A very special delegation from the East Coast are on their way to Wellington to attend the inaugural Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards.
The Tairāwhiti Schools Trades Academy @ EIT is a finalist in the 2014 Educational Focus Prize – Takatū Prize, which focuses on learner-led pathways. The programme is one of just 16 finalists from 163 entries over five categories.
Heading south for Wednesday evening’s prestigious awards are a contingent from EIT Tairāwhiti, as well as representatives from the five Ngāti Porou schools who are part of the successful programme.
Launched in 2012, the trades academy sees high school students from as far north as Te Araroa, through to Wairoa in the south, head to the Tairāwhiti campus each Friday to learn a range of skills, including hair and beauty, carpentry, automotive assembly, engineering, automotive and hospitality.
Trades academy manager Paul Hursthouse said that being a finalist made the programme a winner in his eyes.
“We have won by reaching the finals and we are delighted that this is recognition of the academy, the support from the local community and most importantly, the difference it is making to our students,” he said.
Students had the opportunity to gain valuable NCEA level two credits, but it also gave them a taste of possible career paths. Some of the early students have continued with tertiary education at EIT Tairāwhiti, and are now working towards higher qualifications.
As finalists, EIT Tairāwhiti hosted a film crew who spoke to students, parents, employers, Ngāti Porou principals and tutors. Mr Hursthouse says the Ministry of Education are also keen to develop a case study of the programme in both film and written form.
“Our Ngāti Porou schools have clearly benefited through the academy allowing their curriculum to be extended – the students have more choices and can taste a trade while at school. It is a win-win for all,” he said.
“These are small composite schools in isolated areas, which are often unable to provide the full 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.”
Tairāwhiti campus director Jan Mogford shared the excitement.
“It is a real coup for the academy to be recognised like this at national level. It shows the work that has gone into the academy, highlights the relationship between EIT and the schools, and the success of the students coming through. It is a real credit to the schools,” she said.
Education Minister Hekia Parata described the awards as an opportunity to “publicly recognise, celebrate and share the highly effective education practice” in New Zealand.
“These awards will help to further lift the status of the teaching profession and drive more improvements for our children and young people.”
Judges had commented on the very high calibre of entries.
Also a finalist in the 2014 Educational Focus Prize – Takatū Prize, alongside the Tairāwhiti Schools Trades Academy @ EIT, are the Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT) Multiple Pathways Partnerships Group (Auckland) and Top of the South Trades Academy (Nelson).