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Tag: Tertiary High School

Secondary-Tertiary Pathways: Collaboration, Collaboration, Collaboration


Written by Colleen Young, MIT Centre for Studies in Multiple Pathways / PhD Candidate


Seven out of ten of our senior secondary students in New Zealand will not attend University.  Increasing student failure and youth unemployment has focused educators on creating multiple pathways with increased programme choices for senior secondary students.  Student failure should not be an option for any of our senior secondary students.  However, pathways development requires collaboration.

We know that providing increased choices and student-centred learning rather than what works best for an organisation or continuing with the “status quo” requires new ways of working and problem solving in the secondary-tertiary space.   The need for educators to collaborate with other providers, share resources and create individual learning pathways for each learner is paramount, to enable improved student success, if we are going to achieve the 85% government “Better Public Service Target”  of all 18 year olds achieving NCEA Level 2 by 2017.   

High School leaders and management staff are now beginning to build sustainable partnerships with other educational providers with the assistance of the newly established Youth Guarantee Networks.    Although over the last decade secondary schools have introduced Gateway and STAR programmes which have required staff to collaborate with tertiary providers and/or employers, the challenge now is to be able to implement these types of initiatives on a much larger scale.  Youth Guarantee programmes such as Trades Academies, Tertiary Fees Free Places are examples of collaboration between secondary and tertiary providers over the past few years.  For example, New Zealand’s first Tertiary High School (THS), (School of Secondary-Tertiary Studies) situated at the Manukau Institute of Technology was established in February 2010 with the aim of improving student outcomes for students identified as disengaging  in Year 10 and likely to fail in a traditional school setting in Year 11. Implementing a mixed secondary-tertiary program has allowed for THS students to undertake NCEA Level 1, 2 and 3 while simultaneously gaining credits towards a tertiary qualification at MIT.  Now, the THS is in its fourth year and the indications are that the THS students’ achievement, progression and transition into postsecondary education and/or work are demonstrating huge success.  The THS student success has not just happened without enormous effort on everyone’s part.  It required huge collaboration from all parties:  the Ministry of Education, Tertiary Education Commission, Manukau Institute of Technology, surrounding secondary schools in the southern Auckland region, New Zealand Qualifications Framework, local community, whanau and students.  But, there was a trade-off.  For schools to identify students at risk of disengaging and to encourage them to apply to the THS, they knew that the school was at risk of losing a percentage of the funding for that student.  This required faith and trust and a student-centred approach to managing the schools funds.  The THS shows us that with determination and a student-centred approach that all other challenges such as funding or duty of care can be solved with the key stakeholders’ willingness to put student success at the top of the agenda. 

In an effort to improve collaboration amongst the various secondary-tertiary providers and the employers, the Ministry of Education has been establishing Youth Guarantee Networks throughout New Zealand with the key focus to create partnerships between schools, tertiary education providers, and training organisations and for this group to focus on developing a collaborative approach to increasing NCEA Level 2 achievement rates in their communities.  In future, the Ministry of Education wants to also work with industry leaders, business advocacy groups and employers with the intention of improving the skills and competencies to respond to the local communities employment needs. 

In addition, the five Vocational Pathways (Social and Community Services, Manufacturing and Technology, Construction and Infrastructure, Primary Industries and Services Industries) developed in collaboration with the Industry Training Federation, released by the Ministry of Education are an important tool to assist students when making their choices for their future career pathway.  Once fully understood by both students and education providers the five Vocational Pathways can be used not only as an achievement record and assisting with senior secondary school programme choices but the aim is to also use the Vocational Pathways as a diagnostic tool at an earlier age (perhaps Year 9) to ensure students see the benefit and purpose to their learning programme over time. 

While there are some challenges faced by all providers such as a lack of understanding of the Vocational Pathways, funding frameworks and what pathways should be introduced by each Youth Guarantee Network, for which students and by which provider, it is crucial for us as educators to put the student first in all of our discussions.  Working collaboratively will assist our senior secondary school students on their pathway to successful transition from school to tertiary and into employment.  Let’s try not to use the silo approach and continue to work together for the good of our students!



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Talk-ED: Eating the Pudding: The Sweet Taste of Success

My Mum always said that the proof of the pudding was in the eating.  In other words, the recipe is not enough, the ingredients will not suffice, it’s what comes out of the oven and gets eaten.  That’s why results in education matter.  But I have always been opposed to league tables because they tend to hide invidious comparisons and there is always a feeling that what they set out to achieve is never quite what their creators would admit to.

The recent publication of the 2012 NCEA results in the NZ Herald does a good job of being fair by listing the results alphabetically and being restrained in its comment.  Of course the general reader is still unaware of the subtleties of the data presented and I have no doubt their minds move quickly to simple and incomplete tables in the mind that rank the schools.

Here is a table that reflects a small sample of the schools in that list – the Decile 10 schools of Auckland.

