Big ideas: NCEA review gets into gear

Issue: Volume 97, Number 2

Posted: 12 March 2018
Reference #: 1H9hqH

As the NCEA review nears the consultation phase, National President of the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations Jonathan Gee talks about the exciting work he’s part of, and the importance of getting young people’s voices heard as part of the review.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins recently appointed a Ministerial Advisory Group to support the Ministry of Education throughout the review of the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA).

Each member of the seven-strong team brings an exciting and diverse range of skills and background to the very important work of reviewing the NCEA system. These backgrounds range from youth advocacy to student assessment, secondary tertiary pathways and Māori medium education – along with a broad understanding of secondary schooling in New Zealand.

Jonathan Gee, National President of the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations Jonathan Gee, is one of those seven people appointed to the Ministerial Advisory Group. He’ll help represent the hopes and perspectives of young people as he works with the Ministry of Education throughout the review. 

“The task that we’ve been given by the Minister is to really be innovative, disruptive, and to think of big ideas on how we can ensure that NCEA meets its potential. I think it’s a common perception that there’s currently a lot of unmet potential [in NCEA].

“We’ve been discussing how to make the system work better for students, and testing these ideas with a reference group of stakeholders, such as industry and education providers. We’ve been looking to understand different perspectives on NCEA, and see how those can inform the discussion document that goes out for public consultation.”

Jonathan believes that the review itself is a great opportunity for discussion in classrooms – a great chance to take a step back and talk about the big picture.

“It’s this whole thing about rethinking the system: what’s good, what’s not so good. That’s all critical thinking in itself – which is one of those softskills we talked about. Teachers and students, I hope, will enthusiastically engage themselves in this review.

“I think obviously we need to make sure that the system is working well for young people – they’re the primary users of the system. The other parts of the system are crucial too, like teachers, employers and tertiary providers. But ultimately, students know the system intimately, they know how it works for them.

“I think we’re moving into an environment now in education overall that is moving away from rote learning, and lecture-based teaching, to a more co-created learning experience. That’s why students are so important to this process.”

The major piece of work that Jonathan’s been involved with is the development of a discussion document, which will be released ahead of public consultation. It’s an exciting chance to talk about the future of assessment in New Zealand, says Jonathan.

The big-ticket item from Jonathan’s perspective is how NCEA is reflecting the curriculum and the importance of 21st-century soft skills and how it is equipping students with skills to take them beyond school.

“I think by and large there’s credibility around NCEA – but there are a number of questions around flexibility versus standardisation, and questions around how NCEA prepares young people for the world, particularly from a student perspective, which I’m obviously very interested in.”

Public consultation as part of the NCEA review is expected to begin in late April.

For more information on the Ministerial Advisory Group(external link) 

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 9:00 am, 12 March 2018

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