Flexibility and responsibility gives students a better chance of success

Issue: Volume 94, Number 11

Posted: 29 June 2015
Reference #: 1H9crS

Shantelle Moffatt

Gateway has helped 17-year-old Shantelle Moffatt realise her dream

Core subjects and traditional school academic subjects are taught four days a week. Wednesdays however, have been freed up to allow year 12 and 13 students to learn ‘on the job’ or take courses with a vocational focus without them losing critical classroom time. To allow for this, study periods, which used to be once a day, have been moved to Wednesday.

“To widen the opportunities available to our students we decided to implement something different and introduced a Flexible Learning Wednesday,” says Rosey Mabin, Inglewood High School principal. “This will encourage alternative pathways to work or study other than via traditional routes." 

Rosey says that a Gateway Progamme has been running at Inglewood High for a number of years with the opportunity for hands-on work in the building, engineering, automotive, early childhood and creative sectors.

“But under more conventional timetable structures, students were put under extra pressure to find time to catch up on their other subjects,” she says.

“Now Gateway placements occur on a Wednesday whereby students can explore and experience possible future employment pathways without missing their core subjects.”

Students are encouraged to select a Vocational Pathway which links to their work placement. This helps students choose subjects relevant to that industry or sector – making their learning more relevant to future work or study options.

Rosey says Vocational Pathways are paramount in “meeting the needs of our students and equipping them for the future.”

“Having relevant knowledge and some hands-on experience helps students go into their work life with the skills and attributes that will make them appealing to employers,” she says.

“When students study subjects in areas which are relevant and interesting to them, then they are much more likely to stay at school and remain engaged with their learning,”says Arthur Graves, the Ministry of Education’s Group Manager for Youth Guarantee, which developed Vocational Pathways.

Gateway has helped 17-year-old Shantelle Moffatt realise her dream. For several years Shantelle has been interested in midwifery, but a 15 week Gateway course at the Partners in Pregnancy Clinic in New Plymouth gave her the experience she needed and confirmed her future.

Shantelle spent one day a week at the clinic. There she was involved in every aspect of midwifery. She took blood pressure, felt the position of babies in the womb, listened to the heart beat and attended the daily ante-natal and post-natal clinics. She even witnessed a birth.

“This experience provides a pathway for me,” she says. “I’ve been provisionally accepted for the Bachelor of Midwifery course at Wintec next year if I pass my Level 3 exams.”

Tony Renshaw

Tony Renshaw is studying hospitality

Tony Renshaw (17), also at Inglewood, is studying hospitality and spends a day a week at Devon Hotel in New Plymouth. His duties include everything from preparing food and making coffee to facing customers taking orders and waiting tables. Next year Tony, a year 12 student, will become a full time waiter before joining the 2016 intake at the Pacific Hotel Management School.

“I knew I wanted to be in hotel management, and being at the Devon has kick-started my career. It was very important to me,” he said. Tony is already on his way. He has achieved the 60 credits required for Level 2 and has secured a part-time job at the Devon Hotel.

However Wednesdays are not just devoted to learning in the work place. Year 12 and 13 students also have choices within two special semester courses, run during the year, which will equip them for adult life.

The special semester courses offer such subjects as financial literacy, health science, outdoor education and communication English and all courses offer students the opportunity to gain NCEA credits (and Levels 2 and 3).

All the subjects are taught by teachers at Inglewood High School. About 130 students are taking the courses. Other options have been added for 2015 including tourism and wood carving.

Rosey sees these courses as appropriate and relevant but they also teach some important life skills.

“We want to educate the whole person. Taking a holistic approach is a far better way of learning. These are students who’ll have three or four different careers in their lifetime and we must equip them for the unknown future,” she comments.

“Ours is a rural school and, when they leave, they’re on a bigger stage. I want them to measure up as equals with their peers.”

Planning started last year to restructure the timetable at Inglewood to equip students for what Rosey calls “the unknown future.” The changed timetable structure gives year 13 students a considerable degree of self-responsibility of their time and learning. Rosey explains that it is time for them to step up and be responsible.

“We want to help them be strategic managers of their time and be accountable and responsible, leaving school with those life skills.”

Inglewood High School has already surveyed the students and has received positive feedback to its “flexible learning” Wednesday. While the programme is still in its infancy, Rosey is delighted with what’s been achieved so far and says the new approach to preparing students for the outside world is liked by both students and staff.

“Over time we’ll see the real gains for them,” she says.

Youth guarantee

New Zealand needs to increase the number of young people moving into further education, training or employment. In particular, we need to improve the rate of NCEA Level 2 achievement, the minimum qualification a young person needs to get to be ready for a better future. We also need to increase the number of 15–19 year olds in education to ensure they get the qualifications and skills that will benefit them.

We also need more young New Zealanders progressing to Level 4 or above, on the New Zealand qualifications framework, and moving into further education or skills training.

The Youth Guarantee provides 15–19 year olds more opportunities to study towards achieving NCEA Level 2, through programmes that make sense to them and have a clear pathway to further education, training and employment.

Youth Guarantee includes a range of initiatives including:

  • free place to learn
  • choice of relevant and meaningful learning opportunities
  • strong foundation NCEA L2 or equivalent with Vocational Pathways, to progress on their pathway to further education, training and work.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 5:55 pm, 29 June 2015

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