School trades academy wins excellence award

00:41, Jun 26 2014

A Nelson school-led trades academy is $20,000 richer after winning a top prize at the second annual Prime Minister's Education Excellence Awards last night.

The evening, hosted at Te Papa museum in Wellington, saw the Top of the South Trades Academy (TOTSTA) presented with the Educational Focus Prize.

The Takatu award, presented by John Key, Hekia Parata and Nikki Kaye, celebrates learner-led pathways and collaborations between high schools, tertiary providers and employers.

"The calibre of the people in attendance was amazing," said TOTSTA manager Shaaron Adams. "We're very happy to have won."

The academy was the only school-led initiative in its category, up against Manukau Institute of Technology in Auckland and Eastern Institute of Technology in Hawkes Bay.

TOTSTA gives secondary school students across Nelson, Marlborough and Tasman the chance to train for a "real job" while they are still at school, said Adams.


Courses are free, practical and hands on, seeing students get out of the classroom and into the workforce one day a week.

"We've brought together nearly every secondary school in the region and got them working in collaboration with employers and tertiary providers," she said.

Judges praised TOTSTA for its efforts in education, saying: "Adults have put their interests aside, focusing on students and creating flexible programmes that are achieving results."

Principal Tom Parsons of Queen Charlotte College was a judge and Scott Haines of Motueka High School was in the expert supporting panel.

The prize included a "ginormous" metre-long trophy.

Adams said TOTSTA hadn't yet decided how to allocate the prize money, but "it will definitely be used to better the opportunities for young people."

The Nelson Mail