I want to start by saying that I have no ulterior motive for putting forward the following suggested strategy. My focus is entirely on the well-being of students and staff and strongly believe the positive outcomes would easily outweigh any perceived negative outcomes. As well, I can't help but draw on our experience at Hobsonville Point Secondary School over the last 7 years where I have witnessed a deep engagement with learning and high quality qualification achievement by our learners, But, also, I cannot help but draw on my previous 20 years experience as a school leader in a decile 1 school (where, by the way, I would be implementing a strategy similar to that described here).
At some point we will return to our physical schools. At this stage we are not sure whether our students would have missed out on 3, 4 or more weeks of on-site, physical school. It is very important to remember that whatever that time of off-site is, the actual lost time to that important on-site face-to-face learning will be much longer.
Our students (and staff) will return to our sites affected by a number of issues:
- some will be grieving
- many whānau will be affected by health issues
- many students' whānau will be facing employment uncertainty
- most whānau will be faced with financial hardship
- all students will be spread across the full range on the continuum of what learning progress they made while off-site. Some may have flourished and soared, many may have managed to just keep up, and many more will have struggled
- Whakawhanaunga - welcoming our staff and students back into the physical space and re-inducting into how we now work in our kura
- Accommodating the full range of well-being situations all will be in
- Establishing the full range of learning progressions and differentiating so that we can accelerate those who have struggled while maintaining the momentum of all
- Progress towards qualifications
As far as 2020 qualifications are concerned we must have the time and energy to focus on those students who are graduating this year, while ensuring we keep building the foundations for quality qualifications for those students not graduating this year.
In devising our strategies for how we navigate our way through the reality of what impact Covid 19 has had on our schools and learners, and will continue to do so, and which allow us to have the focus described above we may need to be reminded of the following points made in the latest NZQA Update which included a slide show (unfortunately these important points were buried as bullet point 4 on slide 8 under the heading NZQA advises you consider):
- using the flexibility of the qualification.
- Students don't need to complete a lower level qualification before moving to the next level. If students don't manage to achieve sufficient credits, those they subsequently achieve from a higher level can fill any gaps in achievement at a lower level.
- Students can catch up and be awarded their certificate in 2021 if they are returning to school.
- students do not need to achieve Level 1 to gain Level 2 or Level 3 and, in fact, don't need L2 to get L3.
- on the way to achieving their final qualification students do not need to complete each lower level in a calendar year
- on average, students at the end of Year 11 have 20 Level 1 credits and 10 at Level 2
- during their Year 12 year, after picking up a further 50 credits (usually at Level 2), they are awarded Level 1 and are close to achieving Level 2
- at the end of Year 12 many students may well not have met the requirements for Level 2 (though we ensure those graduating at the end of Year 12 achieve Level 1 or 2 - whatever is appropriate for them). This is not a concern for us because on their return the following year as a Year 13 student they meet the requirements of Level 2 (usually early in the year) and most go on to achieve Level 3.
- 10% of students leave school without at least Level 1
- 10% leave school with Level 1 as their highest qualification
- Teachers would not have to amend their programmes. They would still teach the full important concepts, skills and knowledge of their specialist subject, laying strong foundations for success in the following year at Level 2
- The large amount of time usually dedicated to the assessment of NCEA standards would be freed up for more learning
- Schools could decide that each subject can offer a maximum of 2 standards per subject so that students are still progressing the qualification ladder (or whatever maximum suits them best in consultation with each Learning Area).
- Because of more time allowing for deeper learning, schools may find that they can offer some of their Year 11 students assessment pitched at Level 2.
- Feedback and reporting to students and parents could be as it currently is for Years 9 and 10 - against Level 6 of the NZC