EDUCATION REVIEW Vol 8. Issue 3 2017 $10.95
Tertiary education: what needs to change?
how to get the most out of your evaluation
What is the best age to start school?
play-based learning: the divide between primary teachers and management
Mandatory Postgraduate ITE â€“ the effect on teaching and teacher supply
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Postgrad ponderings Any initiative or policy that leverages the status of New Zealand’s teaching profession is a good thing. I like the idea of aspiring teachers completing a postgraduate qualification. However, I feel a little twitchy at the thought of making it compulsory. Postgraduate study is hard and expensive and it is not for everyone. I wonder if a master’s degree might deter those who would have otherwise made excellent teachers. Those who are itching to get teaching and earning a salary might prefer to continue their learning while in the classroom rather than spend another year at university. I worry that by making a postgraduate qualification a mandatory requirement to become a teacher that it will change the teacher workforce and lessen its diversity. Perhaps an alternative approach could be to allow teachers the opportunity to complete a postgraduate qualification at a time that’s right for them. For some this could be immediately following their undergraduate degree. For others it could be once they’ve got their career underway. Sometimes it isn’t until you’ve had a few years of teaching under your belt that you have more questions to be answered through research, more experience to form an academic baseline and perhaps more maturity and financial stability to undertake further study. Indeed this approach would work for most professions. The Productivity Commission’s inquiry into tertiary education models has indicated a push towards more lifelong learning that is tailored to the needs of the individual. While I am very much in favour of entry level standards, and keeping these high, I think we need to get better at individualising learning. We are becoming so good at tailoring learning for our youngest students, but there is definitely room for improvement when it comes to higher education. Every job is changing. Teaching is no different. If professional development and higher education is to keep pace with this change, we need to become flexible in how we approach it. And I’m not sure words like ‘compulsory’ or ‘mandatory’ fit into this line of thinking. Editor, Jude Barback CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Sarah Aiono, Dr John Boereboom, Jaylan Boyle, Dr Jo Fletcher, Dr Karen Nicholas, Nicholas Pole, Dr Brenda Service, Dr Louise Starkey and Dr Kate Thornton.
Policy: Changes to initial teacher education
Experts and naturals: should we make the move to universal postgraduate ITE?
Haere rā, Hekia: a chat with outgoing Education Minister Hekia Parata
Tertiary education: what needs to change?
What is the best age for starting school?
The “Kardashian effect”: in defence of single-gender education
Surviving ERO: how to get the most from your ERO evaluation
Critical friendships: why mentoring matters in teaching
Digital data: a leadership tool or big brother watching you?
Disobedient Teaching: a review
Play misunderstood: the divide between primary classroom teachers and senior managers
Breaking the cycle: first in family to higher education
The wobbly line to success: from a Samoan childhood to a New Zealand university
Maths + digital technology = opportunities: a complex and interesting equation
Forging better connections between secondary schools and higher education
Bringing NCEA tutorials to the masses
Tackling literacy in the workplace
Jude Barback 07 542 3013 firstname.lastname@example.org
Charles Ogilvie-Lee 04 915 9794 email@example.com
production Aaron Morey
Fiona Reid 04 915 9795 firstname.lastname@example.org
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Policy: Changes to initial
n the lead up to this year’s Budget, Education Minister Nikki Kaye announced a number of changes affecting initial teacher education (ITE) that are aimed to improve the supply and quality of teachers. The changes include: funding for 90 more places for Teach First NZ the creation of a new induction and mentoring programme to help provisionally registered teachers become fully registered an agreement to lift the moratorium on new teacher education programmes in January 2018.
Teach First NZ funding
An extra $5.2 million of operating funding over the next four years has been allocated to expand teacher education programme Teach First NZ, providing places for a further 90 participants. “Ensuring we have high quality teachers across all subjects is hugely important to us. Teach First NZ is great for recruiting high quality graduates in subjects that at the moment are harder to staff, such as maths, science and technology.” Teach First NZ is an employment-based initial teacher education (ITE) programme that has been operating as a pilot since 2013. Teacher trainees are employed by schools as teachers while undertaking their teaching qualification. To date, 42 per cent of Teach First NZ graduates teach maths, science or technology, and all of them teach in schools with some of the biggest achievement challenges. They have directly served 14,000 New Zealand students, including 4,000 Māori and Pasifika. The funding will provide two further cohorts of 45 participants each, starting in 2018. The emphasis continues to be on STM subjects, and graduates will be trained to teach in schools with a high proportion of Māori and Pasifika students, and students from lower socio-economic backgrounds.
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New programme to help PRTs gain full registration
The Minister also announced a commitment of $2 million for the Education Council to create a new induction and mentoring programme to support up to 700 provisionally registered teachers to become fully registered before their certificate expires. The new programme follows recommendations made by the Joint Working Group on Secondary Teacher Supply in their 2016 report. It will be available to eligible provisionally certified teachers nearing the end of their certification. However, teachers in high demand locations that include some urban and rural areas and subjects, such as the sciences, maths, technology, te reo Māori and Māori-medium, will be prioritised. The programme is conditional on successful approval of the qualification by the new provider, The Mind Lab by Unitec. Submission of the new qualification to NZQA and the Education Council will occur this month. Kaye also confirmed the Education Council will be going out to tender for the provision of Teacher Education Refresher courses with the aim of reducing the costs, which may be prohibitive for some teachers working towards full certification.
Cabinet has agreed to lift the moratorium on new teacher education programmes in January 2018. The moratorium was put in place in 2000 to gain control over the quantity and quality of initial teacher education programmes. “Significant quality assurance has now been put in place and we are open once again to applications of good quality from innovative providers,” says Kaye. The Minister says these new initiatives support the $9 million package of measures announced in 2016 to address teacher supply and quality. “There is no one measure that will enable the right quality teachers to be in the right place at the right time which is why we have a range of initiatives to address supply pressures,” she says. “Having listened to principals, the Education Council and those on the front line of recruitment, we are working to support more teachers to stay in the profession, as well as encourage more high-calibre graduates into teaching.”
Unions: changes “all appearance and no substance” Teacher unions say the changes announced for teacher education aimed at improving teacher quality and supply will not address the nationwide teacher shortage. “In the context of serious shortages in key subject areas and wider challenges in other subjects and in an increasing number of geographical areas [the] policy release is a fail”, says PPTA president Jack Boyle. “The recruitment ‘initiatives’ she is touting fail in any way to make more people want to come into teaching. An investment in 15 extra places that may or may not add to the numbers seeking to train as teachers is basically meaningless.” “New Zealand needs to replace 1750 secondary each year just to stay afloat. When we can’t even do that, announcing 15 new places for trainee secondary teachers is akin to announcing a pimple on a pumpkin," he said. Boyle said there is nothing to address the recommendations the sector agreed with government in the teacher supply report last year. NZEI Te Riu Roa President Lynda Stuart welcomed the government's interest in increasing the supply of teachers in hard-to-staff areas, but said that unless it was prepared to address the true reason why some areas were hard to staff, the problem would not go away. “Infrastructure such as efficient transport and affordable housing are essential to keep teachers in areas like Auckland and Queenstown. “And unless the modest pay levels of teachers are addressed, it will grow ever harder to attract and retain our best and brightest in teaching,” she said.
Experts and naturals:
should we make the move to universal postgraduate ITE?
n April the possibility of real change in New Zealand’s teacher education system became a likelihood, following the comments of our most recent ex-Minister of Education and public statements from the Education Council as to what they think the future should look like. ‘Lifting the status of the profession’ has become the most macro goal of education outside the classroom itself. The Education Council places the mantra at the heart of their raison d’être. As is nearly always the case in New Zealand education, there is robust disagreement as to the recipe for success.
Recap: what’s on the table?
When Ms Parata ruffled feathers in April by telling The New Zealand Herald that “teaching has one of the lowest bars [to entry] of any profession”, Parliament’s most recent retiree was furthering a narrative first taken up meaningfully back in the days of Anne Tolley’s Ministry, following a report from the Teacher’s Council (since reconstituted as the Education Council) in 2010 that delivered several key recommendations.
As the Education Council prepares to take their pitch for a move to postgraduate ITE on the road, it seems inevitable that the proposal will get over the line. Both unions, on behalf of teachers, are cautiously supportive of at least an investigation of the proposal, but say their job is to keep the Ministry, universities, and the Education Council honest about the fact that there are myriad side effects that need to stay on the agenda. JAYLAN BOYLE talks to a few of the parties to the upcoming consultation. Of most interest was the recommendation that ITE provision be undertaken only at postgraduate level. It seems obvious that this change would impact prospective primary and early childhood teachers most – currently, primary and ECE teachers can enter the profession with a three-year Bachelor of Teaching, a qualification that sits at Level 6 on the NZQF framework. If the recommendations come to pass, the upshot of a mandatory postgraduate entry bar is that teachers across all three sectors would get their wings at Level 8 on the NZQF framework – meaning everybody spends at least four years becoming a teacher. April saw another key development in what has been a slow burn towards seemingly inevitable change, when the Education Council publically firmed up its position on the matter. Dr Graham Stoop told The New Zealand Herald: “Every teacher in the country would have a bachelor’s degree in arts or science or commerce, law, whatever it happens to be. That would give us the content knowledge that we want them to have. Then there would be, let’s say a Level 8 postgraduate teacher education programme on top of that.
“This goes back to the core purpose of the Education Council – to raise the status of the profession...” Whereas the current Level 7 graduate diploma in teaching is typically run over the course of a full year, Dr Stoop has also signalled that the Education Council see the postgraduate course stretching to “three or four semesters”. That’s the pitch that the Education Council will be taking on the road at the end of the month, as it embarks on a sector consultation process.
The thorny bits...
On the subject of a mandatory postgraduate entry bar, both teacher’s unions and opposition education spokesperson Chris Hipkins have reacted in similar fashion: they’re heartily behind the overarching goal of raising the status of the teaching profession, and are more cautiously supportive of an investigation into whether moving to a mandatory Level 8 entry bar might help do the trick. The consultation framework document released ahead of the Education Council’s pitch to the sector cites lots of research supporting the idea
Postgrad Education 3
“We run the risk … of accidentally ensuring that those people who are placed in front of our students come from just one particular part of our society.”
PPTA President Jack Boyle.
NZEI President Lynda Stuart.
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that more qualified teachers make better teachers, and positions the move as a key step in raising the status of teaching. “Overall, selectivity in entry seems very desirable. High selectivity is evident in strongly performing education systems where the quality of teaching is held in high regard (for example, Singapore and Finland). Aside from the obvious benefits of more likely successful ITE experience and quality of outcomes, having high entry standards may help to reposition teaching more generally as a high status profession and one that it is a privilege to enter.” Jack Boyle, recently minted president of the PPTA, sees a disconnect here – lifting the bar to entry in the hope that teaching will come to be seen as a gold standard profession is a bit like putting your dog’s empty bowl on a table: sure, the bowl could be seen as more aspirational, but it’s still empty. Boyle says using a country like Finland as justification for lifting the bar to entry isn’t as simplistic as it looks, owing to factors unique to New Zealand, such as an approaching demographic bomb. “The thorny bits, particularly for secondary schools, are numerous”, says Boyle. “Firstly, we’ve got teacher shortages in key areas – in te reo Maori, in STEM subjects, for example – we’ve got a workforce with an average age of 57.5, we’ve got challenges around backfilling the positions required for Communities of Learning, we’ve got issues around relief teachers, and we’ve unfortunately got a very high triage rate for new teachers; about 50 per cent of graduates leave the job within the first five years. We’d suggest that’s about workload, and the lower relative rates of remuneration [as compared with other professions]. We’d suggest these are barriers to getting in, and they’re not going to help retention either. “Look at jurisdictions like Finland, where they’ve got so many people wanting to become teachers, because it’s seen as a really high status profession. [We think that’s] because of remuneration and the autonomy Finnish teachers enjoy, and the esteem they’re held in. Therefore they’re in a position to require that high entry qualification, because they need a way of filtering out the oversupply. We’re just not operating in the same context here in New Zealand.”
Winnowing or homogenising?
Lynda Stuart, president of the primary teacher’s union NZEI, is forthright in her support for more demanding entry qualifications, but cautions against any sort of ‘magic bullet’ thinking. Like the PPTA, her organisation sees part of its role in the upcoming consultation as reminding the various players that equity of access to training is just as important as equipping fresh teachers with the tools they need. As Jack Boyle says, one size does not fit all: given that modern education thinking strives to find individuated pathways for learners, why are we talking about restricting the path to the front of the class? An increasingly homogenous pool of teachers is a fear that both Stuart and Boyle refer to repeatedly. Both are saying that before we rush into a nice, packaged, intuitively beneficial solution like lifting the entry bar across the board, we need to think about what sort of teachers we want in front of our kids. “We run the risk … of accidentally ensuring that those people who are placed in front of our students come from just one particular part of our society,” says Stuart. “We need a really planned approach to ensure that we don’t narrow the intake of our future teachers.” Feeding into this potentially hidden fish hook is, of course, the extra cost of becoming a teacher – under the current system, a student allowance isn’t available to study at postgraduate level, although the Education Council acknowledges that this is something for consideration. Holding up the Finnish system as an exemplar – where all teachers must attain a master’s-level qualification, Level 9 on our NZQF scale – ignores the fact that Finland is not the super-diverse nation in which we live, either culturally or socioeconomically.
The blowout in a prospective teacher’s student loan is part of what Boyle refers to as the “opportunity cost of teaching”. He’s asking us to consider the matter from a range of perspectives: what about the second-career teacher? Is he or she going to be as inclined to make the move into education when faced with a longer training programme? Surely students benefit when their teachers come from a range of backgrounds, and surely someone who can say “been there, done that” can inspire kids with their experience? The question becomes reduced further to economic nitty gritty if one accepts the contention of unions that teachers are paid poorly against comparably qualified professions. To what extent is a passion for teaching dampened when the outputs don’t stack up to the inputs? Students of other disciplines can justify the decision to take more time and money out of their lives to attain higher qualifications, because the future rewards are enticing. Can teaching say the same?
