Do you know how to cook? Do you understand the tax system? Could you grow a garden from scratch?
They are life skills that plenty of adults are unable to put their hand up to, but a group of students at Bethlehem College are ticking them off one by one and revelling in their success.
The New Zealand Certificate in Skills for Living is a Level 1 qualification aimed at supported learners to help prepare them for employment and citizenship.
Bethlehem College student Anna Dunstan is the first student in New Zealand to achieve the certificate, and will be closely followed by fellow students Travis Savage, Alessio Di Giandomenico and Jacob Davie later in the year.
She was “a little bit nervous” about receiving her certificate at school assembly last week, but very proud of her achievement.
The students have 45 modules to choose from and must complete 11 to gain the certificate, which is offered by South Pacific Educational Courses. They also attend mainstream classes in tourism (hospitality), agricultural and horticultural science, textile technology and art.
SPEC programme coordinator at Bethlehem College, Barbara Mudge, says the students have done some “amazing” work.
“If students are finding NCEA hard, this fills the gap,” says Barbara. “They don’t have to be in English learning about a novel, but rather learning something that is relevant to them.”
Barbara says the students have found the course “very exciting” and have greatly improved both their learning and people skills.
“They have all gained in confidence because they are succeeding,” she says.
For his ‘Meal and Drink’ module, Jacob learned some basic cooking skills, making and serving a meal for his friends and teachers. The learning included budgeting, measurement and a trip to the supermarket, learning a karakia (prayer), how to fold napkins and creating some edible art.
Travis completed a module on recycling which involved a trip to the local recycling plant. Such trips are organised by the students themselves and involve skills such as writing formal letters and making business phone calls, as well as completing the risk assessment management forms that are part of a modern-day school trip.
Alessio, working on a module called ICE (in case of emergency), discovered that the school’s fire evacuation procedure was incorrect for students in wheelchairs.
He discussed it with the school’s chief fire warden and the procedure was re-written.
One of Anna’s modules included looking at activities she could do in her free time. Among them was volunteering at Mainly Music and a local childcare centre, visiting the latest interactive exhibition at the Tauranga Art Gallery and learning how to play boccia.
Alessio, who visits his grandparents in Italy every few years, has been learning some basic Italian as part of a cultural study module so he can communicate with them.
“I’ve been seven times and I’m going again next year,” he says.
Jacob is currently working on a ‘Prepare for Work’ module. “Once I leave school these skills will help me,” he says. “I’d like to work in hospitality. I’m currently doing work experience at Trinity Wharf and today I learned about front and back of house, pay and tax.”