Most vulnerable children to benefit from Budget funding for Te Kura

Some of the country’s most vulnerable children and young people will benefit from a Budget injection into a new way of teaching that has been introduced at Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu (formerly known as the Correspondence School), Associate Education Minister Tracey Martin announced today.

Te Kura’s Chief Executive, Mike Hollings, says the $2.6 million Budget announcement is a vote of confidence in the school’s Big Picture programme, an educational approach which places children and young people at the centre of learning.

The $640,000 per year will fund 80 places in the programme to support learners, who are at risk of disengaging from education.

Mike Hollings says Te Kura has piloted Big Picture over the past four years with a report by the Education Review Office confirming the programme has resulted in a marked increase in both student well-being and achievement.

“We also found that students achieved twice as much as students in a control group,” he says.

Te Kura’s Big Picture project focuses on getting children and young people to learn in a way that is relevant to them and the way they live. Their personalised learning programmes are based on their needs, interests and aspirations.

The project leader, Te Rina Leonard, says a prerequisite for initial funding was that the Big Picture project should target only students at serious risk of disengaging from education.

“Money for this project is about the long-term well-being of these students. It is an investment in our most vulnerable kids.”

Mike Hollings says because Te Kura is a distance education provider, it can create a different range of opportunities and challenges for teaching Big Picture to students.

“Te Kura is unique in many other ways. We operate within a strong, bicultural environment, we have a relatively large student population and our students live across the world.”

Although the Big Picture philosophy was developed overseas, Te Kura has adapted it for New Zealand students, whānau and communities.

Based on the success of the pilot, Te Kura is keen to continue the offering of the programme to more students.

“With the Budget funding, we want to take all we learned from the four years and apply it to more students,” Mr Hollings says.