Christchurch's Burnside High School, Epsom Girls Grammar and Christchurch Girls' High School have taken top honours in the 2015 Treasury Schools Challenge. The schools overcame strong competition from around the country, after 10 finalist teams travelled to Wellington to present their ideas for socially inclusive policies that will help all New Zealanders participate fully in the economy and society. The competition is run by the Treasury and sponsored by Victoria University of Wellington's Business School.
"The calibre of the entries was excellent. The presentations were polished and impressive, so to come out on top is a great achievement. The finalists had thought about some of the barriers that might prevent people from participating in all aspects of society and the economy, and presented innovative policy ideas to overcome them," says Treasury Deputy Secretary Bill Moran.
Burnside High School won the competition with policy ideas that addressed accessibility of medical care in rural areas, the quality of rental accommodation and state housing, and disengaged youth. "The team approached the Challenge in a systematic way with a clear, consistent, coherent presentation of original and well thought out ideas. Their policies made sense, and there was good discussion of trade offs for each policy idea," says Treasury competition judge Dr Kristie Carter.
The team from Epsom Girls Grammar School came in second place with a presentation on policy ideas themed around child poverty."The team argued effectively for their policies, had a good range of supporting statistics and showed creativity in their ideas," says Dr Carter said.
Christchurch Girls' High School came in third with policy ideas that addressed exclusion through mental illness, child poverty, and unemployment. "The team made good use of data and charts, and presented some creative policy recommendations," says Dr Carter.
Catlin Papuni-McLellan, from Opotiki College won the Individual Student Speaker Award. "What really impressed us about Catlin," notes Dr Carter, "is that she was passionate about what social exclusion means to her community and she impressed us with her clear and engaging delivery."
Catlin and the members of the three top teams will each receive an $800 electronics voucher provided by Victoria University of Wellington. The winning team's members will also each receive scholarships valued at $2,000 to study at Victoria University and the second and third place getters team members will each receive scholarships valued at $1,000.
"I was impressed by the quality of this year's presentations," says Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf. "The Schools Challenge has become a great way to engage with young New Zealanders and to learn from their insights. This is the fourth year we have run our Schools Challenge, and we are now seeing students from previous Challenges go on to participate in the Treasury's University Challenge - and some have gone on to work at the Treasury as interns."
The teams will head back to Wellington on 29 July to give their presentations to a wider Treasury audience and accept their prizes from Minister Paula Bennett, Professor Bob Buckle ONZM, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Commerce Victoria Business School, and Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf.