Last year Te Akau ki Papamoa became the first school of its type in the country to give all of its students a tablet computer.

Now it is the only primary school in New Zealand to achieve Apple Distinguished School status - a global award that recognises the application of technology to improve student achievement.

The school was at the cutting edge and principal Bruce Jepsen said it had collaborated data over many years that showed remarkable results from the classrooms that used tablets.

"We had so much evidence and equivalent data to compare."


Measured improvements were recorded in literacy, reading, writing and maths results, attendance at school and the general fitness and well-being of kids, he said.

Once the tablets were given to every child at the school those results had ricocheted through every year level, he said, and helped bridge gaps with pupils that had literacy needs.

Mr Jepsen said the school had adapted traditional teaching methodology that had worked for decades to find 21st-century solutions and he credited his passionate staff for pushing technological boundaries.

Programs and educational apps were made in-house by teachers and personalised to suit individual student's needs.

"You can't just give someone a device and tell them to teach and expect results. It's got to be supported and then it becomes a way of doing things.

"If anything, we have another strength to the quality of our teaching: we haven't compromised anything of value. I have exceptional teachers ..."

It was also about to roll out its virtual Minecraft world - a replication of the entire school created by pupils - on to its website.

"We had kids in Year 5 doing project management type of work. I would see groups of kids walking around with a metre ruler They measured up my door and walls in my office.


"Because Minecraft builds blocks in cubic metres measurements need to be accurate.

"If they are a metre out they will overlap and because it was built collectively if the walls didn't line up they had to problem solve."

The students "smashed it out", he said.

There were three Apple distinguished educators at the school and the award was a great acknowledgment and cause for celebration but "it's all about the kids and the community".

"We are just fortunate to have the opportunity to be part of that innovation and are really passionate about it all."

Senior teacher and Apple distinguished educator Glen Storey said kids were still writing, reading books and doing maths but tablet technology did some things better.

Technology was a powerful tool and could be used like a scaffold to enhance and personalise learning, he said. Educational technologist and Apple distinguished educator Paula Jamieson said a lot of schools were using tablets but "the difference with our school is the kids are living and breathing it, it's just part of everything they do".

Friends Harrison Griffin and Kayl Davis, both 11, enjoyed helping build the school on Minecraft and liked the focus on technology.

Davis said it was fun to use the tablet as a learning tool and the way of the future.