Lochiel School punching above its weight
CAPTIONS / PHOTO IDS: Lochiel School's bright year eight students Kelsey Apaga, Nick Harris, Wyatt Feenstra and Daniel Robson who have achieved success for the school. Photo: MARY WITSEY 631629750 pic in PEye
One small rural primary school is small but mighty, achieving success despite the size of its roll.
Lochiel Primary School only has 51 students, and just eight students in the senior school, and yet despite the small numbers the school has produced some top efforts.
Lochiel's year 7 & 8 team took out first place in the recent EIS Technology Challenge, hosted by Waianiwa School, where they pitted their skills against 13 teams from across Southland.
The annual challenge aims to foster innovation, creativity and teamwork in completing challenges.
This year year 7 & 8 student teams were asked to create a robotic arm which could lift a weight and build a ramp using household materials.
Earlier this year some of the same group of Lochiel students represented Southland at the National finals of the Young Farmer-coordinated Agri-kids competition in Taupo finishing eighth overall out of more than 20 teams.
Principal Geoff Folster said the group was very talented and the school was very proud of the students.
"They're hands-on practical kids and they just seem to excel. They've learned to work together and listen to each other's ideas.
"Their success has been pretty cool really. It's also good to beat the town schools."
It was also important to give the children the opportunities when they came along.
"For smaller schools it's about getting them out there and involved.
"Of course none of that would happen without the great support of parents who often help with transport.
"I can't speak highly enough of the community support that this school gets."
He also believed the size of the school actually encouraged students to succeed.
"At smaller schools there are less numbers so kids are expected to step up.
"And the success of these students shows that kids aren't disadvantaged by attending smaller schools."
Lochiel fostered leadership through its house leader programme and encouraged older students to look out for their younger peers.
"It's just about building those skills."
Celebrating success was also really important in a smaller school, he said.
There are 22 small schools in Southland which have a roll of 50 students or less.