School points to distance learning as essential to success
The head of a Palmerston North Tai Wananga school praised for its perfect pass rates says encouraging students to learn via correspondence has been a vital ingredient in its success.
Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu (The Correspondence School of New Zealand) chief executive Mike Hollings yesterday told Radio New Zealand that mainstream schooling was not appropriate for some children.
He pointed to Palmerston North's Tu Toa School, which last year boasted 100 per cent NCEA pass rates, as an example of distance learning success.
"They are highly successful. In fact, every single student from that school has achieved a minimum of NCEA level two before graduating," Mr Hollings said.
Tu Toa director Nathan Durie said that in its infancy the school had only two teachers and had to fill the gaps with correspondence learning.
Now, all 83 students at the Manawatu school get at least part of their education via correspondence.
The school tends to take on students competing in sport at a high level, and turns down one in eight applicants because of government caps on Tai Wananga school rolls.
It will increase its roll to the maximum 120 students next year.
"There's a huge demand from students from all around the country wanting to come and be part of us," Mr Durie said.
"The longer students become engaged with a programme like this, the more they can manage their own learning."
Mr Durie said correspondence provided a "huge spectrum of knowledge" tailored to individual pupils' needs.
Mr Durie said the school was keen to shrug off its public perception as a sporting academy.
Tu Toa pupils were set weekly academic targets. If they didn't meet them, they could kiss goodbye to sporting engagements, said year 13 pupil Kaylin Huwyler-Hunia, 18.
This weekend he will be capped as one of three of Tu Toa's first round of pupils to graduate after completing all five years of secondary schooling there.
He has played for the New Zealand Maori under-19 golfing team since age 12 and plans to apply for golfing scholarships to gain a place to study business at a United States university.
Talia Hullena, 18, from Masterton, has been at the school two years, transferring from St Matthews Collegiate to pursue netball.
She does all of her study by correspondence and wants to study a BCom at Victoria University next year.
"It's really preparing us for university.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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