Ruapehu College keeps going from strength to strength and now, together with on-site learning hub Te Pae Tata, they are leaders in digital learning.

Education Minister Hekia Parata has announced that Ruapehu College is one of nine successful applicants to a $1 million contestable fund for projects that will engage students in digital technologies.

"We're funding providers who have innovative and smart projects that will capture teachers' and students' imagination and help them get skilled in using and developing digital technologies," says Ms Parata.

Ruapehu College deputy principal Jason White said it seemed logical to put a proposal together for the fund.


"When we first looked at it, we thought 'we're already doing that'.

"After we presented our proposal to the panel in Wellington, they were silent and afterwards they said it was because they really were speechless."

The Ministry received a total of 74 proposals and principal Kim Basse said it is fantastic to see Ruapehu College on the list of nine successful applicants and they were one of only two high schools on the list.

"It is really important to stress though, that our proposal is a collaboration with iwi and the work done by Ruapehu Whanau Transformation."

Mrs Basse said iwi collaboration is hugely important because Ruapehu has a high Maori population and Maori values add so much to digital education.

"It is those values of whanau and sense of place that are incorporated in the learning."
The Te Pae Tata hub, which opened in the former senior block at Ruapehu College this year offers programmes for all the community with courses for tamariki, rangatahi and pahake.

"We have our tamariki who come in as 'digital natives' as we call them and then we have our kaumatua and kuia who are embracing the digital technology for the first time," said hub manager Erena Mikaere-Most.

Tutor Kawana Wallace said he is delighted to be working with all age learners after teaching at Raetihi Primary School.

"I am assembling these new desk-top 3D printers at the moment and I'm looking forward to seeing what the learners will come up with," he said.

It is hard to believe that just three years ago, Ruapehu College was struggling and under Ministry of Education statutory management.

Now the school known as "The Rock" is definitely on the ascendant and taking the community with them.

"We may be geographically isolated but we are globally connected," said Mrs Basse.

After receiving a glowing Education Review Office report this year, the college received an innovation award of $50,000 to fund the "blended delivery" of English and history and now they will be helping to set a template for digital education.

Mr White said the school will now be part of a panel with the other recipients to document the progress of the projects to become part of the broader package of support for schools when the digital technologies curriculum is rolled out by the government in 2018.