It seems that whenever policy people come up with an attractively monolithic solution to a lofty goal, a big part of Stuart and Boyle’s job is to remind those in power that gift-wrapped answers often come with blinkers – and money, both say, is not the only stone in the shoe of the Education Council proposal. Going back to a familiar refrain, both unions consider teacher workload to be a factor in retention, as well as attracting people to the profession. “The problem isn’t just whether teachers can survive. It’s also about workload: the increased administrative burden of a number of government initiatives, and a number of zeitgeist approaches to education. You’ve got the Education Council, who have legislation guiding them, but they have a much more accountability-focused view of teaching. So, [teachers] are doing more of the inquiry appraisal and attestation, more frequently. Now that’s not a bad thing, but if it’s to such a level that it’s taking away from teaching and learning, then it’s a problem.”
“If all that we’re after [in an ECE teacher] is someone who can keep a child entertained, fed, rested and occupied while their caregivers are elsewhere, then sure, we can get away with a programme that’s basically ‘be nice to the children, don’t upset anybody’. That’s not what young children and families need.”
The buck (and the bucks)
While both Stuart and Boyle agree that strengthening our ITE system is crucial to the future success of education in New Zealand, both say that the idea that more qualified teachers means better education outcomes – while maybe partly, even substantially true – is consistent with recent education ideology coming out of the Beehive: that the achievement buck starts and stops with teachers. They’re worried that front-loading teachers with more initialisms after their names means that more will be demanded of what they say is an already overstretched profession. Both say they’re concerned that teacher qualification sucks all
the oxygen out of another key debate: how much money is spent on education. “I’d really like the answer to this question,” says Boyle. “Why is it only ITE postgraduate qualifications that are being put out there as the way to lift the status of the profession? “If you look at the high-performing international education systems, what you see in jurisdictions like Finland is that while you are teaching, you are empowered and supported to do ongoing professional learning. That PLD space is really critical. All teachers are lifelong learners.” “If I had a magic wand, we’d have more money!” says Stuart. “We’ve got a real issue with Continued on next page >>
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Postgrad Education 5
underfunding across our education system. Ensuring that we can pay people who support children – teacher aides – that we’re able to pay them a decent wage, and that we’re able to give them some job security, is one area, for example, that desperately needs investment. They work with our most vulnerable children. “I’d be making sure that there is strong, supportive professional development for teachers, and that teachers have the time to embed that professional development. I think we have a sector that is really time poor, too. We need to give teachers some time to really embed those things that work. That’s where I would put the money, and it would take a fair bit of it.” Boyle and the PPTA agree that investment in PLD, and in alleviating workload pressure to allow learning to bed in, must accompany any further training demands on teachers. He questions also whether ITE can become all things to all teachers. “I think that in order to get all of the learning you need to become a fabulous teacher, you’d probably need to be in ITE for 10 years. I certainly know that in the 12 years I was in the classroom, I was constantly learning and evolving. Now, a lot of that was interwoven with the needs of the students in front of me, and a fair amount had to do with the changing landscape of New Zealand education – I’m thinking of online technologies, flipped classrooms, different expectations around course structure, various zeitgeist measures like PB4L and restorative counselling – a teacher is constantly having to keep up. That’s before we start talking about content knowledge, which certainly doesn’t stay static, does it? “What we need is professional learning and support to meet the changing needs of our learners, of our schools, and the context that both operate in. That’s where we’re going to get the best bang for our education buck. Not some arbitrary reaction to a flimsy, causal relationship between postgraduate ITE and the output of the teachers who come out the end of it. There’s no obvious connection between the quality of ITE and the performance measures that teachers are judged against.”
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How will postgraduate ITE affect the early learning sector? If we’re looking to inform our thinking on whether to raise the bar to entry, it follows that we should look at what other countries are doing, particularly those who have become synonymous with education excellence. The Scandinavian nations are never far away from that conversation. As mentioned, Finland requires teachers to be qualified to master’s level, and Norway is about to follow suit. Arguably, they’re just a bit further down the road than we are, so a case study could be instructional. One key difference between the changes in Norwegian ITE that are now legislation, and those proposed by our Education Council, is that in Norway they don’t apply to ECE teachers. Although it could be said that their ECE teachers already have to attain what we’d call postgraduate qualifications, it’s interesting to note that Norway
sees that as sufficient for teachers of the very young, but not for those of older kids. Back home, there are divergent opinions on whether postgraduate education will make a difference to our youngest students. Peter Reynolds is CEO of the Early Childhood Council, which does not support the proposal to raise the entry bar in his sector. Reynolds says the group is “yet to be convinced that a postgraduate qualified teacher offers any significant difference in teaching practice on the floor to… children than does an undergraduate qualified teacher”. “We acknowledge that a postgraduate qualified teacher can present enhanced knowledge and skills around critical thinking, reflection and research”, he says. “We argue that, while there is a clear place in our sector for teachers to advance their careers in these directions, they present little practical benefit to a teacher on the floor, and
The Norwegian experience Norway’s ITE system is arguably further up the road to higher qualifications than New Zealand’s. Following the lead of its Finnish neighbours, from this year teachers in Norway will move from a four-year qualification programme to a five-year model – every teacher will be qualified at master’s level. The immediately obvious difference is that the changes don’t apply to early childhood teachers as do those proposed here – nor to teachers of ‘practical and aesthetic’ subjects, or teachers of vocational learning. Deputy Director General Fredrik Dalen Tennøe of the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research told Education Review that the Finnish experience convinced policymakers that a move to a master’s ITE programme would reap dividends for learners. There was strong consensus across the Norwegian education system in favour of the changes: both major unions were supportive, although there has been scepticism from the media that a master’s degree “would distance education from the profession and the field of practice”. When asked what impacts he expects the changes to make, Deputy Director General Tennøe says, “We anticipate that the new programmes will manage to combine theory and practice in a more organic way, as the students are supposed to relate their master’s thesis directly to school practice.”
“Before we rush into a nice, packaged, intuitively beneficial solution like lifting the entry bar across the board, we need to think about what sort of teachers we want in front of our kids.” certainly do not justify lifting the qualification bar for the whole teaching profession for the sake of that subset of teachers who wish to advance their careers in research and policy development directions.”
Alex Gunn of the University of Otago sees it as patently obvious that, if anything, ECE teachers are more in need of time at the academic wheel, and that to suggest that mastering research methodology is the frivolous pursuit of the education boffin is just plain wrong. “I think that expectations of teachers are changing, in the sense that we are moving into a much more evidence-based paradigm. If we want teachers who can actually investigate the problems they’re facing, then we need teachers who are scholarly. “I think that this evidence is arguably more diverse in early childhood education. The difference between a postgraduate and an undergraduate qualification is really about the level and degree of autonomy, research, and scholarship [that a teacher is able to carry out].
From Education Beyond the Classroom
“If all that we’re after [in an ECE teacher] is someone who can keep a child entertained, fed, rested and occupied while their caregivers are elsewhere, then sure, we can get away with a programme that’s basically ‘be nice to the children, don’t upset anybody’. That’s not what young children and families need. I’m not for a second suggesting that’s what we have now, but you get the point.” Reynolds also says the ECC wonders whether academic institutions could be financially motivated. “We are concerned that aspects of the proposal are being promoted by academic institutions struggling to fill course placements and that this economic imperative is not appropriate or sufficient as an argument to accept the proposal.” It’s an argument that some might find hard to swallow however, and the asterisk is right there in Reynolds’ email footer: “[The ECC is] the leading body for childcare centre owners, committees and management...” Reynolds goes on to rather compromise his own argument in this respect, although he acknowledges that people might
get the wrong idea, and believes it’s a problem of perception. “We are concerned that the drive to lift the minimum qualification level will put pressure on wages without delivering any tangible benefit to service delivery. “You are quite right that the financial imperative works both ways. I attended a meeting with the deans of the universities where it was accepted that there could reasonably be a financial imperative perceived on the issue, and we agreed that more work needed to be done on the justification argument.”
Keeping them honest
The Education Council has said they don’t believe our ITE system should be examined in isolation. Although the Council chose not to comment for this story, citing a fear of prejudicing the upcoming consultation, it’s to be hoped that they’re as good as their (public) word: that they’ll address the concerns that have been raised elsewhere in education, rather than try to solve too many problems with one bullet, that doesn’t take knockon and side effects into account.
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Haere rā, Hekia JUDE BARBACK chats to former Education Minister Hekia Parata about her time heading up the education portfolio, the next big challenge for Kiwi schools, and what’s next for her.
try to think of some original and insightful questions to ask Minister Hekia Parata. After all, she has completed a spate of these “exit interviews” and I imagine she must be finding them a little tedious. I share this with her, and she laughs. There’s not a hint of boredom in her voice – the Minister sounds upbeat and genuinely pleased to talk about the education portfolio, which she has led for the past five and a half years. I reflect that this is just shy of my time editing Education Review and in some ways I feel like I have accompanied her on her journey. Like anyone taking on a new job, I wonder if she started out with any particular ambitions for the education portfolio, and whether she feels she’s achieved these, now that she’s out the other side. Since her earliest involvement with the National Party, Parata had always had her heart set on the education portfolio. “It wasn’t because I wanted to make specific changes to the system,” she says. Rather, her hankering to get involved with education was more to do with her personal experience – the opportunities afforded to her and her wider whānau by education. “And I thought, how do we make that happen for every young New Zealander?” Parata has set about this challenge very systematically. In fact, she describes herself to me as “an extremely methodic and systematic person”. She likens the task to building a house – it takes a long time to get the foundations right, before the finished product is ready to admire. “I’ve focused on all the unsexy stuff – the legislation, the data framework, the funding review, lifting the quality of teaching, fixing the leaky buildings,” she says. Her biggest concern when she approached the portfolio was that the focus was on adults. “All the discussion was on schools and provisions and not on the kids,” she says. Parata is confident that kids are at the centre now. Interestingly, she has taken a very data-driven approach to putting kids at the heart of the system. She cites achievement of the Better Public Service targets for NCEA and early childhood education as evidence. Parata dedicated most Fridays during school term time to visiting three to four schools. “At first the schools seemed a bit bemused. They’d want to give me classroom tours – which is all very lovely – but I wanted to meet with the principal, the board chair and see how kids were performing, look closely at the data,” she says.
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“How time, space and people are arranged is completely up to the schools. That is the next big challenge, I think – how do we arrange these factors to create rich, deep learning experiences for children?” I share with the Minister that my kids’ school, where I sit on the Board of Trustees, is intently focused on the data. “Yes, it’s become the norm now, but it wasn’t always like that. There was such resistance to National Standards.” I suggest that one of the big challenges appears to be how to balance this emphasis on accountability and measuring student achievement with giving teachers the freedom and flexibility to really teach. The Minister bristles ever so slightly. “That is one of my big grudges,” says Parata. “There are seven elements of National Standards and six of them are completely within the schools’ decisions. Only the seventh – reporting to the public – is imposed by the Government.” She points out that while the media publish league tables, the Government doesn’t. Parata thinks there is plenty of scope for schools to explore how to offer the best possible learning context for their communities. “How time, space and people are arranged is completely up to the schools,” she says. “That is the next big challenge, I think – how do we arrange these factors to create rich, deep learning experiences for children?” Parata is also adamant that the system should benefit every child. “It can’t be one-size-fits-all,” she says. She reflects that her two daughters learn very differently. I say the same could be said for my children, aged eight and six. “By the time your children get to secondary school, there should be a personalised pathway for them,” she says.
Parata sees the Communities of Learning as part of the answer to this. She’s realistic that the quality of teaching varies, as in any profession. The Communities of Learning will enable expertise to be shared more widely than the classroom, she says. They will create new career pathways and professional development opportunities for teachers. The Communities of Learning, while one of her biggest achievements, is also a source of frustration. She envisaged things being much further along by now. “We reached agreement with the PPTA within a month, but then of course it took a subsequent year to reach agreement with the NZEI. So because of the year’s delay, we’ve only allocated 20 per cent of the funding so far.” It feels like many things that the Minister has worked on are nearly complete, but not quite. I ask if she feels she has any unfinished business. “I feel content about leaving at this time,” she says. “I think a whole lot of stuff will come together very quickly.” She has set a “very clear programme” for her successor, Nikki Kaye, to follow on with. There is clear policy in place; funding has been secured for the digital platform to support this; the funding review is in progress. “The new Minister should just slipstream in,” she says. I ask if there will be much of a handover with her successor, but she dismisses the idea, saying that the new Minister will want to get on with it without her looking over her shoulder. So what’s next for Hekia Parata? “I shall be a very compliant back bencher for the next four months,” she says with a hint of playfulness. And after that, Parata is keen to spend some quality time with her family – her husband and her two daughters. From a commentator’s perspective, it has been a fascinating five and a half years in education. There have been low points – she describes 2012 as her “annus horribilis” – but there have been many achievements too. While not everyone has agreed with the policies and initiatives rolled out under her leadership, few could accuse the Minister of lacking in passion, drive and a desire to do the right thing by Kiwi kids. She has certainly earned her break.
