Rotorua Boys' High School and Rotorua Girls' High School will be the first schools in the country to add a NCEA-accredited police studies subject to their curriculum.
In collaboration with New Zealand Police and Unitec, the course will be delivered to Year 13 students in 2018, preparing the students to apply for entry to the Royal New Zealand Police College (RNZPC) on completion.
The course was officially launched today with a ceremony at Rotorua Boys' High School.
"This will provide a significant career pathway that previously have been closed to schools. These students will end up with a wonderful qualification and on the pathway to being a police officer within a few months of leaving school," Rotorua Boys' High School principal, Chris Grinter said.
The course will cover the context of policing in New Zealand, relevant legislation, policies, strategies, procedures and ethics.
It will also teach the theory and practice involved in policing.
"We are really excited about the opportunity to participate with our brother school in this groundbreaking partnership with the New Zealand Police," Rotorua Girls' High School principal Ally Gibbons said.
"It also builds positively on our last three years of involvement in the CACTUS (Combined Adolescent Challenge Training Unit Support) programme, a community-based programme with the police that has helped our young women in their personal development.
"It has blossomed into a highly successful programme at RGHS, delivering positive change to our young women and many participants have assumed leadership positions in the school which aligns with our school motto 'Crafting Future Leaders'."
Students will be able to gain 29 NCEA Level 3 credits plus the Unitec Level 4 certificate in Introduction to Police Studies Aotearoa New Zealand.
Both schools have worked on the curriculum with police, with students providing key input.
The course will be a full-year paper, incorporating the content of the 12-week course required by all Royal New Zealand Police College entrants - meaning they will not have to complete this separately as part of their police college application.
While it will help students prepare to apply for police college, completion of the NCEA course does not guarantee students a place.
They will still need to meet the other entrance requirements.
Students Manny Crawford and Allannah Tapara , both 16, will take the subject next year.
"I come from Te Teko, a small community that has a lot of problems but not a lot of police. I've always wanted to be a police officer so I can help those in my community," Manny said.
"I've always thought it would be fun to be a police officer, I like the idea of being able to keep the people in my community safe. Today's demonstration has cemented my career choice," Allannah said.
Both agreed they were lucky to be the first to try the new course.
"It's something different, it's out of our comfort zone and gives us that extra step towards achieving our career goals," Manny said.
Rotorua police area commander Inspector Anaru Pewhairangi said being able to engage local police hopefuls at school level was great news for the area and for police.
"Our aim at New Zealand Police is to be reflective of the communities we serve. This is a chance to strategically target youth, Maori, and women to join New Zealand Police," Mr Pewhairangi said.
"This course will give us a chance to work directly with these young people and help them understand what New Zealand Police is trying to achieve, and help promote trust and confidence in the police."
Police have a goal of increasing Maori recruitment, and Rotorua Boys' and Girls' High School have high numbers of Maori students.
Attending today's launch from the police will be Deputy Commissioner Resource Management Audrey Sonerson, Assistant Commissioner Maori Wally Haumaha, Assistant Commissioner Road Policing Sandra Venables (a former Rotorua Girls' High School student) and General Manager Training Superintendent Scott Fraser.