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Teacher development a big feature of NCEA

14 June 2005

Teacher development big feature of NCEA and Scholarship changes

Professional development for secondary teachers, principals and boards is a major feature of changes to improve NCEA and New Zealand Scholarship, announced today.

In a speech to the Auckland Secondary Principals' Association Education Minister Trevor Mallard revealed a series of changes around the senior secondary assessment system, especially in resources given to teachers.

Changes included a package of professional development for teachers, principals and school boards; improved communication with schools and parents; and more money being made available to reward New Zealand's top secondary scholars through the New Zealand Scholarship exams.

Trevor Mallard said the introduction of a professional learning strategy for schools was a hugely significant step.

This strategy focuses on:

- Regional seminars for principals, board members, and senior staff;

- Curriculum specific teacher workshops for NCEA and Scholarship;

- School or cluster-based NCEA needs analysis and responses - supported by additional resources ($2000 to $6000 for each school depending on its size and remoteness which will be delivered with the July operating grant payment);

- Resources (web and print)

- Research and evaluation

"The seminars and workshops will begin in the last two weeks of this term," said Trevor Mallard. "Recently retired, experienced and respected secondary principal Jill Ussher, from Palmerston North Girls High School, has been appointed to lead and co-ordinate this programme, working across the Ministry, NZQA and School Support Services.

"The additional resources and support that is being put in place will provide a firm foundation for improvements in 2005 and beyond.

"Teachers told us that professional development they received in the first two years of the introduction of NCEA had been useful. We've extended that allowing for a further two half days of professional development on top of the ten days currently in their collective agreements.

"These changes are expected to cost around $3.7 million over the next two years as we free-up teachers and school leaders for professional development."

Trevor Mallard also announced a comprehensive communication package and emphasised the importance of regular and clear communications jointly from the Ministry and NZQA.

One of the first changes that schools will notice will be a newsletter, providing regular updates on issues specific to Scholarship.

"The communications plan does not just target principals, teachers and Boards, but will also have aspects specific to students and their parents, universities and other tertiary providers, employers, and the general public," said Trevor Mallard. "This is a key component in building credibility and confidence."

The Minister says Cabinet has also agreed to the terms of reference for two independent advisory groups being set up by the Qualifications Authority to provide independent expert advice to the Board:

- on the technical aspects of assessment (the Scholarship Technical Advisory Group (STAG)); and

- on the overall processes regarding the conduct of Scholarship (the Scholarship Processes Advisory Group (SPAG))

Their membership will shortly be approved by NZQA’s Board, then these independent groups will begin to monitor and advise on the implementation of Scholarship.

Trevor Mallard says a major new feature of the New Zealand Scholarship awards structure is the addition of one-off $500 cash awards for each student gaining a scholarship subject. This was in line with recommendations made by the Scholarship Reference Group earlier this year.

"Other awards range from $2000 to $10,000 for each of three year's tertiary study, so long as the student maintains a 'B' grade average. The Premier Award, for the very top students and worth $10,000 a year, will be identified by subject expert panels and on the advice of an independent external advisory group.

“It’s important to remember that the New Zealand Scholarship is challenging and demanding," he said. "The revised Scholarship Awards are to recognise and reward a substantial number of students who achieve at the highest level.

"In total, the Government anticipates the new awards will be worth an additional $6 million over the next five years," he said.


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