The results of collaboration are starting to have impact

 

The NCEA Level 2 struggle continues and while the newspapers report the incremental progress towards the BPS target of 85% of all 18 year old’s with NCEA Level 2 by the end of next year, it’s all been tougher then it should have been.

The secondary system by and large has had to make a huge effort to understand that the targets were never achievable if it was left to the schools themselves, it never was and while existing approaches to senior secondary schooling persist, never will be.

For a start there is a significant number of 18 year old’s who as 16 year-old young people had quit education, they were not even in the system. This statistic is stubborn and progress in reducing it is slow. The reason is not that schools get it wrong but that school is not right for many of that group. In other words it was the lack of flexibility that created over 30 years that situation and it will be flexibility that is our best change of addressing the issue.

But the focus remains solidly on those in the system and even among that group there are the disengaged. I have long promoted a view of disengagement that describes the traditional “drop-outs” as “physical disengagement“– they are not there.

There is also a group who is still in school that can be described as being the victims of “virtual disengagement.” They relatively consistently, have the appearance of doing all the right things, are not too much trouble, but for whom nothing much is happening. I know they are there because teachers tell me that they are.

Finally there are those who do all they are asked, achieve moderately well, who might even cobble together Level 1 and 2 in NCEA. However due to “unintended disengagement” the fruits of their labours have been a mess of academic potage that does not represent a basis of moving forward. Harvesting credits will achieve the BPS but it will not in itself create pathways.

I have raised the disengagement aspects of school performance because that is where ten years ago I started to work for change by first proposing, then developing and implementing New Zealand’s first Tertiary High School. This eased the way for the creation of trades academies, for the umbrella policy of Youth Guarantee and the relatively quick growth in the numbers of students who now rely not solely on schools for their outcomes but are lucky to be in schools that see that by working on collaboration with tertiary providers their students get better results both in terms of quality but also in terms of quantity. Their line of sight is extended through many of the programmes to real futures.

Last year the Manukau Institute of Technology gave opportunities for secondary students to gain in excess of 46,000 NCEA credits. This is not insignificant as a contribution to the BPS targets nor is it insignificant to the futures of young people.

More importantly, many of the students have through the experiences discovered that they can learn, that they want to learn and that school does provide an opportunity to do just that. The early access to applied education unleashes the brain in some learners to tackle more effectively the demands of what some persist in calling academic work. But the close to 4,000 secondary school students that MIT worked with last year were the lucky ones who go to schools where management sees opportunities where others see only risk to the roll numbers, management that puts the student at the forefront of planning rather than being blinkered by arguments about the budget, the staffing levels and so on.

One Principal who subscribes with energy to all the opportunities collaboration between secondary and tertiary now openly attributes the substantial growth of senior school numbers to that collaboration.

In the end, all the opportunities of secondary tertiary programmes are good for students, good for schools and good for the taxpayer.


 

taw16-logo250px

Te Ara Whakamana is New Zealand’s largest forum dedicated to education and employment pathways and transitions.  Now in its sixth year, this event brings together educators from both secondary and tertiary sectors, industry representatives, policymakers, and researchers to share good ideas and practices, and to be challenged by different perspectives.

Earlybird registrations are open now.

Go to:   https://akoaotearoa.ac.nz/tearawhakamana2016 

Nifty Shades of Pay

It’s official – the Labour Party has got its first piece of education policy out there for all to see.

Progressively from some distant point in my lifetime, students will not have to pay fees to go into tertiary education. It has a good sound to it – student debt is ballooning, many leave the country to avoid it, others are stopped at the borders because they did forget it. Nostalgia sweeps across the community for the good old days when we went to university for free. Those were the days my friend, we thought they’d never end…..

But like a lot of things they did. Someone decided to introduce student fees and student loans. Did the Labour Party have a hand in this at any point? If not at the beginning then certainly many opportunities and elections have come and gone and they have remained somewhat silent. But now it is centre stage.

