David Cameron (left) updates Altus Financial Services
business and sales manager Jerry Pearse-Smith on
LearnCoach. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Otago Boys' High School teacher David Cameron has much
riding on the results of NCEA this year.
Mr Cameron (25) is deeply involved in helping his own pupils
reach achievement levels in the national qualifications, but
this year there is a twist. His LearnCoach online learning
platform is being used by 500 pupils both at Otago Boys' and
Mr Cameron is the winner of the Altus Financial Services 2012
scholarship, receiving $5000 to go towards further
development of his LearnCoach program.
Altus business and sales manager Jerry Pearse-Smith said out
of the 74 applications for the scholarship, Mr Cameron's idea
appealed because of the wider community good it provided.
"We were looking for people with a particular goal or
objective that could benefit a whole lot of other people."
Mr Cameron's project drove value into the community, would
help with employment prospects for school leavers, and would
raise the profile of Dunedin while improving education
levels, Mr Pearse-Smith said.
The learning tool is aimed at simplifying study techniques
for pupils of all abilities, helping them achieve the best
qualifications they can.
Mr Cameron would have liked longer to introduce his new
online tool than just a few weeks out from NCEA exams, but he
remains confident that when school ends, the pupils already
registered on www.learncoach.co.nz will benefit
from the study techniques he and some others in the education
field have developed.
Asked about the motivation for developing the online study
tool, Mr Cameron said he was appalled by the expectation
22,000 New Zealand school pupils would fail NCEA.
"It is bizarre so many are expected to fail. I believe it is
important to provide students with a strategy that can help
them succeed. Making it available online increases the
potential number of users."
Looking back at his own experience, Mr Cameron said he was a
mediocre student in the fifth form. He realised he did not
want to fail, so developed his own study techniques which
resulted in him achieving scholarship level at high school,
and then tertiary degrees.
He saw the need to share his techniques, and completed a
master of entrepreneurship degree to understand better how to
An approach of "one size fits all" for learning had its
failings, he believed. Bright pupils were bored by that
approach and often less talented pupils struggled to keep up.
LearnCoach was designed for pupils to learn at their own
speed and still achieve.
When school finished, those registered on LearnCoach could
ask questions which would be answered by tutors.
Incentives such as free access to the program next year would
be offered to people using LearnCoach this year to encourage
feedback when NCEA results were released, he said.
That feedback would be used to further develop the program.
Mr Cameron had big plans for the money received from the
Altus scholarship. School did not suit everybody, he said, so
he wanted to work with the New Zealand Qualifications
Authority and employers to develop a learning tool for people
to use when passing qualifications while working.