Potential of Vocational Pathways not fully realised – ERO report

A report released by the Education Review Office (ERO) today shows that Vocational Pathways engage students in relevant and authentic learning and provide greater continuity of learning as they move from school to further education or employment.

ERO evaluated how well 35 secondary schools were using Vocational Pathways. Findings published in the report Vocational Pathways: authentic and relevant learning show that while most schools knew about and were using the pathways, they were not fully realising the initiative’s potential. Vocational Pathways can be a valued part of a school’s curriculum for all students when used as more than just an add-on to careers education or course selection processes. 

The report gives in-depth examples of three schools - Forest View High School, Flaxmere College and Hauraki Plains College - that were changing the design of their curriculum to make the most of Vocational Pathways.

Zane Mather, ERO Education Evaluator, said: “These three schools demonstrated creative and progressive approaches to using Vocational Pathways. Each school was at a different stage of designing their curriculum around the pathways but all three had realised that this was an ongoing process that involved the whole school. These three examples also tell the stories of effective leadership.”

A perception that Vocational Pathways are less prestigious than ‘academic’ pathways persists, despite the initiative including pathways toward traditional professional occupations such medicine or law. However, some schools were countering this by valuing diverse skills and knowledge - building equal status between traditionally academic options and more vocationally-oriented ones and giving all students a sense of pride in their learning. 

Zane Mather said: “It’s disappointing that some schools still see this as a programme for non-academic students only. The difference in perceived status between academic and vocational education options is an ongoing challenge. However, the examples in ERO’s report show that this shift can, and is, being made by some schools.”



About Vocational Pathways

Vocational Pathways are part of the Government’s Youth Guarantee scheme, which aims to improve the transition from school to work by providing a wider range of learning opportunities, making better use of the education network, and creating clear pathways from school to study and work.

For more information, contact Stacy Mohan on 04 471 6642 or stacy.mohan@ero.govt.nz.