A unique mentoring programme run by AUT University students and Hato Petera College on Auckland’s North Shore is helping raise the achievement levels of the College’s NCEA cohort.
Aimed at students in Year 10 through to Year 13, Te Hokioi is a structured after-school programme that takes place twice a week at the Māori language immersion (Kura) school. It pairs the boarding students with second and third year tertiary students from AUT University.
As well as exam preparation and homework assistance, mentors support learning outcomes from the school's diverse curriculum, encourage positive study habits and, pass on long-term academic values to help students reach their higher education aspirations.
“Through the programme we have been able to assess the strengths and weaknesses of each student and really target the areas they need support,” says Te Hokioi co-ordinator and AUT University Bachelor of Health Science student Ray Cameron.
Ray, of Māori heritage, is studying towards becoming a podiatrist at AUT University and, as an ex-boarding student, he understands the demands students face today.
“My job is to help them build a positive outlook on education and create a focussed and stress-free study environment.”
“Te Hokioi helps students strengthen and direct their focus, learn time management skills and ignite a real passion for learning,” says Ray.
The additional tutoring has helped deliver a jump in the school's academic records, for some students by almost 50 per cent.
In 2012, Hato Petera College's NCEA results saw 43 per cent of students achieve Level 1, 63 per cent achieve Level 2 and 72 per cent achieve Level 3. By 2013 those results had lifted to 80 per cent, 100 per cent and 90 per cent respectively.
With the support of Te Hokioi, the College aims to lift achievement to 95 per cent and above, across all age groups, for the 2014 year.
One student who has benefited from the programme is 15-year-old Te Ruki Dunn. He has been part of Te Hokioi for two years and admits he thrives most on the continued encouragement.
“My mentor helps with subjects my parents wouldn't be able to, because they don't have the same have experience as my mentor does by currently studying at university.”
“Because of the help I received from my mentor, I was able to achieve an Excellence in Social Studies. He helped me find easier formulas for finding latitude and longitude coordinates and gave me practical tips to improve my study habits.”
Year 12 student Tayla-Rose Campbell has also noticed the positive impact mentoring is having on her studies.
“Before I even did my exams, I had have already passed with the number of credits I've achieved,” she says. “My mentor has helped me understand physics and chemistry even better.”
“Hato Petera has a commitment to preparing us for University. With the time we spend in the mentoring sessions, hearing about our mentors' university experiences and visiting the campus with them, it makes me feel confident that I can get there too.”
AUT University’s Pro-Vice Chancellor for Māori Advancement, Professor Pare Keiha says Te Hokioi is a fantastic step towards getting more of our Māori youth into university education.
“It is creating a strong support foundation to enable this intelligent group of Māori youth to progress successfully into university following a strong NCEA performance.”
“Their participation and perseverance in Te Hokioi is enabling them to take positive steps towards a clear career path and discover what’s really possible if they work hard and the right support systems are in place,” says Professor Keiha.
Te Hokioi isn't solely academic-focussed. There is a physical component helping students start the day with an active mind, and body.
“The fitness in the morning is really good for us,” says Cory Smith, 14. “Not just because of the physical benefits but because, if we didn't get up to work-out in the morning before school, our dorm would be slow, and slack to start the day,” he laughs. “This way, we're up and energised, ready to go.”
Reflecting on the past year with Te Hokioi, Ray has noticed a change in grades, a change in study habits and a change in attitudes and, he feels the regular presence of University undergrads at Hato Petera is a positive example of what the future holds for 'his students'.
“The students are coming to the end of their high school journey and they are beginning to think about what’s next.
“Spending time with undergraduates, working with them as peers, and being introduced to various University activities on campus opens these students’ eyes to the opportunities available to them,” says Ray.