It really is an exercise in stuffing the genie back in the bottle. How do you introduce this policy without creating a new level of injustice for the generation that gritted their teeth and paid for the excellent education that they have had. Parents helped out in some cases. But a lot of young people simply had to go into debt.

I have written that we would have to pay a price for teaching a generation to be comfortable with and live with debt and perhaps that has turned out to be true. But there are other issues to be confronted in trying to recapture the good old days.

Is it to be a free-for-all by being free for all? Or will Labour have to learn to live with targeting the resource – something that has not been a favoured approach in the past. Well not in recent times – way back there was an element of “those-who-can-pay-should-pay” in the welfare state. The much vaunted 20 Free Hours of Child Care was a more recent example of a badly targeted resource. It didn’t increase access but simply enabled the middle classes to extend the number of hours they could put their young ones in day care etc and get on with the resumption of their careers.  Well, they had to, that’s the economics of being a family and having a house and a car these days.

You see, there seems not to be a lot of evidence that those who can go to university by being well-prepared academically don’t get there. Throw open the gates and the numbers will not increase without a dramatic increase in the success and level of preparation among those in communities not well served. And that is where the money should be targeted.

A few ideas for those developing policy

Put the money into the things that will bring about a more equitable spread of ability to access tertiary education.

Put the money into quality early childhood education that is characterised by programmes that prepare young ones for the task of becoming educated. Make it culturally empowering, create a multilingual setting complete with other services in health and support. Make it possible to have intergenerational learning so that families are given the tools to have success. In short spend the money where it’s needed and not throw it into what is essentially a subsidy for the commercial providers who build multimillion dollar castles on major commuter routes, placed for the convenience of middle class commuters rather than the communities.

Put the money into supporting “first-in-family-to-go-into-tertiary-education” scholarships for the pioneers in a family who change the world for all who follow. This could be perhaps the most radical and transformational thing to do. Families in which a member successfully completes a tertiary education is one which sets up tradition of going to university or into other forms of tertiary education. Look at the pakeha community – is that not true?

Take note of the developments currently happening in tertiary education. Youth Guarantee places are available for 16 – 19 year olds to continue their education in an ITP rather than a school without paying fees and with a little help with transport. This puts right a long established inequity which gave to young people the right to stay at school until they were 19 years old and fail as much as they liked (or didn’t like). Now they can leave school at age 16 years which the law says is OK and get on with an education that leads to employment and a fulfilling future without the burden of debt.

The Maori and Pasifika Trades Training goes a step further and provides not only fees-free opportunities but also the support to develop personal and cultural skills and be assisted through the process of entering employment. This is a good investment and trainees will look back on this, just as those who went thorough the old Maori Trades Training Programme do now, and give thanks for the money spent well.

Spreading money around tertiary education as if it were some kind of aerial fiscal fertiliser simply won’t do it.

And will communities tolerate the targeted spending of money to get additional people into tertiary education? Of course they will if they can see an improved community generally, one in which inequity is lessened and skills are developed. Most would say that it is a nifty way to pay!

 


 

taw16-logo250px

 

Te Ara Whakamana is New Zealand’s largest forum dedicated to education and employment pathways and transitions.  Now in its sixth year, this event brings together educators from both secondary and tertiary sectors, industry representatives, policymakers, and researchers to share good ideas and practices, and to be challenged by different perspectives.

Earlybird registrations are open now.

Go to:   https://akoaotearoa.ac.nz/tearawhakamana2016 

Steering the education system (and the car!)

Stuart Middleton

EdTalkNZ

9 December 2015

 In 1962 when I went to get my driver’s licence a uniformed traffic cop hopped into the car and said “Ok, let’s see what you can do!” Once around a city block which included pulling into and out of a parking space and clearly I had done enough. Sitting in the car I was asked three questions, a paper was signed and I set off to the counter to collect my driver’s licence.

