From serving their communities to preventing crime while developing leadership skills, being part of the Police force can be one of the most rewarding careers a person can have, and now, thanks to a growing course initiative between Police, schools and the Papakura Local Board, students at Papakura High School now have the chance to be a part of the course creating their own career pathways.
The Introduction to Police Studies NCEA course was pioneered by Rotorua Boys’ and Girls’ High schools in 2018 in association with the Royal New Zealand Police College (RNZPC) as a new course option for Year 13 students and aims to create those pathway opportunities by following the context of Policing in New Zealand, of what it’s like to be part of the force. After a positive reception from the Rotorua schools, the course has since been offered in three Wellington region schools, Porirua’s Mana College, Aotea College and Paraparaumu’s Kapiti College, and has now reached Auckland, with Birkenhead College and now Papakura High School offering the course to its Year 12 and soon, Year 13 students.
Papakura Local Board Chairperson, Brent Catchpole has been instrumental in the school joining the programme from a chance meeting with Police Commissioner, Mike Bush with Brent mentioning the scheme that was already underway in Rotorua and suggested Papakura High School would be an ideal fit for the programme too with Principal, John Rohs seeing it as a point of difference and something else to add to their curriculum that no other school in the area has.
Shortly after planning the course, the school was awarded a $5000 grant towards the initiative from the Auckland Airport He Tangata grant that makes up to ten grants each year to southern schools and groups, nominated by community leaders, and in this case, nominated by Brent Catchpole on the behalf of the Local Board.
“It took about twelve months to initially put a plan together and Papakura Police were wonderfully supportive and fully engaged. The board was delighted to put the nomination forward for support.” says Brent.
From there, it was a natural fit to bring on board, Papakura High School’s Deputy Principal, Lisa Mortimer who is in charge of curriculum and achievement at Papakura High School. She says when Counties Manukau Senior Constable, Tony Tumai approached the school about including them in offering the course, they started planning a programme that linked with Unitech’s own Introduction to Police Studies course and taking it a step forward so students who complete the course will not have to repeat it again prior to entering Police College.
The course detail covers both mental, physical and external fundamentals, including visits to the New Zealand Police Ellerslie Dog Base, The Police Eagle base in Mechanics Bay (that has since moved to a helipad base in Onehunga) and trips to the Communications Centre, District headquarters and Papakura Marae, while retaining core skills of communication within a group and within different cultures, formal and informal interviewing techniques, active listening, mental health and wellbeing including Youth Aid, Learners and Restricted licencing, fitness testing and planning a career pathway, all of which works contextually with Police values.
Lisa says it’s about coming to grips with Police work, what it’s like and the work required and pulling things together so that students have the background before they go and consider a career within Police, but also creating transferable pathway opportunities to those interested in the Airforce or Navy too.
The course so far has been met with overwhelming positivity and Lisa says there are a number of reasons why students have opted to do the course, including those who already have relatives in Police and want that as part of their future, while others have said, if it wasn’t for the course, they simply wouldn’t be at school. She has seen students’ attitudes change and their confidence sky rocket as a result of the course engagement.
“The contextual connection is great, and it gives them something to look forward to and graduate from at the end of the year.” says Lisa
Initially planned as a twenty-five hour a week course, she says when they looked back over the course details, they realized they didn’t have the flexibility that students who were interested wanted so they reduced it to ten hours a week and suddenly had more students jumping on board, making the course fit around them. While the course is gaining a lot of popularity with enrolments already beginning for next year’s intake, Lisa says they will be implanting stricter criteria which means students will need to of obtained their learners licence before enrolment.
She says if they are wanting to make a career within Policing, that’s one thing restricting them, so by getting students to take care of getting the learners side of things beforehand, it gives them a greater chance of getting their restricted licences in Year 12.
In addition, the fitness test is a big part of Police training and students must be able to complete the 2.4k run in time, or as close as possible. Lisa says some of the students have found the run difficult, which is why they allow two-three hours of fitness a week, but says they have to be able to do that so they can focus on more fun things next year.
As for the future of the initiative, both Brent and Lisa say there is already interest in expansion to other schools and say it can grow as big as Police will allow as they are the driving force behind. Lisa hopes the course will continue to highlight how important is as a different pathway for students to finish school with and transition into other pathways instead of University.
“If Police can manage their fit within the school, which isn’t easy as they can change roles, be based in different locations etc, then it will continue to be a great thing because it encourages successful pathways and our students to be more.” says Lisa.