NZ's First High School Business Programme

In what is believed to be the only programme of its kind in New Zealand, all 1000 pupils at Havelock North High School are being prepped for the world of business.

Following a review of its timetable at the start of the year, students are undertaking a one-hour class as part of the school's Encompass programme, which teaches skills like leadership, communication, critical thinking, problem-solving and collaboration.

Principal Greg Fenton said the programme was two years in the planning and thought to be the only school-based programme of its kind nationwide.

"Businesses have been critical of schools for what they are turning out in terms of types of school-leavers and the types of skills they are bringing out with them. Obviously, the business community are looking for people who are more adaptable.

"So, on that basis, as a school, we decided we wanted to better prepare our kids for that next step. We wanted to strengthen our students' learning experience and as such we devised a programme that would specifically teach some of these learning skills and soft skills, which we believe are important for them as they make the step out into the community."

Mr Fenton pointed out that the programme was designed with student input and was taught through teachers taking the role of facilitator, and was conducted without a final NCEA assessment.

"From my perspective, I'm looking to develop confident students and learners, who engage with their learning and see their learning as part of the process."

Deputy principal Joel Wilton said the programme was now an "intrinsic" part of the school's timetable at every year level and involved every student and nearly every staff member.

"We've used the analogy of a seed, so the course starts from Year 9 with them looking very much at their own identity through to branching out into the community and finally at Year 13 the global business community. "

Just months into the programme there had already been "very positive" feedback from students.

As part of the course Year 13 students had been working with start-up incubator The Icehouse, which had provided guest speakers for students.

Icehouse Hawke's Bay and East Coast operations manager Kate de Lautour said the staffing requirements of owner-managed businesses were growing and changing.

"Ideally our future workforce need to get a good grasp of what business owners are looking for in a high-performing team and what they can expect from being in an owner-managed business."

Ultimately, the school's approach was supporting growth in the economy and providing confidence for teenagers to remain in the region.

"This is the first programme I have seen like this so when Havelock North High School got in touch we thought it would be great to give them a hand and help out over the year."

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