Three years ago, Patea Area School had some of the worst NCEA results in the country. It had a high suspension rate and was disconnected from its community. Three years on, the school has turned itself around with a new learning model focused on global citizenship. And today the school received a prestigious award in recognition of its efforts.

Patea Area School was among the winners of the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO’s inaugural Award in Global Citizenship Education (GCED). Applicants needed to demonstrate that their project contributes to a significant issue at a local, regional or national level. They also needed to provide evidence of their project’s impact on learners’ ability to be active and responsible global citizens.

Patea Area School was joined by Tiaki Early Learning Centre and Generation Zero in receiving a certificate and $3000 at a prize giving ceremony and reception at Parliament today hosted by Hon Jenny Salesa, Associate Minister of Education. St Johns College and UN Youth were also highly commended.

Robyn Baker, Chair of the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO says the judges were delighted by the quality of the applications received.

“It was heartening to read about the outstanding work that is being done across the country to encourage responsible and active global citizenship.”

Baker was particularly inspired by Patea Area School’s efforts, which saw the school take home the Education Sector Award.

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – April 24: UNESCO Award in Global Citizenship Education April 24, 2018 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Mark Tantrum/

“In 2015, Patea Area School had some of the worst NCEA results in the country. They also had high suspension rates, low staff morale and a significant disconnection with the local community. The judges were impressed at how the learning model the school introduced has turned the school around and engaged the whole community. The model ensures that everything they do as a learning community is experiential, authentic and connected to the wider world around them.”

Patea Area School worked to find a learning model that truly embedded global citizenship in the whole school’s curriculum delivery, instead of being a one-off project. This is reflected in the school’s vision statement of ‘Growing good people for a changing world’. The school’s approach is closely aligned with international goals for global citizenship education and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Each term Patea Area School introduces an across-school inquiry topic with a local/global challenge focus. Every student in the school chooses an aspect of the inquiry topic based on their area of interest, passion and need. This inquiry work becomes the basis of each students’ personalised learning pathway.

Meanwhile Tiaki Early Learning Centre received the Innovation Award.

The centre’s project ‘Te Arohanui o Papatuanuku’ provides opportunities for tamariki aged between three and five to lead by example in their role as Kaitiaki o Papatuanuku – guardians of the land. The young children are encouraged to act as leaders in projects to reduce waste and foster sustainable living practice. This includes picking up litter as they walk through the community, and looking after a section of wetlands in the local area, among other projects.

“The judges were excited by the early learning centre’s approach, which is embedding important values in the tamariki that will likely grow as they get older,” says Baker. “It’s a simple but powerful idea, which adopts innovative use of local knowledge and tikanga.”

The early learning centre is working with the local community to establish and sustain the Tiaki way of being in the world; drawing on Te Whariki, ideas of place-based education, using Nature pedagogy, and enabling the children to take action in areas related to the health of mother earth. They are also providing opportunities for the children to be leaders “through the actions they do every single day”.

Generation Zero, recipients of the Community Award, developed the Zero Carbon Act blueprint, aimed at creating a thriving, zero carbon future in New Zealand.

The nationwide, youth-led organisation taught themselves and others about policy and government processes, media and communications, public outreach, interpersonal skills, training and supporting volunteers to get involved and upskill as well.

After 18 months of public education and awareness-building about climate change and the benefits of climate law, the new government agreed to create and pass a Zero Carbon Act into law. The work of Generation Zero contributed to this outcome.

“The judges were particularly struck by the strong evidence of impact and its contribution to long-term societal change, as well as the fact that the initiative is youth led,” says Baker. “They were also impressed by the way in which members of Generation Zero are educating volunteers across the country.”

Banner image: WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – April 24: UNESCO Award in Global Citizenship Education April 24, 2018 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Mark Tantrum/

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