Hagley Adult Literacy Centre

Hagley College in Christchurch was one of the first four schools in Aotearoa New Zealand to set up adult learning programmes – way back in the 1970s. Since then their programmes have grown and evolved to meet community needs across Christchurch. In 2015, in recognition of their role as a regional education hub which provides education for diversity, Hagley was designated a special character school. Hagley fosters learning for students from all backgrounds: gender, age, ethnicity, socio-economic background and those whose learning may have previously been unsuccessful. The college offers programmes seven days a week and through the day and evenings.

Hagley’s mission statement is ‘Lifelong learning that is accessible to all’.

Since the 1970’s, adult students have been attending regular secondary school classes. In addition to traditional secondary school education, the college is home to both the Hagley Adult Literacy Centre and Learning Communities.

The Literacy Centre offers free TEC-funded programmes including both communitybased courses and workplace training.

Learning Communities has three portfolio areas – English Language Learning; Diversity Support; and After 3 – programmes for refugees and migrant families and adults who wish to upskill.

Hagley Adult Literacy Centre

Joanna Fox is the Manager of the Literacy Centre, which has a total staff of around 20 and nearly 30 volunteers. The volunteers mostly work as assistants to the tutors. The team at the centre provide Literacy Pathways courses, ESOL literacy classes, First Steps to Literacy, and workplace literacy programmes.

Literacy Pathways

The on-site Literacy Pathways course is for 20 hours a week and runs for a full year, providing an opportunity for young adults to work towards NCEA Level 1 credits, get their learner driver licence and improve their computer skills – while developing their literacy and numeracy. Recently this group of learners ran a stall to help raise funds to attend a barista course, as part of their future pathways. The learners were involved in all aspects of planning for the stall including marketing, purchasing supplies, pricing and selling the products, and customer service. The exercise provided a practical platform for the learners to hone their literacy and numeracy skills.

As well as the programme at Hagley, Literacy Pathways is offered in the community – depending on the demand. So this year, as well as the 8-10 people on Literacy Pathways at Hagley, there are 8-12 learners enrolled at each of the following areas: Upper Riccarton, Aranui, Rowley and St Albans.

All the courses follow best ACE practice. Each tutor has a certificate in adult literacy and numeracy, and most are qualified ESOL teachers. Each learner has an individual learning plan. Flexibility is built into the programme, so if a learner is working and has difficulty in coming to day-time classes they may be offered a workplace literacy programme instead. Extensive pastoral care is also provided to the learners, including regular liaison with both whānau and support workers from other agencies. There is a routine focus on learner pathways, helping people decide where they want to work or what further study they might need to achieve their goal – so achieving a successful outcome is built into the approach. The Literacy Centre team has good relationships with other education agencies and workplaces. And every learner is provided with support once they move out of the class, and onto their pathway.

First Steps to Literacy and Numeracy

This course for adults with intellectual impairments usually has about 20 participants from all over the city. The learners come for between 4 and 16 hours a week to learn life skills. Some are learning to count and recognise numbers and manage money, while others are working on writing a cv or completing unit standards. The learning is in small groups. They all have their individual learning plans gaining the skills and knowledge they need to achieve greater independence and perhaps go onto further education or work.

ESOL literacy

Hagley Adult Literacy Centre – ESOL class.

The on-site ESOL literacy classes are parttime and cater for learners from beginner to intermediate level. The courses are free for permanent residents. The focus of the classes is on everyday English for living in New Zealand. This year there are learners from 23 different ethnicities. Some are of working age while others may be grandparents who have come to join their children and grandchildren. The outcomes for this large group are: connectedness; learning about local services so they can live safely in our community; understanding New Zealand culture; and learning about their rights and responsibilities as New Zealand citizens. There are also activities such as visits to museums and libraries and classes in poi making and waiata to help them learn about New Zealand culture. These classes are also held outside of the college and taken into communities such as Wigram, where there is a large Chinese community.

The focus, says Joanna, is very much on sustainable learning so that when they transition from their ESOL classes they are helped to move forward on their own learning pathway. Again, there is ongoing support. And again, there is flexibility, finding alternative classes for people with changing circumstances. “We want them,” says Joanna, “to be able to pathway towards their goals and engage in life-long

ACE classes

Literacy and numeracy are embedded in ACE classes such as refugee women’s cooking, refugee women’s sewing, ESOL computing and ESOL and Pasifika driver’s licence. These classes are run at the same time as the college’s homework centre so parents can bring their children to get homework support, and take a class of their own. They learn English language and literacy, practical skills and make friends.

Workplace training

People in the workforce who want to improve their literacy, numeracy, communication and workplace-related skills are offered one-to-one or small group tuition. Health and safety requirements are often a focus.

The centre works with a number of companies offering 40 hours of tuition per learner. Everyone, of course, has an individual learning plan. Many work on completing Level 2 Industry qualifications. The learners who want to progress to higher industry qualifications, are helped to do this: the centre gets the employer’s permission and contacts the relevant ITO to open the pathway for more learning.

Employees in some companies are also encouraged to gain their assessor unit standard so the company has a workplace assessor. This creates a culture of sustainable training within the company.