It seems a long time ago now, but back in the late 1990’s I was actively promoting NCEA in any way possible and, as Director of Secondary Teacher Education at the Auckland College of Education, one of these ways was to hold a lecture for the secondary teaching intake in which I set out to explain and illustrate the differences between the “old examination system” and the “new standards-based system”

I invited the students to consider a situation in which the practices of the norm-referenced examination system – that long running stable of tired nags, School Certificate, UE / Sixth Form Certificate and Bursary – were applied to the gaining of a driver’s licence.

In a norm-referenced qualification and examination system the gaining of a driver’s licence would look something like this:

  • There would be an examination about the Rode Code, driving on New Zealand roads and perhaps about safety issues. The question would not be known prior to the examination and copies of previous examinations would not be available.
  • The examination for everyone would take place on the same day in an assigned place.
  • Because of the numbers involved and despite the practical nature of driving a car, it would be a written examination – a test about driving a car rather than a test in which the car was actually driven – after all real examinations require fool-proof security!
  • The papers would all be marked by panels of teachers.
  • Despite the actual quality of the examinees, the results would be scaled to produce a lovely curve in which about half passed and about half failed.
  • Many of those who failed might well have been able to drive a car and a group of those who passed might not have been able to – the whole exercise was not about recognizing actual skill or ability that reflected driving skills etc but rather making a statistical guess.

I was thrilled therefore yesterday when Minister of Education Hon Hekia Parata and Assoc. Minister of Transport Hon Craig Foss jointly announced that students could gain NCEA credits for getting their drivers license – 25 years after I had used the example of getting drivers license as a great illustration of the principles of standards-based assessment, it was happening.

Students would….

  • get credit for what they could demonstrate;
  • be able to learn a clearly prescribed knowledge set about driving and be tested on what they had been taught;
  • have access to assessment any where, anytime for anyone;
  • able to gather the total credit available incrementally.

It might be too big a claim to say that the 30 year development of understanding about standards—based assessment had turned a corner. But it is a very small but very significant step for the system to take.

Perhaps another fact that has not been commented on is that the assessment will not be the responsibility of teachers in schools predominantly quality-assured experts in the community will give the tick. Practising experts in the appropriate field will accredit the skills and knowledge demonstrated. This opens up other possibilities.

There is a growing interest in the use of a “passport” to acknowledge the so-called soft skills of employment. Typically this is an assurance from a wide range of different people in different places that an individual has demonstrated a set of skills, dispositions and attributes. It is something that could with a little more codifying lend itself to the gaining of NCEA credits where appropriate.

Indeed it is the application of skills and knowledge gained in school programmes but subsequently applied in real world settings that matters. As this increasingly happens for school students, the school system along a track on which increased numbers of students will find relevance, purpose and excitement.

I have long felt that the introduction of NCEA was likely to be the only paradigm shift in education that my generation of teachers will experience. “Paradigm” is a word that is tossed around with some abandon among academics but it is an event that happens very rarely and has happened seldom in education. An important part of a “paradigm shift” is the period of uncertainly that develops as practice moves away from the comfort of the old ways of working. Gradually a new way of working emerges and the new paradigm is made more manifest. Confidence grows and the new ways of working flourishes.

Is the rapid development of secondary / tertiary programmes, the increasing erosion of the walled sectors, the expansion of different forms of funding and governance of schools, the power shifts of the new pedagogy and, in a small but important way, this cross-boundaries use of our qualification and assessment system reflected in the NCEA credit for driving licences, a sign that we might be turning a corner?

That traffic cop in 1962 was right – let’s see what they can do and give them credit.

 

Facing the New World Cautiously: Hobsonville and NCEA

Stuart Middleton

EDTalkNZ

1 December 2015

There was a rather troubling article in the weekend papers. It was about the “bold” move of Hobsonville Point Secondary School to do away with NCEA Level 1.

