We spent 2018 talking to New Zealanders about their experiences with NCEA – the challenges, the successes, what they like, and what we can do better.
We were not surprised that many parents and caregivers find NCEA confusing and are not always sure what their child should be, or is doing. We want parents and whānau to be able to support their children to make good choices about their education and future, but at the moment this may not be happening as well as it could be.
We heard that NCEA’s flexibility can benefit students, and having internal and external credits gives them different ways to achieve.
It was pretty clear that many people saw NCEA as a good and valued qualification. In most cases it does help our kids to get a good education and sets them up for further study or employment after school. However we also heard this isn’t the case for everyone.
Some families struggle to pay the fees for NCEA, and others found that NCEA isn’t inclusive of their languages, cultures, identities, disabilities, genders, or sexualities.
We heard that teachers in English-medium schools often had lower expectations for ākonga Māori and didn’t put the same effort into supporting them to do well in NCEA. Like Pacific students, Māori students said they can be encouraged into less academic pathways that do not serve them well.
What we also heard was that many students felt increasingly stressed with the amount of assessment they were doing throughout the year, and in some cases this was affecting their family and life at home.
As well as talking to schools, and family and whānau, we also asked employers and tertiary educators how we could strengthen NCEA. They told us that some students are leaving school without the levels of literacy and numeracy needed to succeed in further education and work. This is just not good enough, and something we need to fix.
The changes to NCEA are the result of what we heard last year, and we are confident that they will improve the future of young people in New Zealand.
If you need to ask any further questions about these changes and what they mean for your child, please talk to your school who will be able to help you.
Some changes like removing fees for NCEA and NZ Scholarship will happen immediately. This year you will not have to pay fees, and schools will give refunds to those parents who have already made payments in 2019. This will mean families have more money in their pockets, and all children will have an equal chance to achieve a qualification.
Other changes will take more time, and won’t impact kids who are currently doing NCEA. These changes need to be designed and rolled out in schools over the next 5-6 years. As things are changing, your child’s school or wharekura will be supported and included along the way.
The changes will strengthen your child’s education. They will help you both make better choices about what they should study, and what their next steps will be after school.
Your child’s workload will be more manageable, which has got to be good for their mental health. Being a teenager can be hard enough as it is without the extra stress and pressure from too much school work. There‘ll be fewer assessments each year, which means teachers will get more time to teach, and students more time to learn.
The changes will make NCEA simpler and easier for everyone to understand.
You should feel comfortable and confident in NCEA, that it is a strong, credible qualification that is equipping your child with the knowledge and skills they need for a successful life.
There are seven changes that will be rolled out over the next 5-6 years. The changes are:
The Ministry of Education will work with experts from across the education sector to make sure the changes work in practice.
The Ministry of Education will be providing resources to schools and kura to help them inform and support parents and whānau through these changes. Please contact your school or kura to stay informed about the changes to NCEA.