Principals from eleven Catholic secondary schools from throughout the country have joined a coalition protesting a review process for NCEA.On July 1, principals from 37 Auckland secondary schools and three past principals took out a full page advertisement in a Sunday newspaper arguing against the way the review is being done.

The advert gave Education Minister Chris Hipkins a “Fail” grade for, in the principals’ opinion, rushing the review process and putting too little thought into it.

A few days later, 23 secondary principals from the rest of the country joined the protest.

The principals of the following Catholic schools put their names to this: Baradene College, De La Salle College, Liston College, Rosmini College, Sacred Heart College, St Paul’s College, St Peter’s College (All Auckland), St John’s College (Hastings), St Catherine’s College (Wellington), St Kevin’s College (Oamaru) and Kavanagh College (Dunedin).

Among the complaints against the review are that it is too short (finishing in September), with Mr Hipkins due to report back to Cabinet in February, and that “a proper consultation process [should] to be launched with professional educators at its core”. The review
process should more fully involve principals, teachers, parents and boards of trustees, the principals stated.

Repairing “teacher supply” and a national discussion to agree on “a core secondary curriculum” should precede a review of NCEA, they added.

“To create an enduring qualification, the sector firstly needs to agree on what knowledge
we want our students to learn in Years 11,12,13,” the advert stated.

“We agree NCEA needs to be reviewed and can be improved, but Mr Hipkins is going about it all the wrong way,” a statement from the principals noted.

Mr Hipkins has reportedly said he has no intention of extending the consultation period, and he believes the process, overseen by a group of principals and the Ministry of Education, is sufficient.

He has set aside time on July 20 to meet with any of the Auckland principals who wish to do so.

In May, an NCEA discussion document highlighting “six big ideas” developed by a ministerial advisory group was released by the minister.

Concern has been expressed that there was only one principal on the seven person advisory group and that its make-up did not adequately reflect the secondary sector. It has been noted that Mr Hipkins spoke of wanting advisers with “potentially disruptive” views.

According to a ministerial press release on May 27, the six “big opportunities identified by the advisory group” are:

• Re-imagine NCEA Level 1 so it is focused on ensuring young people are prepared for further study, work, and life as citizens.

• Strengthen and clarify our expectations for literacy and numeracy attainment.

• Explicitly build into NCEA Levels 2 and 3 a requirement to prepare young people for further study, work, and life.

• Provide support for teachers, schools, and kura to enable real learning and coherent programmes.

• Strengthen and enhance the Record of Achievement so it provides a full picture of what young people have achieved.

• Remove barriers to achieving NCEA, starting with fees, process for accessing Special Assessment Conditions, and access to quality curriculum support materials.

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