Te Pūkenga gears up nationally for learner success pilot programmes

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Nineteen Te Pūkenga Institutes of Technology and Polytechnic (ITP) subsidiaries, Work Based Learning Business Divisions and Transitional Industry Training Organisations (TITOs) have committed to pilot new Whakawhanaungatanga for Pre-start and Tuakana-Teina or Peer Mentoring initiatives in 2022. 

These two initiatives were selected by Te Pūkenga Learner Centred Design Network Forum, and Learner Leaders, alongside the Learner Journey and Experience kaimahi. 
‘Whakawhanaungatanga for Pre-start’ and ‘Tuakana-Teina or Peer Mentoring’ approaches are effective because they focus on establishing meaningful connections and creating environments of belonging for ākonga and their whānau from the beginning of a learner’s journey.  
“From Te Rito, we know that when ākonga Māori, and Pacific and disabled learners feel valued, understood and supported it can significantly improve their experience of tertiary education,” says Debbie Preston, Kaikōkiri | Director of Learner Innovation. 
The whakapapa and kaupapa of both initiatives are based explicitly on the kōrero from learners and the kaimahi who support them in 2020, which was captured in the three foundational ‘Te Rito’ reports and outcomes framework. The reports and framework seek to empower network project teams and kaimahi to build on existing practices that have been shown to have the most significant impact on learner success and wellbeing.  
“Through Te Rito, ākonga and the kaimahi who support them told us that being connected, engaged, valued and believed in early, will help build confidence, a sense of belonging and empower ākonga to succeed as themselves.  We’ve told learners and their whānau what they can expect on day one, and these piloted then scaled initiatives are focussed directly on meeting those ‘day one’ expectations,” says Ms Preston. 
The approach taken to pilot and scale these initiatives is guided by the ‘collective impact model’ which is a popular way to work towards addressing persistent social problems. The model gives additional structure and strategic oversight to cross-group collaboration and will help to ensure that ‘practice with potential’ can be shared and scaled at a national level with room to adapt for regional needs.  
“Each of the network pilot project teams are clear that co-design in this context means ‘by Māori for Māori’, ‘by Pacific for Pacific’ and ‘by disabled for disabled’ and are preparing to work closely with learners and whānau, iwi and other stakeholders including community organisations and kaimahi,” says Ms Preston. 
Both initiatives will be piloted in the second half of 2022 with work to scale commencing in 2023. 
Throughout March and April, Implementation Leads from the Learner Innovation team have been working with project teams/leads from the network, setting up dedicated ‘backbone structures’ designed to close equity gaps experienced by traditionally under-served learner groups. 
To facilitate this process, Te Pūkenga has created a dedicated kete of resources that will include a catalogue of existing initiatives, guiderails for co-design with Māori, Pacific and disabled ākonga, and tools for shared measurement of the outcomes.   
“We’re keeping our ākonga with their whānau at the centre of everything that we do – this is why we’re working collaboratively on pilot projects that have been shown to improve the experience of tertiary vocational education for our ākonga with their whānau. We’ll do this through proactively guiding and supporting our network teams to co-design pilot projects alongside akōnga, their whānau, Te Tiriti partners and regional and industry stakeholders. The good thing is, we’re not starting from scratch in this mahi – we are building on the practice with potential occurring across the network,” says Ms Preston.