In 2005 a programme for Gifted And Talented students in the three Bream Bay primary schools (Ruakaka, One Tree Point and Waipu) was initiated through a Ministry of Education Collaboration Fund.
The three Principals at that time (Bob Peni, Adrian Smith and Paul Ramsay) identified the children and employed Michelle Parsons-Sim to take the group once a week for 25 weeks of the year. There were two groups – Years 3/4 students and Years 5/6 students. The programme focused on different learning areas to the normal school day; divergent thinking and discussion was encouraged. A camp at the very start of the programme led to the name Great White Sharks (GWS) – to reflect the students’ voracious appetite for learning.
However, by the end of 2006 Ministry funding was depleted and fi ling milestone reports for the Ministry was proving taxing, so outside sponsorship was sought.
Northpine stepped up to the plate, beginning an ongoing partnership with these three schools that has so far contributed about $80,000 and allowed the three schools to continue offering an extended learning programme to Bream Bay’s most gifted and talented schoolchildren.
Over the years the GWS programme has morphed into running separate modules to recognise specific forms of talent – in Science, Art, Music, Physical Education and Technology. In the last two years this has extended to Te Reo. An annual wananga has been run based at Takahiwai Marae for gifted and talented Maori. The wananga has also included the bilingual class at Bream Bay College.
“Several of our past GWS children have done extremely well at college and have moved on to university,” says Marilyn Dunn, Principal of Ruakaka School. “The confi dence these children gain by being given this opportunity cannot be measured. This is the one chance they get to work alongside like-minded learners, and the fear of standing out as the tall poppy is diminished.”
“Our past Great White Sharks have stood out both academically and in leadership in later life,” adds Paul Ramsay, Principal of Waipu Primary School.
“Several have taken out top prizes and dux awards at College. Just last year one of our former GWS was declared dux of Bream Bay College. Many have been school leaders and/or prefects in the various colleges they have attended.”
Northpine congratulates all involved in this outstanding education initiative that is helping us to build a stronger local community.