A smart idea for smart futures

Issue: Volume 97, Number 18

Posted: 5 October 2018
Reference #: 1H9mW7

A goal setting course that is compulsory in the first year of the secondary school qualification NCEA is the winning idea in a leading category of the recent Mark Your Mark competition for students.

Victoria University of Wellington student Joe Gauld won in the category ‘Smart Ideas. Smart Futures’ with his proposal that students should identify and explore their academic interests and broader goals for life in a Personalised Learning Plan, as part of the structured course.  

Joe was one of more than 240 students who took part in the NCEA Review competition, across four categories, with ages ranging from early primary years to students up to 20 years old, who have recently finished college.

The ‘Smart Ideas. Smart Futures’ category invited students aged 15 to 20 to research and design a proposal that responds to the challenge and positively impacts on the five principles of NCEA – wellbeing, inclusion and equity, pathways, coherence and credibility.

Joe says discussions with other students confirmed to him that NCEA already works well as a flexible qualification. But his proposal for a more robust process in how students consider what they want to do in NCEA and beyond, would offer a range of benefits, including increased wellbeing.  

In researching his proposal, Joe looked at real-world examples in the United States, where individual learning plans are a mandatory requirement for graduation in 25 states, and in South Australia, where a compulsory course is taken by all students before starting their two-year qualification.

He says the Make Your Mark competition was worthwhile in encouraging young people in civic participation, as well as drawing out their ideas on how to improve NCEA. 

In his second year of law, Joe is also doing a Bachelor of Arts majoring in education – and may consider a career as a teacher.

A number of the students who had entered the competition used the work that went into their entry as evidence for reaching their NCEA achievement standards. 

Teacher Julie McMahon, from St Hilda’s Collegiate School in Dunedin, says the competition offered a great opportunity to create an entry that students could also use in their digital technologies achievement standard for NCEA Level 1.

“When I heard about the Make Your Mark competition, I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to allow the students to collect, analyse and present real world data, while meeting the requirements of the achievement standard,” says Julie.

“The students were truly engaged in the assessment because the topic was one that was relevant and meaningful to them and their peers. Not only did the girls gain NCEA credits for their work, but they also were able to see the wider impact of their data analysis. The students presented their findings to the staff and senior leadership at the college, and their findings are being incorporated into our school’s strategic plan.”

Julie says it was very rewarding to hear Tracey Martin note the students’ work in her speech at the Make Your Mark awards ceremony recently – thanking them for their contribution to her work as Associate Minister of Education and Minister of Children.

The National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) has been the main secondary schools qualification for around 15 years. It was introduced between 2002 and 2004 and is due for a review. 

New Zealanders have been asked for their ideas on how the qualification can be further strengthened, with submissions closing on October 19. 

The next stage will involve developing and testing ideas and solutions with the education sector, before recommendations are prepared for the Education Minister’s consideration in early 2019.

Engaging our student voice

The Make Your Mark competition was designed to “engage our student voice” during the NCEA Review.

Ministry of Education Senior Manager for Secondary-Tertiary, Rob Mill, welcomed prize winners at the celebration at Parliament recently, hosted by Acting Education Minister Tracey Martin. 

“If you look around you will see a small subset of the 10,000 New Zealanders who have already participated in the review since May – to help us shape the future of NCEA.”

Victoria University student Joe Gauld won the ‘Smart Ideas. Smart Futures’ category, which has a $5,000 study grant for first place, $2,000 for second place and $1,000 for third place. 

Other first-place winners were:

  • ‘Young Minds. Young Dreams’ – Arrowtown School. 
  • ‘It Starts with You. Express Yourself’ – ages 13–14 – first equal were Amber Lyon from Palmerston North Girls’ High School and Alice Ankersmit from Waikato Diocesan School for Girls.
  • ‘It Starts with You. Express Yourself’ – ages 14–18 – first equal were Molly Kells from Greymouth High School, Anna Sargeant from New Plymouth Girls’ High School and Isabella Aldrich from St Hilda’s Collegiate.
  • ‘Emerging Leaders’ category – ages 13–18 – students and representatives from Manurewa Youth Council, Wellington East Rangers, Tauhara College, St Hilda’s Collegiate, Nelson College for Girls, Saint Kentigern College, Horowhenua College, Southland Girls’ High School, and Rangiora High School.

View details of other Make Your Mark winners, and the Review process(external link).

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 1:19 pm, 5 October 2018

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