Teach First NZ’s fourth annual Summer School took place at the start of January at the University of Auckland’s Epsom Campus.
It was attended by 170 students from all over Auckland, which meant a 70% increase in numbers from the previous year.
The annual Summer School is a space to keep secondary school students’ learning alive over the summer (alongside their friends), and the chance to brush up on the subjects they feel they need more help with. At the same time, Teach First NZ participants are given a unique opportunity to develop their classroom skills, and put their freshly learnt theory into practice, before they start teaching in schools.
This year, students from De La Salle College, Massey High School, Onehunga High School, Tangaroa College and the In Zone Project attended the Summer School – many of them having attended the year before.
Terrance Wallace, Managing Director of the In Zone Project, explains why he encourages his students to attend, “Our boys love the Teach First NZ camp because their teachers are great, they really care about the students and that in turn pushes our boys to want to learn more and work harder! Also the environment they create really helps the boys to focus too. The summer school gives them a great kick-start to the academic year and that is why I encourage them to attend every year.”
Vaughan Spurdle, a participant of the Teach First NZ 2016 cohort and English teacher at Tamaki College, shares his experience of Summer School: “Summer school was more than a chance to put our learning theory into practice - it was a great opportunity to experience both the challenges and rewards of running a school with real learners. The student who asked me for a little extra help with his work (as the rest of his class made an escape for lunch) made all the admin, duties, preparation and sandwich-making worth it!”
Rosamund Britton, Learning Community Leader at Hobsonville Point Secondary School, was one of the many valued observers who poured their experience and wisdom into the Teach First NZ participants. She had this to say about the Summer School, "I was blown away by the energy and enthusiasm of the learners from the contributing high schools and the passion and positivity of the Teach First NZ teachers. The two teachers I worked with were more than ready to walk into their classrooms and, from their very first lesson, understood the importance of whanaungatanga and that relationships are at the heart of teaching and learning. In fact, ako is the perfect word to sum up what I was lucky enough to witness at the Summer School. Teachers and students and observers all learning from each other. I loved every minute and found the five days incredibly inspiring, particularly that there are young people that want to attend a week of summer school to enrich their education and that there are these amazingly talented, highly qualified adults who have the drive and commitment to teach in schools where they will make such a difference."