The Top of the South Trades Academy (TOTSTA)'s win at the Prime Minister's Education Excellence Awards is a win for the whole region, says TOTSTA Manager Shaaron Adams.
In June, the Academy won the 2014 Educational Focus - Takatu Prize at the awards in Wellington. The awards are designed to celebrate and recognise innovative teaching practices. The judges said: "Top of the South Trades Academy has taken vocational training to students throughout Nelson, Tasman and Marlborough. Adults have put their interests aside, focusing on students and creating flexible programmes that are achieving results".
This year has seen more than 300 students from 14 secondary schools undertake Trades Academy courses at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) and Whenua Iti Outdoors, across 17 different areas including automotive engineering, hospitality, hairdressing and beauty, aquaculture and maritime, aviation engineering and sport and fitness.
Manager Shaaron Adams says the Academy sets students up to succeed.
"Through the Academy, we hope to give students more reason to stay at school, a greater chance of career success and an easier transition into work or tertiary education after school.
"The students are telling us is that they enjoy being part of the tertiary world and that the hands-on experience helps motivate them to want to learn more. What we are seeing is motivated, relaxed kids who are getting a look at what their future could be – while still getting all the wonderful experiences that schools can offer – the best of both worlds".
Launched in 2012, the Academy is now a joint venture between 14 secondary schools in the Top of the South, NMIT and Whenua Iti Outdoors. Academy courses are open to year 11, 12 and 13 students who have level one NCEA, are committed to learning, and are keen to train towards a career. The students remain enrolled in school while attending training one day per week at a tertiary provider, working towards a National Certificate and a minimum of NCEA level 2. Classes are taught by tertiary tutors.
Rex Smith, Principal of the lead provider, Nayland College, says that the award acknowledges the great job done by the tutors at NMIT and Whenua Iti in engaging students in authentic learning as well as recognising the work done by a dedicated group of teachers in each of the schools. "As a partnership we always knew that we could achieve far more for all of our students by working collaboratively and this has been recognised", he said.
NMIT Chief Executive Tony Gray says the Trades Academy has been successful on many different levels. "The Trades Academy has been of real benefit for students wanting to progress to NMIT. We are now seeing a greater number of school leavers choose to stay in the region and study at NMIT.
"Their transition from school to tertiary study is also much smoother as students have already been exposed to learning in an adult environment."
The Ministry of Education approved funding for the Academy in late 2011 as part of its Youth Guarantee policy which focuses on improving educational opportunities and achievement for 16 and 17 year-olds. The Top of the South Trades Academy is one of 22 Trades Academies across New Zealand and is funded by the Ministry of Education. Colleges involved are: Nayland College (funding coordinator and lead provider), Waimea College, Nelson College for Girls, Nelson College, Garin College, Motueka High School, Collingwood Area School, Rai Valley Area School, Tapawera Area School, Marlborough Girls' College, Marlborough Boys' College, Queen Charlotte College and Te Kura (the Correspondence School) and Te Kura Kaupapa o Tuia Te Matangi.
Winning this award secured the Academy $20,000 in prize money.
Winners and a full list of finalists, as well as criteria and categories, are featured on the Prime Minister's Education Excellence Awards(external link) website.
Find out more about Trades Academy.(external link)