Now let’s be clear, this school is clearly setting a high standard in its commitment to the new pedagogy and in its comfort in giving to students a higher degree of responsibility for their learning. It is innovative in its use of space and in all respects seems to be pushing the direction of secondary education towards a much more positive set of outcomes than is typical. So, all power to their bow for this.

If I could be a little more mischievous. I read reports are that a group of parents have removed their children from this school to send then to such schools Conventional College and the Examination Excellence Academy. This encourages me to think that the HPSS is headed in a positive direction. When you see who is against them you have to want to support them!

But I believe that their desire to jettison NCEA Level 1 is based on some misunderstandings about NCEA and is to misjudge its usefulness in supporting the very things that HPSS wishes to emphasise.

For a start, NCEA is not about examinations. This could have been the journalist speaking but the article claimed in support of the move that this would free students from the pressure of examinations. The tragedy of NCEA is that schools have had great difficulty in understanding the freedom that NCEA offers, assessment by examination is not essential and a whole array of assessment techniques can be brought into play – especially at Level 1.

Secondly, NCEA is not in any shape or form related to either time served or age reached. There is no connection in regulation or law between Year 11 and NCEA Level 1, Year 12 and NCEA Level 2, or Year 13 and NCEA Level 3. Furthermore, there is no requirement that assessments be restricted to one level at a time. For a school aiming to liberate the curriculum I cannot think of a more ideal assessment framework. For a school aiming to devolve power to students I cannot see a more motivating assessment framework that allows for assessment at any time and at multiple levels.

 

Could the school not have chosen simply to free up the curriculum with NCEA being available for students to nominate the points and levels at which they wish their progress to be assessed? This could start in Year 8 with no problems.

Well, the argument might run, what would you do in the more senior years if the students have attained earlier than Year 13 their New Zealand “school qualification”? The answer to that is: do what a school qualification intends, use it as a staging post for getting on with non-school / postsecondary qualifications. This would allow students to lay a sound basis for future careers while they can still access education at no cost to the parents.

Each level of the education has a role to play – primary lays down the base of essential foundation skills, secondary hones those skills into sets of discipline related pathways into careers and employment while tertiary delivers the technical skills required to start and continue in those careers.

Nobody in education plays the role of being the be-all-and-end-all to a young person’s journey through the system – we all play only a part. Using the flexibility that NCEA was designed to bring into the system is a key.

One day NZQA will deliver (and it will!) on its promise (as outlined by CE Karen Poutasi in her SPANZ 2013 speech) to make available “assessment to anyone, anywhere, anytime, online and on demand.” We need schools such as Hobsonville Point Secondary School to start showing us the way forward towards this new world.

The long low croon of the steady Trade Winds blowing*

Stuart Middleton

EdTalkNZ

13 November 2015

I am sure that there is a discernible breeze getting up among the education trees.

I have recently spent time with Iwi groups who are looking at the value of such developments as the MIT Tertiary High School in jump-starting an improvement in Māori educational achievement. Demand for places in trades academies is increasing markedly and schools are asking for trades courses to be delivered within their programmes and on their premises.

In Alberta, Canada, I made a presentation (via video) about the MIT Tertiary High School to a major government education conference and there is ongoing work taking place to look at the value of such a development in Alberta, a province which probably has been more successful in adapting and changing than the more vaunted Ontario.

In the weekend papers a story is told of a set of early childhood education centres in the UK that is using experience with real trades tools and activities and a setting (workbenches, real materials and so on) to develop quality motor skills and social skills among the preschoolers.

At the other end of the age range, the University Technical Colleges developed under the leadership of Lord Baker of Dorking, are taking high performing 15 year old students into a STEM oriented programme and having them complete a first university degree by age 18 years. Why that age range? Lord Baker says simply: “14 years is too early to start specializing and 19 years is too late to get on with a career.”

As these English speaking systems get on with trying to address disengagement and failure (just as we are) some principles emerge which should be the foundation for future actions in response to the achievement issues.

