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Rough start turns to bright future

Rough start turns to bright future: Tama MacDonald, Marlborough Boys’ College


Tama MacDonald is finding his place in the world despite a ‘rough and confusing’ start. Tama doesn’t like change so the transition from school into the workforce has been daunting for the Marlborough teenager. But strong relationships with supportive teachers at Marlborough Boys’ College and the right school curriculum have set him on a smoother course.

Life hasn’t been plain sailing for Tama who was under the care of Child, Youth and Family.

“I’m nervous about change. I like things to stay the same. I didn’t see a bright future. I was stressed out. There were changes in family life, in life all together. The prospect of working, of getting a job was too much to get my head around,” he says.

Assistant Principal of Marlborough College James Ryan says Tama was doing poorly in the traditional school system.

“We wanted to help Tama and we knew he had potential,” says James. “So we worked closely with him and decided Tama was a good candidate for Vocational Pathways and the Gateway funding.”

Using the Vocational Pathway profile builder with Tama, his teachers looked at his interests, computer gaming and cooking, and his strengths and mapped out where he should focus his study. And Tama agreed that ‘Services Industries’ and hospitality in particular made sense for him.

James says that they also looked job prospects in Marlborough and aligned Tama’s skills with these opportunities.

As a result, Tama secured a place in the kitchen of function centre, Clubs of Marlborough.

Tama has spent every Thursday working as cook and chief fryer for Marlborough Club’s Taylor Restaurant.

Through this Tama was able to earn credits to achieve NCEA Level 2.

Tama says his future is now brighter.

“I’m looking at a better future. What I’m doing is fun and I look forward to it. I really like and enjoy the people I’m working with. I know I have a lot of support. I’m already working part-time for Clubs of Marlborough and I am hopeful this will lead to a permanent job in the future. I feel good about myself.”

Tama says the programme and Vocational Pathways has given him an opportunity to settle into the real world.

“Without it I wouldn’t have been able to settle in. It means I’m ready, and confident. I know I’m a reliable asset to the team.”

Arthur Graves, the Ministry of Education’s Group Manager for Youth Guarantee says of Vocational Pathways: “When students study subjects in areas which are relevant and interesting to them, then they are much more likely to stay at school and remain engaged with their learning and having NCEA Level 2 also means students are well-prepared to undertake further training, study or work, as they have a solid foundation to build on.”

Marlborough Boys’ College has strong Gateway and STAR (Secondary Tertiary Alignment Resource) funded programmes which come under the Ministry of Education’s Youth Guarantee initiative and are implemented under Vocational Pathways. Vocational Pathways is a tool that provides a clear framework for subject options helping link a student’s study to study or work after school.

James says this year the school has had over 40 boys out in the workplace for one day a week.

“The record of students using the Gateway funded programme to get experience in the workplace to help drive academic achievement as well as secure jobs is clear. Even students who don’t have a particularly successful placement use it as a learning experience about the difference between the classroom and work.

“But the Gateway funded programme already has a high conversion rate of work placement into jobs or apprenticeships. The reputation in the local community is so high that our co-ordinator is frequently stopped in the street and asked if we have anyone available.

“Our STAR funding programme is designed to expand our curriculum and help give the boys an education that they would not normally get. We also use the funding to help our Gateway students with skills that will enhance their time in the work placement such as a First Aid course.”

Ends

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