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Māori Science Academy surpasses national pass rates

January 2017

Pūhoro STEMM kaupapa

In 2017 a unique STEMM kaupapa that guides young Māori into careers in science has resulted in pass rates that surpass nationwide averages.

The Pūhoro kaupapa began in 2016 and was designed to guide secondary schools students through NCEA, prepare them for transfer to tertiary study and ultimately to employment in a scientific career.

The following results from 2017 show the students’ performance (achievement rates) in core external achievement standards in NCEA level 1 physics, chemistry and biology.

  • Chemistry (AS90944): Non-Māori: 67 per cent, Māori: 62 per cent, and Pūhoro students: 87 per cent.
  • Physics (AS90940): Non-Māori: 74 per cent, Māori: 71 per cent, and Pūhoro student: 76 per cent
  • Biology (AS90948): Non-Māori: 72 per cent, Māori: 64 per cent, Pūhoro students: 76 per cent

"We couldn’t be more proud"

Director of Academy Programmes Naomi Manu says that the prevailing narrative is that Māori students are over-represented among lower performing students in science programmes within secondary schools.

“We couldn’t be more proud of what our students have been able to achieve. This all started with a desire to see a new wave of Māori students given the tools to have an impact on Māori economic development in the sciences and see Māori leadership contribute to new developments in the 21st Century.

“These students have managed to not only close the achievement gap, but exceeded the nationwide pass rate in the core science subjects".

“It’s not just a win for us, or even just for the students, but for the whānau that supported their tamariki, the scientific industry who provided support, Massey lecturers and staff who have given their time and passion, and the countless others who have made it possible to give these students the best experience.”

Up and beyond

Officially launched in January 2016, the Pūhoro programme engaged 97 students and over 400 whānau, with participants representing 42 iwi throughout Aotearoa and comprised of schools in the Manawatū and Bay of Plenty regions. Schools at the time included: Te Wharekura o Mauao; Murupara Area School; Te Kura o Kauwhata; Hato Pāora College; Feilding High School; Awatapu College; Manukura; and Palmerston North Boys’ High School.

Working within schools

Pūhoro Kaihautū (Navigators) work within schools to complete a tutorial/mentoring session once per week and one wānanga at a tertiary institute per term. Throughout 2016, students attended weekly tutorial and mentoring sessions. Pūhoro delivered 124 tutorials and 45 mentoring sessions across eight schools.

Ms Manu says that tutorial sessions are designed to provide additional support outside of the students’ regular classroom settings.

“They provide an opportunity for Māori students to get to know one another, share knowledge, learn together and build whanaungatanga. Tutorial sessions are focused on NCEA provision and in particular the external achievement standards. The sessions are designed around student feedback about science topics or principles they struggled with in their regular classroom.”

The field trips are designed by working with schools, whānau, iwi, students, and industry sponsors to expose the breadth of career opportunities within the science and technology sector and allow students to contextualise learning through field trips and laboratory visits.

Student selection into the programme is based on student desire to join the programme and commitment to undertake the additional requirements including the tutorial/mentoring sessions. Students who are already excelling in science are not chosen; instead those who are on the cusp of success or who need extra help are admitted into the programme.

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