Being awarded Cromwell College’s first Biology Scholarship late last year took sports-mad student Lana Deaker very much by surprise.
“I didn’t quite believe it. I was happy with how I’d done in the exam and the effort I’d put into it but didn’t think it was enough for scholarship.”
Only 3% of the more than 10,500 students in New Zealand who sit the exam are awarded the $500 Scholarship prize.
Now on a gap year, Lana(18) is grateful for the help and encouragement she received and urges others to have a go, even if, like her, they think their chances might be slim.
“I’m hugely thankful to Mr(Stuart)Land who helped me and Ms(Jane)Swire. To anyone thinking of having a go at scholarship get someone to help, put in some effort and you never know. At the very least you will learn some skills that may help you down the track.”
Lana says that while she had to travel quite often for sport and found it trickier at a small school getting all her subjects to fit in her timetable, there were also advantages of doing all her secondary schooling at Cromwell.
“The teachers probably get to know the students better especially in senior school so you get a lot of help. For scholarship I was lucky that Mr Land set up a lunchtime tutorial and it was a small class.”
Lana is currently doing an apprenticeship at NRG gym and intends to pursue a career in the sports industry. At college she was successful in multi-sports, cross-country running and cycling events, as well gaining her Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award and being a house and peer support leader.
“I hope my scholarship inspires others to have a go, it’s a great challenge and teaches you to learn beyond what is taught in normal classes.”
Academic Monitoring Pays Dividends
Meanwhile in another first for the school, the college’s NCEA results from 2018 were above the national average for similar schools by between 3% and 10 percent, Principal Mason Stretch said.
All levels of NCEA students(Years 11 to 13) had exceeded national averages for Decile 8 schools and this was largely a result of closer year-round tracking of student achievement, he said. A new tracking system, introduced two years ago, allowed teachers to quickly see where a student may be having difficulty and provide help.
The school employs a part-time NCEA support mentor, Suzanne Smith, whose job it is to help students manage their academic work.
“She refocuses students and sets a clear plan with them to achieve their goals. Suzanne develops a great relationship with students and helps them keep on track and the monitoring means there are no surprises, we know exactly where everyone is at. Our teachers have done a fabulous job in academic mentoring and adapting programmes to suit which has also been a huge factor in the higher NCEA results and increased endorsements given for academic achievement last year.”
The school, which now has 504 students, was also working on a ‘big push’ on Year 7 to 10 academic monitoring.
“We want to grow the culture of academic excellence throughout the whole school and nurture those who want to excel. We have a more diverse curriculum with around 80 students doing distance learning and more age groups being offered things like music and drama, science club and scholarship mentoring. The larger role will help in terms of resources, it’s a good place to be.”
Progress on the school’s redevelopment was in the planning phase with a business case and education brief being developed this year. Construction work, however, was not likely to begin in earnest until 2021.
“We will manage, we may have to repurpose some spaces or add temporary buildings but we are very much on to working closely with the Ministry of Education to get things happening as quickly as possible.”