School should have been a place of solace, but a lack of support saw a teenager with so much potential spiral into despair.
“I was put straight into learning support because they apparently ran out of room,” she says.
“I was always classed as a person who wasn’t smart. I just always looked down on myself, I didn’t see any hope for my future.”
The mainstream education system is not an adequate environment for all students.
Briana slipped through the cracks but an Alternative Education pilot program put her back on the right path.
Phase two of the Kiwi Next Generation was officially launched on May 26.
The collaboration between the Salvation Army and Variety aims to provide an education for more than 700 youth who have fallen through the cracks of mainstream education.
Salvation Army education and employment director Gregory Fortuin says too many youth are ending up outside of employment, education or training.
“Often we are the last train leaving the station for these kids,” he says.
“Many of these kids are taught they’re never going to make it so they don’t fulfil their full potential.”
In its first year the program will offer 40 weeks of free tuition in 17 training centres throughout the country, two will be in the Auckland suburbs of Mt Wellington and Henderson.
Fortuin says students will receive personalised mentoring and practical support in the form of care packs, meals and incentives.
“This whole program is about the wrap around staff and the mentoring staff that help break those barriers that stop students achieving.
“Our tutors at the moment are councillors, academics, parents and friends to those young people. This will help take the load off those tutors.”
Almost 50 per cent of students who left Alternative Education in 2014 joined the 71,000 NEET youth in New Zealand.
“Even if they don’t get that qualification now it’s critical that we impact their lives and install work ethic and self-belief,” Fortuin says.
The extra support provided through Alternative Education programs can be critical for students like Briana.
“As I started to learn and develop new skills I felt like I could reach further,” she says.
“Having a tutor that really does care about your education, but also you as a person; that’s what really helped me the most.”