Trailblazing Rangatahi: Dirtskool’s Approach to Off-Road Education

17 May 2024
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Dirtskool addressed multiple barriers to participation by partnering with Nuku Ora and local schools. In the past, bikes were gifted to remove physical barriers, while current practices focus on educating enthusiastic participants and their whānau. This education helps them develop knowledge about accessing mountain biking and supporting bike maintenance. Alongside this, psychosocial barriers were addressed by increasing knowledge about safety and building confidence on local trails, encouraging ongoing engagement outside of the programme.

Dirtskool’s kaupapa is to engage rangatahi in the healthy, rewarding, physical, recreation activity of mountain biking, not only delivering trail riding skills but also introducing them to self-confidence and personal responsibility in the outdoors.

Fiona Trappitt, Y11 Dean | Sacred Heart College
Students rarely have their own bikes and we as schools rarely have the resourcing, funding, equipment or expertise to provide the bikes, maintenance gear, trailers or knowledge of skill to be able to run these activities ourselves. Dirtskool provides us with an opportunity to provide our students with unique learning experiences (mountain biking) in a way that is accessible for schools.

The Opportunity 

  • Build confidence
  • Skill development
  • Improve achievement at school
  • Increase attendance at school
  • Connect with te taiao


The Learnings

Simon Gilbert | BikeTec
Students have indicated to us that they have started to cycle in their own time with their friends, and this is backed up by the number of young people who have purchased their own cycles during the programme. A number of our students have also joined local mountain bike clubs and engaged in sport racing activities.

Matt Wood, PE/Health Teacher | Wainuiomata High School
As students are so engaged in this programme, they will do anything not to miss this. This therefore greatly influences behaviour of students through the rest of the week in order to remain on the roll. Levels of determination, discipline, resilience and self-management, have increased in all students that participate.