Whether it is Primary Industries, Manufacturing and Technology or Creative Industries – getting the most out of Vocational Pathways for students is one of Ruapehu College’s big priorities.
Jason White has been deputy principal at Ruapehu College since the beginning of 2014.
Charged with putting together learning pathways for the senior students, Jason says connecting the dots between vocational pathways and other parts of the curriculum, such as Gateway, is a ‘no-brainer’.
Starting in 2015, every Ruapehu year 11 to 13 student has had their future pathway, vocational pathway and their next steps recorded in the school computer system. This allows teachers and the students themselves to track career goals and how they are progressing.
“We keep our finger on the pulse with what our students are doing,” says Jason.
“The information is available for all staff to view and is constantly updated. For example, if a student changes their mind about what they want to do, a teacher can check the system and to see which new achievement standards the student needs. Or, if a student is on the job doing a Gateway course in, for example, food technology, a teacher can check their progress and advise on what achievement standards they need to do next.
“We like to make every student’s learning appropriate for what they want to end up doing in life. Our teachers are responsive to the student’s needs and in turn this makes the students more engaged and keen to learn.”
Jason works closely with Liz Hall, the school’s Gateway coordinator for the past year, to integrate the Gateway programme into everything that is going on at the school. The Gateway programme is not isolated at Ruapehu, it is integrated into everything else that’s going on at the school.
Ruapehu is one of New Zealand’s smallest state integrated secondary schools. Each year, the college is funded for 15 students to take part in Gateway.
For each student, Liz tries to connect their learning pathway plans with vocational pathways. In 2015, for example, Liz says she had several Gateway students interested in agriculture. This fitted perfectly with the Primary Industries Vocational Pathway which lets students gain work experience towards their Vocational Pathways Award, and NCEA Level 2 credits at the same time.
One of the first things Liz does when new students apply to take part in Gateway is to run them through the Vocational Pathway Profile Builder tool. This tool assists educators in planning students’ Vocational Pathways and exploring their study options.
A personalised learning pathway is put together for every student that takes part in Gateway. This gives them a chance to identify goals and work out a plan for how to get there. The tool helps educators plan a student’s Vocational Pathway and explore their study options.
Liz says she gets quite a buzz when her students discover careers they want to pursue.
“When I see a student go on to do something they really want to do it’s great,” she says. “It’s very heartwarming”.
Jason says many Ruapehu students go on to university or other tertiary study. But, for those who do not want to do so, the Gateway and Vocational Pathways programmes are working well to get them into employment, further training or further study.