Local partnerships elevate learning into real world solutions

Issue: Volume 101, Number 9

Posted: 21 July 2022
Reference #: 1HAV63

Kura ki Pakihi is a secondary transitions programme that seeks to partner youth with local civic and business stakeholders to develop creative solutions to regional challenges.

Students receive mentoring to help with their community projects.

Students receive mentoring to help with their community projects.

Connecting with local businesses and civic entities can be a challenge for busy teachers. During the 2019 Grow Waitaha Secondary Digital Technology Teachers Community of Practice (CoP), a solution was created – Kura ki Pakihi.

Josh Hough, professional learning services programme manager at CORE Education explains they had been working with many teachers around the country and had noted the common theme.

“When you’re a teacher and you’re managing classes and timetables and all these things, then you have to do an assessment, it can be a really big ask to try and find an opportunity to go out into the community and find these authentic challenges,” says Josh.

Kura ki Pakihi connects schools, teachers and ākonga with local civics and businesses to create authentic opportunities for rangatahi to help solve local challenges.

The Ministry of Education funded CORE Education to develop this mahi over 2019 and, while severely impacted by Covid-19, it has come to a point this year where schools in Ōtautahi Christchurch have been able to work with local businesses on tech solutions.

Tackling digital equity

In February and March, the initiative kicked into action with two sets of two-day ‘sprints’ and culminated in a celebration event at Christchurch City Council in April.

In the sprints, rangatahi from Avonside Girls’ High School and Rolleston College met at the YMCA with a range of facilitators, mentors and community participants.

Ākonga heard from stakeholders, such as Stratos Technology Partners, Canterbury Tech, and Christchurch City Council. Each of these stakeholders shared information about the digital equity challenges they were facing.

“These included things like the need for the design of an online portal to engage with people with irritable bowel disease. Another one was to equip all people within Ōtautahi with the skills and confidence to use the city’s innovative technology solutions, as there’s lots of those going in all around the place.

Josh Hough

Josh Hough

“The last one was to attempt to remove barriers to highly paid jobs available in the fast-growing tech sector, for those who may not have had awareness, knowledge, skills or resources to access them,” says Josh.

The students were mentored in the use of an innovation framework and innovation mindsets. They then followed a process of meeting and forming teams, ideating, prototyping and refining their ideas which culminated in a final pitch back to the stakeholders.

“This all happened through facilitators from CORE Education, backed by community mentors who came from all around Christchurch. They were from the business sector, the civic sector, the education sector and folks who came in to work with them to build up their confidence when it came to pitching,” explains Josh.

The solutions ākonga came up with showed a high level of creativity and innovation. Some of the ideas included a digitised mental health learning experience supporting young people who are finding their path in life. Another one was a technology and learning hub designed to connect elders with tech savvy youth.

“The stakeholders were just blown away by the innovations. One of the businesses actually went on to invite the rangatahi to pitch their prototype to their partners and clients who were then equally impressed,” says Josh.

Supporting kaiako

As well as providing students with an opportunity to grow and showcase their talents, the programme also provides support for teachers.

Kura ki Pakihi can relieve the pressure on teachers to also come up with authentic contexts for assessment that reflect who the students are and where they are going in their lives.

“It spreads the load by connecting teachers with community. So businesses, civics and the education sector are all working together to supercharge opportunities for these youth.”

Many participating teachers have shown gratitude for the opportunity.

“[One teacher] was absolutely thrilled to have the chance to be part of that without having to own the whole process. It was an opportunity for her just to come and take part and have it all set up and ready to run, and have it mean something to the youth,” says Josh.

It is hoped that the next phase in the scheme will further build teacher support by inviting them to take part in solving the digital equity challenges alongside the youth, as well as being provided with resourcing and one to one support.

“We will also be working closely with the teachers to empower them with the skills, the confidence and the innovation mindsets that will be useful for engaging in those spaces.

“Alongside that, there will also be specific support to tie the learning together with NCEA and making those links to the curriculum,” says Josh.

Students work in teams to develop creative solutions.

Students work in teams to develop creative solutions.

Expanding the programme

The next stage of Kura ki Pakihi is about creating opportunities for ākonga and kaiako at nine Ōtautahi schools as opposed to just the two that were part of the first initiative.

Josh says he can also see how well the programme could run nationally. As part of this, there are plans to develop a website that will help schools and kura become involved and provide resources such as networking.

Josh advises schools wanting to undertake a similar project to connect with partners in their area that have experience, such as business and civic sectors as well as education specialists.

His second piece of advice is to lean into the voices of youth and trust them.

“One comment that we had from a couple of participants at the celebration evening was they couldn’t believe what great speakers the youth were; how articulate, how confident, how clear and how strong their messages were.

“A lot of the questions we got were people asking, ‘How did you prep them to speak that way?’ We said, ‘Well we didn’t, that is just what they’re like’. I think this has helped to shift perceptions of what youth are capable of.”

The next iteration of Kura ki Pakihi, which is confirmed with events to run in terms 1 and 2 of 2023, is named E Whiti! E Whiti!

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 9:33 AM, 21 July 2022

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