By Audry Young

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has responded to the criticism from principals over the NCEA review.


Education Minister Chris Hipkins says four months is long enough for a review of NCEA but says he is open to extending it in the wake of an open protest letter by 40 Auckland secondary school principals.

The principals are calling for the review to reviewed.

“We think that is a reasonably good consultation period time,” Hipkins told reporters at Parliament today.

“If at the end of that people are still saying ‘hey, we don’t feel like we’ve had the chance to have our voices heard’, then we certainly open to discussing that further.

“We don’t want to rush this. We do want to make sure that everybody who has got a view has the opportunity to participate in the process.”

He made his comments in the wake of a full-page ad in the Herald on Sunday giving the minister a “Fail” on the NCEA review.

“Too rushed, Minister Hipkins,” the ad said. “Not enough thought. Must do better for our young people.”

The principals are not opposed to the review, and in fact say it is necessary for improvements.

“But the review is flawed and we will not stand idle on the sidelines watching a fraught process pass us by.”

They say there has been a lack of process with secondary school principals.

Students aged 5 to 18 had been targeted to enter competitions to “express themselves”, with prizes valued at over $27,000.

“We suggest that those with experience in the sector [teachers and principals] should have been asked directly for feedback.

“We are the guardians of young people’s secondary school education and believe our input is essential.”

Hipkins said that the review was not just about principals and the review panel of seven had to involve everybody in it.

“We want to hear from principals and we want to hear from young people. I do disagree with the principals’ view that the voices of young people are not important in this process.

“Ultimately it is their futures we are talking about.”

Hipkins said the principals’ reference in the ad to the contribution of young voices could be read a number of different ways.

He had been “a little disappointed” when he saw the open protest letter in the paper but they would be given ample opportunity to be fully engaged with the process.

“This is not a pre-determined review. We’ve basically put some big ideas out there. That was done by an independent review panel. The Government has not made any decisions about what the future of the NCEA might look like.”

Hipkins said some of the names of principals on the open letter were not a surprise.

“Their views on NCEA are well known, they are much more traditional in their thinking. We do want to hear from them but also want to hear from people with different views.”

The principals said two things needed to happen: fix the teacher supply and establish a consensus on the curriculum.

“With teacher supply secured and a curriculum in place, we would have a sound foundation to improve the existing NCEA assessment system.

“The starting point should be direct consultation with second school principals.”

The letter is signed by the following principals:

Brent Lewis, Avondale College
Sandy Pasley, Baradene College
Craig Waller, Birkenhead College
Myles Hogarty, De la Salle College
Paul McKinley, Glenfield College
Steve McCracken, Kaipara College
Simon Lamb, King’s College
Chris Rooney, Liston College
CJ Healey, Long Bay College
Steven Hargreaves, Macleans College
Nick Coughlan, One Tree Hill College
Patrick Gale, Rangitoto College
Nixon Cooper, Rosmini College
Gary Moore, Rutherford College
Jim Dale, Sacred Heart College
Robin Staples, Southern Cross Campus
Justine Mahon, St Cuthbert’s College
Kieran Fouhy, St Paul’s College
James Bentley, St Peter’s College
Mark Shanahan, Waitakere College
Brian Evans, Wesley College
Tim O’Connor, Auckland Grammar School
Donald MacLean, Dilworth School
Heather McRae, Diocesan School for Girls
Michael Purcell, Henderson High School
Grant McMillan, James Cook High School
Adeline Blair, Kelston Boys’ High School
Glen Denham, Massey High School
Patrick Drumm, Mt Albert Grammar School
Alex Reed, Pinehurst School
Mary Nixon, Takapuna Grammar School
Rockley Montgomery, Vanguard Military School
David Ferguson, Westlake Boys’ High School
Jane Stanley, Westlake Girls’ High School
John Morris, Past Headmaster Auckland Grammar
Byron Bentley, Past Principal Macleans College
John Taylor, Past Headmaster King’s College

Source: NZ Herald


  1. Minister Hipkins’ reasoning is seriously flawed. With all due respect to young people, there is no way they have the knowledge to make decisions about a national curriculum and assessment system. After 21 years of teaching and six or so years working as an academic I think I am just beginning to what is required! Slow learner perhaps. We need a new curriculum before we tamper with the (also flawed) assessment system.


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