Health Science Academy: Growing Pacific Workforce

Health Science Academy: Growing Pacific Workforce

The Health Science Academy Programme is an initiative designed to introduce Pacific and Māori students to a career in the health sector. The programme has been set up in Waitakere College for Years 11-13 and is supported by the Careers Exposure Programme with the aim of keeping young people involved science and equiping them with relevant skills.

The Academy is a joint collaboration between:

  • Waitakere College
  • Waitemata District Health Board (DHB)
  • Local families
  • Teachers

The Health Science Academy at Waitakere College has a targeted approach to developing a Pacific Health workforce in order to better reflect the community. While the Academy is open to all ethnicities, the programme has a strong focus on Pacific design.

What are we trying to achieve?

The aim of this project was to:

  • increase science uptake and performance by Pacific students at Waitakere College
  • ensure there is sufficient numbers of Pacific high school students participating in health science and health qualifications at tertiary institutions in the Auckland region
  • increase the Pacific workforce

Population Profile Waitemata DHB 

What have we done?

The Health Science Academy has been running for three years at Waitakere College. We have also developed an extension to address issues affecting youth at school through the co-design project with Health Families Waitakere and a local council.

Health Science Academy Programme

Students who apply and gain entry into the Academy take a specially designed Science course that takes up two option lines in their timetable. They are also placed in a new home group created to support them academically and pastorally.

The topics of study in their course include:

  • Genetics
  • Microbes
  • Life Processes
  • Acids and Bases
  • Chemical Reactions
  • Mechanics (Body)
  • Electricity and Magnetism
  • Researching a Biological Issue

Students also taken on field trips and tours to hospitals to view the types of careers available. We also provide opportunities for students to hear from Pasifika professionals within the health industry.

Did we make a difference?

  • Evaluation results highlighted the benefits of exposing students to a variety of health careers
  • The exposure is a step towards training, recruiting and retaining Pacific students in the health workforce



After the first year academic results showed:

  • science uptake for academy students has doubled
  • retention is high
  • 100% pass rate for Level 1 Numeracy and Literacy 
  • 96% of academy students gained NCEA Level 1 compared with all NCEA Level 1 Students across Waitakere College

Pasifika Students Taking Science

NCEA Results 2016

Where to from here?

The positive results of the Health Science Academy Programme have indicated the need for:

  • further replication of the Health Science Academies in other schools within the Waitemata DHB community
  • investment in programmes that contributes to achieving an equitable health workforce
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