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With funding from the New Zealand Ministry of Education, Check & Connect is implemented across the country in New Zealand. This is the story of one site in West Auckland.
Mentors Daniel Samuta and Arthur Mui started the journey of implementing Check & Connect in two high schools in West Auckland in September 2014. They started with six students each, three from each school, and currently their case loads total 31 students. Recently, they started serving students in a middle school experiencing high rates of crime and gang activity.
West Auckland is an ethnically diverse city including a large Maori and Pacific Island population. Ninety percent of their referrals are of Maori or Pacific Island heritage. They have created a culturally responsive approach — termed "The modern day village approach" — to cater to that specific context. They have taken three traditional Maori and Pacific island practices and given them a modern day twist.
Scope: Two dedicated, full-time mentors are currently serving 31 students in two high schools and one middle school in West Auckland, New Zealand.
Student population and grades served: Mentors are serving year seven to year eleven students (middle school and high school) for a period of two years. Most students have at least one or both parents at home with the exception of a few that live with in transient situations. Ninety percent of their referrals are of Maori or Pacific Island heritage. Some students have physical disabilities such as Perthies disease (condition of the hips), repetitive strain injury, and congenital heart defect.
Referral criteria: Students usually are referred if they have shown a drop in attendance (around 65%), continuous misbehaving in class, and have possible gaps in learning due to absences. Before a referral is made, the school obtains parental consent; before the mentors are allocated the referrals, they are assessed as to whether or not they need extra interventions such as a teacher aid in class or a reader writer.
Outcomes: Ninety percent of the year eleven students are on track to passing NCEA level 1. Five of students who previously passed NCEA have aquired apprenticeships in the building and fabrication industry. All of the year nine students (currently transitioned into high school) have made an increase in their class engagement and attendance. Since being in these schools, teachers and student champions (Senco's) have experienced the impact they have made with the students. Some of these students who have had behavioral issues have dramatically settled down in class because of their connection to their mentor and their mentor's connection to their families. The Senco's, teachers, and parents have gone on camera and written letters to personally vouch about the impact we have made and the need for the Check & Connect program in their schools.
Funded by: The New Zealand Ministry of Education
"We highly rate the Check & Connect program here because they not only provide interventions which encourage students to grow in capacity but they are also positive role models which many students lack these days. The strength of having external mentors come in and build relationships with our students is that it gives the teachers boundaries and enables them to focus on their work and not be overloaded with 'too many hats.'" - Check & Connect coordinator
"It came to the schools attention that my son had some issues with engagement in class. After meeting with Dan and the Check & Connect team we immediately found that he had RSI and it was a root to why he struggled so much in class. The support he has received from Check & Connect has given him a new found confidence and he has achieved grades in tests and exams that exceeded his own expectations. They have also provided me with a line of communication with the school which had been a struggle in the past." - Check & Connect student's parent
"The Check & Connect program is a vital link for the school support system because they provide a valuable program that the school support faculty do not have. The benefit of being an external provider means that our students feel safe and confident that their needs will be met and the value of having a relationship with someone outside of the school encourages transparency from our students. They provide a holistic intervention as the connections they enable between the family and the school as well as the other specialist workers allow for an open forum and collaborative approach." - Acting faculty head of student support services
"[My mentor] taught me lot about how to organize myself and communicate with teachers to do well. She pushes the teachers about what I need to do, and the teachers push me further." - Check & Connect student
"Weekly sessions. Having someone listening and letting me 'take the wheel'. Setting goals and achieving them. Helping me in my dark times. Instilled leadership qualities in me that I am using in school." - Check & Connect student
Posted March 5, 2013.