Election Year Special
Tertiary education: what needs to change? Education Review asked a handful of leaders from different corners of New Zealand’s tertiary education sector which aspects of post-school education policy they think are most important for any future government to address and why. “Address policy and funding issues impeding progress” – Chris Whelan, Executive Director, Universities New Zealand
ew Zealand’s current Tertiary Education Strategy (the TES) lists six strategic priorities across areas such as ‘delivering skills for industry’, and ‘boosting achievement of Māori and Pasifika’. The best thing about the TES is that it is very high level and not overly prescriptive. It permits an appropriate level of innovation and differentiation by different tertiary education providers. The worst thing about the TES is that it is very high level and doesn’t really say how the priorities can be achieved. It doesn’t systematically identify the things that are either currently impeding performance or that are likely to do so in future. It also doesn’t identify the funding and policy settings that would make the greatest difference in enabling the tertiary education to advance government objectives. For example, in the area of boosting achievement of Māori and Pasifika, the TES notes that Māori and Pasifika are under-represented in degree-level education and incorrectly claims completion rates are below the rest of the population across the entire tertiary sector. The current TES then provides some indicators of success (such as more Māori progressing to higher levels of study from school) but no analysis as
to what Government could be doing differently to support this goal. At Universities New Zealand, we’re aware of the following statistics: In 2016, only 31.4 per cent of Māori and 30.7 per cent of Pasifika students in year 13 gained University Entrance, compared with 57.8 per cent of NZ European and 66.5 per cent of Asian students. The range of grades achieved by Māori and Pasifika when they reach university is statistically about the same as for other groups. Under SAC (Student Achievement Component) funding, all tertiary education organisations receive the same amount to teach students regardless of that student’s background and their readiness for university study. TEOs also receive an Equity Funding ‘top up’; it’s just $320 a year for each Māori and Pasifika undergraduate student. Māori and Pasifika are more likely to have barriers to overcome in reaching university and succeeding there. For example, they are more likely to have to leave home (and incur higher costs) to go to university, nearly half are the first in their families to attend university, and one third are parents. We think that the Government’s priority for the next version of the TES should be to really unpick what these sorts of facts actually reveal and to put meaningful strategies in place to address them. A TES that really advanced a priority like ‘boosting achievement of Māori and Pasifika’ should have strategies, such as supporting schools to bring University Entrance pass rates for Māori and Pasifika in line with the rest of the population. Similarly, there should be funding and policy support for schools and universities to work together to lift aspiration and preparedness for university among young Māori and Pasifika. A new TES should systematically address some of the real governmentowned policy and funding issues impeding progress in the six priority areas. However, it should continue to give institutions as much freedom as possible for them to innovate and find creative effective ways of supporting the priority areas that are relevant to their own communities and regions. Continued on next page >>
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Election Year Special
“We just need – as business as usual – the flexibility and equity that encourages the design and delivery of fit-for-purpose pathways, to get lifetime education to where it is needed, when it is needed.”
“We need better engagement between the world of education and the world of work” – Josh Williams, Chief Executive, Industry Training Federation
ince the 1980s the foundation of much education policy has been based on the idea that learning is a lifelong effort. Certainly, in the 2010s, it seems pretty clear that people are going to need to develop skills throughout dynamic, multi-faceted, and quite often precarious lives and careers. Young people typically spend 12 or 13 years at school, but will spend upwards of 50 years in the world of work. And that means I would like any future government to think hard about how we deliver more post-school education in and through workplaces – where skills are needed and simultaneously applied in the productive economy. An industrial model skills strategy, where just about all the post-school education happens in pre-employment situations is expensive and inefficient. It keeps young people stuck in a transition system, and gathering debt. More and more people gaining higher and higher qualifications does not, in and of itself, change the roles available in the labour market. And the OECD has recently told New Zealand it has the highest reported mismatch between the levels of qualifications people hold, and the job roles they then occupy. So that leads to the other thing that a government can do – although not on its own. We need better engagement between the world of education and the world of work. The future of learning is blended. Working and learning and learning and working. That means real work to connect up at the interfaces: secondary-tertiary, school to work, tertiary to tertiary, tertiary to work. Our tertiary system does not perform as well when the education is multi-mode or when more than one provider is involved, or when more than one provider type is involved. Or when the qualification is larger than what either industry or the learner needed. Governments have Ministers, and Ministers have ideas. But we don’t need more schemes and pilots and limited innovation funds to do the right thing by students. We just need – as business as usual – the flexibility and equity that encourages the design and delivery of fit-for-purpose pathways, to get lifetime education to where it is needed, when it is needed.
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“Best possible outcome for all learners” – Stanley Frielick, Director Ako Aotearoa
ko Aotearoa’s vision is ‘the best possible outcomes for all learners’. We achieve this through working with educators and organisations to enhance the effectiveness of tertiary teaching and learning practices. The tertiary system as a whole works reasonably well for a large proportion of students. However there is much more that can be done to optimise the system for student success, as noted in the recent Productivity Commission report. While this was controversial in some respects it does provide significant insights into the workings of the system. For example, we agree with the Commission that funding and quality assurance systems do not reflect government commitments to improving educational outcomes for Māori and Pacific students. Even after taking account of differences in pass rates, socioeconomic status and other variables, the success and retention rates for Māori and Pacific are still unacceptably low. We would like to see a concentrated policy focus from the next government – with appropriate funding support and incentives – to resolve this long-standing inequity in our tertiary system. Ako Aotearoa has done significant work in this space that can contribute to new policy. We were encouraged by the Commission’s view that the system is ‘coproduced’ through the collaborative efforts of students and teachers. This resonates with the meaning of ako. But we need to envisage learners as much more active participants in the system of education, with a role to play in areas such as organisational governance, quality assurance, and assessment processes. The increasing importance of student input needs to be recognised in new policy initiatives – as evidenced in our Student Leadership Summits and learner voice projects. As the report noted there is ‘considerable inertia’ in the New Zealand tertiary education system. This inertia limits innovation and reduces responsiveness to student demand. While some educators use technology for teaching in innovative ways, there is a lack of institutional capability to scale this activity. As demonstrated in several of our projects, there is considerable scope for policy development and funding that incentivises innovation at scale – with a focus on reducing costs for students, promoting open and accessible learning resources, and leveraging the affordances of new technologies to increase retention and enhance learner success. The quality of tertiary teaching is a major factor in student achievement. Ako Aotearoa plays a leading role in the debate on what counts as good and excellent teaching. We are particularly encouraged by the Commission’s recommendation that New Zealand should develop frameworks of standards for tertiary teaching to recognise and reward capability, and that incorporate effective modes of teaching for Māori and Pacific students. We are currently supporting projects to trial the UK Higher Education Academy accreditation framework and adapt this for the Aotearoa context. Supporting this recommendation with sound policy will ensure that all students benefit from an internationally benchmarked indicator of high quality teaching. In short, Ako Aotearoa would like to see that the next government implements effective policy on the issues we have highlighted. The whole sector needs to collaborate on enhancing the performance of the tertiary system for all learners. This means swiftly increasing the achievement rates for Māori and Pacific students, building institutional capability for effective and innovative teaching, and developing a more dynamic and responsive system that is focused on student success.
Election Year Special
“Barrier-free education for all” – Jonathan Gee, National President, New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA)
s the national voice of students, NZUSA is committed to improving the lives of students in tertiary education. Our vision is for a barrier-free education for all, where tertiary study is accessible to anyone and where financial support meets the needs of students going into thousands of dollars of loan debt. We believe that this starts with putting students at the heart of the system.
An effective tertiary education system is one that meets the needs of students and supports them to succeed. In order for this to happen, students need to be empowered to have real agency in the system. For example, a ministerial direction requires tertiary institutions to involve students in the setting and monitoring of Compulsory Student Services Fees (CSSF). However, there exist both good and bad practices across the sector. One of the principal problems is the lack of systems to use student voice to enhance academic quality. The Productivity Commission has also signalled the need to better empower students. Any future government should therefore explore establishing a National Centre for Student Voice to help establish best practice systems for involving students as co-producers in tertiary education.
Access to tertiary education
Tertiary education has been proven to take families out of the cycle of poverty, yet too many school leavers still do not get the opportunity to be exposed to this transformative experience. A national first-in-family scholarship will help raise participation and target under-represented communities in the sector. Prospective students are also locked out through the unsatisfactory careers advice received in secondary school. Better student information and careers education is urgently needed to allow school leavers to make well-informed choices about their future.
Tertiary study should be a way out of poverty, not a way into it. Student support is failing to keep up with rising rent prices, putting many students under significant financial distress, and therefore hindering the positive outcomes of study. With only 33 per cent of students having access to student allowances, any future government should urgently explore improving eligibility for the allowance and providing relief to rising rent costs. Student loans should be kept interest-free. The unfair 12c (in the dollar) repayment system for any graduate earning over $19,084 (just two-thirds of minimum wage) should be scrapped in favour of a more progressive system. This would reduce the number of defaulters and also stem the tide of graduates leaving for overseas in the hopes of gaining higher incomes to pay off their mounting debt. See side article on next page >>
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Postgrad Education 11
Election Year Special
“We need to identify what works best – and it won’t be one way of doing things that works everywhere for everyone – and build it up.”
Meeting the new Tertiary Education Minister Paul Goldsmith is the new Minister of Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment. Here, he shares his priorities for the sector.
ducation is one of life’s greatest gifts. Over recent decades New Zealanders have invested ever-greater funds to ensure that more and more Kiwis can extend their learning further, to gain skills for their careers and to gather knowledge about themselves, our society and the world in which we live. The tertiary sector is now a big part of the economy, not just preparing workers and citizens, but also providing research and intellectual leadership in so many fields. Academics, researchers and the administrative staff that support them help our companies innovate, they help solve national and international challenges and they deepen our understanding of the human condition. The sector is also a major export earner, sustaining the livelihoods of thousands of New Zealand families. My priority as Minister is to ensure that the sector remains strong and effective, and that it builds on its high international reputation. In New Zealand the ‘tertiary sector’ encompasses everything after school; from foundation level courses that seek to reconnect people with the education sector to trades training, universities, and
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wānanga. There are state institutions and private businesses. We are guided by the Tertiary Education Strategy, 2014–19. The Strategy has six priorities, delivering skills for industry, getting at-risk young people into a career, boosting achievement of Māori and Pasifika, improving adult literacy and numeracy, strengthening research-based institutions, growing international linkages. As a new Minister, I break down the challenge into four areas. First, at the foundation level we have developed a number of programmes in recent years designed to reconnect people with employment pathways, particularly young people who are not in education, employment or training. Youth Guarantee, Māori and Pacific Trades Training, DualPathways and several other initiatives each tackle different sectors. In this area we need to identify what works best – and it won’t be one way of doing things that works everywhere for everyone – and build it up. If programmes don’t deliver, we shut them down. Second, I’m interested in ways we can ensure that the system delivers useful skills and knowledge to the large cohort of students that enter the sector each year in a manner that remains affordable, both for students and for the country. Steadily improving the information available for prospective students, both through the careers advice that they receive in schools, and through the many websites and apps that have been developed, is important. There will never be perfect alignment between what people study and the
careers that follow, but there is considerable scope for improvement. The ongoing skills shortage in the trades, for example, suggests that the signalling to young people still isn’t quite right. The Productivity Commission’s recent report has made many suggestions designed to encourage innovation in the sector and we will be working through them in the coming months. Third, it is important for the country that our universities remain genuinely world class, both in teaching and research. International rankings aren’t perfect measures, but they carry great weight. Our system, through the PBRF, for example, currently rewards excellence. Is there more we can do, within the resources we have available to us? Fourth, the export education industry is already a major export earner for the country. There is the potential for it to grow further, delivering high-quality service jobs for Kiwis. My focus is to ensure our regulators, TEC and NZQA, continue to enforce the law and maintain quality so that our national reputation remains strong and that we concentrate in areas where there is real net value for New Zealand. The primary product on offer should be a quality education, not a pathway to residency. I’ve enjoyed getting around the sector these past few months and meeting so many Kiwis, as well as people from all over the world, who are passionate about what they do. The National Government is determined to do our best to ensure students and providers can continue to strive for excellence.
cohort entry policy
What is the best age for
The Government’s proposal to allow schools to adopt a cohort entry policy for new entrants opens the door to children starting school before they turn five. Dr JOHN BOEREBOOM evaluates the international research and experience and considers what this means for New Zealand’s youngest learners.
n New Zealand children can start school on their fifth birthday. They do not have to wait until the start of a school term or school year. However, once they turn six they must be enrolled and attend a school or kura every day. The Education Update Amendment Bill currently before the House empowers schools to adopt a cohort entry policy. The proposal would mean that children start primary school at the start of the term closest to their fifth birthdays. This opens the door for children to start school from as early as age four. This amendment has a potential impact on schools, parents and most importantly children and raises the question: what are the educational and economic benefits and pitfalls of this change in policy? For primary schools there are definite benefits to cohort entry and Dr Peter Ferrar at Cornerstone Christian School in Palmerston North feels most schools would be happy with the change. Isleworth School principal and Canterbury Primary Principals’ Association president Jeanette Shearer said cohort entry could simplify schools’ enrolment processes. Starting a new term with a cohort of children is easier on classroom programme planning than having children constantly transitioning into the school. The same cannot be said for the early childhood sector. Early Childhood Council chief executive Peter Reynolds called the cohort proposal a “funding cut by stealth”. The reduction in enrolments could potentially cost the early childhood sector $11 million if it was adopted by all schools. For parents it may be possible to return to the workforce earlier and reduce childcare costs. Parents also feel that starting school earlier gives a child a head start and a better chance of achieving academic success in later schooling. The most important stakeholder in this debate is the child. What does the research say about the best age to start school? The NZEI Te Riu Roa, the New Zealand Principals’ Federation, the School Trustees Association, the New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER) and New Zealand Kindergartens (NZKI) disagree with cohort entry. NZEI president Lynda Stuart said there was no research “to suggest group entry provides educational benefits over the current individual system”. Internationally the most common age for starting school is six. In the UK children can start school in the year of their fifth birthday and in Northern
Ireland the compulsory school starting age is four years. In Scotland children can start primary school between four-and-a-half and five-and-a-half. An international study of reading achievement in 15-year-olds across 55 countries showed no significant association between reading achievement and school entry age. In Scotland a major study measured what children know when they start school and tracked their progress to the end of year 3. The study found that the progress by the end of year 3 was independent of the age of starting school. In New Zealand, studies have compared groups of children who started reading instruction at ages five and seven. Their results show that by age 11 there was no difference in reading ability level between the two groups. Portobelo Preschools principal leader Dr Sandy Radford has
delaying a child’s first day of school for a year could have mental health benefits, including reducing the chances of hyperactivity and inattention. All of the studies reported were carried out with large samples and use robust statistical analyses. This leaves the parent wondering how these findings apply to an individual child and in particular their child. The decision of what age to enrol their child at school can be one of the most difficult decisions for a parent to make, particularly if their birthday places them in a grey zone. If they are too young, will they be able to cope at school? Will they suffer academically if their enrolment is delayed? A typical scenario discussed in the kindy carparks throughout the country would be whether to send little Johnny or Mere to school at age four or let them play for another year and develop
Data ... shows that the social and emotional maturity of the child is as important as their cognitive ability to count and recognise letters and shapes as a predictor of future achievement. expressed concern that ”starting school before age five would hinder children’s cognitive and social development and change the culture of new entrant classrooms”. Clearly the educational benefits to starting school early are debatable, but are there any negative consequences from forcing students to engage with formal instruction at too early an age? Forcing a child to engage with formal education at too early an age can encourage negative attitudes to reading and mathematics instruction, which may persist throughout schooling. This is particularly evident for boys. There is increasing evidence that points towards the importance of play in young children’s development, and the value of an extended period of playful learning before the start of formal schooling. New Zealand has a world-class early childhood curriculum, Te Whāriki, which “is underpinned by a vision for children who are competent and confident learners and communicators, healthy in mind, body and spirit, secure in their sense of belonging”. Professor Thomas Dee, from Stanford University, found that many of the inattentive or hyperactive behaviours could stem from starting school too early. He said delaying the start of school could reduce hyperactivity and inattention in the classroom. This is supported by a recent Danish and American study, which found that
their personal and social skills in a less structured environment. Melbourne education consultant Kathy Walker says, “Parents can’t be expected to make a completely independent decision on whether their child is ready to start school.” It is all about the school-readiness of the individual child. Data gathered by the PIPS school entry assessment provided by the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring at Canterbury University shows that the social and emotional maturity of the child is as important as their cognitive ability to count and recognise letters and shapes as a predictor of future achievement. Under the new policy, parents would be able to decide whether their children enter formal education at age four or five. Clearly the decision as to when to start school is unique for each child and many children will gain long-term educational benefits if their enrolments are delayed. So where can parents turn for advice? The child’s preschool teacher can provide valuable advice on school readiness because they observe the child in a learning environment every day and watch their interactions with other children and adults. Dr John Boereboom is the director of the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring at the University of Canterbury.
