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Pathways-ED: If it's broke, fix it!

Stuart Middleton
24 November 2011


Remember the blog earlier this week when I said:

Here is an idea. Make the primary sector start at Year 1 and end at Year 6. Have a “Junior High School” from Year 7 to Year 10. Then re-position the senior secondary school (Years 11+) as a Senior College within the tertiary sector. This would allow the funding formula for all students from Year 11 on to be synchronised regardless of whether they are in Senior College or a tertiary provider. In fact, the Senior College could well be the tertiary sector.

(These ideas will be expanded in Thursdays EdTalkNZ)

Well, I have changed my mind a little bit. I think I should have also included early childhood education.

So here goes.

Primary School (K1 – Year 6)

This would include two years of pre-school classes located within each primary school especially in areas of high need. K1-K2 would provide a standard early childhood education programme. Then the children would proceed into Year 1 and stay there through until Year 6. This would cover the conventional primary school programme.

Junior College (Year 7 – Year 10)

This combines the current intermediate school with the first two years of what we know now as secondary school, Year 7 – Year10. It is a transitional institution intended to be the level at which students make a gradual transition from the “primary” programme to one closer to the ways in which secondary schools teach; from holistic themed programme to the discipline-based approach of the secondary school. It will be where quality advice, education, guidance and information about careers is de rigueur and academic planning both taught and caught.

Senior College (Year 11 – Year 13)

This is the more radical part of this re-structuring because I would also argue that the Senior College would be removed from the Schooling Sector and placed in the Tertiary Sector. What are the key reasons for this last suggestion?

It is critical that the collaboration between tertiary and secondary be escalated to allow young students the opportunity to study towards career and technical education qualifications through those years. Those headed towards university might similarly benefit fron an earlier opportunity to start on their university studies in the style of the US early college high school.

Youth Guarantee, trades academies, service academies have loosened up the hard barriers between secondary and tertiary, it is now time to finish the job. Having the Senior College included in the tertiary sector would allow for some considerable gains:

The synchronising of funding approaches for both. This would remove the most ticklish issue in collaborative activity between tertiary providers and secondary schools – the development of a funding approach that is easy, equitable and within fiscal constraints. With Senior Colleges having the same accountability measures and levels, the same course development and approval processes and the same quality assurance processes as other tertiary providers, the senior curriculum could over time become a cornucopia of opportunity for young people.

Alongside and embedded into NCEA, Senior Colleges could be at least starting students off onto tertiary qualifications and in some instances actually have them complete industry recognised qualifications and get their NCEA. It can be done, it is being done!

Now, how can all this be accommodated – literally? The Senior Colleges would in many places be alongside a Junior College sharing a site that was previously a secondary school site. The teachers would be predominantly teachers who teach in our secondary schools although in the Senior College there is room for a greater variety of teacher-background and experience being available to students at that level. On shared sites there would be a single administration.

As I said the other day, it can’t be the people who are getting it wrong, it has to be the structure.

Our education system grew as it has largely by accident and the simple addition of new levels and different ways of working without an overall design. The time is right for a deliberate and future looking system, planned, cohesive and above all, characterised by widespread student success.

This is only an idea. What is your idea?

Published inEducation

One Comment

  1. I wrote up a plan like this in my about 3 years ago and it has been my life plan to make it happen. Integrated, inquiry and project based learning for year 7-10 so that they have more of an idea what kind of job or career they want. They would have large classes of 3+ teachers, with an English and Maths teacher plus a rotation of teachers in other subjects such as science, p.e, home ec, dance etc. In college I think they should make the classes with lectures and tutorials. The amount of times that I heard, “I am not here to make you learn, I am just here to teach,” has me thinking that having secondary teachers lecturing a class of 7 students is a waste of money. The best marks I had in secondary I got when I was learning correspondence. Have secondary teachers lecturing hundreds of students, and the ones who need extra help can go to tutorials. From the type of teaching happening in year 7-10 the kids will be more aware of what they want to do and therefore more motivated to learn without being pushed. The money saved from this would go back down to primary school so that they could have more teachers per students. This would help solve New Zealand’s major problem of a long tail of underachievement. The reason we have it would be because teachers aren’t able to cater to the needs of these students in classes of 30 kids.

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