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Tag: collaboration

Party at Hekia’s Place – BYOE Bring Your Own Excellence along

It looks as if 2014 is shaping up to be somewhat unusual for education in New Zealand – three key developments are happening.

In March a set of Education Festivals will be held in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Developed by Cognition Education and with the four key themes of COLLABORATION, INNOVATION, COHESION and CELEBRATION.   The festivals are co-ordinated by Cognition Education with the support of the Ministry of Education and will coincide with the 4th International Summit on the Teaching Profession, jointly hosted by the OECD, Education International and New Zealand through the MOE.

The festivals focused on two key dimensions, the performance of students, teachers, schools and institutions in our community and the proud record New Zealand has inspired improved educational achievement in other countries by sharing our expertise and systems.

The press education receives is generally at best miserable and at times plain negative. I have frequently pointed out that the profession too often contributes to this. Here is a golden opportunity for education to put on its best clothes and strut its stuff in public and rather then spout clichés  about a “world class education system” , to allow the outcomes of the work of schools and other education providers be seen and enjoyed by a wider community. Let the work and skills of our students be the push for the excellent brew that comes out in most schools.

An added opportunity is to be able to do this while an international community of educators is here as our guest – a chance not only to show and teach but also to listen and to learn. The participating countries at the 4th International Summit are the top 20 education systems as measured by the PISA  results and the five fastest improvers.

This is a unique opportunity for New Zealand to learn and to gain insights into how we can match achievement data with greatly improved equity measures.  Both the festival and the summit will allow us to share insights with others and to learn from the insights of others. This is not a bragging contest but potentially could be a fine week for education n New Zealand.

The Minister of Education Hon Hekia Parata is behind both of these initiatives and her leadership deserves strong support from the sector and from all levels within the sector.

The third element that could lift the image of education in New Zealand is the announcement, also from Minister Parata, of the inaugural Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards to be introduced for 2014. The tertiary education sector has had just such a set of awards for about 10 years and they have been markedly successful under the astute leadership of Ako Aotearoa.

This new set of awards will focus on early childhood education, primary and secondary schooling and collaboration between secondary schools, tertiary providers and employers. This last award – collaboration – is particularly pleasing coming at a time when it is emerging that pathways between sectors will be a critical feature of the new environment that will allow us to address equity.

Ands that brings us back to the festival and the summit. We need to see these three developments as a set of tools that the education system can use to create a better education sector, one characterised by collaboration, by clear evidence of excellence and by a commitment to improved equity of outcomes. We will do this in part by seeing collaboration (bringing the fragmented sector together for the festival) and celebrating (excellence in teaching through the awards) as necessary to lifting our game. Necessary but not in themselves sufficient – long term change will require us to make a habit of collaboration and celebration.

In summary:

  •          Festivals of Education  – Auckland (21-23 March 2014), Wellington (29 March 2014) and Christchurch (23 March 2014)
  •          The 4th International Summit on the Teaching Profession – March 2014 
  •          Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards – entries close 31 March 2014

Roll on March I say.



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Talk-ED: A “snapshot” view of a secondary / postsecondary interface programme in America


Guest blogger, Colleen Young, Administrator, Centre for Studies in Multiple Pathways, joins us today.


The “one-size-fits-all” education system is tearing our secondary student body apart.  Granted, for some students the academic route is working, but for an increasing number of students in the English speaking countries, senior school students are becoming bored with the curriculum on offer, experiencing little educational success and they are very likely to fail within the current system. Educational policy-makers are constantly searching for answers. 

Recently I visited two Early College High Schools in the United States. This is a new form of schooling founded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation aimed at improving student success for minority students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.  It was refreshing to see re-engaged students who knew their future career pathways and how they were going to get there. In one of the schools, two Grade 10 (Year 11) students took me on tour.  They were so proud of their school.  They loved their integrated secondary/postsecondary programme and when they introduced me to their teachers; it was obvious that they had formed quality relationships with them.  So, what did these schools have in common and why were both schools achieving such excellent educational outcomes for the students?

For a start, like the Tertiary High School, based at Manukau Institute of Technology, for Year 11-Year 13 students, both schools are situated on campus.  There are no tuition or book costs for up to five years. Studying on site at the College eases the students into the new postsecondary environment and makes for a smooth transition.

In addition, the funding of the institutions differed from a traditional school. Both schools were initially, (and one of them still is) funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation which gave the schools complete autonomy and removed them from the state system.  Fierce marketing done by each of the schools allowed prospective students and their families to understand the Early College High School concept. The target audience is similar to the Tertiary High School where students may apply who come from lower socioeconomic, low income families, underrepresented groups and who are possibly first generations, college going students. 

Demand for places always exceeded supply.  Students who were lucky enough to gain a place in one of these schools are able to learn in a small school between 100 and 200 students.  As a result these students are able to receive more one-on-one academic and social support. Teachers work individually with students to remove any barriers they may be facing that may be inhibiting their educational success. Knowing some students miss out on a place may mean the students valued their place more than the place they had in their previous school.  This appeared to be the case as from what I saw wandering around the classrooms the students appeared to be working hard and enjoying their learning experience.  Staff that I spoke to said they had very few behavioural problems.

To conclude, there appear to be four differences in these two schools in comparison to the traditional school model.   These are:  the way a school is funded in terms of staffing and resources, the autonomy for decision making, the creation of a collaborative and flexible integrated programme between the two institutions which is relevant, interesting, challenging and rigorous for the students; and a small school which in turn allows for smaller class sizes therefore providing more time for individual teacher and student interaction.

The question remains:  Can our senior secondary schools change the way the programmes are developed and delivered to the senior students which in turn would mean increasing the collaboration between secondary and tertiary institutions?  In addition, could the policies be adapted so that funding can follow the student?  If so, then more students at risk of failing in our traditional school system could be given access to a variety of career options and opportunities in order to create a brighter and happier future for them.

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