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The “Kardashian effect”: in defence of single-gender education Part one of a two-part series examining both the single-gender and co-educational environments.
In New Zealand, single-gender education is a choice parents can make – not a common scenario in comparable state education systems. As the debate continues to burn in the US, JAYLAN BOYLE talks to two principals of single-gender schools about why they believe their school environment is a force for good – both cite reasons that might not be immediately obvious.
he debate over the relative merits of single-gender versus coeducation doesn’t get very heated in New Zealand. While there might be a bit of back and forth whenever a new study is published comparing the performance of students in both environments, proponents of coeducation say the missing bit in single-sex schools isn’t results, it’s the lack of rounded development in kids who don’t learn how to relate to the opposite sex, and must learn the ropes when they’re already on the verge of adulthood. Debate is far hotter in the US, where gendersegregated classes within coeducational schools are back in vogue following a ruling that clarifies their legality. The US debate has focused overwhelmingly on academic performance. Advocates of single-sex education point to a number of studies showing that both genders perform better academically within a gender-segregated environment, but opponents say that’s a simplistic conclusion that refuses to account for statistical bias, such as the undeniable fact that single-gender schooling, both here and around the Western world, is predominantly a rich people thing: in New Zealand, just over 23 per cent of our 116 single-gender state and integrated schools are decile 10. That percentage declines steeply across the lower deciles, right down to 1.7 per cent at decile 1. We know that socioeconomics plays a huge part in student achievement, and therefore, at the very least, it would seem that more scrutiny is needed. Another interesting point around the influence of gender segregation on student achievement: back in the 1990s there was a similar surge in enthusiasm for single-gender learning in the US. That uptick of 20 years ago makes for an interesting comparison. Before the turn of the millennium, there was lots of anguish going around that girls were being disadvantaged in coeducation;
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stymied and cowed by aggressive boys who disrupted and overshadowed their classmates of the supposedly less forthright gender. Fast forward to the current US debate, and boys have become the marginalised party: as education moves towards a focus that tries to prepare learners for a collaborative world, as teaching practice becomes more nuanced and moves away from high-stakes competitive knowledge regurgitation, there is rising panic that boys are being left behind. According to current scholarship, the numbers justify the alarm. If one accepts this widening disparity between the academic performance of the genders, then it would seem to follow that single-gender schools might have the answer: “Let us educate your children in an environment that allows us to concentrate on the learning needs of boys and girls, away from boys and girls”, say proponents. Opponents might question how that helps to prepare kids for the gender reality of the world, and might also say that education hasn’t become more collaborative because it’s fashionable: modern education is a response to the demands of modern work, and modern life.
Beneath the surface
What’s striking when speaking to principals of both single-gender and coeducational schools, is that none believe their model to be just ‘better’ than the other. Principals of both stripes, who more often than not have considerable experience on the other side of the fence, say they believe it’s important that parents and students have the choice, and that different environments suit different kids. Tracy Walker is the principal of Waitaki Girls’ High School, Oamaru; a town that’s in an interesting position: both state schools are single gender (the other being Waitaki Boys’ High School), and the only coeducational school in the area is St Kevin’s College, a Catholic integrated school.
Walker says that New Zealand should consider itself lucky that parents have options. “I’m not going to say that it’s better, because I can see both sides of the argument. I’ve taught in co-ed for 20 years, but I think it’s really important that we have the option of single gender. “As principal of a state girls’ school, I think that we can specialise in gender-specific education for girls, and I can see the benefit of that. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think that there were benefits to [single-gender education].” Further north, David Bovey, rector of Palmerston North Boys’ High School agrees. “I would never say that single-sex education is better – the fundamental issue is choice, I believe. It simply depends on the child. “We’ve got boys here who have brothers who go to co-ed schools in town because their parents have decided that that’s what suits their sons.” As mentioned, one of the key concerns voiced by US opponents of segregated learning is that “the world isn’t gender divided, so why should our schools be?” The implication is that young people of both genders are disadvantaged by a lack of contact with the opposite sex, and don’t get the chance to construct an identity that includes interaction between boys and girls.
A related argument, and one that’s close to the bone in New Zealand right now, is the fear that single-gender schools create an environment in which gender stereotypes are reinforced in a vacuum, right when young people are forming their views of the world. Opponents of single-gender schooling would say that boys’ schools are fertile ground for the perpetuation of misogyny, and girls’ schools allow young women to develop a more two-dimensional attitude to the opposite sex than they would have otherwise.
Both Walker and Bovey say that although it may seem counterintuitive, single-sex schools can actually help both genders to become more developmentally rounded, because the opposite sex isn’t there to play up to. They both seem to be saying that we’re looking at the issue the wrong way around: it’s the presence of the opposite sex that can reinforce gender stereotypes, at a vulnerable time in young lives. “It’s about having breathing room to start becoming men and women,” says Walker. “But at the same time we’re creating a space where kids are shielded from the pressures of gender, for a while at least. Modern thinking around singlegender schools talks about young men and women constructing an identity on their own terms. “I think there are a lot of similarities between teenagers of both genders, but there are also a lot of differences. I think girls are under enormous pressure, around sexual stereotyping, role models in the media – the ‘Kardashian effect’, as I call it. “We are able to put all our energies and focus into working with girls, to help break down those stereotypes – to examine them, break them open, and break them down, and actually say to these girls ‘is Kim Kardashian a role good role model?’” Walker also says that in her experience it’s easy to fall into grievously outdated gender role expectations in a coeducational environment. “Having spent 20 years in co-ed schools, an observation I’ve made is that [in a single-gender scenario] girls are more willing to put their hands up. I found that, for example, in a coeducational environment, boys were often expected to do the technical tasks. Without that expectation, our girls know that they need to learn to do the lighting and the sound for a school production, for example, that they have to step up. They’re not going to sit back and wait for the boys to do those things.” While David Bovey acknowledges that a lack of face time with girls could mean that boys may
develop communication skills at a slower rate than those co-educated, he also says that boys are free to be themselves and get involved at Palmerston North Boys’ High School. “What we keep finding is that we seem to have boys who are more likely to get involved in those sorts of things, particularly in the areas of music and drama, where boys are sort of putting themselves out there in what can be an uncomfortable experience for them when girls are around. They’re less likely to put themselves ‘at risk’ if you like when they’re surrounded by girls.”
Collaboration and communication
Both principals also point out that there’s plenty they can do in collaboration with other single gender schools, and that we should remember that this isn’t the 1950s: thanks to the pervasiveness of modern communication, there is plenty of interaction in the lives of young people these days. “It’s our responsibility,” says Bovey, “to work alongside the community and with parents to make sure that gender stereotyping isn’t something that boys leave with after five years surrounded by testosterone. “To some degree, [opponents of single-gender schools] probably have a point. But I believe young people these days have so much more interaction with the opposite sex than they did when I was growing up. They seem to be far more socially involved these days, and social media plays a role there. Of course, social media has probably caused as many problems for schools as it has benefited kids.” Speaking of social media, the public perception of single-gender schooling has not been helped by recent instances of shocking misogyny being disseminated by boys’ school students on social media. Bovey agrees that it’s not a great look, but sees coincidence where others have talked of ‘lad culture’.
“I think that there but for the grace of God goes every school with boys in the country. The fact that there’s been a couple of single-sex schools in the media for the wrong reasons lately isn’t a good look, is it? “The other thing we’ve got to consider is that those sorts of comments might previously have been said by a group of mates in the playground and not gone any further. Now they’re out in the open, because young men make poor choices about what they put on social media. That just exacerbates the situation. “I would also say that those young men would never go within cooee of saying those sorts of things to someone’s face. They’re young men with incredibly poor judgement, and they’ve made some terrible comments that they believed were amusing. That’s exactly the sort of thing that we’ve got to make sure that we’re stamping out.”
Despite the fact that research has pointed to far more similarities than there are differences between boys and girls, studies have pointed to the fact that boys and girls apparently learn differently. Walker says her opinion on the matter has been formed by the evidence of her eyes and ears, over a long teaching career. “They’re all teenagers, and there are similarities of course. But there are also gender-specific differences. For example, I think girls enjoy working in that collaborative model, whereas boys often enjoy risk-taking or individual pursuits. [At WGHS] we can tailor our teaching, and make the most of the way that girls learn. “Girls are quite team-minded, I think, and they do enjoy influencing each other; that’s my observation at least. So I think that being able to nurture those things in a conducive environment is a positive.” See side article on next page >>
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Postgrad Education 15
Single gender schools
What do the kids think? Education Review asked students what they think about the pros and cons of single gender education.
From Waitaki Girls’ High School: Would you have chosen a single gender school if the choice had been entirely yours?
“To be honest, I didn’t really want to because it would be my first time going to an all-girls school, and I just couldn’t stop thinking about whether the girls would judge me on my appearance, or if they would be nice and kind, or the complete opposite.” – Utumalama Latavao. “Since I went to a rural primary school, we heard many positive things about students who had been at my primary school and had gone on to Waitaki Girls’ which appealed to me and my parents. Both of my parents also went to Waitaki schools. – Renata Burnett.
What do you think is great about being at an allgirls school?
PNBHS students (L-R) Harrison Phyn (year 10); Cail Terry (year 11); Jackson Scully (year 13); La-Quahn Matakatea (year 10).
From Palmerston North Boys’ High School: Would you have chosen a single gender school if the choice had been entirely yours?
“I chose not to follow the rest of the family and go co-ed. However, the choice was also influenced by the distance from where I lived to PNBHS, as well as the fact the majority of the kids I went to primary school with were going to one school.” “Yes, I would have. It was cool sharing with the opposite gender, but here at Palmerston North Boys’ it allows you to be more confident. I have only just started here and all my friends here I can refer to as brothers.”
What do you think is great about being at an all-boys school?
“One of the positives I have noticed about an all boys’ school is the level of competition: as boys we all have a natural desire to compete, and by being at an all boys’ school we are matched up with high competition.” “I like the discipline and structure and less pressure to perform in front of the opposite gender.” “I think the classes are a lot more comfortable here in a crowd of boys. It makes it a lot easier to be yourself.”
“I like how you can be yourself and turn up to school without caring what you look like. I find that my friends who attend co-ed schools spend at least 30 minutes in front of the mirror in the morning, worrying if they look good enough to go to school.” – Georgie Laurenson. “I really enjoy the social and academic aspects of being at an allgirls school, because of the way that we work together to help each other out, without distractions.” – Renata Burnett. “The cool thing about being at an all-girls school is that we are all girls, so we can be ourselves. We don’t have the pressure of making sure we look good all the time, because there are no boys around. Also I think being at an all-girls school helps me and others strive and push more to do things to do the best of our ability.” – Utumalama Latavao.
Do you think you’re just as able to get on with the opposite gender as someone who goes to a co-ed school?
“As I have gotten older I have found it much easier as I wasn’t so shy and there were more social events with boys popping up, so I got used to getting on with them pretty easily. I think that co-ed students possibly do have a slight advantage as they are used to being around the opposite gender all the time. – Georgie Laurenson. “I believe so, yes, because the majority of us participate in events outside of school that involve the opposite gender. I also take the bus to school and have a class at Waitaki Boys’ so I feel able to get on with the opposite gender as I would if I went to a co-ed school.” – Renata Burnett. “Yes and even better because you do not have as much pressure and you are more open and confident to say things you possibly couldn’t if you were a co-ed school.” – Utumalama Latavao.
What do you think might be not so great?
“With the growing rate of social media, teens are less interactive with each other so for teens at a same-sex school they can be sheltered from how the other sex really is, which I believe is harmful to the development of relationships in this day and age.” “I think a boys-only school is not so great because we don’t have as much experience with young women/peers, especially if you (depending on upbringing) have come from a small country school or board at a boys-only school, you may socially struggle with girls your age. This may take a toll on your future.”
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WGHS students Georgie Laurenson, Renata Burnett, principal Tracy Walker, and student Utumalama Latavao.
Surviving ERO: how to get the most from your ERO evaluation A visit from the Education Review Office (ERO) can sometimes send schools into a panic. So we asked ERO’s Acting Chief Review Officer NICHOLAS POLE to give some helpful advice and guidance on how ERO works with early learning services and schools. His key tip: don’t be scared – just be prepared. What does ERO do?
Our role is to independently evaluate and report on the quality of education and care for learners in schools and early learning services. Since ERO was established in 1989, we have moved from being ‘inspectors’, when our job was auditing to ensure compliance – to an organisation that engages in a collaborative evaluation process, with the goal to ensure positive learning outcomes for all of New Zealand’s children and young people. Each year, we evaluate about 800 schools and 1,300 early learning services. As well as evaluating in mainstream education settings, we also undertake home-school evaluations at the request of the Ministry of Education. Our Māori medium evaluation team, Te Uepū ā-Motu, evaluate kura, kōhanga reo and immersion early childhood services.
Why does ERO evaluate early learning services and schools?
