26 February, 2016

Westpac joins partnership to improve education, health and home for students

The Middlemore Foundation for Health Innovation has launched a three year pilot programme to improve the health and education levels of 1,700 students at schools in Papakura with Westpac backing the initiative as principal sponsor.

By working with schools and students’ homes it is expected truancy rates will be reduced, NCEA pass rates will improve and the early detection and prevention of illnesses will contribute to better child health. The pilot will be independently evaluated by Victoria University and currently involves six schools and 1,700 students in Papakura, one of New Zealand’s poorer communities. If successful the aim is to roll the programme, known as Mana-â-riki, across the country.

Westpac NZ CEO David McLean said it was time to try new ways to improve the education and health outcomes for disadvantaged communities and Mana-â-riki’s focus on helping children at home and school had that potential. That was why Westpac was supporting the initiative as a foundation partner.

“We expect this programme to produce tangible results. To us, there seems to be a good chance that reducing incidents of preventable diseases and avoidable hospitalisation rates will improve attendance and help students achieve at school.

“And giving students access to better digital tools in the classroom provides the opportunity to learn in the same way as other students across the country. Children in New Zealand should have equal opportunities to succeed regardless of where they are born.”

“We want to even the playing field and believe the partnership between Middlemore Foundation and Kootuitui ki Papakura Trust, which is delivering the programme, is one of the best ways to support equality,” he said.

As part of the pilot, health clinics at each of the schools will be run by nurses and whanau workers who will be focussed on prevention and early detection of rheumatic fever, respiratory illness, hearing and vision difficulties and reducing the incidence of communicable diseases such as skin infections.

Students participating in the pilot will also be given better access to digital devices with the introduction of a special payment plan for tablets. More than two thirds of parents have taken up an offer to pay tablets off at low weekly instalments of $3.50, giving the students the opportunity to learn the national curriculum on devices that are relevant for the evolving digital era.

“Improving educational achievement, particularly in struggling communities, is critical to the future of New Zealand socially and economically and is probably the single biggest thing we can do as a country to improve our economic performance,” Mr McLean said.

Foundation Chairman, Nick Main, said the aim was to improve the health of children, at school and at home, so they were better equipped for learning and to enhance that learning with digital tools through the Manaiakalani Outreach programme.

“More than 270,000 children in New Zealand are caught in low decile communities in a cycle of poor health, challenging home environments and poor educational outcomes,” Mr Main said.

“Mana-â-riki takes a holistic, integrated approach – tackling education, health and home simultaneously. One of the key features is it will be led by a local community trust ensuring it has buy in from local leaders.”

“Kootuitui ki Papakura is the proof of concept for Mana-â-riki which we eventually hope all children in need will be able to access.”

The initiative is focused on:

· Increasing NCEA Level 1 pass rates.
· Reducing truancy rates.
· Reducing the rates of hospitalisations for preventable illnesses.
· Improving health and wellbeing through warm, dry, violence-free homes.

Year one implementation is underway following the establishment of the Kootuitui ki Papakura Trust, the School Boards Forum and the School Principals Cluster. Over 500 tablets have been delivered and teacher professional development is underway. Full implementation of the comprehensive health clinic service will be in place in the first half of 2016.

Edmund Hillary School Principal Kataraina Nock welcomed the initiative.

“Good health and modern learning tools are critical to our children’s educational success, but too often these basic things are out of reach for our community. We welcome the opportunity to access these services and to play a role in leading this initiative through the community trust,” she said.