Earthcare programme gives NCEA students a ‘living classroom’

Forget about learning within four walls of a classroom. Raglan Area School students have the opportunity to take their learning outdoors as a pilot Earthcare programme trialled last year for two terms hits the ground running in 2018.

Raglan Area School students give the thumbs up for their ‘living classroom’. [Liam Dingle]

Raglan Area School, in partnership with A Rocha Aotearoa NZ and Papa Taiao Earthcare, will deliver the first year of the Earthcare programme, which aims to develop NCEA students’ skills in sustainable and ecological actions. During 2018, twelve year 11-13 students will get the chance to explore their own backyard, with studies revolving around the A Rocha-led Karioi Maunga ki te Moana project.

Learning will take place outdoors in a living classroom, where students will gain self-confidence, leadership and work-ready skills for predator-free and restoration related employment. The programme will also provide opportunities for further study and career pathways, such as studies in biological sciences, conservation and environmental and resource management. Students will gain both NCEA unit and achievement standards at level 2 and 3.

Educators for the Earthcare programme are qualified staff from A Rocha Aotearoa NZ and Papa Taiao Earthcare, as well as Raglan Area School teacher, Angela Prain. Ms Prain is “super excited” about the start of the Earthcare programme. “I feel grateful to be part of this team of people who are passionate about the environment and also about Raglan’s youth,” she says. “The students are going to have a rich learning experience based in their local environment, and at the same time learn valuable skills for their future.”

Acquiring work-ready predator control skills. [Liam Dingle]

A pilot Earthcare programme ran during terms 3 and 4 of 2017, with 14 students gaining 21 NCEA credits each. In 2018 the programme will run for a full year and focus on land-based ecosystems around Karioi Maunga. Subjects will include biodiversity restoration, project management, safety in the outdoors, team building and predator ecology. Looking into the future, the partner organisations want to extend the programme to three years and include a focus too on moana (marine) and wai (freshwater) ecosystems and environments.

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