Starting college is a big step for any student and Kuranui College is making that step a little easier with the launch of its Peer Support Programme.
The programme allows a group of Year 9s to ‘buddy up’ with a pair of senior students, who act as mentors for the younger students.
Last year, Kuranui introduced its innovative IGNITE curriculum, which not only gives students the opportunity to make choices around their own learning, but also provides them with the chance to make friends across both Years 9 and 10, as they are taught together in the same curriculum classes.
The college hopes that the new Peer Support Programme will have an even bigger impact on supporting its younger students. One of the peer support leaders, Tama Liumaihetau, said that for him the programme is about helping the young students to become more confident. “It’s about confidence,” he explained. “We are split into groups of about 10 and we just let them know that we are now a group of friends. Let them know that if they are lonely, or just walking around school, they can come up to one of their friends, or me and the other leaders, so they never feel alone at school.
“I’m not as academically talented as some people, but it gives me a way to feel like I’m giving back to the school. It’s definitely given me something to do, and I really like spending time with the younger students.”
Liumaihetau believes it has begun to have some positive effects and he has already had students coming up to him to talk about their issues with classes and with their social struggles. “We had one student who had a problem with a class, so we sorted that out, but it wasn’t something they would have talked to people about otherwise.”
Year 9 student Josh Guild agrees. “It’s good having some seniors to talk to when I need to. We feel comfortable talking about things that are happening in everybody’s lives, so everyone gets help and support.
“They are students, so they have a better understanding of what’s happening. They know what’s going on from a ‘head in the game’ kind of perspective, rather than an external perspective.”
This can be especially true for students who struggle bringing their problems to a teacher, as there has to be a level of professionalism, which can sometimes make it hard for students to talk to them about more personal things.
Senior College Deputy Principal Alice Wards is extremely impressed with the Peer Support Leaders, citing them as great role models who relate to the junior students on their level. “The topics they cover in their sessions include communication, cooperation, peer pressure and friendship. We know that our juniors will learn a lot from them and enjoy the activities they organise.
“Peer Support is part of our mentoring programme at Kuranui College. It means that not only do Year 9 students form strong relationships with their mentor teachers, they also have senior students who they get to know very well and can talk to about their experiences at school,” added Wards.