Celebrating excellence

Issue: Volume 94, Number 12

Posted: 13 July 2015
Reference #: 1H9crW

The Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards were established in 2014 to help raise the bar for the profession by identifying quality teaching. Meet the winners of the 2015 Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards.

The Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards were created in 2014 to publicly recognise and celebrate education excellence. The Awards acknowledge people and practices that are delivering a better education to our children and young people, and help raise the bar for the profession by identifying and showcasing quality teaching. In doing so, they allow the sector to share some great New Zealand education stories with their colleagues and the wider public.

The Award categories are drawn from the world-renowned Ministry of Education Best Evidence Synthesis research series, supported by the New Zealand schools and early childhood curriculum documents and education strategies.

For this year’s Awards, a team of education experts identified 12 finalists across three categories: Excellence in Engaging, Excellence in Leading, Excellence in Teaching and Learning and two finalists for the Focus Prize, which celebrated collaboration creating learner-led pathways from early childhood into schooling. A team of judges selected these winners, as well as a winner for the Prime Minister’s Supreme Award.

A range of education providers entered this year’s Awards, including early childhood services, primary and secondary schools and a polytechnic. Their entries included innovative programmes to raise student achievement by collaborating with staff, families/whānau, and communities. The entries were judged on the extent to which they showed improved and sustained outcomes for all children and young people that were achieved through a change in practice.

The winners of the 2015 Awards were announced at a ceremony on 17 June. The Prime Minister, Rt Hon John Key, presented the Awards along with the Minister of Education, Hon Hekia Parata and the Associate Minister of Education, Hon Nikki Kaye.

The winners in each category were

Excellence in Engaging

Teaching Team, Barnardos KidStart Childcare, Hastings

Barnardos KidStart Childcare faced a huge challenge: low occupancy, low parent involvement and a high number of children with learning and behaviour difficulties.

The centre reviewed their practices against a number of criteria: the centre’s physical environment, parents’ sense of belonging to the centre, the provision of equitable opportunities for learning, the children’s communication skills and the range of curriculum activities offered.

The centre sourced funding to improve the environment, created a homely learning environment and introduced the use of natural resources for learning. They built partnerships with parents and worked on a strategy to increase teachers’ cultural awareness. Parent-infant courses were offered to parents, and the centre began acknowledging community celebrations and events.

By building strong attachments with every child and working closely with specialists, teachers were able to reduce the socially challenging behaviours that were prevalent. By actively engaging with the community, Barnardos KidStart Childcare increased the participation of children from around 40% to an average of 80% occupancy.

What the judges said:

“This is a story of engagement that has transformed a community. Teachers have worked with whānau and iwi to create a place where children stand tall. Their understanding of mana and the respect they show for children has permeated the whole community, changing learning and changing lives.”

Excellence in Leading

Central Regional Health School

Central Regional Health School works with a variety of organisations including mental health specialist units and Youth Justice Care and Protection, and because of its very nature has a high turnover of students. Over time, the school identified a need to focus on more than just the physical health conditions of their students – mental health conditions were also preventing students from attending school.

The staff committed to extensive ongoing professional development, and generated individualised programmes for each student with structure and flexibility to enable responsiveness to each student’s needs. Priority was given to achievement in literacy, numeracy and the development of key competencies.

Success was measured by looking at each student’s goals and achievement. The impact on students’ cultural, social and academic location in relation to education success has been very successful.

What the judges said:

“This school thrives on challenge. Working from numerous locations and working alongside multiple agencies, the school supports the ongoing education of some of our most vulnerable students. There is a can-do culture that creates a web of support around each student. At every level and on every site there is harmony of focus, determination to keep each student at the centre of all decision-making, and respect and belief in the capability of young people.”

Excellence in Teaching and Learning

Whakairo Course of Study, Gisborne Boys’ High School

Gisborne Boys’ High School was concerned that they were not engaging Māori students in learning, and NCEA results showed that their Māori students were lagging behind. They made the decision to address the problem with a culturally engaging, curriculum-based achievement programme.

The Whakairo course was developed, providing NCEA Levels 1 to 3 and responding to the students’ cultural needs, promoting and fostering Tikanga Māori, as well as providing teaching and learning opportunities with credibility and integrity. Engaging with parents and whānau has been critical.

Six hundred students have now achieved appropriate and relevant qualifications over 10 years. Attitudes have changed and values and passion have flowed onto other components of the school curriculum.

What the judges said:

“This is teaching and learning that is pedagogically appropriate and delivers success for all students. The programme builds a broad platform of student achievement, producing works of great beauty and personal significance along with academic success, but is also a catalyst for much more. It connects the student with whakapapa, engaging and strengthening the wairua of the inner young man.”

Education Focus Prize

Teaching Team, Mangere Bridge Kindergarten, Auckland Kindergarten Association

This centre, located in a very diverse community, had two objectives: improving learning outcomes for children and supporting children and families transitioning from early childhood education to school.

They set out to build relationships that allowed school and kindergarten teachers to share with each other and learn more about each other’s practices. They learned about each other’s expectations of children and families and shared information to enable smooth transitions to schools. This included school visits, schoolteachers visiting the kindergarten and a buddy programme at schools to help kindergarten children settle in. The centre developed specific transition portfolios to go with kindergarten children when they start school, as well as parent information pamphlets.

The result has been positive transitions to schools, continued contact by kindergarten staff with the children and their families and increased engagement with families. The learning community that developed around the local schools then spread to other early childhood services.

What the judges said:

“This kindergarten is leading nationally and globally in practice around transition. Their insights are shared widely, transforming practice in early childhood education and primary schools. The work of this kindergarten is challenging how we value early childhood education and the learning that occurs for young children.”

Prime Minister’s Supreme Award

Gisborne Boys’ High School

Gisborne Boys’ High School has lifted the performance of students from all cultures through a range of initiatives, two of which are finalists in these awards and one is a winner.

What the judges said:

“What we saw at Gisborne Boys’ High School was a school defying stereotypes and transforming lives by giving boys opportunities to learn more about themselves and their culture. This school has inspired impressive engagement with their school community.”

The awards categories

Excellence in Engaging – Atahāpara Award

This award celebrates working together as a community to transform relationships and achievement, leading to improved and sustained outcomes for all children and young people.

Excellence in Leading – Atakura Award

This award celebrates leadership and influence that have strengthened professional capability and created a change in conditions, leading to improved and sustained outcomes for all children and young people.

Excellence in Teaching & Learning – Atatū Award

This award celebrates teaching that transforms the learning of all children and young people, and achieves improved and sustained outcomes for them all.

Excellence in Governing – Awatea Award

This award celebrates governance and management that creates conditions that allow leading and teaching to improve and sustain outcomes for all children and young people.

Education Focus Prize – Takatū Prize

The 2015 prize celebrates a focus on collaboration that creates learner-led pathways from early childhood to schooling.

The Prime Minister’s Supreme Award – Takiri ko te ata

This award is selected from the winners in the four Award categories and determined by the extent of improvement and impact on education outcomes.

The prizes

Winners of the four categories and focus prize each received a package that includes a trophy, certificate, a financial award ($20,000), and $10,000 + GST for professional development.

The winner of the Prime Minister’s Supreme Award received a package that includes the Supreme Award trophy, a certificate, an additional financial award ($30,000), and an opportunity to represent New Zealand education.

For further information about the Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards(external link)

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 7:08 pm, 13 July 2015

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