The training is tailored to meet both the company’s needs and the learners’ aspirations. Topics include basic computer skills such as how to use Word and Excel. Tutors often use workplace documentation, especially on subjects such as health and safety and accident and incident reports.

Collaboration and ACE Partnership courses

The Literacy Centre works in partnership with other organisations such as libraries and community hubs to offer courses such as CV writing and job search skills, financial literacy, cooking on a budget, and effective communication.

The centre staff also collaborate with other local ACE providers. “There’s no competition,” says Joanna, “we are always just looking for the best place for a particular learner. If our programmes are not the right fit, we send them to other providers, and they do the same.”

Learning Communities

Learning Communities has a staff of around 50 with additional volunteers who work within Hagley, across schools and in the community. Bi-lingual liaison workers provide support for families. This can include interpreting, making social work referrals and helping people find the right social services.

Sarah Denny is the Director of Learning Communities:

“We are all working together to provide multiple learning opportunities for people from across the city, both within and outside the school day. Within Hagley, there are over 50 ethnicities and 150 languages. A key focus of Learning Communities is to target groups of people who are at risk of being excluded from the social and economic capital that enables people to thrive in our society, so we always talk of investment, not cost.

“We also place considerable importance on investment in our staff and volunteers. Professional development and capacity training takes place in the form or workshops, one-on-one coaching and mentoring in an on-going way.

“And as well providing for learners, we see our role as building cultural competencies within organisations such as schools, social agencies and government departments to develop their own cultural responsiveness.”

The college, as well as employing bilingual staff, also has a full-time Diversity Support Manager whose primary role is to respond to the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse communities and increase the effectiveness of people working with them.

Each portfolio is described below.

English Language Learning

ELL is offered during the school day and spans three future pathways: Community – English for Living in New Zealand; Vocational – full-time programmes for young adults; and Academic – preparation for tertiary level study.

There are 185 students in this full-time programme and students work at their own pace towards credits at NCEA levels 1, 2, 3 or 4 in English and in other subjects.

The individual learning plan of each student is designed to either help them participate and contribute in the community, get a job or move on to further study.

Because most of the students are adult learners accessing education for the first time in New Zealand, their classes are generally linked to real-life tasks such as using technologies, completing a cv, cooking New Zealand foods or writing a lab report for science. The programme includes educational visits and units on services such as the Police, WINZ, HNZ, CABs and IRD.

ELL programmes are all aligned with New Zealand’s Migrant Settlement and Integration Strategy and the Refugee Resettlement Strategy. Programme outcomes reflect the importance of integration and the capacity of each person to feel a sense of belonging and contribute to New Zealand society.

Diversity support

Diversity Support covers all the activities and classes organised by Learning Communities that fall outside the full-time ELL and After 3 programmes.

Diversity Support promotes a wholefamily approach to language, literacy and learning. The Multi-Ethnic Study and Support Centre, which includes a Homework Centre, draws students from 30 schools across Christchurch. Alongside youth programmes, refugee and migrant parents can attend workshops on how NCEA works and what they can do to support their children’s education. Learners and whole families are also able to have fun and take part in a number of celebratory days. In the course of a year over 1000 people take part in services that are provided under this portfolio.

Language maintenance classes are available in Farsi, Vietnamese, Bhutanese, Nepali, Persian and Russian. They are held during the weekend so the whole family can attend. Diversity Support collaborates with CLANZ and aims to strengthen both ethnic identity and contribute to language maintenance in Aotearoa.

Thi Pan, is the Diversity Support Manager and, Sarah says, she is a great role model. “Thi is a Vietnamese refugee, totally tuned into refugee needs and a fantastic advocate. Her journey shows women refugees especially what a successful adult learner might look like. She also demonstrates the strengths that refugees bring to the country. She’s of huge value to a place like Hagley.”

Currently Hagley is advocating for a multicultural centre in Christchurch. The college is not only providing great services for migrants and refugees – they are also providing local leadership.

After 3

Hagley College After 3 programmes.

The subjects offered in After 3 shadow the curriculum areas in the school: Art and Media, English, ESOL, Maths, Languages, Practical Design, Food and Hospitality, Science and Health Studies and Performing Arts.

After 3 programmes realise the importance of life-long learning, provide an opportunity for second chance learning and in many cases help adults adapt to the fast-changing pace of a knowledgebased society. Programmes address the essential tools (literacy, numeracy and digital fluency) that are indispensable for active participation in civic life. Teachers help students to fill gaps in their education and gain the social and economic capital to thrive.

The programmes are also tailored to help adults transition successfully into Senior College NCEA and vocational pathways. For other learners it is a chance to fulfil a dream to gain a skill or competency. They may take a class like Photography or Fashion, as an interest, then (along with perhaps a course in accounting) skyrocket into their own business. Their individual learning plans and active support by tutors ensures that they reach their personal goals. Last year over 750 students were enrolled in one of the 42 classes available.

So this huge community-wellbeing resource that is Hagley ACE continues to grow in response to need. Te Puna Wai o Waipapa is Hagley’s name and means ‘the place of the living spring’. It is indeed a metaphor for this school which continues to demonstrate what great school-based ACE can provide for a city-wide community.

This article was published in the ACE Aotearoa Summer Newsletter 2018.