Te Kete Ipurangi Navigation:

Te Kete Ipurangi

Te Kete Ipurangi user options:

New Zealand Curriculum Online navigation


Connecting pathways with strengths and aspirations

It is important to build on students’ strengths and aspirations when planning learning pathways with them. The people around them need to work together with them to agree on where they are going, how they are going to get there, and the knowledge and skills they will need. Such discussions about pathways should take place throughout schooling, particularly when planning for transitions. In the secondary context, listening to students and having conversations about their future becomes even more important.

It is important to recognise that pathways for students with additional needs may change as they progress through school and the diverse experiences it provides. Pathways are also influenced by what students encounter in their lives outside of school. What is important, however, is that learning is always seen as useful, purposeful, and leading to outcomes that are important for the student.

Ben talks about the pathway he has taken and how it links to his strengths and aspirations:

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I left school but the Gateway programme helped me think about what I could do. Mr Ames and Michelle found out what I liked to do and the things I was good at. I love sport, any sport. So I got to go to the local golf course one day a week for most of the year. I learnt to drive ride-on mowers and how to use a weed eater, change green holes, mow the tees, and look after the equipment. From my time at the golf course, I discovered I liked to work outside and didn’t want to be stuck in an inside job. I discovered that I really enjoy mowing grass and can mow lawns in a straight line. I learnt that there is a lot more to mowing grass than I thought. I’d have to do some study to know how to do it correctly. With the help of my parents, I’ve got lots of small goals for me to achieve so that I can work towards my big goal of mowing sportsfields. I know it won’t be easy, but I know I have my family and the garden volunteers where I work to help me get there. Each time I achieve a small goal I feel proud of myself and that I am getting closer to my big goal.”


Related information is available on support for students to continue their education, on deciding on what to do after school, and on transitioning from school.

Information on vocational pathways is available from Youth Guarantee.


In pairs, select and discuss 2–3 rows of the table below. As you do so, identify:

  • examples of how you support your students to build on their strengths and aspirations
  • how the pathways students decide on complement their strengths and aspirations
  • what else you could do to better support students to work towards their goals and aspirations.

Moving from...


Teachers’ beliefs limiting students’ aspirations Teachers expecting that all students are able to work towards their goals and aspirations
Little agreement or guidance on pathways Personalised pathways agreed and planned through collaborative teamwork
Students’ strengths being unrecognised and their potential unfulfilled A strengths-based approach leading to meaningful pathways and learning
Peers seeing the disability before they see and know the student Peers supporting and valuing the uniqueness of every student
Students’ aspirations seldom being recognised or sought Students feeling confident that their aspirations are listened to, acknowledged, and supported
Differing views of students’ strengths and aspirations limiting the support they receive Shared views supporting students to work towards their aspirations
Others making decisions on behalf of students (with the best of intentions) Students knowing they have a range of options available to choose from
Classroom cultures that do not value and support diversity Teachers and students valuing diversity and what each student brings to the classroom

Published on: 24 May 2016