Lakeland Learning turns 25
Last year 62 Taupo¯ students decided that mainstream school wasn’t for them and they enrolled with alternative education provider Lakeland Learning.
For 25 years Lakeland Learning has offered a unique setting to help Taupo¯ students and adults gain their NCEA qualifications. Director Helen Bateman says they intend to mark the occasion today, with nibbles and bubbly at their new Totara St premises.
The school was started in 1993 by Jan Carey and Sarah Hart with Helen coming on board 17 years ago, initially as a tutor and then taking ownership in 2003.
“There was a need for an alternative place for young people to gain qualifications and to help adults upskill for employment.”
Helen says they are very proud of their achievements, ranking 19 out of 219 in the country. She says a good deal of their success is due to a strong wha¯nau culture.
“Students are treated like young adults, they are given respect and treated with dignity. We have a qualified and dedicated team who are passionate about the students and the work we do.”
Tutor Barbara Leddy adds that pastoral care is a huge factor.
“If a student has issues, for instance with housing, then there is no way they are going to be able to learn their maths. If we weren’t aware of these issues then a lot of our students would go.”
Until a few months ago Lakeland Learning Year 12 student Paige Haswell attended a local high school. Unable to access a teacher aide, despite having one while attending local primary schools, her mental disabilities meant the big classrooms and ‘one size fits all’ approach didn’t work for her.
“All the high school reports said ‘Paige doesn’t focus’. This is no surprise because I have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It was a good school, but for someone like me they didn’t provide enough help,” says Paige.
She explains that when she was much younger she put a lot of work in with counsellors who gave her important skills.
“I have Asperger’s [syndrome] and I couldn’t read other people’s emotions, I didn’t know if they were sad or happy. The counselling really helped with this.”
Getting the correct medication also took a lot of time, with Paige saying it took years of testing and countless visits to professionals to get a full diagnosis.
She says self-motivation and strong support from her mother have made her determined to train as an early childhood educator, and next year she intends enrolling in a three year bachelor’s degree at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology. “The skills learnt [at Lakeland Learning] have given me the confidence to go to polytech and to know I can pass.”
Lakeland Learning students and tutors. Director Helen Bateman (far right) says being an alternative education provider hasn’t been easy and the school is continually jumping through government hoops.
Student Paige Haswell with director Helen Bateman. Paige says skills learnt have given her confidence to take on tertiary training in 2019.