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NZQA commits to culture change

4 August 2005

NZQA commits to culture change

Acting Chief Executive of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority Karen Sewell has agreed that significant change is required within the organisation.

The State Services Commission report released today says the culture of NZQA has been shaped by constant change and uncertainty in its leadership.

Karen Sewell says she has already started work on improving the organisation's culture.

"I have only been at the Qualifications Authority for a short time, but it is clear to me that some rebuilding is necessary. As the report says staff are committed to what they do, but there has been a tendency to work within their own groups, which diminishes the strength of the organisation," said Karen Sewell.

Actions initiated this year to change the culture include:

- increased emphasis on the ethics and responsibilities of those who work in the state sector
- new risk management procedures
- new individual staff performance assessment criteria relating to NZQA values
- enhanced induction procedures emphasising NZQA values
- better internal communications
- active encouragement of secondments between agencies in the education sector
- a more sophisticated approach to project management.

The report also says the Qualifications Authority needs to communicate better with parents and employers, in particular.

"We do need to provide clearer information about NCEA to the public. We also need to provide greater assistance to schools to enable them to explain details of secondary qualifications to parents.

"I was not surprised by any of the findings in the report. In fact, many of the issues raised have already been identified and are being dealt with, for example, a considerable amount of work is being done to minimise variability in results this year.

"I am confident that results will be more consistent. There are a significant number of practical steps now in place, including professional development and enhanced information for teachers, and better preparation of markers. We will check exams results more rigorously as they come in to identify any that need remarking.

"The Qualifications Authority is also seeking independent advice from two groups of external experts, one focusing on assessment, which met yesterday, and the other on processes which meets tomorrow.

"All these steps can give parents, students and their teachers confidence that variability will be more transparent and better managed," said Karen Sewell.

"It is encouraging that the report recognises that, while there were difficulties with the implementation of NCEA, the majority of schools and stakeholders believe that NCEA is enhancing learning outcomes for students."

The report also notes that NZQA deserves credit for what has so far been achieved, as does the teaching profession.

Acting Board Chair Catherine Gibson joined Karen Sewell in accepting the recommendations in the report and said that appointing a new Chief Executive was a priority for the Board.

"There have been a number of reviews this year which have made many recommendations. I am pleased to say that the organisation is well on the way to successfully implementing those recommendations.

"The board must continue to oversee that process and look to the future to appoint a Chief Executive with the skills necessary to lift the performance of the Qualifications Authority and restore confidence in the organisation and the examinations," said Catherine Gibson.

An executive search agency has been selected to find a new Chief Executive.

ENDS

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