Early access to applied learning will open up a pathway for students who are jettisoned by the university-bound track that constrains the senior secondary school programme. We hear so much chatter about different learning styles, about De Bono and and his jolly hats, about reflecting students aspirations and on and on and on but we see no action in response.

Early access to applied learning through the trades ticks all the boxes – a range of different learning styles can be catered for and the highly demanded skills of team work, planning and discipline are able to be integral parts of the programme. But most of all, when students reach the senior secondary school age they are wondering about their futures beyond school and trades programmes give a line of sight to employment and careers. Education become purposeful rather than for no obvious reason.

The age range 14-19 years is critical if we are to address disengagement and failure. It is where disengagement occurs, it is where the failure become manifest, it is where students become dispirited as they realize that they are ill-equipped for the world ahead. They are lured into a future as a NEET because it seems to be the only option. But what might once might have seemed to be the rosy glow of Shanghri-La quickly turns out to be neither rosy nor rewarding.

If we are to canny sailors we should be responding to the breeze before it develops into a storm that defies containment and might well be beyond our capability.

* Trade Winds John Masefield

Trades Academies, research and reflection

A recent report on Trades Academies is pretty luke warm in its assessment of their success in terms of retention and progression.  A key methodological feature is the comparison between the group of participants and a comparison group of students which are matched to them.

I have a hesitation about one aspect of the matching and that is the use of “disengaged” with its particular definition. In my view, you cannot be a “little bit disengaged” – not any more than a US student can “drop out of school a little bit”.

In New Zealand the word “disengaged” has become our way of describing what the educators in the USA call “drop-outs”, the Pacific calls “early school leavers”, the French call “abandonnant l’école, the Finnish “avhopp från skolanand the Chinese “. Everyone knows what it means and agrees that it is a bad thing!

To have matched those in the research on the basis of “disengagement” is, I think, a risk. That risk might be acceptable but the meaning attributed to the term is not. It is quite clear that this means:

“School engagement: whether had one or more instances of disengagement from school or not (stand-down, suspension, serious truancy)”

If we accept that “disengagement” has come to mean what “drop-out” means in the USA, to start using it to include such episodes as stand-downs and suspensions and truancy is to water it down and this is a great pity because “disengagement” in the sense of having disconnected from a school is a very serious and damaging thing.

I have developed and use a taxonomy of disengagement that notes three kinds of disengagement.

Physical Disengagement:
The student is no longer at school

Virtual Disengagement:
The student is at school but nothing to speak of is happening in terms of learning – poor or no positive outcomes are likely.

Unintended Disengagement:
In this category, disengagement is delayed and occurs when a learner achieves to some degree but has a basket of credits that are not robust enough (or perhaps even the right credits) to sustain further study.

But none of these categories admit those who are stood down / suspended in themselves or even serious truants on the grounds that many well-behaved and, indeed, capable and successful students are likely to be and are included in each of these categories. Selective truancy is  a deliberate tactic used by many students especially in the senior years and might best be described as tactical attendance. One hopes that the other matching criteria dulled the impact of engagement as a matching tool.

The other issue I have with the report is not the fault of the researcher. To include the MIT Tertiary High School into the group generically described as “trades academies” is misleading and inaccurate – it just doesn’t fit there. Yes, it is a secondary / tertiary programme but there are key differences that mark it as unlike any of the trades academies. Its target student group is distinctive. The merged nature of secondary and tertiary curricula is totally different in that secondary and tertiary programme components are not consigned to different days nor to different locations both of which are features of the traditional trades academy model. The location of the programme is completely and wholly in a tertiary setting – the students are expected to act as tertiary students, all day every day. Finally, The MIT Tertiary School is a four-year programme and not the 38 day programme that Trades Academies are able to offer within the time allocation given to trades academies.

