Saturday, April 20, 2024

Maths and literacy go to front of class

The Government has announced that maths and literacy learning will be prioritised in New Zealand schools, with new assessments to be introduced from next year.

Education Minister, Jan Tinetti, also today announced a shift in timeframes of other proposed changes to NCEA and the national curriculum.

The move follows feedback from teachers and principals and the NCEA Professional Advisory Group (PAG) which has recommended these changes, she said.

“As Minister of Education, my bottom line is to ensure our young people are getting the education they need and deserve. This includes giving students, along with their parents and employers, confidence that they are leaving school with a strong foundation in maths and literacy,” Ms Tinetti said.

“Currently there are over 500 maths and 100 literacy standards. From next year there will be a list of the essential and foundational maths and literacy assessment standards that a student must achieve in order to pass NCEA.

“But in order to get this right we are easing the pressure on teachers by slowing down the wider implementation of NCEA level 2 and 3 and re-focusing the work to refresh the curriculum.”

The Minister said mathematics, English, te reo Māori and pāngarau areas of the curriculum will be prioritised by deferring the requirement for schools to implement the other areas by one year.

The refresh and redesign of the curriculum will continue on existing timeframes and be available to all schools from 2026, but teaching it won’t be compulsory until 2027, she said.

“Three years of COVID-19 disruptions have left teachers and students exhausted, so we want to make sure that we are easing that workload a bit and are focusing on what matters to families most.”

“The bodies representing over 21,000 teachers and principals have told us that delaying some of these important changes means they can focus on kids’ outcomes. Schools have been coping with significant disruption and want a sense of normalcy.

“We share the same goals of wanting kids at school, attending regularly and learning the basics they need to live fulfilling lives. So we’ll keep on with the changes that are needed, but roll it out at a pace that works for teachers and principals – which is good for the education system in the long term,” Minister Tinetti said.

Secondary Principals Association NZ (SPANZ) President, Vaughan Couillault said the altered implementation timeline had been requested by many in the secondary sector for some time, as concerns were raised about the capacity of schools and teachers to implement the required changes to NCEA.

“With this adjusted timeline, schools will have more time to build their capacity and adequately prepare for the changes, ensuring that the new standards can be more successfully integrated into teaching practice,” Mr Couillault said.

Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) Acting President, Chris Abercrombie said the association was pleased the Education Minister was listening to secondary teachers’ concerns around the NCEA changes.

“The new timeline for NCEA Levels 2 and 3 gives the Ministry time to create the resources needed for a successful change. We also need more time and resourcing allocated to secondary teachers for professional development relating to the NCEA changes.”

“The Minister’s decision relating to the literacy and numeracy changes will give schools a little more flexibility to implement these high stakes changes.”

Secondary Principals’ Council chair, Kate Gainsford said today’s news was being welcomed by schools – “both those piloting Level 1 subjects, and paving the way for changes to NCEA levels 2 and 3 and all schools needing time to implement the significant improvements ahead”.

“It honours the work already done by teachers in dozens of schools and supports the work ahead rolling out changes across hundreds of schools with thousands of teachers,” she said.

“Principals in particular welcome the certainty this brings to schools, students’ learning and communities, especially as it enables the refreshed curriculum to drive the assessment reforms, rather than the other way around.”

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