We would like to respond to the article last Monday regarding possible alterations to NCEA and the review of how we are approaching education as a country. As students in the system, we would like to express our disappointment at views expressed by Tim O’Connor, headmaster of Auckland Grammar.

Whereas he labels the proposals “dangerous” and “irresponsible”, as teenagers we are passionate and excited about the suggested changes to NCEA.

We have already experienced four years at a future-focused school and have first-hand knowledge of some of the proposals being made. It is vital that adults don’t judge these changes from their positions of power within very traditional institutions but accept that our education system needs to change and adapt to suit the 21st century.

These NCEA changes are being proposed for a better experience for young people. We attend Hobsonville Point Secondary which focuses on innovation, inquiry and exploration to better prepare its students for the future, through unique learning design. Visitors coming to our school consistently comment on how engaged we are, and how articulate when describing our learning.

While other students are being over-assessed throughout Year 11, chasing up to 140 unnecessary credits or studying for pointless GCSE exams, we were able to focus on achieving excellence credits, knowledge and skills which were actually useful to carry over to Level 2, and also focus on pursuing our passions, without being over-committed and over-anxious.

As a result of the model we experienced, contrary to concerns expressed by students in the article, our transition from Level 1 to Level 2 was seamless and we didn’t feel there was a huge step up.

We encourage students at other schools to be excited and to embrace the proposed changes to NCEA. They will be able to experience more learning and a lot less stress.

The article suggests Auckland Grammar and other traditional schools with old-fashioned views may have a perception of NCEA being second rate to Cambridge and only used for the “struggling students”. NCEA encourages far more critical thinking and will align more accurately with skills employers are wanting to see in future graduates, fostered by project-based learning which will broaden their horizons entering the modern workplace environment.

In response to the comment that the “document’s authors are in la-la land” in saying that students should have “capabilities and attitudes for lifelong learning by the end of Year 11”, we strongly feel these skills and dispositions are not age dependent, but will naturally develop when students are given the opportunity.

We are insulted that someone would think our age limits our ability to display these qualities. Not only do the students at our school have these capabilities but most primary schools now develop these skills. The skills are quashed when they get to most high schools.

This year one of our Impact Projects, (a partnership between our school and the community with the aim to create connectedness and benefit to society), is with the Arohanui satellite school for special needs students. Once a week, students spend a block with the Arohanui students, exposing them to activities which are not part of their regular curriculum such as cooking, trash to fashion and woodwork.

Through working with these Arohanui students we are widening their knowledge of other subjects and experiences. Not only is this having a positive impact on the Arohanui students, but our students are able to develop their inclusive social skills through working with a diverse range of people.

Students are doing this while still achieving merit and excellence endorsement for level 2, and tracking well to finish year 13 with the same result.

Another Impact Project was the development of a digital tech solution to help fitness in Hobsonville Point. Last year the project won the senior best concept award in the ASB bright sparks competition. This year it has a $1000 grant from the Ministry of Youth Development to develop the project as well as allowing Angus to gain 11 Excellence NCEA credits.

This is just one of many examples of our school supporting us to succeed in a project and make sure we are recognised by NCEA for it too.

The proposed NCEA changes indicate a shift to a more modern approach. This will allow New Zealand high school graduates to leave with the tools to shape the future and the skills to know how.

Angus Lynch, Jennifer Berry and Molly Scott are Year 13 students at Hobsonville Point Secondary School.

Source: NZ Herald

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