The school that has won the Prime Minister’s Education Supreme Award attributes its success to the Catholic character and Mercy values that are intrinsic to everything the school does. 

Rachel Williams, the acting principal of McAuley High School in south Auckland, told NZ Catholic that winning the top award gave a real boost to the students of the all-girls school. Education Minister Hekia Parata congratulated the school on winning top honours.

“The school has built a cohesive, respectful and supportive environment for all its students with brilliant results,” said Ms Parata. “It has high expectations and strong connections with its parents and the community and tonight’s awards are recognition of its vision and effort.”

From left to right: With part of the school’s prizes, Constance Wendt, Dejaynee Soliai, Paulina Tapuai-Soti, and acting principal Rachel Williams.
From left to right: With part of the school’s prizes, Constance Wendt, Dejaynee Soliai, Paulina Tapuai-Soti, and acting principal Rachel Williams.

Miss Williams explained that the support the school gives not only to the students but also to the community is part of putting their faith in action.

The school helps students with stationery packs, uniforms, jackets as well as jumpers, “even to the point where we would look after families, in terms of bringing parcels home”.

“One of our strengths is that we just don’t talk about it; we actually show mercy in action. We show our Catholic faith through really practical help,” she explained.

“Our Catholic character isn’t an add-on. It is just so intertwined with everything we do. It’s just so hard for us to unpack it. It’s a huge part for us, really,” she added.

Miss Williams said the leadership of principal Anne Miles and the presence of Srs Salome and Fatima on campus helped reinforce Mercy values, too.

“We’ve always had strong Catholic leadership in this school. We’ve had Kath Deady and Linda McQuade as previous principals and they were strong leaders, particularly in terms of their Catholic faith. What Anne has done is to build on the work that they have done as well,” she said.

Miss Williams also recognised the huge effort put in by current and previous staff.

“This award isn’t because of something that we’ve done in the last six months. This is a lot of hard work over time. So, we are just acknowledging everybody who played their part in the McAuley success story,” she said.

Miss Williams said students and staff were thrilled. She said the students were all trying to get their hands on the trophy and take photos with it and the staff.

“It’s really exciting to see that level of energy and just the level of pride that the girls are showing,” she said.

The school also won the Excellence in Engaging trophy. They received a prize of $20,000 for winning this category and an additional $30,000 for the supreme award.

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