Morale was low in the Education sector, so it was time for positive new news. Time to coax people from all corners of Aotearoa who do amazing things every day in education. It was time to put their work in the public forum for others to see, admire and aspire to.
There was the ongoing cultural paradox where on the one hand Kiwis recognised the importance of teaching, yet most didn’t see teaching as a prestigious or challenging career compared to other professions.
To help renew pride and to identify and celebrate best-practice teaching around New Zealand, the Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards (PMEEA) were launched. These Awards were also intended to support other objectives, namely raising the public profile of teaching and helping teachers learn from others who’ve demonstrated excellence in their profession. Evidence-based, they were awarded on the basis of detailed submissions, judged by recognised education experts.
At the heart of the PMEEA campaign was a website that provided a huge array of information – and importantly, forms and guides for entry. It existed in two platforms, having a mirrored Maori language site.
Given the length of time annual awards take to build profile, expectations for entries for the inaugural 2014 PMEEA were set at a stretch target of 50.
The pressure was on, a rallying cry for entries was sent out - and at the final hour, 163 entries were counted - tripling expectations.