Responsive programmes open doors to a range of careers in Rotorua

Issue: Volume 102, Number 15

Posted: 16 November 2023
Reference #: 1HAdke

Rotorua Boys' High School have taken a practical approach to education and training programmes to better engage ākonga and enhance their learning experience.

Students help build a home for housing agency Kāinga Ora. All photos in this article are supplied by Rotorua Boys’ High School

Students help build a home for housing agency Kāinga Ora. All photos in this article are supplied by Rotorua Boys’ High School

Rotorua Boys' High School (RBHS) has expanded its education and training
programmes, empowering students with the skills they need to pursue a range of careers.

With more than 50 percent of their students opting for vocational pathways after leaving school, it’s vital they have a range of high-quality options to choose from, says Chevez Makan, head of the pathways programme at RBHS.

Through the Gateway programme, which integrates structured workplace learning with school-based learning, around 85 of the school's Year 12 and 13 students gain valuable exposure each year to various industries, including construction and infrastructure, manufacturing and technology, primary industries, service industries social and community industries, and creative industries.

Training in whakairo (Māori carving), automotive technology, and food technology is also available. The school's rugby and basketball academies have opened doors to professional careers for several former students, who include Olympians, All Whites players, rugby union players and All Blacks players.

Expansion to building and engineering

In 2022, RBHS expanded its offerings by establishing a building academy and an engineering academy.

The building academy, which is supported by Kāinga Ora, is a full-time programme with around 20 Year 12 and 13 students gaining hands-on experience in carpentry, plumbing and electrical work under the guidance of teachers who are registered builders. The main class project is building homes for Kāinga Ora.

Another 20 students learn skills in product design and manufacturing engineering with the engineering academy, a double-period subject. To showcase their skills, students are tasked to construct a barbecue smoker. Funding from the Rotoruabased charity One Foundation enabled the school to acquire cutting-edge machinery for the course.

A student at work at the engineering academy

A student at work at the engineering academy

Local partnerships

Through the school's partnership with local businesses, ākonga gain exposure to workplace environments and learn directly from professionals.

"The hands-on, practical approach in these programmes has been effective in
engaging students and enhancing their learning experience," says Chevez.
"Students appreciate the real-world relevance of what they're learning and the opportunity to apply their knowledge in meaningful projects."

To ensure high-quality teaching is provided, RBHS has hired qualified professionals, including two builders, two painters, an electrician and an engineer.

Chevez says the school was conscious of providing a well-rounded education to all of its students, and that entailed aligning their programmes with what employers want and need.

Students learn industry-relevant skills, including critical thinking, creative problemsolving, planning, and how to communicate effectively. Literacy and numeracy are also a big focus.

The school's NCEA attainment rates bear out this approach. In 2022, 95.1 percent of RBHS students achieved NCEA Level 3. The RBHS attainment rates of 85.9 percent for NCEA Level 1 and 82.5 percent for NCEA Level 2 are also high compared to national statistics.

"Our programmes have encouraged students to follow their interests and pursue meaningful career paths. By having tangible outcomes and projects, students can take pride in what they have achieved," says Chevez.

"As word has spread about the success and effectiveness of our vocational
programmes, we have had businesses approaching us with interest in collaborating and offering opportunities, including apprenticeships and on-the-job training, to our students."

The broadening of its programme offerings has also given a boost to engagement and attendance rates at RBHS, which has a roll of around 1200 students.

"In the past, students who chose not to go to university left school before
completing Year 13. But since we introduced and expanded our vocational
programmes, we have reversed this trend,” concludes Chevez.

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BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 9:18 am, 16 November 2023

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