Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards: Finalists Announced

Issue: Volume 93, Number 10

Posted: 16 June 2014
Reference #: 1H9ct9

Finalists for each of the categories of the inaugural Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards have been announced. The awards aim to celebrate and recognise outstanding achievement in early childhood education, primary and secondary schooling, as well as collaboration between secondary schools, tertiary providers, and employers.
Acknowledging that collaboration is one of the central pillars of educational success, the awards focus on the work of groups, teams, and partnerships in English, Māori, and Pasifika-medium. They highlight the combined effort needed to achieve improvement, equity, and planned innovation.

People who have worked with communities and agencies to transform relationships and involvement in learning.

Lime Hills School

Deep in Southland, this primary school had a growing number of children who spoke English as a second language.

Staff had a vision of the school as a global village where all students and their families could share their language and culture, feel a deep sense of belonging, and achieve success in their learning.

Teachers Kirsty and Mel have created ‘a taste of home’ – a teaching approach that fosters the use of first language, with teaching practice that draws on children’s identities, using their cultural skills and knowledge as a source of expertise and a springboard for learning.

Otumoetai Intermediate

Six years ago, Otumoetai Intermediate took a close look at student achievement and engagement and found they were not making a difference in the lives of every student.

The school responded with a proactive approach to address issues of transition, with four streams of self-improvement based on best evidence, to:

  • grow and sustain expert teachers
  • refine governance
  • increase student voice
  • engage parents, families, and the community.

Evidence shows the school and community are developing a culture where high quality teaching is prevalent and students are becoming “self-motivated, highly engaged and high achieving learners”.

St Thomas of Canterbury – social enterprise hub

The St Thomas’ Social Enterprise Hub provides a platform to support students in social enterprise initiatives.

This programme is uniquely tailored to deliver real-life experience in a business environment, while engaging people on the margins in New Zealand and globally. The programme is voluntary and inclusive of all students, who focus on the design, manufacture, and sale of products that make a difference in the lives of ordinary people. As part of the process, students engage with business, unions, and community groups.

The programme integrates formal learning in core areas of the curriculum with the practice of social enterprise, working closely with the University of Canterbury and supported by mentors from local business and the not-for-profit sector. Results are evident in student success and career and study pathways. Strong relationships have developed with businesses and New Zealand and global communities.

Toybox on Rawhiti

This Auckland early childhood education centre has introduced an environmental philosophy as the core for children’s learning to create “a classroom without walls”.

The environment for teaching and learning is Cornwall Park – within close walking distance of this urban centre. All aspects of the early childhood curriculum are covered through ongoing exploration of the natural environment. There is a focus on sustainability, developing the knowledge and skills to care for both the physical world and for others – peers, family/whānau, and the community.

Finalists in leading: Atakura

People whose leadership and influence have strengthened teaching capability and created a change in conditions, leading to improved and sustained outcomes for all children and young people.

Makoura College, staff parents and Board of Trustees

In 2008, Makoura College was destined to close. Under new leadership, the school has focused on transforming relationships to ensure students are better served by the school and prepared to succeed in the wider world.

A key element of change is a new philosophy, a shift from accepting failure to embracing opportunities, from deficit to strength. The school has a shared belief that students at Makoura College are capable of success and of greatness.

The change in philosophy has been accompanied by change in school systems and in the practice of teaching and learning, so that all support the shared belief.

Selwyn College Leadership

With a new principal during 2008, this school embarked on planned change to ensure “that Selwyn becomes the school of choice for the local community”. Through instructional, distributed, and moral leadership, the school has achieved a significant transformation.

The change has been complex and multi-layered. It has involved developing teachers’ leadership and expertise in new teaching and leading practices, underpinned by continuous and rigorous self-review. Diverse opportunities for student leadership have enhanced their connection with the school’s values, particularly academic achievement.

The result has been a transformation in the culture of learning and relationships, which has lifted results and community support.

Shirley First Learners

Late in October 2012, Shirley First Learners welcomed a young child and her family. The child and members of her family are profoundly deaf.

Teachers at the centre knew they had to create a positive learning environment for the child and her family to develop a sense of belonging and ensure the same learning opportunities for all children. That meant understanding Deaf culture in New Zealand, understanding sign language, and ensuring that all children could sign.

Children, parents, and teachers have immersed themselves in a world of new ways to communicate. The child, whose language is New Zealand Sign, has become a language expert and teacher for the wider community of Shirley First Learners.

