$4m technology block for Northcross Intermediate

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Work to address weathertightness issues is now complete with today’s opening of  a $4 million technology block at Northcross Intermediate School in Auckland, Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye says.

The two-storey building features a food and nutrition technology kitchen, a sound and light-proof media suite with green screen capability, hard and soft technology workshops, and a graphics studio.

“This impressive new space boasts modern learning spaces for students and staff, providing a fresh approach to learning and teaching,” says Ms Kaye.

“The purpose-built specialist teaching areas will allow students to embrace technology disciplines such as food and nutrition, biotechnology, design and hard materials.”

The building has been specifically designed to create flexible learning spaces that allow students to work individually and collaboratively, Ms Kaye says, and incorporates  ICT infrastructure along with environmentally sustainable initiatives such as natural ventilation and lighting.

“It provides a warm, healthy and modern learning environment with safe, contemporary spaces to help inspire students to learn.”

The block was built to the Ministry of Education’s modern learning environment standard as part of its Building Improvement Programme, which was set up in 2009 to manage the testing and remediation of school buildings affected by water damage.

About 320 buildings at approximately 200 schools throughout New Zealand have so far been remediated or rebuilt, resulting in modern learning environments that support modern teaching styles, Ms Kaye says.

Uptake of Health Star Rating welcomed

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Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye today welcomed the announcement by Foodstuffs that it will adopt the Health Star Ratings on its Pams and Budget product packaging.

“Having the support of one of the biggest food retailers in the country is a good sign of industry confidence in this new food labelling system,” Ms Kaye says.

“Foodstuffs has more than 650 wholesale and retail stores in the country, and its Pams brand is the single largest grocery brand in New Zealand. The company has said that its aim is for 1400 of its Pams product lines and 315 of its Budget-branded lines to eventually be eligible to display the Health Star Rating. It has indicated that it is likely that 100 of these product lines will carry the new labelling next year.

“This new system is a significant step in empowering New Zealanders to make healthier food choices. Having a voluntary commitment by a retailer of this scale is a very good sign for the future of the Health Star Rating system, and it is my hope that this move by Foodstuffs will encourage other food retailers to follow suit.”

Ms Kaye announced in June that the Government will be adopting the new voluntary food labelling system, which uses a star rating scale of ½ to 5 stars and is able to be used on almost all packaged food products for retail sale.

“Research has shown that the Health Star Rating system will have a positive effect on consumers’ ability to identify healthier food products, and the system has many benefits,” Ms Kaye says.

“Having nutritional information on the front of the pack will make it easier for busy shoppers to make a healthier choice. The overall nutritional rating will also enable shoppers to compare and choose healthier products from within a range.

“In addition, this system will encourage companies to change their products to be healthier.”

Foodstuffs has said that it will begin to incorporate the Health Star Ratings onto its Pams and Budget brand packaging from early 2015 as contracts are renewed and packaging updated.

For more information about the system visit www.mpi.govt.nz

Govt to invest $350m in Auckland schools

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Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye today announced that the National-led Government will invest at least $350 million over the next four years to build new schools and classrooms in the rapidly growing Auckland region.

Ms Kaye made the announcement during a visit to Ponsonby Primary School with Prime Minister John Key.

“New Zealand is growing strongly and the school network will come under pressure in different parts of the country as the population grows,” Ms Kaye says.

“We have recently invested in new schools in areas like Hamilton and Queenstown, and Auckland is an obvious candidate for significant new investment.”

Forecasts show work will need to begin on as many as nine schools and at least 130 new classrooms in the Auckland region over the next four years.

“We want to get ahead of the demand by expanding and redeveloping schools for students before serious capacity issues arise,” says Ms Kaye.

“That’s why today we are announcing our plan to invest at least $350 million over the next four years to get on with addressing the roll growth pressures that are coming to Auckland.”

The new schools will be spread across different parts of Auckland, with four likely in the northern part of the region, three in South Auckland, and two in West Auckland.

