News: HEG Business Excellence Award boosts Ōpōtiki College Pride and Commitment


Ōpōtiki College were the winners of the inaugural Toi EDA LinkUp – connecting rangatahi, education and the world of work Award for their school transformation and focus on “Work Ready Pathways”. In her acceptance of the Award, Principal Susan Impey said “We’re a small school, but we’re making big changes to work in close partnership with our local Iwi, community, and employers.”

Judges of the LinkUp Award category, Terry Collett and David Hammerich, assessed eight entries, and met with four shortlisted finalists. They were highly impressed with the quality of all Toi EDA LinkUP Award entries. The judges said “We came away invigorated and optimistic about the future for the young people and rangatahi in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. In particular we were deeply impressed with the conception, breadth, level of partnership, and courage which Ōpōtiki College has demonstrated to totally transform it’s approach to education and embed it locally. Their commitment to engagement with Iwi and the local community shone through.” 

The new “Coast by Nature” curriculum, and adjustment of the school timetable to a 3day/2day structure has enabled the College to embed a “Work Ready Pathway” for all Year 11, 12 and 13 students. This is helping students lift their aspirations and pursue relevant programmes for their transition into the world of work and/or further study. Students, parents and employers have been brought together to ensure that there is a good understanding of their mutually supportive roles.

The Judges also highly commended the Youth to Work Ōpōtiki (Y-TWO) partnership between Te Pou Oranga ō Whakatōhea and Ōpōtiki College  We were moved so much by the Y-TWO partnership that we lifted this programme to second place. Their shared local vision and partnership is at the heart of multiple new initiatives to raise rangatahi aspirations, participation, achievement and work readiness rates through their school years and beyond.Together with Whakaatu Whanaunga Trust and others, they are also innovating new local pathways for rangatahi aged 15-24, to take them through to sustained employment underpinned by intensive pastoral care.

Toi EDA Workforce Development Manager Barbara MacLennan said “we established LinkUp in response to the call from business and employers that we need to do a better job of orienting education to the world of work around us. All of the Award entries were great examples of innovative partnerships that demonstrate how our local businesses and schools are rising to this challenge. We’re keen to share stories about each of the entries as inspiration for connecting rangatahi, education and the world of work.

More information:

Susan Impey – Ōpōtiki College Principal 021 322 036
Terry Collett – Toi EDA LinkUp Award Category Chief Judge 021 433 767
Barbara MacLennan - Toi EDA Workforce Development Manager 0274252277

PHOTO: LinkUP Award Judges Terry Collett and David Hammerich; Award Winners Opotiki College Deputy Princial Jenny Mays, and Principal Susan Impey; and Toi EDA Workforce Development Manager Barbara MacLennan