The primary aim of ERO evaluations is to ensure that learners, their parents and whānau, can have confidence in our education system. We want to know that the components that comprise our education system are performing well and are adapting to a rapidly changing world. We are interested in how equitable education outcomes for all learners are being achieved.
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We publish all of our evaluation reports online because we want parents, whānau, families and the wider community to know about the quality of teaching and learning at early learning services and schools. Making reports easily accessible invites parents to take an interest and ask questions, which in turn contributes to the educational success of children.
How do I prepare for an ERO visit?
To get the most out of your evaluation, it’s important that centre managers, leaders, staff and boards of trustees have discussions before we visit. These discussions will cover your strategic plans, internal evaluation processes and outcomes, and any issues specific to your context. During the visit, your early learning service or school and our evaluation team will work together to ensure focused, considered discussions on matters that are important to your situation, and most importantly, to your learners. Your staff, supported by leaders and managers, need to be clear about the direction you are taking and your plans for the future. While our evaluations are context specific and tailored to your needs, it is safe to assume we will focus on what has been achieved since the last time we evaluated your service or school and the culture of improvement you are building.
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What’s available to help me prepare?
For schools, we use the School Evaluation Indicators, which focus on our increasing understanding of how schools can improve, and the vital role of evaluation in that process. These Indicators guide schools with their internal evaluation. The indicators are key domains that work together to provide focus on accelerating student achievement. The indicators, and the associated resource, Effective School Evaluation, encourage schools to reflect and assess what they are doing well and to identify those areas for improvement. Because effective internal evaluation is so critical, we have adapted this resource so it can be applied to early learning services as well. All of these resources are available on our website, where you will find a wide range of material to support your practice, and prepare for your evaluation. We have specific methodologies and indicators for various types of early learning service. In early learning we are interested in the quality of children’s education and care and we evaluate through the lens of the early childhood curriculum, Te Whāriki. He Pou Tātaki comprises of the framework and indicators we use for our evaluations of early learning services. This resource reflects the changes seen in the early childhood sector, as well as changes to our own practice – where internal and external evaluation meet. Positive learning outcomes for children are at the heart of He Pou Tātaki. For immersion settings, we have worked closely with Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust, Te Runanga o
Ngā Kura Kaupapa Māori o Aotearoa and Ngā Kura ā Iwi o Aotearoa to develop specialised evaluation processes and methodologies that reflect their unique philosophies.
What do I need to do?
We provide plenty of notice of an upcoming evaluation – usually between four and six weeks. At that point we request some information about your compliance with legal obligations, including child and student safety. Early learning services complete a report, while schools are asked to consider our reflection questions. The reflection questions are intended to provide an overview of your school’s internal evaluation findings. There is no need to write down formal responses to these questions – but be prepared to discuss your reflection with us. We want to use your school’s data, and the findings of your internal evaluation to design an external evaluation that is a good fit for your school’s context. A discussion will take place on the first day of our visit to enable this. Before we visit, one of our team leaders will contact you to go over the process, focus of the evaluation, and to answer any questions you have.
What’s the process?
During our visit to your early learning service or school, we talk to the board of trustees, senior leaders, teachers and support staff. We may speak to children, parents and whānau and even the wider community too.
ERO visits It’s natural to be apprehensive at the beginning of an evaluation but it is all about mindset – your ERO evaluation provides an opportunity! It is the chance to have an external lens applied to your internal evaluation, and while it can be challenging, feedback tells us the process is useful and stimulating. Our evaluation conversations can also confirm good practice, and support you to establish priorities and create positive momentum for change. When we visit your early learning service or school we will be interested in your account of what is happening, for whom, and why. We will initiate conversations that help us gauge what is working well, and where improvements can be made. We’ll look at documents you provide for evidence that shows the practices in place are working. We want you to talk us through your internal evaluation processes. When done effectively, these processes enable trustees, leaders, teachers, parents, families, whānau and the wider community to better understand: how individual learners and groups of learners are performing in relation to valued outcomes how improvement actions have impacted on learner outcomes and what difference is being made what needs to be changed and what further action needs to be taken
primary, intermediate and area schools. We ask how effectively does this school respond to Māori and other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration? This leads to conversations about what achievement looks like in their school and what is being done to address any in-school disparity. We also focus on the organisational conditions that contribute to or inhibit student achievement for all learners.
Our evaluation process is designed to be as open as possible. There should be no surprises.
What happens next? the patterns and trends in outcomes over time what kinds of practices are likely to make the most difference for diverse learners and in what contexts the extent to which the improvements achieved are good enough in terms of the school’s vision, values, strategic direction, goals and equity and excellence priorities. In early learning settings, we look at the service’s curriculum provision, assessment processes, and how well staff are noticing, recognising and responding to children’s learning interests and needs. Over the past year, our evaluators have been focusing on the achievement of Māori and other learners in need of acceleration by asking a specific evaluative question in
Soon after our visit, we present our initial findings to you. This generates a discussion about the findings and what they mean. Within 20 working days of the evaluation ending, we will send you a draft evaluation report, which you can feedback on. We then finalise the report and publish it. Our evaluation process is designed to be as open as possible. There should be no surprises. Our evaluations draw on a wide range of information, gleaned from data and the conversations we initiate. Evaluators want to gather all relevant information and discuss their findings with the school as they emerge during the evaluation. More indepth information is available at www.ero.govt.nz or by contacting email@example.com.
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why mentoring matters in teaching Drs BRENDA SERVICE and KATE THORNTON discuss what makes an effective mentoring or critical friend relationship and what forms of mentoring offer possibilities for teacher professional learning. They examine the emphasis on mentoring in a master’s programme for aspiring principals.
oth mentoring relationships and critical friendships have the potential to be a special, reciprocal, arrangement between (at least) two people who work together to set professional goals and achieve them. As such they can develop a greater capacity for the critical reflection or selfevaluation that leads to profound learning. They are therefore approaches that are deserving of serious consideration for the ongoing professional development at all stages of teachers’ careers. Mentoring, the more familiar term in education, has been described as a relationship that involves supporting, motivating, shaping, guiding and encouraging; and that helps a mentee reach their potential. It is recognised as an important strategy for supporting new teachers as well as aspiring and experienced leaders. However, it is also an effective leadership approach that enhances professional learning and practice for all. While instances of effective mentoring occur at all levels of our education system, apart from formal mentoring relationships as part of the teacher certification process and some leadership learning and development programmes, most mentoring is informal. So what makes an effective mentoring or critical friend relationship and what forms offer possibilities for teacher professional learning?
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Critical friendships put into practice
Traditionally, mentoring in education has involved a less experienced teacher working with a more experienced teacher who provided advice and support. Much research investigating mentoring in education has focused on the benefits for the mentees. In more current understanding of mentoring, however, there is a focus on reciprocal relationship and benefits characterised by learning conversations that stress the importance of all parties and participants being acknowledged, sustained, and voiced. As a result, mentoring is seen increasingly as a learning partnership in which mentors also benefit. It can take many forms, including peer mentoring, group mentoring, and critical friendships. Critical friend relationships also offer a framework for critical reflection and professional growth. Critical friends are colleagues from either within or outside your own organisation who provide another perspective on your practice. The inherent tension between the roles of critic and friend has been discussed, with the conclusion that the concept is more complex than the simple balance between the two potentially contrasting roles, as it is the combination of these roles that provides richness. Like mentors, critical friend relationships should be based on trust, honesty and mutual respect, and be supportive and non-judgemental. Critical friends use effective questioning to encourage reflection, hence have the potential to strengthen teacher practice. In both mentoring and critical friend processes it is questioning that drives the process of discovering new knowledge, as mentors or critical friends use questions to explore, challenge and extend knowledge and trigger the process of critical reflection. It is therefore necessary to establish trust and a formal process that acknowledges the relevance – and gives permission for – challenging questions.
Mentoring a key component of a master’s programme
The roles of critical friends and/or mentors who ask provocative questions, are advocates for each other’s success, and provide data to be examined, are exemplified in Victoria University of Wellington’s Master of Secondary School Leadership (MSSL) programme. In this programme the students, who are aspiring principals, shadow experienced principals for a week. Shadowing is an on-the-job learning, career development, and leadership development intervention. It involves the learner staying close and unobtrusive (like a shadow), over a period of time to find out about the job. It also provides an opportunity for the observer to reflect, and when appropriate, ask questions that explore what has been observed. In this way the principals being shadowed fulfil the role of a traditional mentor offering advice and guidance. However, in the daily debriefing component of the programme, both the experienced principal and the student act as critical friends or reciprocal mentors to each other. In this session the principals and the students discuss, review and reflect the principal’s actions during the day. The host principals invite questions and challenge the students to make sense of what they had observed. These questions prompt critical reflection – a powerful basis for profound learning. In turn, the experienced principals having to explain their actions and answer the student questions provides an opportunity to critically reflect on, justify and articulate the thinking behind them. Whether categorised as a critical friend or mentoring relationship, this is an example of a relationship between two people with learning and development as its purpose. Developing staff capacity is a priority for all educational leaders. By introducing a formal process for staff to participate in mentoring and/or critical friend relationships, educational leaders can introduce a systematic and deliberate approach to ongoing professional learning. Brenda Service and Kate Thornton are from Victoria University of Wellington’s Faculty of Education.
Digital data: a leadership tool or big
brother watching you? Dr LOUISE STARKEY’s research into how schools use data revealed inconsistencies among schools’ attitudes, approaches and capabilities and identified room for the development of data expertise across New Zealand schools.
chools are awash with digital data. Information about students, administration, resources and events are actively and passively gathered through learning management systems, CCTV, written reports, surveys and forms. Data arrives at school with the child; it is added to and analysed in multiple ways during their enrolment and used as the basis of reports to parents, boards of trustees and the Ministry of Education. A Victoria University Spearheading our Digital Futures research group has been exploring the use of data by school leaders. The research has found that the use of data reflects the current political context and follows international trends, but with a unique New Zealand twist. The educational reforms of 1989 saw a model of competition and choice being introduced, in which each school managed their own resources. The evidence on which parents could make a choice was limited to published league tables of qualification success of secondary schools and the assigned decile rating of schools. Therefore, choice was made by reputation and location with little correlation to quality of education. Schools were self-managing, with the Ministry of Education having a hands-off approach unless financial mismanagement was evident. From the late 1990s through to 2010 there was an international trend of standardisation. During this time the Ministry of Education led the development of National Curriculum and Marautanga, the asTTle tool and international PISA testing began. The spotlight was turning to comparative measures of how well students were achieving. In examining this, there was evidence that groups of students were underachieving and initiatives such as Te Kotahitanga were introduced and funded through the Ministry of Education. Having standardised measures of achievement has enabled comparisons and target setting. The focus on assessment for learning turned to assessment for accountability in 2010 with the requirement that primary schools report their national standards data to the Ministry of Education followed by the 2013 Public Services Target of 85 per cent of 18-year-olds having gained NCEA Level 2 or above by 2017.
In New Zealand we have avoided the use of mass common testing or punitive consequences that have been introduced in parts of the US and UK. However, the hands-off approach had ended as the ease of gathering and synthesising digital data has enabled the Ministry of Education to monitor national and local achievement patterns. It was in this context that the research was carried out to explore the use of digital data by 16 school leaders in primary and secondary contexts across New Zealand. Two key findings were identified. Firstly, while some leaders saw the collection and use of achievement data as a time-consuming and frustrating compliance requirement, others considered it primarily as the basis for strategic planning and reflection. Within this, a tension exists for school leaders who would like to use data to track individual and cohort academic growth and engagement in school and use a range of data for strategic decision making, and the policy requirement of reporting time-bound student achievement outcome data. This policy appears to incentivise the collection and analysis of simple codified learning data, while a more complex analysis of a range of data generated at the school level could be used to inform strategic planning. This is hampered by what the tools can do that are available for analysis. Secondly, the capability and capacity to analyse and use data varied amongst school leaders and
teachers. The leaders in larger schools, including the secondary schools, appeared to have access to this expertise and had found time to work with the data compared to those in smaller schools. This apparent inequity was compounded by the competitive market model where each school chooses and purchases their own school management system which constitutes a significant ongoing expense for smaller schools especially if they seek to tailor the system to meet their own requirements. The available systems were reported as not meeting the needs of kura kaupapa without adaptation. The unique self-managing context within New Zealand educational policy could be strengthened with enhanced tools to enable sophisticated strategic analysis of data and supporting the development of data expertise across schools. This could be a better future than one that is focused on accountability and compliance with the feeling that big brother is watching you. A detailed research report from the Spearheading our Digital Futures research group is available online or DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.27374.82247. Dr Louise Starkey is a senior lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington’s Faculty of Education.
Go to educationreview.co.nz
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Disobedient Teaching: a review JUDE BARBACK believes it is the rich, personal experience interwoven with big-picture thinking that sets Disobedient Teaching: Surviving and creating change in education by Welby Ings apart from other books of its ilk.
