After a strong first year, a joint trades venture between schools in the Nelson region has expanded to Marlborough, and will next year expand its range of courses and double its available student places.
The Top of the South Trades Academy, formerly the Nelson Tasman Trades Academy, was set up this year to offer practical learning outside the classroom.
It initially had space for 100 students from Nelson schools. With additional funding from the Education Ministry, this will increase to 200 next year, but it will still not meet the demand. More than 250 people have applied for courses next year.
The academy offers courses in automotive engineering, hospitality, tourism, hairdressing and beauty, and next year the lineup will include aquaculture and maritime study, aviation engineering, wellbeing and health.
Academy manager Shaaron Adams said after "building something out of nothing", having too many potential students was a delightful problem to have.
Halfway through this year, the academy expanded to Marlborough, with students from three secondary schools going to the NMIT Marlborough campus or the RNZAF campus at Woodbourne.
The academy was frantically looking for creative ways of finding more funding, she said.
"None of us want to say to 50 or more kids that you can't come."
Programmes were oversubscribed around the country, which made it difficult for the ministry, she said.
"Their job is to make sure that the money is targeted to the greatest need, and clearly the greatest need is everywhere."
The academy's popularity proved the time was right for the idea. "We just need to find some solutions around funding it."
Academy students travel to whichever location has facilities for their course, with several "hubs" based around the region.
Students who want to take part have to go through an interview process, and their parents are also consulted. Fairfax NZ
- The Marlborough Express