St Paul’s agribusiness programme has been recognised for its outstanding contribution to protecting New Zealand’s environment from pests and diseases.
The school has been named a finalist in the Ministry for Primary Industries’ 2020 New Zealand Biosecurity Awards thanks to a new unit of work written to help New Zealand students better understand biosecurity within NCEA Level 3 agribusiness.
The unit of work makes up an achievement standard, available to all New Zealand secondary schools offering agribusiness as a subject, and covers the impacts of biosecurity on the primary industry and the types of practices in place, while allowing students to come up with their own innovative future proofing ideas.
“We’re lucky to have a world class biosecurity system, however unless students have a direct connection with it, their knowledge is usually very limited,” says Agribusiness Project Curriculum Director, Mrs Kerry Allen.
“We wanted to improve this and initially went out looking for content that would help us do that, but nothing seemed to be available. So, we developed and implemented a suite of schemes and resources ourselves, using different biosecurity contexts, that would give students a greater understanding of this complex issue.”
Kerry says that each unit has been designed to outline New Zealand’s national biosecurity responses, which then provides a framework for the rest of the programme.
“Students then delve into the regional responses to biosecurity, such as what regional and local councils are implementing. They also analyse individual agribusinesses such as a kiwifruit orchard or a dairy farm and work out what future proofing strategies these business owners could implement,” she says.
“They can come up with their own solutions to prevent, mitigate or solve the biosecurity problem and it’s impressive to see their innovative ideas, many that could have commercial benefits.”
St Paul’s has also worked with a number of other secondary schools to help implement the achievement standard through the new agribusiness subject, improving knowledge right across the country.
Head of Commerce at Kavanagh College, Jill Armstrong says the subject’s introduction was one of the most innovative and well overdue decisions made in recent times in the New Zealand Curriculum.
"In my 20 years' teaching, I consider this is the most creative and future-thinking subject that has been developed. It ticks all the boxes by enabling students to develop skills and knowledge in meaningful contexts that will lead them to well-paid positions".
Kerry’s proud of the school’s achievement and excited to see the impact this will have on the industry for years to come.
“We’ve really stepped up, taken leadership and provided support to secondary schools and their teachers to ensure that this important issue is addressed. We’ll keep supporting schools across New Zealand to implement agribusiness and achievement standards and continue to write units of work that tackle the big issues like biosecurity in the primary sector,” she says.
St Paul’s is one of three finalists in the Kura (School) category. Award winners will be announced at a function in Wellington mid-November.