Republished with the kind permission of the North Shore Times.
In term two of 2016, Leeah Chou-Lee was not on course to achieving her level 2 NCEA qualifcation.
In February 2017, the 17-year-old was back studying at Glenfield College on Auckland’s North Shore, with goals of entering the navy and attending university.
Chou-Lee is just one of the students to benefit from a number of strategies to boost achievement implemented by new principal, CJ Healey, who joined the college in April 2016.
One of those was the Achievers Programme designed to help identified students.
The students’ photos were stuck on a large board on the staffroom wall. Each week, teachers would update the board with the number of credits the students had achieved, the number they still needed and whether or not they had made progress that week, indicated by a green or amber arrow.
The teachers learned the names and needs of the students and celebrated small achievements formally and informally.
“Because the teachers got excited about it, the kids did too,” Healey said.
The school’s existing mentoring programme was also developed, pairing each student and their caregivers up with a teacher who they would meet with regularly to set and review goals.
The final push was the Glenfield Academic Programme, which Chou-Lee participated in. During study leave, students who still needed a few more credits returned to school to resit previous, or take new, assessments with the aim of getting the credits they needed.
“I felt good about myself. It made me feel like I could do many more things,” Chou-Lee said. Chou-Lee was also awarded top student in the services academy in 2016 and plays tag rugby at a regional level. She was named a student leader for 2017.
Rona Wharawhara, 17, also participated in the programme.
“Personally, I didn’t want to do it. But when I got here, my teacher, he took the time and helped me with everything,” Wharawhara said.
“It was one-on-one, there were no distractions. It felt like he was zoned in on me and that’s why I passed.”
Bayview resident and year 13, Kayley Balderstone said, while 2015 wasn’t a bad year, in 2016 there was more drive to achieve and it felt as if teachers were personally involved.
“The mentoring programme made a huge difference. The teachers had a group of students to keep encouraging,” Balderstone said.
“It was felt around school and you can see it in the way staff treat us. They want to see us succeed.”
Balderstone, 17, is going to the French-speaking part of Switzerland on February 23. She was awarded a six-month scholarship for the trip.
At the college in 2015, level one, two and three participation-based pass rates were 83.2 per cent, 80.9 per cent and 69 per cent respectively.
According to provisional NCEA results that’s jumped to 92.7, 94.1 and 94.4 per cent, respectively, a jump of more than 25 per cent in the level three category.
Almost 65 per cent of students also achieved university entrance in 2016, compared with about 46 in 2015.
Healey said, while there has been a rise in achievement, the school still has a long way to go and has initially focussed on achievement before merit and excellence endorsements.
“Once we’ve got staff that believe and students that believe it’s possible, then it becomes reality.”
– Stuff/North Shore Times/Zizi Sparks