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delayed writing this book review. ‘Write review on Disobedient Teaching’ headed up my to-do list for weeks, yet I found other articles to write, other editorial matters to which to attend. The truth behind my procrastination was simply that I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to do this remarkable book justice. The gist of Disobedient Teaching is this: sometimes you have to rock the boat in order to escape dissatisfaction with the status quo. I’m not really a boat rocker, but I aspire to be one and I admire those who are. Welby Ings, the author, is a boat rocker – or as he describes it, productively and professionally disobedient. And the book takes on another layer of authenticity as the reader learns more about its author. Ings couldn’t read or write until he was 14 years old. He was expelled from high school. He was suspended from teacher training. After his probation year of teaching he was refused certification and resigned. Yet he returned to teaching and went on to receive the inaugural Prime Minister’s Supreme Award for Teaching Excellence. He became one of the architects of the New Zealand technology curriculum. He has created short films that have been shortlisted for the Oscars and screened at Cannes. He was awarded New Zealand’s first PhD in creative practice. He is a professor of graphic design at AUT. The book is split into six parts – change-ability, creativity, assessment, passion, the business of success, and influencing change – and in each of these, Ings inspires educators to push against the boundaries of the system in order to enable real change. As he states, “The premise of this book is that you can change things from the inside. If a whole system can’t be reformed, infect what you can with positive initiatives.” But actually, Disobedient Teaching does more than just inspire – although I think this is the book’s strength – additionally it looks at the doing, providing tools for teachers’ toolkits, and countless examples that teachers could adapt to their own practice. Yet it is not a how-to book, either. Discussions around educational research, political ideologies, education policies and hierarchical structures within schools are interwoven into its pages. Take his treatment of assessment, for example. Drawing on international and national evidence and his personal experience, Ings has much to say on the subject – mainly how damaging the effects of over-testing can be. He describes how at one end of the spectrum “unfaltering excellence” can prevent students from learning beyond a certain point, while at
the other, years of “not achieved” grades can cause students to disengage from learning altogether. Many of the arguments he makes will provoke nods of agreement among educators. But the book does more than just affirm popular criticisms – it arms teachers with tools to make a difference in their own sphere of influence. It discusses the importance of self-evaluation, of how to reduce the impact of marking, and the need for quality reporting as ways to be effective within a system that pays homage to assessment. Ings describes his frustration at the small rectangle on the school report template for comment as insufficient for truly communicating a child’s progress and aspirations. He would therefore send a handwritten letter home with each child, focusing on their quirks and progress and how they were learning. It was these letters that parents would bring with them to report evenings, proud that someone had noticed their child’s acerbic wit or their creative excuse making or their kindness. As Ings points out, “Marks and grade point averages do not engender such things. What matters is the care one human being takes to talk about another.” Throughout the book, he illustrates his points with examples from his own experience, either as a student or a teacher. They are sure to resonate with anyone who has been either – which is us all. Take the part, for example, where Ings discusses how his English teacher, Miss Jull, demonstrated such passion in teaching poetry that she left lasting impressions on her students. My seventh form English teacher, Mr Harris, was made in the same mould; I can well remember walking into a pitch black classroom with stormy thunder noises blasting, and him screaming “gothic” in an effort to illustrate the blustery moors of Wuthering Heights. “The wonderful thing is her passion still exists,” states Ings of Miss Jull. “She is replicated in schools up and down the country. She is the music teacher who turns up to discuss the compositions of Rimsky-Korsakov in a bumblebee suit, or the guy who jumps on science desks to demonstrate nuclear reaction… these are the teachers who leave the marks… and they are the most valuable and untrusted resource in the education system.” Ings clearly rates caring and passion highly when it comes to teaching and these traits shine through every chapter in some guise. In another passage that captivated me, he describes another teacher, Miss Bavine, who showed great compassion. Being openly gay at Te Awamutu College in the early 1970s meant Ings was sadly and inevitably a victim of bullying. Sensing the hard time he was having, Miss Bavine went out
… these are the teachers who leave the marks… and they are the most valuable and untrusted resource in the education system.” of her way to protect him and reassure him that it was okay to be different and that “it will be okay”. Ings describes her as “the essence of what we must always enable and believe in”. It is clear he has gone on to embody these traits as a teacher himself, going to huge lengths for his students. In one example, he gets a class of 12-year-olds to write letters to their future selves, and then eight years later tracks down every student all over the world to deliver their letters. In another, he describes how he helped hide Pacific Island students in a space beneath a trapdoor in the woodwork room during the immigration crack down in the 1980s. Ings maintains that for learning to be truly transformative, it needs to be experienced emotionally as well as intellectually. He shares the story of how he taught his intermediate social studies class about prejudice. Ings felt the provided resources on the Jews in Warsaw and the blacks in America were a world away from the kids’ world, aka 1980s Hamilton. So, using the newly popular term ‘nerd’ as a starting point, he arranged for the class to have a ‘nerd party’. Dressed in ridiculous outfits (think underpants over jeans, socks and sandals, bow ties and running shorts), the kids turned up at school, only to be told that instead of a party they would be walking the length of the main street, on their own, dressed in their nerdy attire. The stares, insults and abuse the kids received left them with a profound understanding of what prejudice really felt like – and the historical experiences they studied thereafter took on a much deeper meaning. It is hard to pigeonhole Disobedient Teaching. By Ings’ admission, it isn’t intended to be a teaching manual or a self-help book or a treatise on New Zealand education, yet it is all these things. As Ings states, “Perhaps you might describe it as an arm around the shoulder of people who try to change things for the better. Perhaps someone like you.” ‘Disobedient Teaching: Surviving and creating change in education’ by Welby Ings is published by Otago University Press and can be ordered from Nationwide Book Distributors www.nationwidebooks.co.nz.
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the divide between primary classroom teachers and senior managers SARAH AIONO of Longworth Education suggests that a successful play-based learning environment requires a level of skill by teachers not easily understood by school management.
he use of play as a teaching and learning tool in the primary classroom is growing momentum in New Zealand. Teachers of children in years 1–3 are now recognising the need to respond to their students in a more developmentally appropriate manner at a time when more and more children are struggling to fit the mould that once was the traditional classroom. Yet many of these teachers report a key barrier to effectively implementing a learning-throughplay approach in their classroom to be that of their school management team and colleagues. Principals and senior managers question teachers
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on their ability to meet targets for identified at-risk learners, to report against the National Standards, to forward plan appropriately, and to respond to parents who air their concerns when faced with a child exclaiming that they went to school and ‘played all day’. The use of play as a pedagogical tool is misunderstood by those unfamiliar with the research base supporting its use in schools. For many managers, the first thought that comes to mind when a teacher announces the return to play in the classroom may be in fact some wild re-enactment of a Home Alone scene, while the classroom teacher sits in their office quietly
checking their Facebook account. This could not be further from the truth. The art of teaching through play requires skill and professional expertise often underutilised in our classroom teachers. Teaching and learning through play looks very different from the ‘free play’ images often flashing before the eyes of principals and parents alike. Teachers working within these environments must skilfully walk a fine line between teacher-directed activities and childdirected learning (Robinson & Aronica, 2015). The strategic use of direct teaching is one key feature of a play-based learning environment and yet it is often abandoned first as teachers new
The process of embedding effective learningthrough-play pedagogy within a primary school environment is challenging for both the classroom teacher and their senior managers.
to the pedagogy explore the concepts around child-directed play. Typically, teachers tend to swing to the opposite end of the pendulum, abandoning all routines and rules, and direct teaching. This ‘unassisted’ play amounts to the types of ‘free play’ many think of when the use of play in schools is described to them. Children engaged in play in this format do not typically make significant progress in their learning, as their exposure to new knowledge and skills is only limited to opportunities presented to them in their play by their peers, who often do not have a different knowledge set of their own (Alfieri, Brooks, Aldrich, & Tenenbaum, 2011). Yet, key to successful learning-throughplay pedagogy is the balance a teacher provides between child-led play and the deliberate acts of teaching during the school day – knowing when to gift knowledge to students at the point of meaningful absorption and understanding and when to stay silent for fear of interrupting the magic of the play (HirshPasek & Galinkoff, 2011). The ‘spray-andwalk-away’ technique requires a high level of skill by teachers not easily understood by school management. A second misunderstood strategy used within play-based settings is the art of provocation. Many teachers, when coming to terms with play being student-directed and student-chosen will then step back from any teacherinitiated activities whatsoever. The use of provocation allows a new set of eyes on an event, resource or phenomenon. It is also a useful tool to encourage children to explore areas of the curriculum they would not otherwise do so within their play (Johnson, 2015). Teachers in a play-based learning environment must continually observe and reflect on the play before them, knowing when to introduce provocations that may serve to lift the cognitive and social skills being explored within the play itself while ensuring that they do not take over or commandeer the direction of the play at all. This collaborative learning relationship is far removed from the ‘free-play’ approaches and demands a knowledge of The New Zealand Curriculum and/or Te Whāriki that many
classroom teachers do not have in the current teaching climate. Traditionally classroom teachers establish clear achievement objectives and learning intentions focused around targeted areas of the curriculum. They assess pre-knowledge, teach to these intentions and then reassess post-unit. This allows teachers to teach ‘to’ the curriculum, managing the content and knowledge shared during the unit of work. Teaching through play requires teachers to draw on their observational skills and curriculum knowledge in order to identify the learning occurring within the children’s play. Children, through their play, will naturally inquire about the world around them (Gray, 2013). The New Zealand Curriculum provides a freedom for teachers to be able to connect the learning occurring in front of them with not only the learning areas but the key competencies, values and principles of this document. The challenge for teachers new to the use of play is to know what learning they are looking at within the play; to be able to correctly document this, analyse their observations against the curriculum document, and articulate the learning clearly and concisely to both parents and management alike. This approach to the planning and assessment of play against the wider school curriculum is unfamiliar to many involved in the primary school sector and becomes a significant barrier between teachers wishing to implement the pedagogy and senior managers meeting their responsibilities of targets and documentation. The process of embedding effective learning-through-play pedagogy within a primary school environment is challenging for both the classroom teacher and their senior managers. The significant knowledge and skill required by this approach takes time to grow. New Zealand teachers wishing to journey into play need the support from their managers to build their professional knowledge and capabilities as part of a structured approach to their new learning. This approach is far from simple to implement, and requires support through time, access to professional learning
opportunities and networking with others on a similar path for these skills to grow. However, it is not only the classroom teacher embarking on this learning journey into play. Senior managers, once classroom teachers themselves, also have challenges to overcome in their own knowledge base in order to be able to confidently support their teachers’ classroom programmes. They require the same amount of time to research, comprehend and understand the practical application of the approach. Furthermore, often being the ‘face’ of the school community, they must feel confident in being able to field any questions or concerns by their parent community. Senior managers must be able to distinguish successful learning-throughplay classroom programmes from those of lesser quality, and to do this, they must first have a grasp on the principles and practices of the pedagogy. In their role as appraiser, they must be able to ensure the systems for documenting and reporting on learning in their schools not only meet the mandated requirements, but are also true to the evidence base that supports appropriate assessment of learning through play. Within a school environment determined to embed play as a tool for curriculum delivery, it must be acknowledged that there is significant learning required of all parties involved. Teachers at the chalkface need to develop a high level of both knowledge and skill to successfully implement teaching and learning through play reflecting the evidence base underlying its use. Managers need to be able to confidently identify the successful implementation of play in classrooms, identifying which is ‘good’ practice and which is not. They also need to be able to juggle the principles of play against the current climate of reporting and assessment requirements. For this to result in a school climate achieving the desired outcomes of a learning-through-play approach, all players in the process must journey together. They must work as a team to embed the new knowledge gained in their professional learning and continue to communicate, without prejudice, about the rocky journey ahead. It is only then that play will become far less misunderstood. For references, please visit this article online at www.educationreview.co.nz
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First in family Recipients of the 2017 Woolf Fisher First-in-Family AUT Scholarship – (L-R) Callum Fiu, Felila Havea, Thu Nguyen, Makelila Fetu’u, Helen Wilson, Emmette Gray, Ana Siafolau, Faava Tuigamala, Michelle Ellis, Salome Paea, Laryia Lomitusi, Ofaloto Talakai.
Breaking the cycle:
first in family to higher education JUDE BARBACK looks at initiatives focused on getting students who are the first in their families to pursue higher education to complete a degree.
ighteen-year-old Laryia Lomitusi is the first in her family to go to university. Thanks to a Woolf Fisher First-in-Family AUT Scholarship, Lomitusi is now studying towards a Bachelor of Health Science at AUT, paving the way to higher education for her younger siblings. When you have no family history of university attendance, or come from a community where higher education is not the expectation or the norm, the challenges of making it ‘across the stage’ are manifold. International research tells us that there is a strong link between the educational level attained by parents and that attained by their offspring, showing that, to a large extent, children inherit their parents’ educational levels. So, first-in-family students like Lomitusi are the exception rather than the rule. They are effecting intergenerational change. Going to university signals a new educational cycle for the wider family – it encourages other family members to view higher education as a possibility. But it actually goes deeper than that. Research out of the United States confirms what you would expect – that educational mobility leads to social mobility as education is the key for many other aspects of wellbeing. It is no different here in New Zealand. Paula Rebstock’s 2011 Welfare Working Group report tells us that tertiary education at degree level is a pathway out of poverty not only for the individual but for the generations that follow – it can be legitimately described as a “game changer”.
26 Postgrad Education
Now in their third year, the Woolf Fisher First-inFamily AUT Scholarships are helping to achieve this. The annual scholarship was established by the Woolf Fisher Trust in 2014 to address inequity by providing the opportunity for year 13 students who have no family history of university attendance to participate in university education. The scholarship covers direct study costs for the duration of an undergraduate degree at AUT, with annual renewal dependent on academic achievement. Applicants must be the first in their immediate families to attend university and demonstrate financial hardship. They must also be New Zealand citizens and hold University Entrance. There are currently 36 scholarship recipients studying at AUT. That’s 36 families who possibly might not have otherwise experienced higher education. This year, nine of the 13 scholarship recipients were of Pacific descent. Preference was given to applicants from South Auckland who demonstrated a commitment to bringing about change in their community. Lomitusi fits the bill perfectly. The former deputy head girl from Tangaroa College in South Auckland is keen to give back to her wider community. “My goal is to increase Pacific representation in the health sector; also, to use the knowledge and skills that I gain to help my community in Otara and those back in Samoa,” she says. AUT Vice-Chancellor Derek McCormack says the university is proud to have partnered with the Woolf Fisher Trust to establish this scholarship. “We want to encourage young New Zealanders to follow their dreams – to experience success in their chosen field of study and inspire others to attend university,” he says. “AUT is committed to widening participation in university education and the Woolf Fisher First-in-Family AUT Scholarship is part of that commitment.”
Around the same time the Woolf Fisher scholarships were established, the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) was pushing for something similar but on a much larger scale. At the time of the last election, the NZUSA lobbied political parties and educational groups to support a ‘first-in-family’ targeted scholarship scheme which would see 2,000 Kiwi students benefit each year. Other ideas have emerged since. In its recent inquiry into tertiary education, the Productivity Commission floated the idea of a Student Education Account, which would see every 16-year-old granted $45,000 to spend on higher education. While it didn’t progress beyond the draft stage, the idea certainly generated discussion around how to make tertiary education more accessible for everyone. Labour’s education spokesperson Chris Hipkins is keen to see a return to free tertiary education. Hipkins describes free public education as “part of our DNA”. In addition to making state education truly free again, he has boldly said that Labour will introduce “three years of fee-free post-school education for every New Zealander”. However, funding is just part of it. According to international research, first-in-family students who pursue higher education are more likely to drop out before completion than those who come from families where it is the norm. There is a need for ongoing pastoral support to help keep students focused on their progress and the end-goal. The NZUSA took this into account when devising its policy, factoring in funding for the support needed, completion bonuses, the provision for staircasing and bridging programmes and for students taking longer to complete than the minimum. Higher education shouldn’t feel like an elitist club. Scholarships and initiatives and proposals like these are on the right track to making degree study more accessible for those who may never have considered it was an option for them.
