An initiative strengthening relationships between Waikato secondary schools and businesses will be implemented in four more schools in the region next year.

(SSEP) will create real-world learning opportunities for students at Cambridge, Fraser and Ngaruawahia high schools, Te Kauwhata College and Waikato Diocesan School for Girls with a focus on STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and maths. These schools join Hamilton Boys’ and Thames high schools and Fairfield, Hauraki Plains and Morrinsville colleges.

Smart Waikato chief executive Mary JensenThe initiative sees employers from priority industry sectors linking into school faculties to support contextualised learning for years nine and 10 students. It aims to improve student retention and achievement, and to give insights into viable careers.

Preparing for a campylobacter outbreak, designing an enclosure for red pandas and working out how much fuel is needed to fly a plane are just a few of the real world SSEP activities that have so far shown students how what they’re learning at school is relevant.

Smart Waikato chief executive Mary Jensen said the Trust is excited to be delivering the initiative to more schools in the region thanks to support from Waikato Means Business and Waikato Federated Farmers Charitable Society, which has funded an agriculture-related SSEP at Te Kauwhata College.

SSEP was piloted at Hamilton Boys’ High (IT and technology), Fairfield College (maths), Thames High (business studies), Hauraki Plains College (English) and Morrinsville College (science) this year, impacting about 700 students. It will continue to operate at those schools in subsequent years.

“Through SSEP students learn how their school subjects are used in our region’s key industry sectors and gain valuable insight into potential careers. I am very pleased that hundreds more young people will have this advantage in 2017,” Mary said.

About 50 employers representing thousands of staff have this year worked with SSEP students of all abilities.

Business representatives have visited the classroom and students have visited workplaces to see their school subjects applied on the job first-hand.

Smart Waikato will soon be calling for more businesses to be involved in the next stage of SSEP.
“Business people involved say it’s been valuable to work with schools, mentor students, connect with educators and to help shape curriculum. It’s a win-win.”

An additional five secondary schools will participate in the initiative next year, as funding allows.

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