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Minister acts to secure future of scholarships

15 February, 2005 Media Statement

Minister acts to secure future of scholarships process

The shape of this year's and future New Zealand Scholarship exams will be determined by a group education practitioners and experts being assembled by Associate Education Minister David Benson-Pope.

The group will include school principals, teachers and a university representative. In addition, Mr Benson-Pope announced that he had invited the State Services Commission to review the performance of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA).

Mr Benson-Pope today outlined the process and timeline of a review of the scholarship scheme to ensure there is no repeat of the significant variability that became apparent in the 2004 results. As a result of that variability the Government was forced to act in the interests of fairness, introducing a new "distinction award" to mitigate the effects of the inconsistency in the 2004 results.

Mr Benson-Pope says the focus must now shift to students sitting the New Zealand Scholarship this year and beyond.

The Minister says he will be inviting nominations of one representative from each of the following organisations to sit on the review group: the Secondary Schools Principals' Association, the New Zealand Vice Chancellors' Committee; the Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA); the PPTA Principals' Council; the School Trustees' Association; and Independent Schools New Zealand. It will also include two additional principals nominated by the Minister and a person from the Wharekura (Maori secondary schools) area. They will be assisted by senior representatives from the Ministry of Education and NZQA.

Mr Benson-Pope says the expert group will have two weeks to prepare a report, including recommended options that he as Minister will take back to Cabinet: "It is not a lot of time but we have teachers and students in classrooms who need to know the shape of the exam system that will be used at the end of this year."

Mr Benson-Pope has also written to the State Services Commissioner asking him to review the performance of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority.

Mr Benson-Pope says he has written to the Commissioner, Dr Mark Prebble, asking him to use his powers pursuant to sections 6(b) and 11(4) of the State Sector Act 1988.

ENDS

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