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Waikato schools announced as finalists in PM's Education Excellence Awards

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Waikato’s Ōpoutere School and Te Kauwhata College were selected as finalists in this year’s Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards.

Ōpoutere School is a finalist in the Excellence in Teaching and Learning category while Te Kauwhata College is a finalist in the Excellence in Health and Wellbeing Education category.

Ministry of Education Deputy Secretary for Early Learning and Student Achievement Ellen MacGregor-Reid says the Judging Panel has chosen a total of 20 finalists across all categories and they all demonstrated outstanding teaching practices that made a big difference not just to learners, but to their whānau and the wider community.

"They are a great example of the amazing work that is happening in early learning services, kura and schools across the country. We look forward to hearing their stories at the awards ceremony and sharing them with the rest of New Zealand," she says.

Ōpoutere School, Coromandel

This school has developed the Adventure Learning Programme, an innovative and unique approach to teaching and learning that aims to build on the potential of their learners and improve engagement with students and their whānau.

The approach focused on expanding success for Māori learners through challenging outdoor experiences.

The school engaged a specialist teacher and shifted their teaching practices across the school to develop competencies that enable life-long learning. This includes fostering connections with students and with their local environment, providing opportunities for leadership and service to others, and setting high expectations.

As a result, students’ key competencies have improved over time in relation to thinking, use of language symbols and text, managing self, participating and contributing, and relating to others.

Te Kauwhata College, Te Kauwhata

This college recognised the need for powerful sustained connections with parents and whānau and formed a group called Manaakitangata to support students. They made genuine connections with their local community and worked collaboratively and creatively to find proactive solutions.

A wellbeing survey of their students provided crucial information for the college to identify areas of risk. They created a risk register which was further developed into a wellbeing register so that their most at-risk students can access the support they need to enable them to reach their potential. A Kaitiaki Hauora role has been established to support Māori students in a culturally sensitive way.

As a result, students are able to cope better, build resilience and develop a positive disposition. Students have become proactive in seeking the support they need and are attending classes.

Awards Information

The Awards celebrate groups of teachers and educators working together, and with students, whānau and communities to deliver excellent outcomes for children and young people. This year saw a total of 20 finalists across all categories.

Members of the independent Judging Panel of education experts are visiting the finalists between June and August to see their work and speak with all those involved. Winners from each category will receive $20,000 and a professional development opportunity.

The Prime Minister’s Supreme Award is selected from the four category winners. It is presented to the early learning service, school or kura that has had the greatest influence on education outcomes.

The Supreme Award winner will receive an additional $30,000 and an opportunity to represent New Zealand in an international education conference.

The Awards ceremony will be held in Wellington in September.

For more information on the Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards, please visit their website:

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