Preparing for the journey ahead

Issue: Volume 96, Number 1

Posted: 30 January 2017
Reference #: 1H9d5p

Paeroa College’s Te Ara Tapu a Tāne Project aims to lift achievement and strengthen connections for Māori boys.

A desire to make a real difference in the learning outcomes for Māori boys led to Te Ara Tapu a Tāne Project at Paeroa College.

The school’s Innovative Learning Projects initiative allows teachers to pitch ideas that will benefit their students in special ways.

In early 2016 Miah Williams and Jocelyn Hale, both members of the school’s extended leadership team, submitted an application to run a ‘good man’ project that focused on developing the leadership qualities of Māori boys.

Driven by their passion and affinity for Māori and Pasifika student achievement and a social justice background, both teachers firmly believe that what is good for Māori students will benefit all. In particular, Jocelyn and Miah wanted to directly address the school’s 2015 e-asTTle results.

Using a Visible Learning ‘effect sizes’ framework, they were looking for the students to have an effect size of 0.4 or greater, but unfortunately this was not the case for some students.

“We were confronted and challenged by learning that 70 per cent of our Māori boys did not make one year’s progress for one year’s learning, and in fact some students went backwards,” says Jocelyn.

“That gave us the impetus to do something for these students in particular.”

Te Ara Tapu A Tāne project 2016

The overarching aim of Te Ara Tapu a Tāne is to support young Māori men in their personal and academic success and help them to become positive role models within the school community.

“A long-term goal is for this to no longer be a specific group, but to just become the ‘Paeroa College way’,” says Jocelyn.

“If we think beyond the school grounds, our communities need strong men – men who are up to the challenges that life throws at them. They need a sense of connection and belonging for that.”

The project aims to:

  • Strengthen connections between young men and adults in the school
  • Instill a strong sense of pride in each student of their abilities and culture
  • Develop the knowledge that each student’s voice is important and can make a difference to the future of their whānau, the school, and their own pathway through life
  • Encourage students to use and share the talents and strengths they possess. 

Time spent on the project varied throughout the year.

“We used some academic tutoring time but the project has largely taken place before and after school and on weekends,” says Jocelyn.

Jocelyn and Miah arranged for a variety of inspirational speakers to visit the students. They also took them to community events such as a Rotary dinner and school working bee, and trips away to other parts of the country.

“We were really fortunate to have inspirational people come and talk to us about what they think makes a ‘good man,’ their own journey through life, and how they got to where they are.”

In the early days of establishing the project, Miah and Jocelyn visited Kelston Boys’ High School (which runs a similar programme named ‘No bro left behind’), Dilworth Boys’ School, De La Salle College and Tarawera High School. This allowed them to gain knowledge and understanding about the various programmes, the pitfalls, and the success stories to enable them to create their own version. It also gave them an awareness of being more culturally responsive to the students’ needs.

They referred to relevant texts, including the Guide to effective and safe practice in youth mentoring in Aotearoa New Zealand (2nd edition), Visible learning by John Hattie, Legacy: What the All Blacks can teach us about the business of life by James Kerr, and David Galbraith’s Unleashing greatness.

Jocelyn says the project has exceeded her expectations.

“It’s been hugely exciting – probably the most exciting work I’ve done in my teaching career,” she says. “For me it’s about seeing the growth within the boys over the year they’ve been involved with the project."

“At the beginning they didn’t like the idea of learning public speaking, for example, but by the end of the year they were all comfortable with it. Their families have got on board too, and we’re all so proud of the boys’ successes.”

Embedding the programme

Twenty students of various ages were invited to join the project in its first year, and more are keen to be involved in 2017.

An additional teacher has been brought on board for 2017, and the hope is that the programme will be fully embedded in the school within several years.

The leadership team at Paeroa College wants students to develop a strong sense of self and knowledge of their connections to the world.

“Every student and teacher involved will know their pepeha and therefore their links to each other and our place. We will each be able to play a pivotal part in pōwhiri, the school haka and have a great sense of pride and understanding of what it means to be Māori and/or Pasifika,” says Jocelyn.

ARoNA links

Some of the participants in Te Ara Tapu a Tāne Project were previously identified as part of ARoNA (At Risk of Not Achieving) – the cohort of students at risk of not passing NCEA Level 2.

Having the ARoNA mentoring support resulted in individual plans being set up for each student to support academic achievement and success.

There were some ARoNA students who were not part of Te Ara Tapu Tāne programme; however, the school was able to ensure those students were supported to remain at school and engage with education towards career pathways of their choice.

The programme has opened up opportunities for these students and supported them to set goals that will allow better choice in their future lives.

Strengthening values and connections

The boys have shared their journey so far with school staff and have noticed positive changes within themselves and their whānau.

One student said that being involved in the project had strengthened his relationship with whānau and, in particular, his father.

As part of the project, the boys were given the opportunity to travel to Wellington and for some it was their first visit ever out of the community. One particular place they visited was a boxing gym where owner Billy Graham spoke about his own life journey and how he was able to turn his life around, which the students found very inspiring.

For the students, being a part of the programme has contributed to the following:

  • Confidence.
  • Building and maintaining relationships.
  • Core values – showing commitment, being selfless not selfish, pride in whānau.
  • Community work in Hamilton; for example, helping to serve food at a local homeless shelter and participating in a working bee at Goldfields School.

Jocelyn says she and Miah have been overwhelmed with the support they’ve received from the Paeroa community since establishing the programme.

“It’s been amazing actually because we’ve engaged with parts of the community the boys might not have been involved with otherwise."

“The community groups we’ve visited have been really impressed with the boys and that in turn has added to their confidence and wellbeing.”

Student voices

The boys were asked if there was one positive thing they could share with other students around the country as a result of being involved in the programme:

  • Take every opportunity you are given.
  • Create a good life and make the right choices.
  • Don’t hang out with friends that will lead you down the wrong path.
  • Don’t be scared to fail.

Guiding Whakatauki

Na te matauranga I whakapaia tou haere whakamua

“Open the doors of your mind to the passionate plea of your tupuna, it is knowledge that will prepare you for the journey forward.”

Kawhangia, katupu, ka puawai

“That which is nurtured, blossoms, then grows.”

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 10:59 PM, 30 January 2017

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