And there is another difference – this targeted group of students achieve both high levels of NCEA and technical qualifications within the programme that can take them into many higher level qualifications including degree level study. NZQA reports the 2014 NCEA results as Level 1 – 100%, Level 2 – 91.8%, Level 3 – 83.3%. What a pity that such stunning success is not reflected in a study of trades academies.

Hon Steven Joyce got it right when, in response to the report, he noted that it was early days and that it was difficult to get good data.

Make no mistake about it, trades academies are already demonstrating an ability to excite students about learning and to open up for many, pathways to success that the conventional school programme is unable to do. Time will show that early access to technical and vocational programmes is a key to success for a significant proportion of students. This research report does show an emerging trend towards increased retention despite its rather coy conclusions and there can be confidence that an impact on successful outcomes will follow.

 

Trying to keep the baby in the bathwater having thrown out the bath!

A friend was cleaning out the cupboard the other day and came across a little publication from the Department of Education in Auckland dated 1967.  It was a school by school listing of the courses that they offered.  Apparently in those old days it was considered to be in the interests of parents and their children to have this information impartial and undiluted by the “marketing madness” that would get its grip on such a publication now.

It highlighted several things.

By and large secondary school back then offered far more choice to students than they do now (albeit that this is changing in some schools).  A reason for this was that students could chose from Year 11 to focus their schooling and they could even match this with a selection of options that got them onto the pathway.

Now, before people take to twitter to point out to me that this was in the BAD old days when students were STREAMED!  Well, let’s use the more neutral term “tracked”, no, let’s get right up to date and call them pathways, for that is what they were.  Students could see a pathway to skills, to employment (for there were jobs for all), to a family sustaining wage and if the schooling system was to do its work it should have been able to do so in the 10 years students spend up to the age of 15 (then) or 16 years.

We then faced the death of choice as the system became more and more devoted to the notion of the comprehensive high school.  This was a bizarre way of coping with difference by having all students do the same programme.  Another Department of Education publication puts it like this:

“The secondary schools, no longer selective, must now cater for students of widely differing skills, abilities and interests. The range is little narrower than in the adolescent population as a whole.  Much remains to be done before it can be said that the schools have completely adjusted their curricula and methods to the facts of this situation.”

This extract is from the Thomas Report, the work of the Committee established by the Minister of Education in 1942.  The style changes but not the basic issues.  The Thomas Report went on to reshape School Certificate that, in tune with the time internationally, was believed would be the school leaving qualification for most.

What strikes me is that the approved list of optional subjects for School Certificate included such subjects as:

Animal Husbandry

Applied Mechanics

Bookkeeping

Commercial Practice

Dairying

Engineering shop work

Field Husbandry

Heat engines

Horticulture

Shorthand Typewriting

Technical Drawing

Technical Electricity

Woodwork

In short there was then, and it persisted into the late sixties and early seventies, a wide selection of what can be described as “vocational education and training.” 

The committee actually noted that it was “not exalting ‘general’ education at the expense of ‘vocational’ education and that it is now recognized that the antithesis is largely a false one.” 63 years ago they saw it but still the split between “academic” and “vocational” persists.

Percy Nunn got it right when he said….

To train someone in the tradition of these ancient occupations is to ensure … that they will throw themselves into their work with spirit, and with a zeal for mastery that teachers usually look for in the elect….a student’s whole intellectual vitality may be heightened, their sense of spiritual values quickened. In short, the vocational training may become in the strictest sense liberal.

He goes on to say….

To ignore this truth, to overlook the desire of the healthy adolescent to get to grips with reality, would be fatal. Indeed, the ‘general’ education of many students would have much greater significance to them if it was brought into a closer relationship with their strictly “vocational” studies.

The liberalisation of the school curriculum through multiple pathways, trades academies, options for vocational education and training at age 16 years and suchlike activity has a long history. The tragedy has been that it has taken close to seventy years for us to substantiate it.

