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The role of The Correspondence School

2 April 2004 Media Statement

The role of The Correspondence School

Education Minister Trevor Mallard said today that the Ministry of Education is undertaking a project looking into the role of The Correspondence School.

"The project "The Future Role of The Correspondence School" is looking into the services that the government and the national schools system will require from its school of distance education in the future," Trevor Mallard said.

"In particular we want to make sure The Correspondence School is aligned with the government’s objectives for education, including the national schooling strategy and the ICT strategy.

"Our top priority in education is to lift educational standards and ensure that every single child, regardless of background, has the opportunity to reach their full potential by accessing quality education."

The project was requested by the school, and is focusing on the following issues:
- identification of the contribution that The Correspondence School currently makes to the achievement of government objectives, and the contribution that it would be expected to make in the future;
- an evaluation of the capacity of the school to deliver on this;
- development of strategies that will ensure the school has the necessary capacity to meet its expected future contribution;
- the adequacy of the current resourcing framework; and
- developing operational policies that support the school in meeting its expected future contribution.

"The project is looking at the services that the government wants the school to deliver rather than the internal structures and staffing in the school, which are matters for its board. It will also explore how developments in technology and teaching practice are impacting on the work of the school, so we can ensure it continues to make a significant contribution to the New Zealand education system.

"The Correspondence School is an 80-year-old New Zealand icon, but it is now time to explore opportunities for repositioning the school so it more effectively meets the needs of students in the 21st century.

"This school's mission is changing as its student demographic changes. That's why we need to consider how best to meet the needs of all its students in the future.

"I expect the project to be completed in the second half of this year, and any changes implemented from 2005. Public consultation will occur in the next few months."

The Correspondence School provides distance education at early childhood, primary and secondary level to over 20,000 students, about half of whom are also enrolled at other institutions. About one third of the roll, or 6,000 students, are considered to be at risk.

These include those who have been referred to the school on psychological or psychosocial grounds; have literacy and numeracy problems; and who might have been excluded or expelled from face-to-face school.

Trevor Mallard said the project predates, is not related to, and will not be considering issues arising from the school’s recent computer audit.

"The issues involving the alleged misuse of the school’s information technology are matters for the board and management of the school to resolve within the framework of the Education Act 1989 and employment law."

Attached are the Terms of Reference of the project.

Terms of Reference
The Future Role of The Correspondence School


Purpose

The purpose of the review is to ensure that:

- the future role of The Correspondence School (“TCS” or “the School”) is aligned with Government’s objectives for education;

- the School operates in a way that enables it to deliver on its role; and

- the School is appropriately resourced to deliver on its role.


Background

TCS has introduced a new pedagogical model (“Learning DnA”) which has seen significant improvements in the delivery of education programmes across the School. However, developments in technology (e.g video conference networks) and in teaching practice may provide viable alternatives to distance education. Independent thinking on the likely impact of these developments on the role of TCS will ensure that TCS continues to make a significant contribution to the New Zealand education system.

These views are shared, to some extent, by the findings of the recent Education Review Office report on the School, which recommended that a review of the role of TCS within the New Zealand education system be undertaken.

Recent discussions around financial and business process issues within TCS have also highlighted affordability issues around some of the educational programmes that the School delivers.


Scope of the Review

The review will focus on the following key issues:

1. identification of the contribution that TCS currently makes to the achievement of Government objectives, and the contribution that TCS would be expected to make in the future;

2. an evaluation of the capacity of the TCS to deliver on this expected contribution;

3. development of strategies that will ensure the School has the capacity necessary to meet its expected future contribution;

4. the adequacy of the current resourcing framework; and

5. developing operational policies that support the School in meeting its expected future contribution.

This will involve consideration of

- the expectations that stakeholders have of TCS and how the current role meets their needs;
- how the particular strengths of TCS can advance the achievement of Government objectives;
- the “core business” of TCS - including the groups of students who should enrol in TCS and other services that TCS should provide;
- whether TCS can undertake activities outside that core business and if so, on what basis;
- the level of capacity that TCS will need to deliver on its expected contribution;
- what appropriate alternatives exist for the delivery of education to each category of students that are currently enrolled in TCS, but for whom distance education may not be the most suitable option;
- what activities should TCS undertake in support of its core business (e.g. teaching, production of learning resources, partnering other agencies, pastoral care);
- the opportunities that pedagogical developments provide for TCS;
- the opportunities that developments in information technology provide for TCS;
- the location and operation of the School’s e-learning activities;
- transitional arrangements and timing of any changes;
- aligning the enrolment and operational policies of the School to ensure that these support the achievement of Government objectives;
- designing the most appropriate accountability framework for TCS - including expectations that the Government and school have of each other; and
- designing a resourcing framework for TCS - including, but not limited to: the desirability of funding different sectors of the School differently; whether the School should continue to receive a single direct resourced grant to cover all of its resourcing needs; calculation of resourcing entitlements; and resourcing methods and processes.


Conduct of the Review

The review will be conducted by the Ministry of Education. The Schools Resourcing Policy section has initiated the review and will assume responsibility for the consultation process and general project management. Other sections that will be making a contribution include Education Management Policy; Resource Determination and Delivery; Contracts; Learning Policy Frameworks; Pedagogy and Materials, ICT Products, Medium Term Strategy, Group Special Education, Group Mäori, National Operations, and the Legal section.

The review will progress to the following timetable:

December 2003 Terms of Reference approved by the Minister
Review begins.

November 2003 - Policy development.
April 2004

April – June 2004 Consultation (see below).

August 2004 Policy decisions.
Decisions about transitional arrangements and need for legislative/regulatory change made.

January 2005 Operational changes begin to take effect.


Public Consultation

The findings of the review team could potentially have an impact on every school and early childhood institution in the country, as well as the students who are currently enrolled in TCS, and staff of TCS.

The Government will make decisions regarding the nature and scope of a consultation process in the first quarter of 2004 with public consultation occurring between April and June 2004.

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