Heads address achievement
Percentage of leavers with less than NCEA Level 1 by age:
Many students are leaving the district’s schools without NCEA Level 1 according to figures gained from the Ministry of Education under the Official Information Act.
It’s a pattern South Waikato high school principals are determined to change.
About 65 per cent of the 16-yearold leavers last year left South Waikato schools without the minimum qualification.
All the district’s high school principals agreed the focus should be on what they are learning, not just a qualification title.
Tokoroa High School principal Willie Ford said low attendance was a contributor, a habit developed from year 10 and below.
He believed progress could be made if learning programmes were better tailored to the student.
The school piloted a programme this year called Alternative Block Contextual (ABC) learning to help bottom-level year 10 students.
‘‘These are the ones that don’t fit in, the ones getting into fights, smoking around the school.’’
Through that programme 25 students became engaged in learning what they were interested in, Ford said.
While a few did drop out this year, most of them stayed on to pass level 1. And he was adamant they would have left school if it weren’t for the ABC programme.
Forest View High School principal Ian Ferguson was also a fan of tailored learning programmes.
‘‘Number one is making sure that learning programmes are engaging students, not just in terms of their learning but their pastoral needs as well. The other thing is getting good careers advice.’’
Ferguson said the credits should be matched with what they want to do in life.
Putaruru College, principal Mike Ronke said student achievement had significantly improved since 2013.
While he also agreed with Ferguson on the various reasons for the statistics he said their improvement came down to a change in learning mechanisms.
‘‘We changed the timetables and option structures; there is a lot more work around goal setting.
‘‘We’re having four or five weekly updates and teachers are working much more intensely with kids who are likely to fail.’’
He said work experience for students has also helped keep them in school.