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Significant benefits from Schools Plus

Hon Chris Carter
Minister of Education

13 February 2007 Media Statement

Significant benefits from Schools Plus

Education Minister Chris Carter says the government’s recently-announced Realising Youth Potential initiative, to be known as Schools Plus, will significantly boost the economy and increase prospects for young New Zealanders.

“By empowering our children through education we are giving them a positive attitude toward learning and more choice about what their future will be.

“Investing in our children’s future means we are investing in our country’s future.
Schools Plus will result in more students participating in education or workplace training, and more students gaining higher qualifications,” Chris Carter said.

The Labour-led government was committed to providing schools with the resources necessary to help all young people realise their potential.

“Schools will be able to offer more specialised career advice, develop partnerships with their communities, and closely monitor student outcomes.

“Professional development for teachers will be available to ensure a high quality teaching workforce meets the varying needs of students in our fast changing world,” Chris Carter said.

Under Schools Plus, the school of the future will be the base from which young people begin youth apprenticeships, obtain work skills or continue with programmes of work that lead to university or tertiary education. Schools Plus will require strong partnerships between schools, employers, tertiary institutions and communities.

“We need to build on the initiatives already underway to provide a richer range of learning opportunities both within school and beyond the classroom. Greater flexibility in the education and training sectors will motivate students to seek qualifications that are relevant and meet their aspirations,” said Chris Carter.

Details of a two-month consultation process being run by the Ministry of Education will be released shortly.

--

Fact sheet: Schools Plus


The Problem

We can't build our country's future on a low skill, low wage economy, which is why we need change in education and a quantum leap in the aspirations we have for our young people.

At present almost 30 percent of young people leave school before they turn 17 and 40 percent don’t achieve an NCEA Level Two (old ‘sixth form’) qualification. With our buoyant economy and strong labour market disguising these skill gaps, now is the time to act to ensure on-going social and economic growth.


Schools Plus

In February 2007 the Secretary of Education was asked to begin developing a plan for all young people to achieve their potential through education – Schools Plus.

- Through Schools Plus all young people will be in school or some other form of education or training until they reach the age of eighteen.

- Through Schools Plus the school of the future will be the base from which young people begin youth apprenticeships, obtain work skills or continue with study leading to university or tertiary education.

- Through Schools Plus we will make significant new investments to build on the education and training system our young people need for the 21st century.

We will begin consulting shortly with stakeholders about how we will roll out Schools Plus nationwide.

--

13 February, 2008


Schools Plus – Questions and Answers


Why is the government focusing on youth potential now?
In February last year, front bench Ministers met to discuss a range of youth issues. Low education achievement and how it limits future opportunities for young New Zealanders was of particular concern. Proposals to address the issue were made a priority In October last year and officials have now presented the government with an initial plan.

Could Schools Plus be interpreted as forcing students to stay at school when it might not be the best place for them?
This isn’t about forcing students to stay at school but being enrolled at a school will take on new meaning. The education and training students receive will occur within and beyond school, such as work-based training (through industry training organisations).

How will this help address the problem of truancy?
Schools will continue to be accountable for knowing where their students are. Current initiatives designed to address truancy will continue and will be complemented by further work.

What about younger teenagers, 13 and 14 year olds, who are already showing signs of disengagement from education?
A key component of Schools Plus is helping secondary students connect what they are doing in school with what they want to do later in life. It’s also about making sure young people know the range of learning opportunities open to them.

What about schools’ concerns over additional resources to implement Schools Plus?
Schools Plus represents a significant change in the role of schools. Additional funding will be required.

How much will it cost?
Initial estimates are that it will cost $170 million annually.

What will it cost for schools to extend the Youth Apprenticeships Scheme?
There are no direct implementation costs. The scheme works by opening up opportunities for young people through industry links in their local communities. Additional support may be provided to assist schools in establishing and developing industry links.

Is attachment to education and training through to the age of 18 realistic for every student? Won’t there have to be some exemptions?
The level of participation will be relevant to the student’s ability and needs. This is also something that will be discussed with the sector during consultation.

There has already been considerable change in secondary schools with the introduction of NCEA. Will schools find more change difficult?
The introduction of NCEA five years ago was a major change for schools and students. More students are now leaving with qualifications – qualifications that are relevant and form a strong base for future learning. But we still have too many students leaving school with little or no qualifications. That’s not good enough if we want this country to prosper.

What does it mean for a 16 year old who leaves school to work on the family farm or a young person who gets a well paid but unskilled job?
It may be a school acts as broker for these students to do a relevant training course so that they can work and do further training at the same time to ensure they have the skills needed to remain in the workforce.

What does Schools Plus mean for 17-18 year olds not currently in education?
We will phase in the requirement for young people of 17-18 years to be attached to formal education or relevant workplace training. This has particular relevance for the retail and hospitality sectors which employ around half of this age group currently in the workforce. We intend working with employers to provide sustainable and legitimate career paths for these young people.

Will there be additional support for teachers?
A key part of the work for Schools Plus will be identifying teacher and related education workforce requirements. We will consult with teacher unions and other stakeholders before we finalise an implementation plan.

What form will consultation take?
The government will engage a wide range of stakeholder groups, including schools, community leaders, businesses, industry training organisations and unions. A consultation document is being prepared which will form the basis for discussions.


ENDS

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