The wobbly line
to success Woolf Fisher First-in-Family AUT Scholarship recipient LARYIA LOMITUSI shares a moving account of her journey from her childhood in Samoa to a university education in New Zealand.
alofa lava, malo le soifua ma le lagimama; my name is Laryia Lynn Faiaia Lomitusi, and I am of Samoan descent. I am a former student of Tangaroa College, and I’m currently studying health science majoring in nursing at Auckland University of Technology over on the North Shore. My brother and I were adopted to our aunty and uncle since the beginning of high school; but our biological parents are currently back in the islands of Samoa. Getting adopted and moving to New Zealand was a very hard decision to make, but it was done with the clear intention of finding a better future for my family, which explains why I am on this journey. I never imagined that walking to the plane was going to be such a hard and long walk on that day; the day I had to leave and say goodbye to my parents. That day was the beginning of this journey. As a family of only four, the idea of separation was heartbreaking. However, as the eldest I was always to lead by example, to be strong and brave, not only for my little brother, but for the hopeful tears and smiles of my parents; and so I had a big teary smile plastered on my face and waved while holding back an inner wave of countless emotions. On that day, a lot depended on us, but it was especially on me, because I had a lot of responsibilities placed on my shoulders. Yes, of course often I’ve wanted to just give up and go home, because I miss my parents. Not to mention, I often feel guilty that there is no one to take care of them. In my culture the children must care for their parents as they get older. Sometimes I feel useless that I’ve somehow abandoned them. But every day I remind myself the reason why I am here, why I am on this journey to success. School was often really stressful because of the workload as well as meeting deadlines, but I can honestly say that I was surrounded by teachers, friends and family who supported and understood who I am and why I’m always doing work during lunch times and going home late. From years 10 to 13 I received awards across many different subjects, including the top student for the Health Science Academy in years 11,
12 and 13. I was also given the opportunity of a scholarship to travel down to Dunedin for the Hands-on Science programme in year 12. All these awards never came easy. They were all achieved through countless all-nighters, tears and many lunch times spent finishing off assessments. Therefore, receiving the First-in-Family Scholarship is an honour. This scholarship contributes to my journey to reaching success and I am absolutely grateful. My family were completely happy and proud of me. With the scholarship my family will not have to worry and stress about how I will be paying back a student loan. My parents in Samoa were over the moon when they heard about my scholarship and they were so proud of my accomplishments which made me so happy. And I am so thankful to those who have helped and supported me all the way. Furthermore, I’ve also set the bar for my younger siblings and this will serve as a source of motivation for them to strive hard in school. Not only that, but I hope to be a source of inspiration for young Pacific islanders. In year 11 my English teacher showed us two different pictures of what success looks like; one picture was a straight arrow to success, whereas the other picture was a wobbly notso-straight arrow to success. He then asked us which picture represents true success. I chose the picture with the straight line because I had believed that a straight line represented a clear focus and determination to succeed; however, my teacher went on to explain that it was actually the picture with the wobbly line to success. He taught me that line represented the fact that the path to success is never easy and often we will lose our way and stray from that path. Not only that, but that wobbly line portrays the struggle and hardship that we will face as we journey towards accomplishing success; and sometimes the journey towards success is what really matters. To this day those images have stayed with me because the journey challenges us and moulds us into the individuals that we are. I am who I am today because I am defined by the struggle and hardship I have endured and continue to, as well as the accomplishments I have achieved.
On that day... The wind made love to Clear dark sky It tore and ripped at The lines engraved into My waving palm as Rain gushed from a One piece broken heart That flow of liquid trickle through Rose petals of Brown orbs As the lungs Grasp for air that Will soon not Be there On that day An oath was carved So far deep Into the lining of Every corner of every cell “Never forget!”
Never forget the fundamental Essence of ‘why’ That very ‘why’ cradled Like a sneak quick flow Of slow moving rain drops Finding its way down My cheeks, A faint clap of thunder Again my eyes fill with Clouded skies As reality claiming The sun to be its one Perhaps rain will Come again And if so I am the image of Them Moulded to be The core of Them Strength, resilience, courage, My why My parents
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Postgrad Education 27
Maths and ICT
Maths + digital technology =
opportunities: a complex and interesting equation Drs JO FLETCHER and KAREN NICHOLAS set out to discover how primary schools are using digital technologies in their year 7 and 8 mathematics classrooms. Their research uncovered some interesting findings from how equity and maintenance of devices was managed to the need for more professional development to the way ICT was used to support learning. 28â€ƒ Postgrad Education
s the use of digital technology increases in primary classrooms, it is becoming clear that the experiences of schools vary widely, with some managing the exciting possibilities of the new resources better than others. Mindful of lessons from large international studies on the effectiveness of these new tools we wanted to look closely at the ways schools in New Zealand are implementing digital technologies. We identified six primary schools and interviewed their principals, year 7 and 8 teachers, parents and children about the ways they use digital technologies in their mathematics programmes. The schools were mainly low to middle decile and ranged from small to very large. The school populations represented a large number of ethnic groups and included full primary, intermediate, and integrated school types. Over 50 participants were interviewed, and we also observed maths
lessons, with the focus on the use of digital technologies being used. Our findings showed widespread use of digital technologies and mathematical apps within classrooms during teaching and learning. The children enjoyed working with iPads, laptops and tablets, but this did not always mean that the associated mathematical learning was purposeful and focused to meet explicit identified needs. There were serious issues at some of the schools around being able to sustain a budget to purchase much-needed new digital technologies and supporting software. Additionally, other factors hindered progress, such as ICT maintenance within the classroom, professional development opportunities for teachers, purchase of ICT resources that encourage higher order thinking and equity of access to resources for all learners.
Maths and ICT
The budget for new technologies
Most of the study schools focused on buying a wide variety of resources, often through fundraising and grants. However, caution is recommended when buying devices and programmes that few teachers know how to use effectively. Sustained and focused professional development in the ways to use ICT to enhance mathematical learning are important. Teachers need the confidence to encourage self-regulated users who are moving forward in their procedural and conceptual knowledge, rather than merely filling in time on gamelike activities which have little educational value for the specific needs of the students. Our observations showed that while the children may appear to be on-task and engaged, little purposeful learning was occurring. The schools which used technology on a daily basis, focused on ensuring children had access to working iPads, tablets and computers. These teachers tended to use YouTube clips, free educational programmes such as Sumdog and arranged a menu of useful games and practice activities within a classroom maths folder. Saving some of the ICT budget for maintenance of devices, buying new chargers and batteries and investing in secure and robust storage units appeared to be money well spent. None of our schools had chosen to go down the ‘Bring Your Own Devices’ route, saying that their families could not have afforded this, and it would have been difficult to ensure uniformity and provide maintenance for personally owned devices.
Professional development for teachers
Considering the large investment in these resources, it was surprising that little money was provided for professional development on how to use them well. In all our case study schools one teacher was in charge of ICT, although in small schools they were also often the principal or deputy principal. These lead teachers reported that they spent a lot of time dealing with small technical issues, and although usually responsible for purchasing hardware and software, they did not get much time to show teachers the best ways to use equipment. There was an emphasis on sharing what worked immediately, through conversations and as an agenda item in school meetings. None of the schools had a focus on using digital technologies in maths, and none of the teachers had attended any external professional development in this area. Being self-taught and advocating quick fixes were the norm.
Resources to encourage higher order thinking
The activities children were engaged in were often games and graded activities from programmes such as Sumdog and Mathletics. Children really enjoyed them and they provided teachers with resources to use for knowledge activity groups. We saw little evidence of digital activities which challenged children to move onto higher order thinking. From a positive position teachers were able to access the children’s choices of activities and encourage them to challenge themselves, by limiting the menu options to discourage repeats of ‘fun’ favourite low level activities.
Equity of access to resources
As five of our six schools were decile 2–5, there were many conversations about the affordability of resources. All of these schools had accessed grants to ensure that digital technologies were available at school and one school had used a charity grant to get free laptops for all its children. However, the ongoing costs of servicing and replacement of resources were a continual burden. Parents stressed their commitment to helping their children have the equipment for the modern world, but a number could not afford to have the internet at home, so, if children did have access to a computer or tablet they were unable to access the classroom maths games and complete maths activities at home. A very popular maths programme, Mathletics, was too expensive for three of the schools. The schools used Sumdog instead, but felt there were more advantages to other, more expensive programmes.
‘Take-home’ advice from schools
We had deliberately set out to find out what mainstream schools, without special expertise in digital technologies, were attempting to achieve in teaching and learning in mathematics. Our interviews and observations uncovered the need to look before leaping into action. It seemed that basics such as ensuring all the tablets were working, charged and loaded with the right applications were neglected. This prevented teachers having confidence in using these devices every day. Spending money on a teacher aide, dedicated to ensuring these basics were attended to, may be more valuable than spending thousands on a new programme or piece of equipment that only one or two teachers have the expertise to use. Teachers were all competent users of ICT and shared appropriate mathematics games, mini lessons and applications confidently. These collaborative practices could be further enhanced if staff had more time to talk to each other and reflect on the advantages of their choices. The burden on the IT specialist teacher was huge, and it may be better to spread this, so each syndicate of teachers has someone with enough expertise to help with the easy things. By far the greatest challenge is finding funding to help disadvantaged families access the internet at home. Schools provide homework clubs, but this does not fill the void, or allow families to spend time together on online maths homework and games. Perhaps grants which pay for computers for some of these children should also include internet access. The use of digital technologies in mathematics has definitely provided opportunities for children to choose their own appropriate high-interest activities, and provide teachers with good data on their use. We need to move forward now, to extend teachers’ knowledge of ways to harness these technologies better, to encourage new mathematics learning and higher order thinking. This will require a sustained professional development focus, to encourage a community of practice which makes positive moves towards effective digital learning. Drs Jo Fletcher and Karen Nicholas are from the University of Canterbury’s College of Education.
Postgrad Education 29
Forging better connections Josh Hough of Ara Computing with digital technology secondary school students.
We are starting to think of education as more of a continuum, rather than segmented into separate stages. An increasing number of partnerships between secondary schools and tertiary education organisations have emerged in the last decade, signalling a more integrated and connected system. Here, Education Review looks at a recent example of secondary-tertiary collaboration.
wo Christchurch high schools faced a conundrum. They couldn’t find suitable teachers to teach digital technologies and electronics, yet were unwilling to cut these subjects from the curriculum, recognising their importance. So the schools formed a partnership with Ara Institute of Canterbury to find a creative solution that puts students first. Attracting students to digital technologies and electronics is key to training the technologists, engineers and scientists of the future, however the reality is that capacity in the secondary school sector doesn’t always meet demand in these specialist areas. Christchurch Boys’ High School (CBHS) was one of the schools that approached Ara. Headmaster Nic Hill said the subjects were too important to neglect. “Our students are delighted that they have the option to study computing,” he said. Papanui High School has also partnered with Ara. The school had run an electronics class for 10 years but the subject looked to be in jeopardy when the teacher returned to the UK in 2015. “The rest of that year was taught by relievers, none of whom were suitable for one reason or another to continue,” said Papanui High School careers advisor Ellen Cashion. “We advertised worldwide but could not find a suitable teacher – other schools did the same and decided to can electronics. I was very reluctant to do that, so I approached Emma West [then manager of youth pathways at Ara] and after a couple of meetings we agreed on a process by which Ara delivered the teaching.” The agreement saw Ara computing tutor Josh Hough delivering the programme for two classes a week at the specialist facilities at Ara and two classes a week at the schools. One class of supervised self-study per week completed the programme. The programme started in 2016 and continues this year. By all accounts the collaboration is working for students. When surveyed, all of the students at
30 Postgrad Education
between secondary schools and higher education
CBHS rated Josh as very good or excellent. He even attended parent interviews and held extra sessions when students needed them. CBHS careers advisor Richard Webster says that the increase in demand for the programme this year is proof of its success. “The student feedback and re-enrolments speak for themselves, with 38 out of the 43 opting to select the Level 3 digital technologies computing course this year,” says Webster. “I thought Josh did very well running the year 12 computer course, especially in regards to his communication with the students, parents and the school and in the coordination of providing time for students to sit the assessments even when they had missed the scheduled times for one reason or another,” he says. Feedback from Papanui High School was just as positive. Not only were students succeeding in the programme, but they were learning about tertiary training options, while getting insights into the industries and even setting up future work experience. Ellen Cashion from Papanui High School says the collaboration gives their students the chance to “use far superior facilities than we could offer”. It also gives students confidence and knowledge about future pathways, she says. It works both ways too. “By tutors coming to the school, they are more aware of the level of students leaving school and this must assist in the development of appropriate first year full-time courses at Ara,” says Cashion. This year CBHS and Ara will run two digital technologies year 12 programmes, two year 13 programmes and will introduce a year 12 electronics class. The year 13 programmes are being taught by both Ara and University of Canterbury, giving students a valuable insight into tertiary life at both institutions, which will inform planning for their future study and career paths. The Ministry of Education intends to fully integrate digital technology into The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa for 2018.
Until then, CBHS, Papanui High School and Ara are already delivering these subjects. And it’s by no means the first successful collaboration between the tertiary and secondary sectors. “Since the establishment of the Canterbury Tertiary College in 2011 students and schools have been participating in dual enrolment programmes delivered in collaboration with Ara through a range of specialisations including: construction, automotive and engineering, cookery and hospitality, business and retail,” says Emma West, Ara manager of engagement. “The intention is to ensure that students achieve NCEA Level 2 with the ability to make informed decisions about their next steps so that they can make a successful transition from secondary school to tertiary training or into employment.”
