Starpath extends its reach to Northland

Media release
Issued 21 May 2008

Tikipunga High School in Whangarei has become the first school outside of Auckland to take part in a pioneering research project to increase the number of Māori, Pacific and students from low-income backgrounds attending university.

The Starpath Project, based at The University of Auckland, aims to transform educational outcomes for students underrepresented in higher education in New Zealand through evidence-based research.

Starpath researchers will follow the educational journey of Tikipunga High School students as they progress from Year 9 to 13, looking particularly at achievement and retention. The project will identify the barriers where underachieving students diverge from the path to tertiary education, and then develop strategies for schools and students to overcome these barriers.

Close attention will be given to the experience of Māori students, and how NCEA as a qualification system impacts the life chances of different groups of students. The transition to university of those students who do progress will be followed.

"Starpath is excited to be working with Tikipunga High School. Moving to Northland gives Starpath an opportunity to focus on a more rural and significantly Māori community. In particular we wish to work with Tikipunga to investigate ways to increase the number of their students to degree level study," says Associate Professor Elizabeth McKinley, Director of Starpath.

Peter Garelja of Tikipunga High School says "We are delighted to be selected as a Starpath school. We are very ambitious for our students and have been pleased with the significant upward shifts in NCEA results we are achieving. Involvement in this project will enable us to further enhance our skills in the use of data and allow the school to develop a sustainable approach towards enabling each student to realise their learning potential."

Northland is of interest to The Starpath Project as it has significant numbers of Māori students and low-decile school students, who are currently underrepresented in tertiary education. Northland students face additional challenges compared with their urban counterparts including smaller schools, less access to educational resources, and most have to leave home to attend a tertiary institute.

Tikipunga High School is decile two school with a roll of 443 students, and has 70 percent Māori enrolment.

The extension of the Starpath Project into Northland has been assisted by an ASB Community Trust grant.