IT training opportunities for schools

Issue: Volume 93, Number 16

Posted: 8 September 2014
Reference #: 1H9csg

The Microsoft IT Academy programme has made a big impact at Avondale College, and now, the Ministry of Education has opened the door for more schools to join the programme.

The Ministry of Education is inviting schools to apply for free access to the Microsoft IT Academy programme.

IT Academy participants can sit official Microsoft certification exams to verify their abilities, and enhance employability within a job market that is increasingly asking for highly skilled, tech-savvy workers.

Schools using the IT Academy will be able to deliver training and certification to students and teachers. IT Academy participants develop digital literacy skills and expertise in software such as Windows, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SQL server, Visual Studio, and more.

Once students master the required subjects, they can sit exams for industry-recognised certifications as a ‘Microsoft Office Specialist’ or ‘Microsoft Technical Associate’. Teachers can also develop their expertise in teaching with technology and get certification as a ‘Microsoft Certified Educator’.

Microsoft IT Academy is a global programme used by over 10,000 academic institutions in more than 160 countries. It is provided as part of the Ministry’s ongoing Microsoft School Software Agreement. The course and examinations are computer-based, with offline curriculum resources and support for teaching in the classroom. The IT Academy is designed as a self-paced programme that can be offered as a subject in its own right or fitted into subjects across the curriculum. The school manages their own administration of the programme and testing centre.

The Ministry’s programme started in June 2013 with a pilot group of 10 schools. Schools have seen increases in student engagement and students achieving NCEA credits and Microsoft certifications. This year several students competed at the New Zealand IT Academy finals, and three were selected as National Champions – receiving all-expenses paid trips to attend the world finals in the United States.

The Ministry is now offering 10 more schools the opportunity to join the programme, in time for the 2015 academic year. Schools will receive IT Academy software, exam vouchers, implementation support, training, and networking with other IT Academy schools.

The IT Academy memberships will be awarded where they will have the most benefit for students and school communities, in terms of developing digital literacy skills, workforce preparedness, and teaching with technology practice. Schools might have an existing focus/professional inquiry into teaching with technology, a student BYOD/1:1 device programme, or an arrangement to work with other schools/Trades Academies in their region.

The programme requires leadership support, staff commitment, and a modern IT infrastructure. Schools need to be willing to review their curriculum and professional development programme, and incorporate the IT Academy for the 2015 school year. A school IT Academy programme leader will need time to coordinate the programme within the school. Schools need to be running Windows 7 or 8, and Office 2010 or above, with a broadband internet connection.

Selection process

Interested schools should submit a proposal addressing the points detailed in the table at left. Email proposals to the Ministry by 26 September.

Proposals will be scored and weighted as detailed in the table. Shortlisted schools will be contacted for a phone interview (in the week of 13 October), and notified directly of the outcome of their proposals before 24 October. The Ministry will publish a list of successful applicants in Education Gazette.


  • Final date for school proposal submission by 26 September
  • Interviews with finalists week of 13 October
  • Successful schools advised directly week of 20 October
  • IT Academy in-school training during term 4

More information

Schools should familiarise themselves with the IT Academy Programme structure and requirements, and be willing to enter into an agreement with Microsoft around the terms of participation in the IT Academy. Read more about the IT Academy(external link)
Email proposals to:

Education priority Description Weighting
Support from school leadership Proposals must demonstrate senior leadership commitment to running the programme. Schools must be willing to review their curriculum and professional development programme, and incorporate the IT Academy for the 2015 school year. Schools must identify an IT Academy programme leader to coordinate the programme within the school, and allow time for programme administration. 30%
Capability Proposals must demonstrate the capability to provide school or community resources (staff, equipment, facilities) for the IT Academy. Schools will need to be running Windows 7 or 8, and Office 2010 or above. Schools need to have a broadband internet connection (a wireless network and BYOD /1:1 programme for students would be an advantage). 30%
Ministry priority learners Proposals must demonstrate how schools are targeting improving education outcomes for Māori learners, Pasifika, learners with special education needs, and learners from low socio-economic groups. 20%
Ministry Youth Guarantee and Vocational Pathways programmes The proposal must demonstrate support for Ministry Youth Guarantee and Vocational Pathways programmes. Schools should consider how they could integrate the IT Academy into students’ studies across the curriculum, to support Vocational Pathways/Trades Academies. 10%
Geographic spread

Proposals must demonstrate the geographic coverage and student numbers served by the school/cluster. Smaller schools should consider collaborative approaches with other schools/Trades Academies/community.


Case study: Avondale college

Paul McLean is an ICT teacher at one of New Zealand’s largest secondary schools, Avondale College. When he and his department were looking at re-structuring learning in the ICT area, Microsoft’s IT Academy provided the tools they needed.

“We don’t work on a ‘click this, then do that’ basis: we work from a project model – students come up with their own projects and carry them through. Students have to be incredibly resourceful, and the Microsoft IT Academy works in well with that, in terms of providing the tools and resources they need.

“Students receive a brief at the start of the day, or the week or the month; for example, they might have to present a business plan. What they have to do is determine how they will present the information, using Word or Excel or any of the other tools. Or it could be using something a bit more serious, such as Visual Studio for programming.

“The point is that they identify the skills that they don’t have, and then they can use the Microsoft Academy tools to upskill themselves and present information in a high-quality way.

“The skills they learn are absolutely transferable across other platforms, too.

“We also wanted to make the learning as real as possible, and as industry-centric as possible. Obviously, the Microsoft tools are out there in daily use, in most companies, so the IT Academy is important from that point of view.

“Our focus here is a bit wider than the Office Suite, too. For example, we’re using Visual Studio which is a highly sophisticated tool for developing apps and Windows-based projects.

“We’ve achieved some great success, in terms of the certification aspect. Our students actually came first through to seventh in the national competition! Some of these students then went on to place in the top 10 in the international competition.

“But the real achievement is that students are actually delivering work on time, and it’s high-quality work.

“The professional skills that they’re picking up through the ITA is really helping to foster self-resourcefulness in our students.

“An example of that would be the fact that they’re using software called Project 2013 [workflow management software] to organise collaboration, plot milestones in a project, detail desired outcomes, and all that sort of thing that very much apply in the real world.”

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 11:33 am, 8 September 2014

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