A Pathways and Transitions Conference

Te Ara Whakamana 2015

 

For five years the MIT Centre for Studies in Multiple Pathways in partnership with Ako Aoteroa: National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence has held an international conference on pathways, transitions, bridging the gaps and seamless education. It started in a small way in 2011 and was predominantly focused on the new approach to “bridging the gap” between secondary and postsecondary education. The MIT Tertiary High School was a new development back then, the Youth guarantee policy was emerging and the questions were being raised as to how educational outcomes could be lifted by working differently. David Conley, from Oregon USA and the guru of career ready education, was the international speaker and over the years MIT and Ako Aotearoa have brought out to New Zealand such speakers as Gary Hoachlander from California and an expert in connected education, John Polesol, University of Melbourne, with his views on how social factors had shaped access to education and many others.

And this array of international speakers have been surrounded by the best practitioners from around New Zealand and as programmes addressing the issues of engagement, transitions and pathways spread, so too did the understanding of the importance of these new ways of working. Over the years a story has developed of increasing opportunity for New Zealand students in the senior years of schooling, of new ways and working and more importantly, of new pathways to success.

MIT Centre for Studies in Multiple Pathways and Ako Aotearoa: Centre of Excellence in Tertiary Teaching invite you to be a participant at the 2015 International Conference on Pathways, Transitions and Working Across Boundaries. Reflecting the growth of the programmes that increase positive outcomes for secondary and postsecondary students, this year’s programme stretches the band of interest to start the discussion of the role of employers in this new world.

The following brochure captures the themes and intentions of the conference. It will be held in the new state-of-the –art campus opened last year by MIT at Manukau – arrive by train right underneath the campus.

 

To register or for further information:  https://akoaotearoa.ac.nz/tearawhakamana2015 

 Click on image to enlarge.

CSMPFlyer

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A Broad View of ANZAC Day Abroad

 

I have spent ANZAC Day overseas on a few occasions. And there is a power in such experiences that seems to intensify because it is away from home.

Australia seems to declare party time once the solemnity of the morning services has past. I have seen this in Sydney and most notably in Melbourne. Again this year our own TV news showed a pretty boistrous and liquid game of Two-Up at which the atmosphere was captured by some young fellow who slurred and leered to the camera the sentiment that “they suffered for us so we are going to party for them.”

Perhaps one of the most moving was years ago in Singapore where as guest of the High Commission we were taken out to the ANZAC Memorial up on the hill looking over the straits of Jahore. There was still a military presence in Singapore then and so the ceremony had an appropriate degree of military ceremony and circumstance. As daylight seeped in the ceremony was moving in a way that brought a lot of things (including ourselves) home.

The last ANZAC Day I attended in Australia was on the outskirts of Brisbane at a splendid Dawn Service with a real suburban feel to it. The Guest Speaker that morning was Douglas Blackmur who many NZers will remember as once-upon-a-time CE of NZQA!

Solomon Islands – ANZAC but Australia really back in the 1980s – but this was full of meaning as stays were usually punctuated by snorkelling over the many WWII shipwrecks and coming across the metal detritus of a war.

This year has seen an unprecedented build-up given that it was the centenary of the Gallipoli landing. The energetic genealogical sleuthing of my brother has only in the past few months tracked down a missing Great-Uncle who we through was at ANZAC Cove that day in 1915 but this was a view sustained entirely without evidence. But the mystery has been solved.

The second son of our Great-Grandfather, William Ernest CAMERON was something of a character. He wandered around NZ (including mining activities in Waihi) and Australia settling in Tasmania. When war broke out he joined the queue and enlisted in the AIF 12th Battalion which shipped out to Egypt and Gallipoli. He died on 25 April 1915 as his company attacked up towards Walker’s Ridge. He was fighting for Australia and, because of that, for New Zealand. Both his life and his war were short.

