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Correspondence School - Mallard Speech

Hon Trevor Mallard Speech Notes

The Correspondence School National Parents' Association

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be here today. The E-school theme of your conference is timely and very appropriate to the role and future of The Correspondence School.

When I spoke to you last year I talked about the need for The Correspondence School to be up with the times and flexible so that it can meet the needs and expectations of 21st century learners. In the past year there has been a noticeable energy for change in the school’s leadership and growing evidence of the results of this. Thinking about
E-learning is going a long way to helping the school improve its services to its students and parents.

E-learning, in the way we are talking about it, is learning that takes place as a result of experiences and interactions in an Internet environment. Like the Internet itself, there is no way of stopping E-learning. It is no longer a question of whether or not we will implement E-learning in our schools, but whether or not we will do it well and use it to advantage our learners. We must be sure that we understand the complexities of the new environment and how we can support students and parents to make the best use of the opportunities it offers.

Some of the opportunities that E-learning helps make possible are extensions of what we can already do in conventional learning and some are totally new.

* In conventional learning most students attend a school in their local community : E-learning enables students to “attend” multiple and distant institutions.

* In conventional learning classes are scheduled according to school hours and timetables that suit teachers: E-learning enables students to determine the times when learning best suits them.

* In conventional learning students are directed to work individually or in groups: E-learning allows students to choose to work individually or collaboratively with people who may or may not be in their regular class.

These are already features of the learning environment for your children.

E-learning is not an either/or learning environment but one where the Internet can help provide some of the experiences and interactions that cannot be achieved in any other way.

The overarching aim of Government’s ICT strategy for education is to improve student learning outcomes. We must not lose sight of properly identified learning needs and appropriate pedagogy. The focus on technology must support the focus on student learning and achievement.

The Government is supporting The Correspondence School’s development with additional resourcing for ICT and E-learning purposes.

The Ministry of Education is currently considering the ICT and E-school business plans that it received from the School last week. I understand that these are for a total of more than $ 5 million. This is significant support from Government and a level of additional resourcing for ICT and E-learning not available to any other education provider. It is a key opportunity for the School.

In considering further support I will be assessing the difference this support is making to the quality of the School’s services to your children, and to you as their education supervisors. You have to make a significant contribution to your child’s learning every single day. The effort that many of you put into helping your children with their learning is far greater than most parents would realise.

More than most you should be able to expect your school to be at the forefront of innovation in E-learning.

Equally I will be assessing the contribution that the School is making to Government’s wider ICT strategy for education. In particular I will be considering the extent to which the School is:
* working collaboratively and in partnership with other providers;
* using the opportunities for leverage from other education-related initiatives for instance through Te Kete Ipurangi.

I now want to tell you about the new governance and reporting arrangements for The Correspondence School.

Under the new arrangements The Correspondence School will still be a state school and like all state schools it is a Crown Entity. Other schools however, do not have the same contractual and accountability link with Government that The Correspondence School has. The Government determines the School's enrolment policy, learning services to be provided by the School and provides funding to the School to implement that policy. This is formalised in a Purchase Agreement. The wider Ownership Agreement covers ICT systems development, change management and viability costs. The new reporting arrangements for The Correspondence School simply formalise this relationship.

This is particularly important at a time when the School is seeking substantial additional money to help it rebuild its capability and align its ICT strategies with the Government's wider goals.

The Correspondence School is more complex than other schools, it has a different relationship with Government, and it has an important national role. One of its differences is sheer size: it is a very big organisation. The governance of such an organisation requires a particular kind of expertise and I think we have that in the new board.

The School's new board has a majority of Ministerial appointments but it also has an elected parent, a staff member and a student and of course the CEO, the Principal of the school is also ex officio a member of the board. I expect the new board to consult widely and to maintain close links with key people including parents. This expectation, plus the provision for up to three co-opted members will give the board the opportunity to get the representation it needs.

The Ministerial appointments to The Correspondence School Board of Trustees are:
Paul Carpinter (Chair)
Nola Campbell
Noel Scott
Michael Webb
Cathy Wylie

I look forward to seeing The Correspondence School go from strength to strength as it takes up a leading position in E-learning and as it regains its position as a high performing provider of high quality education to children who might otherwise miss out.

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