Govt's proposed NCEA changes 'right direction'

Gavin Kidd
Gavin Kidd

Otago's secondary education sector says the Government is moving in the right direction with its call for sweeping changes to the NCEA qualification.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has released six "big ideas'' as part of his NCEA Review discussion document.

Radically changing NCEA level 1 and better involving families and pupils in the design of courses was among them.

Otago Secondary Principals' Association secretary Gavin Kidd said he could not speak on behalf of all Otago secondary principals because they had not met to discuss the issue yet.

"However, I think there's general agreement that this will be a step in the right direction, and it's well overdue.''

He said he personally liked some of the objectives in the document.

"NCEA level 1 does need reviewing. I like that it aims to put more emphasis on literacy and numeracy, which is fundamental to most learning.

"What I question is, where does that start, because a lot of issues with literacy and numeracy start way back before students get to secondary school.''

He also liked the idea of reducing financial barriers to NCEA, and the system proposed for accessing special assessment conditions.

Strengthening the record of achievement was also a good idea and something schools were already working on.

"If there was more flexibility and support for schools to do that, I think students will come out with a more holistic record of who they are as a person and their achievements and strengths.

"It will show skills like critical thinking, being able to work together with others - the sort of things that are essential for working in today's world.''

He most liked the idea of reducing stress for pupils and teachers.

"That's essential going forward. NCEA is a good system, but it certainly does need refining and this is a step in the right direction.''

Mr Hipkins said six ideas were developed by a Ministerial Advisory Group, to challenge thinking and provoke debate on the qualification.

"Employers are telling us that students coming out of school don't have the right skills, students say more flexibility is needed and teachers say there's too much assessment, getting in the way of learning.''

Possible changes identified by the group are focusing NCEA level 1 on ensuring young people are prepared for further study, work, and life as citizens; strengthening expectations for literacy and numeracy attainment; preparing young people for further study, work and life as part of NCEA levels 2 and 3; providing support for teachers, schools, and kura to enable real learning and coherent programmes; enhancing pupil records of achievement so they provide a full picture of what pupils have achieved; and removing barriers to achieving NCEA, such as fees, and the ability to access Special Assessment Conditions and quality curriculum support materials.

Public consultation on the document began yesterday and will conclude on September 16.

Mr Hipkins said he would report to Cabinet with the consultation findings and recommendations, about the future of NCEA, in February next year.


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