Scheme helps students 'crack' maths
Not long ago Meremere Paitai was an uncertain 11-year-old who was failing at maths.
But thanks to an after-school tuition programme that is taking off in the Far North, the bright young student is now "cracking it" in high school.
The Number Works'n Words programme was introduced by the Te Aupouri Maori Trust Board to help Te Hiku children with their maths and english.
Based in Kaitaia, 64 children from 10 schools in and around the small town have enrolled since it opened late July.
Bay of Islands College principal and Maori Trust Board deputy chairman John Paitai said his granddaughter Meremere was struggling with maths at her Auckland intermediate school in year 8.
There were concerns she would fall further behind when she started high school.
Paitai suggested to Meremere's mum to enrol her in the pilot programme funded by Te Aupouri iwi and held in Auckland in 2012.
About 50 youngsters attended the year-long project.
"It's turned her life around," Paitai said.
"She went from the bottom of the class to right at the top.
"She went from being really uncertain to total confidence."
Schools taking part in the programme include Taipa Area School, Kaitaia College, Kaitaia Intermediate, Oturu School and Kaitaia Primary.
Number Works was formed 30 years ago in Auckland by four friends who were teachers.
The programme uses tailored software and current technology to teach key skills and maths sense with a teacher to pupil ratio of one to four.
Paitai said having one-on-one teachers who "don't leave [students] until they get it" was key for Meremere who now wants to be a vet.
"It's made the world of difference to her.
"She's now at high school at Orewa College.
"She's cracking it there."
Maori Trust Board chairman Ray Subritzky said the Kaitaia centre gives the region's children a fresh focus and a new hope for the future.
"We have identified that education is a key building block for our kids, so we are putting our resources at the front end," he said.
"We face some pretty unique challenges in the Far North - there are social challenges, larger families, lack of money, growing class sizes, distance from school.
"Our people haven't engaged in the education space in a meaningful way like this for a long time."
The first Number Works after-school maths tuition centre was established in Northcote in 1984. English tuition systems were added in 2007 and there are now 23 learning centres around the country.
The Kaitaia centre has also recruited year 12 and 13 Kaitaia College students to be tutors, giving them after school jobs. It's open from 3.30pm to 7.30pm Monday to Friday.