NCEA mini-pilots off to a good start

Issue: Volume 100, Number 16

Posted: 8 December 2021
Reference #: 1HARu6

As part of the NCEA Change Programme, three mini-pilots were run in 2021 ahead of wider pilots next year.

Emma Henderson, the HOD English at Taita College, with some of her students in the NCEA Level 1 English pilot class.

Emma Henderson, the HOD English at Taita College, with some of her students in the NCEA Level 1 English pilot class.

On a balmy morning in late October, two teachers worked patiently with five students in a literacy and numeracy class at Kingslea School’s Te Puna Wai ō Tuhinapo campus next to Rolleston Prison, on the outskirts of Ōtautahi Christchurch.

“It’s good to know how to read and write because in everyday life, if you have a piece of paper you have to read that or whatever you want to sign, and you must know how to write your own name,” says David, 17.

“I don’t really like numeracy but it’s also important in everyday life. Like you’ve got to count how much Weet-Bix you’re putting in your bowl or how much money you’ve got in your wallet,” he adds.

Kingslea educates about 170 youth justice residents in Oranga Tamariki care across eight campuses around the country. Some of the students were barely able to read and write when they arrived. Many of them had not been to school for years or had negative experiences when they did attend.

In terms 3 and 4 of this school year, Kingslea joined 12 other secondary schools, six kura and two tertiary providers in piloting new NCEA Te Reo Matatini me te Pāngarau | Literacy and Numeracy standards.

Deputy principal Jackie Freeman says they decided to participate in the NCEA pilot because literacy and numeracy are bread and butter for their students.

“In fact, it’s the best gift we can give any of our students,” she adds.

The new standards are set to become a mandatory co-requisite of the NCEA qualification from 2023 as part of the NCEA Change Programme, a multi-year programme led by the Ministry of Education to deliver a package of seven changes aimed at strengthening NCEA.

Positive experiences

Apart from literacy and numeracy, two other NCEA pilots are running in 2021. NCEA Level 1 English, Science, Religious Studies and Visual Arts are being piloted in 25 schools across the country. Thirty-six other schools are piloting Te Ao Haka, the new Māori Performing Arts subject.

Emma Henderson, HOD English at Taita College, which is piloting NCEA Level 1 English, says it’s been very successful for their school.

“Our students have engaged really well with the new standards. We also like the focus on te ao Māori, which we always had, especially as it encourages all schools to put a deliberate emphasis on that.

“We are lucky to have tried out the new standards before they are finalised and to have our say to make the mini-pilot next year more successful.”

Students from Taita College’s NCEA Level 1 English pilot class say their experience has been positive.

“I find it less stressful because I only have to do one assessment during the term,” says Fekita.

Her classmate Aasia agrees. “I think it takes the pressure off students when there’s more learning and we get more time to prepare and stuff like that, and then have an assessment.”

“And if you have more time to learn you can have more understanding time of what you’re supposed to do,” adds fellow student Zemira.

Parents are also enthusiastic about their children’s experience in the pilots.

“It’s an unbelievable experience that the kids have at kura. It’s just overwhelming for a parent that never had this opportunity. Te Ao Haka has done so much for them,” says Edith Hawkins, whose daughter Judith is in a pilot class at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngati Kahungunu ki Heretaunga.

Another parent Peter Kireka says before Te Ao Haka, his daughter Waiora was very shy about performing kapa haka and waiata.

“However, now that she’s in that world of Te Ao Haka, it brings out her emotion, knowledge, power, energy and excitement for that topic.”

Coping with the impact of COVID

Throughout 2020 and 2021, the pandemic has put the school year in a state of flux, prompting teachers to once again reimagine their lesson plans to adapt to a new reality.

As cases surged in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, the epicentre of the current outbreak, and spread to the neighbouring regions of Tai Tokerau and Waikato, senior secondary students in particular, wrestled with anxiety and the unknown, while striving to attain NCEA this year.

However, some have coped better than others, says Deidre Shea, the principal of Onehunga High School.

More than three weeks after senior secondary students in Auckland and Waikato were allowed to return to school on 26 October, only 55 percent of Onehunga High School’s students are back on site.

“There’s every possible reason for the massive drop in attendance.

“Some students may be self-isolating, others may have taken jobs or caregiving roles at home to help their families, and we understand that. At present, the focus of teachers and school leaders is the well-being of our learners,” says Deidre.

Timeline extended

Recognising the extra stress and workload borne by teachers and school leaders because of the disruption, Minister of Education Chris Hipkins announced on 10 November that the Government was easing the timelines for the national curriculum and assessment programmes, including the NCEA Change Programme.

“These change programmes remain critical for the future success of our education system but they require considerable effort.

“We want to ensure teachers, kaiako, learners, whānau and communities have the time they need to engage in these changes and fully participate in their implementation,” said Minister Hipkins.

The Minister’s announcement was well-received by school leaders and teachers, says Deidre.

“While they want to continue with the NCEA Change Programme, many do not have the time and the right headspace to make this a priority at present.”

The rephasing has extended the NCEA Change Programme’s timeline from 2025 to 2026, with new NCEA Level 1 subjects and Wāhanga Ako to be implemented in 2024, NCEA Level 2 in 2025 and NCEA Level 3 in 2026. Wider pilots for Te Reo Matatini me te Pāngarau | Literacy and Numeracy and Te Ao Haka as well as mini-pilots of The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa NCEA Level 1 subjects and Wāhanga Ako will be run in 2022.

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

Posted: 12:31 PM, 8 December 2021

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