Chairs to that! A group of Central Otago secondary schoolboys have poded their collective talent to raise money for New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation’s Pink Ribbon Campaign. The 14 students are studying Level 2 carpentry at the Otago Secondary Tertiary College (OSTC) at Otago Polytechnic’s Central Campus. This helps them achieve NCEA and aligns them with a vocational pathway into further education, industry training or employment. They meet every Friday and have recently made outdoor benches, which they’ve decided to raffle to raise money for the charity. Lecturer Grant Beel says the young men love their Friday lessons. “They’re supposed to start at 9am, but they’re always there by 8.15. I have to make them break for lunch, they’re just loving the hands-on learning” he says. “It’s great that they want to use their new skills to raise money for charity”.
Bringing NCEA tutorials
to the masses N
Education Review talks to DR Deborah Lambie about LearnCOACH, a site she co-founded that is helping thousands of Kiwi students to pass NCEA.
ext to a LearnCOACH tutorial video titled ‘How to write an amazing essay’ is a button that says ‘Procrastinate’. Of course, I have to click on it, and a pop-up tells me that the co-founder of LearnCOACH, Deb, is a member of Toastmasters, which, surprisingly, is not a group that meets to discuss the latest toast news, “but a girl can dream”. This is just one of the interesting tidbits you’ll find under ‘Procrastinate’. Then there’s also a ‘Stop procrastination’ button. It isn’t hard to see why teenagers like this site. I proceed to watch the essay tutorial, which is up-todate and funny (it has references to Donald Trump, grammar Nazis and so on), as well as being easy to understand and, most importantly, aimed at meeting NCEA requirements. Deb, or more formally Dr Deborah Lambie, laughs when I express my delight in the humorous touches. “A friend of mine is a comedian and he went through and made sure everything was on point,” she says. LearnCOACH is a labour of love in that respect, its content dependent on the input of co-founders Deb and her partner Dave Cameron and volunteers. There are now over 200 tutorials on LearnCOACH, and they have helped over 60,000 students. Not bad for a site conjured up in 2012. “Four years ago I learned that one in 10 New Zealand students leave school with no qualifications and it really broke my heart,” says Deb. “And when your heart breaks for something, you have to take action.” At the time, Deb and Dave were involved in tutoring high school students. As a secondary teacher, Dave had seen many students falling further and further behind, and as a doctor, Deb had seen the impact that missing school had on children with health issues. Students would underachieve, fail and, even worse, some students would label themselves as ‘dumb’ and give up on school altogether. Realising there was a limit to the number of students they could help with tutoring, they came up with the idea of providing the tutorials by video to reach a much larger number of students. “Many parents are unable to help or can’t afford extra tuition,” says Deb. “Students can access these for free at any time.” At the moment, LearnCOACH is completely selffunded so it is not hard to understand why Deb was so thrilled to receive a $10,000 AMP ‘Dare to Dream’ Scholarship.
She intends to use the scholarship money to help expand the site and add more tutorials over the summer. At the moment the site has tutorials, old exam questions and answers, tutorial summaries that can be downloaded, and even the capacity for students to submit feedback and ask questions. “You wouldn’t expect kids to take the time to send feedback, but they do. We get all sorts of emails and questions. One kid emailed recently saying he was having a crisis and the site had saved his life.” There are plenty of plans to develop LearnCOACH further. Deb and Dave hope to eventually include resources for parents, to help them better understand NCEA. There are plans afoot to offer tutorials in te reo Māori, subtitles for students who are deaf, and to work with youth health organisations. The big goal for LearnCOACH, however, is for it to become sustainable, so that if Deb and Dave
ever had to step back from it, the site would still continue. They have become a charitable trust, which will hopefully allow them to apply for funding in the future. As if she isn’t busy enough with the site and her full-time ‘day job’ as a doctor at Wellington Hospital, last year Deb held the title of Miss World New Zealand. The competition required contestants to be involved in a charity project – an easy requirement for Deb, given that LearnCOACH was well underway by then. Deb admits she’s pleased to have more time to focus on the site now that her duties as Miss World New Zealand have finished; however, she says the title definitely helped to leverage the site. The ‘change the world’ mantra of beauty pageant queens is often a cliché, but Deb is certainly walking the talk. She is fast realising her dream of stamping out educational inequality with LearnCOACH.
“Many parents are unable to help or can’t afford extra tuition. Students can access these for free at any time.”
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Postgrad Education 31
Tackling literacy in the
bsenteeism in the workplace often spikes when training is scheduled. Completing forms fills many workers with dread. Poor literacy and numeracy skills are what often underpin low productivity and prevent workers putting themselves forward for leadership roles. According to OECD research, more than a million New Zealand adults have less than optimal literacy skills (43 per cent) and numeracy skills (51 per cent) for a knowledgebased economy. New Zealand’s low levels of literacy and numeracy have been identified as contributing to our relatively low productivity. Improving adult literacy and numeracy is therefore a priority in the Tertiary Education Strategy 2014–2019 and one initiative that appears to be making inroads in this area is the Skills Highway programme. Funded by the Government, Skills Highway is helping organisations to address the literacy and numeracy issues that stand between them and a more productive workforce. Run by the Industry Training Federation (ITF) in partnership with the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), Skills Highway connects employers with funding, resources and training providers to help create safer, happier, more productive workplaces. Firms involved with Skills Highway report increased confidence and engagement, greater health and safety awareness, and improved workplace culture and competence on the job. Janine Wallis Martin, basic programme advisor for Downer, says the initiative has indeed brought a cultural change to their workplace. The company now has an approach that people need not see poor literacy and numeracy as a problem, but an area in which their employer can help.
32 Postgrad Education
By helping workplaces address their literacy and numeracy issues, the Skills Highway initiative is improving the working and personal lives of many employees, as well as boosting productivity and performance for their employers.
David O’Connor of training provider Learning Wave says it is not so much about employers wanting their people to read and write better, it’s about reducing waste, improving productivity, and lifting culture and engagement. However, Downer employees indicate that the benefits of the literacy and numeracy programmes extend beyond the workplace. For Downer worker Eric Darlow, the journey of learning to read has had a big impact on his work, and also on his life. Another Downer employee says he can now budget, something he has never been able to do previously. Carter Holt Harvey is another company supporting its workers with improving their literacy and numeracy. In addition to providing training programmes, it has strived to use more plain-English signage and add more pictures where appropriate. “Our most important resource is our people,” says Doug Hallberg, Whangarei site manager for Carter Holt Sawmill. “If we invest in training our people, we’ll get a return every single time.” Carter Holt employee Jamal Uiese has now set himself career goals as a result of the training. “I’d like to see myself as a shift supervisor and go from there. I wasn’t really one to learn from a book, but it’s made things a lot more interesting, and I can see a better future.” It was a similar story for Pacific Homecare support worker Tulai Luamanu, who now has her sights set on becoming an aged care nurse. “This programme helped me to build my self-esteem and my confidence. I’m now looking forward to going to MIT to study more about the English language. This course has given me the courage to go further,” she says. With English being a second language for 90 per cent of Pacific Homecare staff, chief executive Hamish Crooks knew literacy training was essential. “It’s a great workforce. Multi-lingual, multitalented. It participates more now than it ever has.” Firms like Pacific Homecare are recognised each year as part of the Skills Highway Award, sponsored by the Tertiary Education Commission and delivered as part of the Equal Employment Opportunities Trust’s Diversity Awards. The award celebrates workplaces that can show how they have helped improve their employees’ reading, writing, maths and communication skills, and consequently improved business outcomes. This year’s award was won by Silver Fern Farms in Dargaville. The company had always carried out literacy and numeracy assessments on new staff but until recently had not followed up the results. An analysis of process issues resulting in products being rejected at rollout stage and staff not delivering critical health and safety aspects within tasks, revealed many of the team couldn’t read important documents or put what they read into context within their day-to-day roles. After analysing staff literacy and numeracy results, the company decided to apply to the employer-led Workplace Literacy and Numeracy Fund from TEC. The fund was used to employ a National Certificate in Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education tutor to support a programme allowing for oneon-one support for trainees provided by mentors, as well as group sessions, which would be available to all staff who wanted to be a part of it.
“I wasn’t really one to learn from a book, but it’s made things a lot more interesting, and I can see a better future.”
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our 2017 issues and dates out now: Postgrad education June
followed by: teach international August
Postgrad & research September
ict & Procurement November
JETmag.co.nz is the essential guide for teenagers transitioning into adult life
In your school now! YOUTH GUARANTEE & VOCATIONAL PATHWAYS
LOWEST-PAYING INDUSTRIES ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪
Retail sales Hospitality and tourism Manufacturing and operations Call centre and customer service Administration and office support Transport and logistics Agriculture, fishing and forestry
Source: Trade Me, ‘Salary Survey’, December 2015 6
WHAT IMPACT DO QUALIFICATIONS HAVE ON EARNINGS? Your level of education has been proven to have a big effect on how much you can earn. Generally, the higher your qualification, the more you will earn. Find out more at Careers New Zealand https://goo.gl/7as9Po.
dam Goldwater knows all about scholarships. A careers evening at school opened his eyes to the number of scholarships out there for the taking. An aspiring horticulture student, he discovered a cluster of horticulture scholarships available on Massey University’s website. He applied, and was successful in securing the Zespri and Horticulture New Zealand scholarships in his first year at university. The following year he won three more scholarships, each helping to relieve some of the financial burden of university study. “I didn’t have a part-time job during my degree, only during the summer,” said Goldwater. “When going to uni, you have to pay quite high fees, but it means you can come out pretty much debtfree if you work hard and keep getting scholarships.”
HOW TO GET A SCHOLARSHIP To get a scholarship, you generally need to meet certain criteria. According to Careers New Zealand this is typically based on things like your area of study, your chosen industry or trade, academic merit, community service or involvement, ethnicity, financial hardship, leadership, the region you grew up in, or where you plan to study. Seldom are two scholarships the same – they can vary hugely in what they cover. Some scholarships may cover tuition fees only, while others cover all course costs and some of your living expenses. Many universities, polytechnics and other education providers offer their own scholarships, grants and awards, and usually list these on their websites, along with eligibility criteria and application forms. Most providers have
a scholarships officer or career advisor on hand who can answer questions about eligibility and help with the process. Government agencies offer and administer a large number of scholarships, grants and awards as well, and the New Zealand Government website covers all government departments and agencies. For students interested in training in a specific industry area, the relevant industry training organisation (ITO) is worth checking. Some also offer scholarships, or have information about where you can get scholarships related to that area of work. There are a large number of scholarships available to Ma-ori and Pasifika students. Scholarship recipient Hautahi Kingi urges people to “give it a go”.
Here in JETmag, we have our sector overviews arranged under these six headings. Each overview has several profiles of young professionals and
Se Ind rvic ust e rie s
NCEA Level 1
WHAT ARE THE VOCATIONAL PATHWAYS? Ok, anyone under 20 can dive back in … the Vocational Pathways are a way of looking at career options and support available for jobs. These are clumped in six broad sectors (the sixth, creative is still under consideration by the Ministry of Education, but we’ve included it in here because we like poets, dancers, and other artistic types), The pathways represent new ways to structure and achieve NCEA Level 2 and provide a more understandable framework for vocational education and training. They aim to help you develop your own individual education plan, so you can be better informed and can make better choices to meet your career goals. The Vocational Pathways (including the possible sixth pathway) are: ▪ Primary Industries ▪ Services Industries ▪ Social and Community Services ▪ Manufacturing and Technology ▪ Construction and Infrastructure ▪ Creative Industries.
HIGHEST-PAYING INDUSTRIES ▪ Consultancy and strategy ▪ Information and communication technology (ICT) ▪ Engineering ▪ Real estate and property ▪ Banking and financial services ▪ Marketing, media and communications ▪ Accounting ▪ Human resources and recruiting
ry ma s Pri strie u Ind
Find out which jobs and industries in New Zealand are paying the most money, and how qualifications relate to earnings.
A range of Youth Guarantee initiatives such as secondary-tertiary programmes (including trades academies), service academies, and fees-free places provide students with new opportunities to engage in higher education and vocational training for free.
We cover these pathways on:
WHAT ARE THE HIGHESTAND LOWEST-PAYING INDUSTRIES?
The good news for school leavers quietly freaking out about the costs involved with their next move – be it further study, training or diving into the workforce – is that there are literally thousands of scholarships, grants and awards out there to help ease the load.
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This is where we talk about all things jobs. From how to write a CV to the most commonly asked interview questions, we’ve got you covered. One of the hardest things while transitioning into adulthood is getting your first job. It helps to have a resource to refer to while overcoming the obstacles that come with job hunting… so here it is!
tudents, tune out while your parents take over for this bit … the Youth Guarantee is the Government’s promise to provide young people with more choices, ways and places to achieve NCEA Level 2 or equivalent. Achieving NCEA Level 2 allows young people the option to take on further education or get a good foothold in the workforce. This is where the Vocational Pathways can help, by offering access to a wider range of learning opportunities to achieve qualifications at Levels 1–3 on the National Qualifications Framework, with a focus on achieving NCEA level 2. There are a range of Youth Guarantee Networks around the country that consist of education providers, employers and community interests. Using the Vocational Pathways, the networks are developing Page 59 learning opportunities across the networks to ensure students have: Creative ▪ more relevant learning contexts ▪ more choice about what and where to learn Industries ▪ more applied learning opportunities ▪ more relevant learning programmes.
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A surprising number of the scholarships available don’t have any applicants, because a lot of people think they haven’t got a chance.”
EDUCATION & TRAINING
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Social and Community Services professionalsin-training doing awesome things. Their jobs range from the straightforward (like a doctor or teacher) through to funky specialist fields (like a fashion designer or audio engineer). VOCATIONAL PROFILE Everyone in senior school should have received their vocational profile (on www.nzqa.govt.nz). If you didn’t, ask your careers advisor or year dean. Your vocational profile shows your achievement against the five current Vocational Pathways. This should give you a sense of the progress you are making to achieve NCEA Level 2 or equivalent.
Achieving a Vocational Pathway on your profile means you are developing the skills and knowledge in areas that employers value. Employers will be able to see your strengths, abilities, interests and achievements using the Vocational Pathways. Your Vocational Profile can show how your achievement relates to the learning or skills training employers are seeking. If you’re an especially creative type, you’ll have to wait until that pathway is developed before you can measure your progress in related NCEA subjects.
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