The additional classrooms that will be built to deal with forecast roll growth will go onto existing school sites across the entire Auckland region.

“All of these projects will need to go through the appropriate process before they are finally approved and built, but we are determined to get on with the task of making sure Auckland’s school network is ready for population growth,” Ms Kaye says.

“In addition to the money we are committing to new schools and classrooms, we can also announce today our plan to quickly address specific redevelopment needs at existing Auckland schools.

“Up to eight schools in Auckland are going to require major redevelopments or reconstructions in coming years.

“We will deal with major redevelopments at Western Springs College in Western Springs, Southern Cross Campus (second stage) in Māngere East, and Sherwood Primary in Browns Bay as first cabs off the rank if we are returned to Government at the election.

“We have identified these three at the outset due to their locations in high growth areas, the need to provide certainty to their school communities, and because of the complexities facing each project.

“We will also work to confirm within three months of the election the other five major redevelopments that we expect to be required in Auckland.”

Ms Kaye says the funding for classrooms, schools and redevelopments will come from a mixture of the Future Investment Fund – which contains the proceeds of the Mixed Ownership Model programme – and existing baselines, including possible public/private partnerships already used successfully in Auckland.

“We know that other parts of New Zealand are also facing roll growth pressures and we are well prepared to deal with those too,” Ms Kaye says.

“Today’s focus on Auckland reflects the fact that the city is very much at the front end of the forecast growth.”

Gisborne Intermediate undergoes $2.3m upgrade

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The first phase of weathertightness repairs to Gisborne Intermediate School is now complete, Associate Minister of Education Nikki Kaye says.

The $2.3 million project is being carried out in three phases as part of the Ministry of Education’s Building Improvement Programme, which was set up in 2009 to manage the testing and remediation of school buildings affected by water damage.

“The administration building has been re-clad and re-roofed, and work on the technology block will begin this month,” Ms Kaye says.

“Construction of a new music suite – with an outdoor performance area at the heart of the school – will begin in December, with work expected to be complete in the middle of next year.”

More than 100 students are learning to play a musical instrument so the enhanced building will provide a great environment for students to flourish, Ms Kaye says.

“Once fully complete, the school will be a warm, healthy and modern learning environment that will provide safe, contemporary spaces to help inspire students to learn.”

About 320 buildings at approximately 200 schools throughout New Zealand have so far been remediated or rebuilt, resulting in modern learning environments that support modern teaching styles, Ms Kaye says.

N4L reaches milestone with 700th connection

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The rollout of fast internet to schools is almost five months ahead of schedule with 700 schools now connected to the Government’s Managed Network, Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye says.

“The 700th connection was the target for the end of the first year so it is great news that this milestone has been reached so early. It is a tribute to the team at Network for Learning (N4L) to have connected so many schools so quickly,” Ms Kaye says.

“Today I am pleased to confirm that the milestone was reached with the connection of Te Kura o Waikare, a kura in Waikare, the Bay of Islands.

“This is a significant achievement – the sooner we provide high-quality, high-speed internet to students, teachers and schools, the better we can ensure that every student can benefit from technology to achieve their best, no matter where they are in New Zealand.”

The Government is investing $211 million in the Managed Network, which will provide quick and reliable internet complete with uncapped data, web filtering and network security services for all New Zealand schools wishing to participate.

“Having access to predictable, ultra-fast broadband is critical in enabling schools to explore more innovative approaches to teaching and learning, using the internet and digital technologies,” Ms Kaye says.

“More than 225,000 students are now using a Government-funded internet connection running at reliably high speeds.

“As of today, more than 2260 schools have registered their interest in joining the Managed Network.”

N4L is on track to connect all participating schools to the Managed Network by the end of 2016.

An interactive map of all participating schools can be viewed at:http://www.n4l.co.nz/managednetwork/rollout/

For further information:http://elearning.tki.org.nz/Ministry-initiatives/Connecting-to-the-N4L-managed-network