Secondary-Tertiary Programmes (STPs, also known as ‘Trades Academies’) were providing effective programmes for many students who might otherwise not have succeeded in secondary school. Student outcomes were very positive both in terms of achievement and competency development. There were many examples of good practice that could be shared across all the models to enable them to operate more efficiently and responsively to the needs of students.

Students transitioned smoothly from STPs back into school or into tertiary education, further training or employment. Only a very few left without a known destination, or NCEA Level 2 qualification.

The STPs all responded to their partnership communities in their own ways and, with the exception of the STP Pilots, were generally well positioned to consolidate their processes and cater for more students. The Flexible Funding model generally worked well for the larger STPs and schools. There were some concerns for the smaller STPs and smaller, rural or area schools. ERO found there was inequity of funding for pastoral care and coordination given the economies of scale some school-led STPs experience.

The most effective STPs had developed strong partnerships. Leaders from the partner schools and tertiary providers were involved in the decision making for the STP with the STP director. These people were in positions to make a difference in their organisations. The school leaders managed change in their schools, the tertiary leaders worked to deliver the courses requested and the director made sure operations ran smoothly.

Collaborative, robust self review helped to identify and strengthen current good practice. ERO acknowledges that there are difficulties with future planning given the uncertainties of funding from year to year, student numbers and the New Zealand Qualification Authority (NZQA)’s Targeted Review of Qualifications.

Above all else, the staff involved in the STPs are enthusiastic and committed to providing the best possible opportunities for their students.

We do it for love.

School careers coordinator

The director was the key appointment in most STPs and was pivotal to the success of the STP. However, in terms of sustainability, this could pose a risk, as most STPs did not have strong systems in place should they lose that key person. Few STPs had clear processes, which could lead to inconsistencies in practice and may disadvantage some students.

Significant improvements have been made in many areas since 2011. Many features were still being worked through as both schools and TEOs come to terms with the new ways of working and leading necessary to make a partnership flourish.

Areas for ongoing improvement remain related to:

  • developing true partnerships
  • developing an integrated STP curriculum
  • developing sound learning pathways (or ILPs)
  • sharing of information between the school and TEO partners
  • inclusion of parents, families and whanau in academic counselling
  • self-review practices to strengthen future planning
  • documenting processes to provide clarity of expectations and formalise good practice
  • consistency of practice to ensure equitable access and outcomes for students.

ERO found challenges for STPs remain in the complexity of the funding, especially when offset against the loss of roll-based entitlements, and the rationalisation of funding, legislative, assessment and reporting requirements between the Ministry, the Tertiary Education Commission and NZQA.

Nevertheless, ERO is confident that the STPs will continue to meet the educational needs of a significant number of young people who are at risk of disengaging from education or not achieving NCEA Level 2.

If it weren’t for Trades Academy, I would be back in my bad old ways

Former STP student, now in his second year of an apprenticeship