Education – the gift that keeps on giving

Press Release – University of Auckland

Education – the gift that keeps on giving
Promising students from four low decile Auckland schools will now have a much better chance of achieving University Entrance thanks to a generous gift from the Buchanan Charitable Foundation to a University of Auckland initiative.

Alfriston College principal Robert Solomone, Professor Graeme Aitken, Trevor and Caroline Gray and Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart McCutcheon.

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

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.

The former Dean of EDSW and current University of Auckland Director of 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 percent of students in decile one and two schools in New Zealand achieved UE in 2016, compared with 69 percent in deciles nine and ten,” he says.

“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 support that raises aspirations and equips students with the skills and tools to successfully complete secondary school and then transition to university.”

Launched at Alfriston College in South Auckland this week, 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.

Dr Trevor 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 say.

“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’.”

Alfriston College principal Robert Solomone believes the 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 says.

As well as Alfriston College, the other school’s 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.
Editor’s notes

About For All Our Futures

New Zealand’s most ambitious fundraising campaign, For All Our Futures was launched in September 2016 with the aim of raising $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.

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

For more information: : For All Our Futures

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