This year I am in Samoa for ANZAC Day and the dawn service was a warm and appropriate gathering of local, expatriate and visiting folk who clustered around the clock tower in the centre of Apia. The always splendid Police Brass Band and a platoon of police dressed in ceremonial white gave the whole event a rather significant degree of the military origins of the day.

When I was at school, the School Cadet Unit from each school in Hamilton would march from the main street of Hamilton to the cenotaph on the eastern banks of the Waikato River. Hundreds of schoolboys in their military uniforms accompanied by staff dressed in the uniforms that had in many cases seen war service. As I got into the senior school I bacame a member of several brass bands and later, in Auckland, the Band of the 3 RNZIR Queen Alexander’s Own Regiment.

For me ANZAC Day was essentially a day of music and I think that element has diminished over the years. “Abide with me”, “Lead Kindly Light” and others were the staple diet of the day. No more it seems.

I think I despise quite a few things about nationalism, but 25/04 does have an unmistakeable feeling that home is home.

 

Success most schools would die for!

There is a lovely story hidden in among the NCEA results and commentary (NZ Herald, April 9, 2015).

At first glance the appearance of Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT) seems to be a mistake – what role does a tertiary education institution have in a list of NCEA results? And the results themselves seem remarkable: Level 1 – 100%, Level 2 – 91.8% and Level 3 – 83.3%.

In 2010, MIT opened the School of Secondary Tertiary Studies (Faculty of Education and Social Sciences) , also known as the Tertiary High School, the first of its kind in New Zealand.  This programme provides a pathway to success and employment for students who in Year 10 (age 14, Form 4) faced the prospect of little or no success.

A focus on the essential skills required in education and training is placed in a context where students simultaneously undertake their schooling (NCEA) and tertiary education focusing on career and professional qualifications across a wide range of disciplines. The claim is that the MIT Tertiary High School “does not take students out of school, it keeps them in school but they will not be at school.”

The results speak for themselves. Students in their second year of secondary schooling who faced failure and the risk of dropping out have a future in this different pathway characterised by success academically, gaining industry-recognised vocational qualifications and leaving with a high prospect of employment.

The New Zealand education system has unacceptable levels of disengaged students bringing great disadvantage to individuals, families and communities, and with a compounding negative impact on economic development and growth. There are no winners in this scenario.

Getting different results requires school systems to work in different ways and programmes such as the MIT Tertiary High School lead the way.

Earlier access to vocational education and training has been shown in many studies to be an effective means of re-engaging the students heading towards the point of dropping-out.

The world has changed and with it the nature of economies, the capacity of employers to take on unformed novice workers, and the demands of employment. Where once doing not so well in school was able to be compensated for by early employment with sympathetic employers, failing in school now is highly dangerous.

The education system has to pick up a challenge now that, despite the rhetoric, it has never faced in the past. It must now prepare each and every student to make a meaningful contribution to their family, their community and the country and young people who are employable.

Currently we fall well short of this and will continue to do so while we resist the reality that in order to get different results, the education system will have to work in different ways.

Not all students will succeed in a school. There should therefore be multiple pathways that open up for them to continue their education as distinct from their schooling in different settings.

The MIT Tertiary High School is one example of a pathway that takes students who have little hope of reaching high levels of achievement in the school pathway. It is not a better pathway per se but it is a different pathway and for those who succeed because of it, a far better pathway.

Opening the Tertiary High School in 2010 required legislative changes for students to be enrolled at both a school and a tertiary institution, for funding from both sectors to be used, for the duty of care to be shared between providers, and for students under the age of 16 to be educated in a place that is not designated as a school.

There is now no impediment to creating new pathways for students who do not feature in the NCEA success rates.

The NCEA results of the MIT Tertiary High School form one piece of evidence that working differently can bring different results. Failure to accept this is simply to deny the opportunities and the results that come from working differently to young people who face becoming yet another grim statistic of failure.

Stuart Middleton is Director of the Centre for Studies in Multiple Pathways at Manukau Institute of Technology.