When Nick left school at 16 with no qualifications he never imagined that just a few years later he’d have a Level 2 Certificate in Foundation Skills, be in fulltime work and be planning to start a trade training course.
Thanks to the encouragement and support of the Whanganui Learning Centre, Nick — who admits he made a lot of bad decisions in the past — has turned his life around and he now realises that he has lots of skills he can use.
“I’ve gained confidence and I’ve really started enjoying learning.”
Nick and his sisters — one of whom has completed a Level 4 qualification in mechanical engineering — are among the many whānau groups the Whanganui Learning Centre works with each year, helping them to identify and meet their learning goals.
“We’re driven by the needs of the whānau, and we build on their strengths, not their weaknesses,” says Centre manager Gail Harrison. “We work with the whole of an individual to help them meet their psychosocial and educational needs.”
In 2017 the Centre appointed an intensive case worker so it could expand the long-term work it does with whānau groups such as Nick’s family. It also started a new initiative, Connecting Education and Communities, to help families in several local communities achieve their educational aspirations. Centre staff will support whānau to design their own programmes to increase their skills and confidence, and to advocate for themselves to get the support they need from schools and other education providers.
“We’re not the experts, we’re the facilitators,” says Gail. “It’s a partnership model of sharing expertise and knowledge and potential.”
Todd Foundation is supporting the Whanganui Learning Centre with two years of funding from our General Fund (now closed). We also co-fund the Centre’s Connecting Education and Communities initiative, alongside J R McKenzie Trust.
For more information see www.wlct.org.nz.