Kelston Girls College geography teacher Jason Conway (centre) with students at Fielddays in June.

Kelston Girls College geography teacher Jason Conway (centre) with students at Fielddays in June.

Kelston Girls' High students get their gumboots ready

Education Case Study - December 2017
A new course to let students get a good look at career opportunities from pasture to plate and a new NCEA Level 1 geography assessment are being added to the Kelston Girls College curriculum in 2018, thanks to a Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) initiative earlier this year. 

Kylie Taffard, a teacher and director of the Trades Academy at the West Auckland school, has been working with the school’s Hospitality Department and the Primary ITO (PrITO) to establish the course. This will be introduced at year 11 and will lead girls into the Level Academies in hospitality or the primary industries, she says.  

The initial excitement for many of the Y11 and 12 girls was the opportunity to attend the Fieldays event in Hamilton in June, as well as a day out of school. However, Kylie says the day-trip for the bus-load of girls has really piqued their interest in the range of work available in the primary sector, including growing food, mechanics, robotics and veterinary science. 

“Very few of the girls had any contact with agriculture at all, or been out of Auckland in fact, so had no idea of what was involved. It literally was eye-opening for them and gave them hope.”  

Jason Conway, the school’s teacher in charge of geography, whose pupils were also included in the day-trip, says their feedback showed they came away in awe of the range of technology and careers on display. 

“They thought they were literally going to a farmer’s field,” he says, echoing comments from Kylie about how astonished the girls were when they first got a view of Fieldays.   

While the food, “especially the burgers”, was another highlight for the girls, both teachers say the Amazing Race Scavenger Hunt was a great idea and they really appreciated the efforts put into it by RMPP. 

“It meant they had the opportunity to learn first-hand about the different parts of the red meat industry, finding answers to the questions,” says Kylie. The girls also learned about the reality of where their beef and lamb really comes from, rather than in a plastic-wrapped tray from the supermarket.”  

As a teacher, Jason was “so impressed” with the way the students were accommodated, he says.  

“The Amazing Race was a great way to get them active and I saw our students engaging with activities in the education tent. I saw them taking selfies all over the place.” 

Attending the event was certainly a worthwhile geography education for his students, he believes. 

“It would be great to attend again. As we are adding more primary industry experiences to our school programme, I am most likely going to offer the Sustainable Use of an Environment assessment to NCEA Level 1 Geography, and students can use this experience to gather some context or information.” 

Since the trip, the PrITO trade programme students have been visiting horticultural properties, to get experience of picking strawberries and other fruits, but they recently visited a farm on Waiheke Island, which had chickens.  

“It was hilarious. The girls wanted to pat the chickens, then not pat them when they got too close!” says Kylie, noting it will take some time to develop a good understanding. “These are city kids.” 

Since the visit, New Zealand Young Farmers’ Leeann Morgan has visited the school to participate in the Career Navigator Programme, coordinated by the Graham Dingle Foundation.  This was an opportunity to further expose the Y11 girls to career opportunities in the primary industries. The girls were keen to chat and ask more questions because they already knew Leeann. Kylie says this shows maintaining personal contact is important to reinforce the information learned from the activity.  

The group has also visited the Careers in Agriculture NZ Get Ahead event. 

One girl has already shown interest in finding out about working with animals on a livestock property.  

The plan is for next year’s Y11 and Y12 students to visit more beef and sheep farms if the opportunities come up, and to meet more farmers in 2018 to learn about the different work options.  

“Being able to talk to a real live farmer is critical,” says Kylie.