The Social Workers in Schools (SWiS) programme is one of the services offered by our Papakura Family Service Centre, operating in the heart of the Papakura community for nearly 30 years. 

A positive link between home and school is critical for the educational development of all students. Social Workers assist with various issues including attendance, bereavement, bullying, behaviour difficulties, social skills, advocacy and referrals to outside agencies.

SWiS social workers aim to: 

    provide a consistent, quality service for all children and their families/whānauSWIS - social workers in schools

    contribute effectively to helping children participate actively and achieve in learning

    make a positive difference to the lives of children and families

    increasingly develop cultural competence.

    As part of our SWIS programme, we also offer a range of preventative programmes that assists the children strategies on how to manage their behaviours in a group. Some of the programmes include Seasons for Growth, Look at me Now, Leadership, Carving and Mentoring and more.

    The programmes are a safe and proven way to help people to think about, and for some, come to terms with their life-changing experiences.

    The enthusiastic SWiS team, of Alesha, Allwin, and John work in seven Papakura schools, offering support and assistance to the schools’ children and families, who are increasingly facing significant challenges in this community.

    With a child-centered focus, the SWiS team works primarily with children who are referred to them by the school if they need some support – any social barriers that impact a child’s learning is where SWiS offers their support.

    As well as general social work, SWiS provides specific programmes within the schools as the need arises – social skills, anger management, bullying, grief and loss, to name a few.

    SWiS Worker Papakura, Allwin Shaji, says “Circle Time” and “Art & Play” are the two activities that run at Holy Trinity School and Kauri Flats School. The activities use stories, arts, drawing, games, and music to help students gain emotional literacy.

    Many families struggle financially with food, and this is an ongoing trend both pre- and post-covid. The tightening of families’ budgets has an immediate follow-on effect at school. Children come to school stressed, overtired, anxious, and sometimes hungry; it is almost impossible for them to focus and learn.

    “The purpose of my role is to support children and their families with issues outside the classroom that may be affecting the child’s well-being and the child’s ability to learn.  I can be a broker, facilitator, advocate, or influencer.” Says SWiS Worker Papakura, John Samman.

    Papakura schools try their best to mitigate these issues with SWiS’s support. As the SWiS team works with the schools to support the child and their family to improve their circumstances, the school starts to see improvements in engagement and learning.


    At Great Potentials Foundation, Social Workers in Schools (SWiS) programme is one of the services offered by Family Service Centres

    We currently have SWiS workers in Cosgrove Primary School, Kelvin Road Primary School, Sir Edmund Hillary Primary, Red Hill Primary, Kauri Flats School, Holy Trinity Catholic Primary School and Papakura Intermediate School. 

    Our SWiS Team:

     John Samman Alesha Verheyen  Allwin Shaji  

    Left to right: John, Alesha, Allwin and Ashika