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League leads education initiative


March 20, 2014

League leads education initiative

Best known for its exploits on the field, NZ Rugby League has an exciting opportunity to showcase its programmes in the community over the next two weeks.

Wellington hosts the OECD International Summit on the Teaching Profession on March 28/29, with three Festivals of Education scheduled for Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

NZRL will feature in Auckland (March 21-24 at the Viaduct Events Centre) and Wellington (March 29 at Frank Kitts Park) festivals, with an interactive display demonstrating its work in early childhood education.

The pilot scheme, funded by the Ministry of Education, has run for just under a year, locating playgroups in several South Auckland league clubs, with plans to spread across the region and demand throughout the country.

“The ministry is starting to look at new ways of engaging early learning in families and are looking at spaces that people already come to naturally,” says project manager Casey Smith. “It’s using league to reach people.

“We’ve always have about 15-20 kids in our playgroups and that’s quite good in that area, where a typical group will struggle to maintain 10.

“It feels great to be recognised like this, because in the beginning, I didn't know where to start and didn't really have anything to measure success against.

“For the ministry to include us in this initiative is a good indicator that we’re doing something right.”

The programme sprang out of the NZRL education strategy presented to parliament, effectively offering the sport as a channel to access the Maori and Pacific Island community.

The concept fits perfectly with the NZRL vision …

New Zealand Rugby League believes that through sport, we can effect change. We can inspire and unite people a way little else can, as sport speaks to people in a language they understand.

Through our efforts, we can influence and ensure our sport is more than just a game.

“Essentially, our goal was to take community education to where the communities are and we’re proud of the result so far,” says NZRL community development general manager Dain Guttenbeil.

“We want to make rugby league clubs the hub of their communities and this is a perfect example of how to achieve that.”

The Ministry of Education is enthusiastic in its support and discussions are already underway towards a programme extension.

“We want to focus on the areas where early childhood participation is lowest,” says Jilly Tyler, who is Auckland project leader for the ministry’s early learning taskforce.

“NZRL offers a strong strategic direction for what it wants for families and it fits perfectly with our goals too.”


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