Finalists in teaching and learning: Atatu

People who have transformed the learning for all children and young people to improve and sustain outcomes for them all.

Cashmere High School Mathematics and Statistics Faculty

In 2011, Cashmere High School found a vehicle to change student attitudes, learning, and achievement in maths and statistics. Leaving behind classrooms typical of the maths stereotype, teachers set a new vision where “all students develop mathematical ability and view themselves as powerful learners of mathematics and statistics.”

They identified best practice through research and created a professional development model that works for the faculty. The focus is now on building understanding, with the teacher as facilitator of discussion and thinking. Students explore the curriculum using their own questions and issues.
The change has seen a lift in achievement for students and profound change in their attitude and engagement.

Daisies Early Education and Care Centre

Respect for the environment and sustainability are part of the philosophy at Daisies, which aims to involve children in environmental practice so that they become good citizens in Aotearoa, contributing to conservation of Papatuanuku.

Following a review of existing practice, the teaching team realised more of them needed to model a willingness to try new experiences and immerse themselves in the bush environment. Confidence grew through coaching, mentoring, and professional development.

Children’s stories about the bush in all weathers are now a tool for teaching and learning. Teachers research questions alongside children. The centre has gained a reputation among peers with teachers presenting at workshops and professional seminars.

Kerikeri High School

Student results had Kerikeri High School leaders concerned that the school was failing Māori students, “but it was not clear why or what had to change”.
Change began through Te Kotahitanga. As academic achievement lifted, the programme was refined to include social and cultural outcomes.

Strategies were introduced to celebrate Māori, challenge negative thinking, and foster conversations. The school sought a range of perspectives to inform understanding and engagement in te Ao and tikanga Māori. Pedagogy was strengthened to personalise and differentiate learning for students.

The result is a school with a caring culture of success for all that supports Māori to achieve as Māori, values their contribution and embraces tikanga as part of school identity. The school has seen a dramatic improvement in Māori student achievement in NCEA.

Otumoetai Intermediate (see earlier entry)

Finalists in governing: Awatea

People whose governance and management have created the conditions for leadership and teaching to improve and sustain outcomes for all children and young people.

Noku te Ao

Noku te Ao is an early childhood centre teaching through te reo and tikanga Māori.

From the very beginning, centre trustees have been active supporters of the goals, “committed to the needs of tamariki, willing to step out of the box, and look at ways that will work for whānau.”

The trustees support kaiako in their work and take part in any growth required – investing in kaiako, their qualifications, and achievement. They emphasise life-long and intergenerational learning, modelling learning and the use of te reo to tamariki, showing the outcomes they seek for tamariki.

Otumoetai Intermediate (see earlier entry)

Finalists in the educational focus prize

Groups whose collaboration have created learner-led pathways amongst secondary schools, tertiary providers, and employers.

Eastern Institute of Technology and Tairawhiti Schools

Five schools in the Ngati Porou region seized the opportunity of a partnership with the Eastern Institute of Technology and created a trades academy to provide new opportunities for young people.

These are small composite schools in isolated areas, often unable to provide the range of subjects or learning opportunities that allow students to follow their interest and reach their potential. Bringing the trades academy nearer to these communities has lifted student retention and achievement and opened a world of new possibilities for young people in the region.

The shift has seen students from highly isolated settings connected with tertiary education, enjoying and achieving success – results that increase their success at school and the chance they will enrol and succeed in tertiary education.

Manukau Institute of Technology Multiple Pathways Partnership

Manukau Institute of Technology and partnered secondary schools have been on a journey together for more than a decade. This group has been designing solutions to the difficulties many secondary students face stepping from secondary education to further study and employment, or when they cannot see success from their current situation. The case study explains the development of ‘seamless’ pathways from secondary school, through tertiary study, and into employment.

“It all started with just one programme, The Tertiary High School, with parents, students and teachers who believed there was, for them, a better way to achieve success.”

The results of the partnership have transformed the opportunities available to many students.

Top of the South Trades Academy

Two tertiary organizations and 14 secondary schools across the Marlborough and Nelson regions set out to address a lack of vocational training. The goal was to provide young people with clear pathways through school and beyond, engage them as life-long learners, and develop their capacity to survive in a competitive, highly-skilled world.

The group has approached this challenge by focusing first on students. As a result, they have transformed how this group of students are taught, what they are taught, and the environment in which they are taught.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 12:30 am, 16 June 2014

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