Programme to lift low decile students to Varsity

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Promising students from four low decile Auckland schools will have a better chance of achieving University Entrance, thanks to a gift from the Buchanan Charitable Foundation to a University of Auckland initiative.

For the past decade, the University, through the Faculty of Education and Social Work (EDSW) Woolf Fisher Research Centre, The Centre for Educational Leadership and The Starpath Project, has been conducting long-term research into the factors that enhance success at secondary school and entry into university education, for students from under-represented groups.

Support and Advocacy

Informed by that work, a new Programme has been designed to enable greater success at University Entrance (UE) by providing academic support and advocacy for students and their families, and by giving students regular access to role models with whom they identify and who are successful in university education.

Former EDSW Dean and the current University of Auckland Director, Educational Initiatives Professor Graeme Aitken has been central to developing the Programme.

“We are often disappointed with the numbers attending university from lower decile schools. Just 17% of students in decile one and two schools in New Zealand achieved UE in 2016, compared with 69% in deciles nine and ten,” he said.

“While university education is not for everyone, the reality is that we will not turn around the access statistics unless we work with schools to provide the support that raises aspirations and equips students with the skills and tools to successfully complete secondary school and then transition to university.”

Buying Teachers’ time

Launched at Alfriston College in South Auckland recently, the Programme will involve ‘buying’ the time of senior teachers across the four schools to work closely with the students, with a focus on supporting achievement in subjects that will give them access to university.
These senior leaders will be the students’ problem-solvers, advocates, and allies as they navigate their way through NCEA. This support from school leadership will be coupled with mentoring from students who have graduated from their school and are now successfully engaged in university study.

The longer-term hope is that the mentored students will, in turn, become university student mentors at their old schools.

Achieving positive impact

Dr Trevor Gray and Dr Caroline Gray of the Buchanan Foundation approached the University, interested in helping students at low-decile schools pursue tertiary study.

“By enabling promising senior school students to explore a clearer path to university, and giving them the necessary support, we hope to equip them with tools to achieve their dreams of academic and career success,” they said.

In doing so, this Programme should have a positive impact on their families, friends, communities and future generations. In this sense, education is indeed ‘the gift that keeps on giving,” they said.

Changing lives

Alfriston College Principal Robert Solomone believes that Programme has the potential to change the lives of his students.

“Many of our learners need to see for themselves the potential that others see in them, and a programme like this will help us do this even better,” he said.

As well as Alfriston College, the other school involved are Aorere College, Onehunga High School, and Tangaroa College.

The Foundation’s gift of $1.867 million will fund the pilot project over the next four years. It was received as part of the University of Auckland’s For All Our Futures campaign.
About For All Our Futures

New Zealand’s most ambitious fundraising campaign, For All Our Futures was launched in September 2016 aiming to raise $300 million to put towards Programmes, Research and Scholarships to help the University of Auckland contribute to some of the biggest questions facing society today.

Some Questions

Questions posed include: Can we stop wasting talent? Can we dramatically improve cancer survival rates? Can we have clear rivers and seas? Can we prepare young New Zealanders to be global citizens and influencers?

Donors, trusts and foundations, alumni, staff, and friends of the University have contributed to the campaign, indicating the areas they wish to support.

A majority of the gifts have been made for a specific purpose, from funding significant chairs of study to supporting scholarship initiatives.

The campaign closes on October 31, 2019 and the final total will be announced on November 21, 2019.

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Photo Caption”

The stakeholders (from left) Robert Solomone, Professor Graeme Aitken, Trevor & Caroline Gray and University of Auckland Vice-Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon (Picture Supplied)

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