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The Correspondence School Faces New Future

Education Minister Trevor Mallard today announced a restructuring of The Correspondence School.

"In order to the meet the challenges of the future, The Correspondence School has actively worked during this year to develop a plan to reposition the school for the modern education era. The change will allow the School to more effectively meet the needs of its students, support the wider education sector through the development of curriculum resources and to provide support to class room teachers in their work to improve educational outcomes.

"I would like to acknowledge the hard work of The Correspondence School staff under trying circumstances. Unfortunately, under the previous government's administration, the School received little support or guidance as to its future role.

"The Correspondence School has identified the need for change from a number of sources. The proposed repositioning plan responds to the school's falling roll, ERO reports and the inquiry into the School's performance by the Education and Science Select Committee. If major change does not occur within a short time frame the future viability of The Correspondence School is threatened.

"In addition, I am reviewing the governance structure of The Correspondence School, with a view to bringing a different mix of skills to the Board to reflect the repositioning move.

"The rapidly improving capability of communication technology to support distance education and classroom based teaching presents substantial opportunities for the Correspondence School. The School will need to coordinate with Te Kete Ipurangi (The Online Learning Centre) and Learning Media on this area of resource development.

"In establishing its new focus The Correspondence School will need to acquire new skills to enable it to work in different ways within the education sector. This will require the School to develop new teaching practices to better meet the needs of its diverse student base. I have now asked the School to work closely with key teacher organisations to develop a process for achieving the change required," Trevor Mallard said.

The Correspondence School

Fact sheet

 The Correspondence School was established in 1922. It is governed by an independent parent-elected Board of Trustees and bulk-funded by the Ministry of Education. Its Chief Executive is Rod Browning.

 Students may study full-time or part-time with The Correspondence School or may be dually enrolled at The Correspondence School and a face-to-face school.

 The Correspondence School has a wide student base from early childhood to second chance education for adult students.

 At 15 July 2000, student numbers were:

- Early childhood students 976
- Full-time primary students 1,015
- Students attending other primary schools 1,273
- Full-time secondary 2,031
- Students attending other secondary schools 6,695
- Adult students 4,960
- Fee paying primary / secondary students 453

 The Correspondence School has enjoyed a strong reputation as New Zealand’s distance education provider. However in recent years a number of reports have expressed concern about the School’s ability to provide quality education in the future.

 A 1994 ERO Report found that some students needs were not being met by The Correspondence School.

 A 1998 ERO Accountability Review of The Correspondence School concluded that the School had not adapted to developments in the education sector. Few external pressures had required the School to challenge its own practices. Furthermore the organisational structures of the School were predominantly geared to a mode of service delivery which had not kept pace with developments in communication technologies, curriculum and pedagogy.

 In 1999, an ERO Discretionary Report found that the School had taken several steps to address the issues raised in the previous year’s Accountability Review. However, concerns still existed about the future focus of the Correspondence School.

 Successive Ministers of Education have identified alternative proposals to address performance issues. In 1999 a feasibility study explored the possibility of amalgamating The Correspondence School with the Open Polytechnic. The Education and Science Select Committee also carried out an Inquiry into the School’s performance.

 A new chief executive officer, Rod Browning, was appointed in December 1999, with extensive leadership experience in the school sector, both in New Zealand and overseas.

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