The Tairua Academy of Innovation and Technology (TaiTECH) launched recently at Tairua School, in the Coromandel Peninsula.

All Year 7 and 8 students at Tairua School will select one module a term and they will be given specialist training for two hours each week in small groups of no more than 10.

All subjects taught in TaiTECH are linked to the New Zealand curriculum and focus on creativity and innovation while integrating core subjects like literacy and mathematics.

Chairperson of Tairua School Board of Trustees Sue Brannigan says the Board felt the school needed to “up its game” with the technology programme it offers students.

“Our kids were doing a two-hour round trip by bus each week to a neighbouring high school for what was essentially a two-hour class,” Brannigan says.

All students were also taking the same four subjects every year, regardless of their strengths or interests, and with so much diversity now in the modern workplace the school wants to ensure it is introducing its students to those pathways, she adds. 

“This will allow them to explore skills and ideas they are curious about or have a strong passion for.”

Each subject is hands-on with students encouraged to brainstorm and problem solve as they work their way through their projects.

This term the students are taking one of five options – construction; MasterChef cookery; contemporary art; sports science or structure and design.

Teams of students will engage in projects such as designing surfboards and building a skate ramp for the school.

There will also be offsite experiences, such as a visit to Anderson Surfboards workshop in Whangamata, and Tairua’s Little Gallery of Fine Arts.

Tairua School principal Brendan Finn says his students are excited about this programme.

“The anticipation levels have been so high and is just awesome to finally see it get off the ground,” Finn says.

TaiTECH will run as a pilot programme until the end of the year using a $3,000 allocation from the school’s operational funding.

Each student contributes $10 per term towards the cost of materials, and from 2018 the programme will be funded directly by the Ministry of Education.

While the current modules are being delivered by existing school staff, the school is looking forward to inviting experts from the wider community to share their skills.

Potential future subjects include computer coding, horticulture and drama and dance.

“Tairua and the wider Coromandel is full of immensely talented people with an extremely diverse range of knowledge and skills,” Finn says.

“The possibilities are almost limitless and we are very excited to see how this programme develops and evolves over the coming months.”