A story worth telling for PM’s award winners

Issue: Volume 95, Number 3

Posted: 22 February 2016
Reference #: 1H9cyz

When the Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards were advertised last year the principal of Central Regional Health School decided his team had a story worth telling.

Ken McIntosh has been in charge at the school since its inception 16 years ago and during that time he has watched it grow and grow.

“We began with just seven teachers and teaching kids who were physically sick. Then we started working with students with mental health issues too. Next it was students with acute mental health issues and then we began working with justice cases.”

Students at Central Regional Health School are aged from five to 18 and all are on individual learning programmes.

Ken says the school, which has 14 locations throughout the lower North Island, has grown in a strategic way to cater to many different children. However, he says entering the awards was a good opportunity to review how the school was operating.

“It was timely for us to step back and think about what made us special,” he says. “Our story was different compared with the some of the other entrants because it was a long-time story over our 15-year history – it wasn’t just a one-off thing."

“It was great for us to get the feedback from the judges. One of them said ‘there are no egos at this school’, which is right. It’s not about us; it’s about the kids who we’re teaching. Comments like that are really reaffirming.”

After putting their names forward for an award and going through the judging process, Ken says his team was chuffed to win the Excellence in Leading – Atakura Award.

“When we won there was a huge amount of satisfaction and pride for staff and they’re all quite pleased to be teaching at a school that has won a Prime Minister’s Award,” he says.

“Winning the award didn’t necessarily change us, but it did give us a lot more confidence. We were recognised for being successful – it is recognition for all of the development we have been through during the past 16 years.”

The public exposure from winning the award was another big benefit, Ken says. “People don’t necessarily know about us so this gave us additional exposure through websites and news stories. That meant a lot for us.”

Winners of the Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards receive cash prizes. Ken says the school is using its prize money to invest in its staff through professional learning and development.

The journey has not ended yet for Central Regional Health School. Ken says that each step of the way the school reviews what sorts of young people they might be missing. A new unit will be opening in April and others may be added in the future.

When asked whether others should consider entering the awards, Ken says it is definitely worthwhile. “If you have a story to tell then it’s worth putting the effort in and doing it well. You’ve got to have a story to tell that has depth and substance to it. What you’re showing the judges has to be really genuine.”

For Ken a highlight of taking part was the people he got to meet along the way, including the judges and other entrants. “We got to meet some absolutely amazing people, people who are doing incredible things.”

Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards

Entries close on 18 March 2016 at 5pm.

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

Posted: 2:52 pm, 22 February 2016

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