NCEA Results 2012 (NZQA Data)
    Secondary School   L1   %   L2   %   L3   %
School 1   86   89   66
School 2  *   8   77   65
School 3   91   92   80
School 4   99   97   94
School 5  **   98   99   93
School 6   75   80   74
School 7  *   81   96   79
School 8   91   98   85
School 9   95   98   88
School 10   91   93   84
School 11  *   92   88   76
School 12   85   96   100
School 13   67   71   na
School 14   87   90   87
School  **   99   98   99
School 16   95   98   95
School 17  */**   80   88   82
*     Cambridge Examination also in school    
**   International Baccalaureate also in school  


Actually, these are not just the Decile 10 schools of Auckland, this list is comprised of sixteen Decile 10 schools in Auckland but also includes one other school that is not a Decile 10 school and which appears in the Herald NCEA list.

Readers are urged before they go further to see whether at this point they can identify that school in the above list.

Because this other school recruits students who are not headed towards positive outcomes in their secondary schooling and who would benefit from an opportunity to engage with what is colloquially called “vocational and technical education” at an earlier point in their schooling.  After a process that involves the school, parents / caregivers and students, they enter a programme at a Polytechnic where a team of ten secondary school teachers supplemented by a group of 12 vocational and technical education specialists provide them with a different kind of schooling, a different way of completing their senior secondary schooling.  The NCEA assessments are the same as those in conventional schools and are moderated in the same way.

The “school” is different from others schools in a number of ways:

  •         it is not in a school setting but in a polytechnic;
  •         the students are expected to be like tertiary students rather than school students;
  •         they travel from many parts of the city to come to the school;
  •         their previous schools overall reflect a wide range of decile levels but the intake is weighted towards those from low decile schools;
  •         the ethnicity of the students reflects the future demographic profile of Auckland.

The programme they undertake has some quite unique general features which include: 

  •          earlier access to technical, career and vocational subjects;
  •          clear pathways through to tertiary qualifications;
  •          a curriculum structure that meets the requirements of the NZ Curriculum through achievement standards but which integrates the secondary elements with the tertiary elements;
  •          the capacity to generate credits to both NCEA and other qualifications;
  •          the opportunity to study at multiple NCEA levels simultaneously in Year 11 and Year 12;
  •          making available to students multiple pathways that lead them to positive outcomes.
  •          High levels of student monitoring, mentoring and partnerships with whanau
  •          Strong learning relationships

Above all, the students in this Tertiary High School have purpose and direction.  Let’s be clear, not all last the distance – some head off to employment, some to other providers, a small number return to their schools – but the retention figures are well ahead of national levels.

The first year of this programme (Year 11 in a conventional school) allows students to study in a number of technical disciplines as well as completing a full Level 1 NCEA programme in mainstream secondary subjects.  Students then choose to move into a fulltime tertiary course or complete NCEA level 2 and one tertiary area of study.  The majority of students choose to complete NCEA Level 2 and then move into fulltime tertiary courses in years 13 and 14.  A small group remain in the programme to complete NCEA level 3.  If the pathway they chose after that year is a technical pathway they would start that around the time of reaching NCEA Level 2.  This is a critical component that ensures that the selection of a future pathway is based on knowledge and experience of what that pathway entails and where it will lead to – and with a set of applied educational skills as a learner.

These specialised pathways often involve the stair casing journey to industry recognised qualifications.  But, and here is Surprise Number 1, the pathway some chose is an “academic pathway” into a degree programme.  This pathway is in reality both academic and vocational.

Furthermore, Surprise Number 2 is that an “academic pathway” has emerged in the programme and a group of students chose a pathway that takes them to NCEA Level 3 (with University Entrance) – they want access to degree programmes at any tertiary provider.  (One student who completed University Entrance and NCEA Level 3 started in a degree at the University of Auckland last year but he was quite exceptional.)

So here is a “league table” that the Manukau Institute of Technology Tertiary High School (internally known as the School of Secondary-Tertiary Studies) can get into.  But it doesn’t reflect the range of successes that the programme is having.  Some students have stepped into employment after obtaining the requisite qualifications (and that includes NCEA to the appropriate level), others are in Year 3 or Year 4 of the programme and fully engaged in tertiary programmes including degree level study, some have returned to their school to resume their education, some have shifted towns and countries with families to continue their education in other places.

This is not a secondary school and doesn’t offer some of the attractions that an excellent secondary school offers.  But it does have its attractions.  It does offer what in the views of parents and caregivers, the schools they had been attending and the students themselves something that had seemed out of reach and unlikely – educational success, positive outcomes, and the opportunity to be a successful contributing member of a family and a community.

In short, the sweet taste of success.


[For those who couldn’t spot the odd one out in the table of Auckland Decile 10 Schools – the Manukau Institute of Technology Tertiary High School is School No. 12]


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