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Why aren’t more school boards entering for awards?

The Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards was a glittering ceremony held at the Auckland War Memorial Museum last week. Yet in two categories, no prize was awarded – the Awatea award for governance, and the Takatū prize for education focus. 

The New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA) is perplexed as to why the Awatea prize was not awarded, saying there are some “outstanding examples of good practice in school governance in New Zealand schools”.

“We’re not sure why more boards of trustees are not putting their names forward,” says association president Lorraine Kerr. 

“The Prime Minister’s Awards are a wonderful opportunity for us to celebrate the many things we do well, and the focus is rightly on what happens in the classroom, for the students,” says Ms Kerr. “The commitment and contribution of school principals and boards of trustees are important too, though, and it’s appropriate for their achievements to be acknowledged and celebrated as well.

“We do know that school boards often undervalue themselves, so it could be that, it could be the natural Kiwi reticence to brag, it could be because people who stand as school trustees are generally not focussed on accolades for themselves and they’d rather back their staff in one of the other categories.

“NZSTA is also aware that some boards who have entered the governance section of the PM’s Excellence awards in the past have found the process expensive and onerous, and have chosen not to enter again. So it could be a lot of things.”

NZSTA says it will be “strongly encouraging boards to loudly shout out their successes and step up” for next year’s awards. 

The other award held back, the Takatū, was designed to celebrate the responsiveness of local curriculum, delivered through innovative use of digital technologies to achieve improved outcomes for children and young people. There were no finalists. 

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