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Time to focus on the profession

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21 September 2004

Time to focus on the profession

Ironing out the wrinkles in the implementation of the NCEA to ensure it works better for students and teachers is one of PPTA’s key objectives over the coming year, president Phil Smith said today.

In a speech to the Association’s annual conference in Wellington, Mr Smith said the new secondary teachers’ collective agreement had ushered in a period of calm, and secondary teachers had a huge opportunity to once again focus on the profession. He said the greatest challenge facing the profession was to get the NCEA completely right and PPTA would be engaging members over the coming year to find workable solutions to the problems that beset the qualification.

“We are aware of various things not working out as well as they could.

“Discrepancies in external exam results from year to year and subject to subject, the quality and number of exemplars provided by NZQA, the pressure three levels of exams places on teaching and preparation time, and the burden of administration the qualification has imposed on schools are all issues that teachers would like to see resolved.”

Mr Smith said many secondary teachers saw NCEA as a considerable improvement on what went before. “Many of our members can see benefits for students where it is working effectively.

“We need to recognise the positive gain of vastly wider subject choice for our students, and the chance the new system provides for teachers to do more effective assessment by taking into account what they know of the whole range of students’ performance.”

However, he said the qualification was being undermined by recent negative media coverage and by political point scoring, which could divert attention from the real issues.

“There has to be a sensible and effective professional response to the growing community concern about the qualification. But it is not helpful for it to become a political football.”

Mr Smith challenged the government agencies to take the concerns of teachers seriously and become really involved in sorting out the issues surrounding the qualification.

“If their answer is increasing the compliance processes for teachers, while they continue to ignore the need to provide teachers with the support they were promised at the outset, then we have a recipe for disaster.”

ENDS

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