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Schooling strategy to lift student achievement

Schooling strategy aims to lift student achievement

The government is seeking the views of the education sector and wider community for the development of a Schooling Strategy aimed at lifting student achievement, Education Minister Trevor Mallard said today.

"This government believes in quality education and access for everyone, regardless of their background. We want an education system that is focused on lifting achievement so every single learner has the chance to reach their full potential and contribute to New Zealand's success, socially and economically," Trevor Mallard said.

"The Schooling Strategy, once developed, will focus on how to further improve student achievement, especially for the students who are currently not doing so well."

Trevor Mallard released a Schooling Strategy discussion document: Making a Bigger Difference for All Students, and is encouraging feedback between now and the end of May.

The discussion document is the first step towards developing a Schooling Strategy. Once finalised, the Schooling Strategy will set clear priorities for action over the next five years focused on improving outcomes for all students.

"The development of a Schooling Strategy is an opportunity for a wide ranging discussion about schooling. It will help ensure that efforts across schooling are focused on those things that make the most difference for all students."

The discussion document provides an overview of some of the work happening and some ideas about how we can move forward. It includes a series of questions to help frame feedback.

The government will also take into account valuable feedback already received through processes like the Curriculum Stocktake and the Hui Taumata Matauranga.

"We are committed to working with the teaching profession, trustees, families/whanau, communities and iwi to make this a reality and to map the way forward," Trevor Mallard said.

"Developing a Schooling Strategy does not mean throwing everything out and starting again. The proposed strategy will build on current strengths and provide a framework for future work."

The Schooling Strategy will be developed in three phases:

Phase One - February-May 2004 - discussion based around the Schooling Strategy Discussion Document Phase Two - Mid 2004 - consultation on the draft Schooling Strategy Phase Three - Early 2005 - publication of Schooling Strategy

The discussion document is available along with further information on www.schoolingstrategy.govt.nz

Attached are Questions and Answers

What is the Schooling Strategy? The Schooling Strategy will provide a high-level five year framework which will help guide existing work and will set the priorities for new work on specific issues in schooling. It will be centred around improving outcomes for all students, drawing together existing work and helping to ensure that existing and new work is clearly prioritised, co-ordinated, and sequenced.

What is the process for developing the Schooling Strategy? The development of the Schooling Strategy will be in three phases:

Phase One - February-May 2004 - discussion based around the Schooling Strategy Discussion Document Phase Two - Mid 2004 - consultation on the draft Schooling Strategy Phase Three - Early 2005 - publication of Schooling Strategy

What is the discussion process? The discussion process is the first phase in the development of the Schooling Strategy. A Schooling Strategy Discussion Document has been published to help generate ideas and comment and the government is seeking input from interested people on a series of questions contained in it.

The questions are a starting point for individuals and organisations and do not limit or constrain the information and comment that can be made.

The document is available from Freepost Schooling Strategy c/- Ministry of Education, PO Box 1666, Wellington, or through the website www.schoolingstrategy.govt.nz. You can also email enquiries.schoolingstrategy@minedu.govt.nz

The Schooling Strategy website is an easy and quick way to learn about the Schooling Strategy, and provide feedback directly.

The Discussion Document is being mailed directly to all schools, and to a range of community, business and education groups.

Focus groups and some meetings will also be held to generate feedback.

Once the discussion phase is complete, feedback will be analysed and a draft Schooling Strategy prepared for consultation.

How can I get involved? The first step is to get a copy of the Schooling Strategy Discussion Document as outlined above. The government welcomes feedback from any interested individual, family, community or education group or individual.

If you represent a community organisation you may like to include the strategy on the agenda of your next meeting, or hold a discussion session with interested people.

Boards of trustees are encouraged to include the issue on their monthly meeting agenda and consider promoting this process with their local parent and community groups.

How can I provide feedback? The Discussion Document includes a pull out form, which you can fill in and post to Freepost Schooling Strategy c/- Ministry of Education, PO Box 1666, Wellington. The website includes an electronic version of the form which you can fill out on-line and email to enquiries.schoolingstrategy@minedu.govt.nz

What will happen with my feedback? All the feedback will be analysed and used to help prepare a draft Schooling Strategy. Your feedback will be used in a way that won't identify you personally.

How can I get more copies of the Discussion Document? The document is available from Freepost Schooling Strategy c/- Ministry of Education, PO Box 1666, Wellington or through the website www.schoolingstrategy.govt.nz. You can also email enquiries.schoolingstrategy@minedu.govt.nz

Will feedback be made public? Individual feedback won't be made public, but a summary of the feedback will be available when the draft Strategy is release in the middle of this year.

Why is a schooling strategy needed? Our overall education system is good by world standards. In most international surveys we have one of the highest proportions of students in the top achievement levels, and overall, we score above international averages.

But we also have one of the widest gaps between our highest and lowest achievers, and Maori and Pasifika students are over-represented among students who underachieve.

The government wants to see the achievement of our top students rise, while at the same time rapidly lifting the achievement of students who are not reaching their potential. This will require purposeful planned effort. The Schooling Strategy will help us plan this effort and ensure we are focusing on the areas where we can make the most impact.

It will help the government strengthen existing policies and ensure new policies and spending reinforce and build on the best of what is currently happening.

What will the Schooling Strategy cover? Developing a Schooling Strategy will not mean throwing everything out and starting again. A more evolutionary approach to change has become the norm in recent years. The Schooling Strategy will continue this approach.

In some areas, like curriculum (through the Curriculum Stocktake) and qualifications (with the development and implementation of the NCEA), recent and current work builds on the enormous contribution the education sector has made to the implementation of new frameworks. The development of a Schooling Strategy is not intended to disrupt this work. However, as the Curriculum Stocktake indicated, further refinement in any part of the system is always possible.

A range of other work is also currently happening on various issues in schooling. The Schooling Strategy will include existing work rather than supersede it. It might, however, indicate that in some of these areas of work further refinement or adjustment is needed.

What will the Strategy be used for? The final Strategy will set out priorities for action over the next five years, focused on improving outcomes for students. It will provide a framework to guide policy thinking and budget decisions over the next five years.

How does the Strategy differ from the Education Priorities document? The "Education Priorities for New Zealand" set out the government's broad priorities across education i.e. tertiary, schooling and early childhood education. The Priorities provide an overarching framework under which the Tertiary Education Strategy and the Early Childhood Strategic Plan currently sit, and under which the Schooling Strategy will sit once it is completed.

What's the relationship with the Secondary Futures project? The Secondary Futures Project has a 15-20 year horizon and is focused on secondary schooling education. It will be working on what our secondary schools and secondary education will look like by 2020.

The Schooling Strategy will deal with the types of issues that are relevant to the next five years for both primary and secondary education.

All of the initiatives that are happening in schools are important - how can we say one should take priority over another? There is clear evidence that some factors, like quality teaching and families and communities, have a greater influence over student outcomes than other factors. Having said this, the best outcomes are achieved when a range of factors within schooling work together, providing a strong interwoven system of support. At any given time it is possible to identify some factors for special attention without necessarily undermining others.

It is also important, given that time and resources are finite, that we focus attention on the key areas of activity that will make the most impact on student outcomes.

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