers facilitating interactions in the classroom, encouraging shy students to join in, and processes for students to reflect on their interests and how to develop them. Social activities and trips were also organised so that international students could visit local and national sites of interest. Some (usually secondary) schools provided leadership opportunities for students. Ethnic communities in some schools formed support and social groups for international students.
One school spread international students across several form and teaching classes to encourage them to mix with other students, and another enrolled students from many countries to discourage students from staying within country groups.
Students interviewed talked about the friendliness of students and staff. Schools provided opportunities for students to share and celebrate their cultures, often through cross-cultural events such as cultural days where students could share their food, culture and languages.
Students who stayed in homes within the school community tended to integrate readily. Children in the homestay family were often buddies and families included the students in family, school and community events. Hostels provided additional opportunities for some secondary school students to mix and develop relationships with a range of students. One school arranged homestays during weekends and holidays for their hostel students, often with families of the students’ New Zealand friends.
Some schools had strong community links and were able to provide a wide variety of experiences in the community for personal, social and cultural development. Schools linked with ethnic groups in the community which provided support for parents of international students.
Concerns about integration were identified for six schools. These included schools not having developed strategies to engage international students with the local community, no specific leadership roles for international students, and cultures not being celebrated across the school.