By Katee Shanks

Rotorua secondary school principals are in no hurry to join a national groundswell away from National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) Level 1.

A number of Auckland schools have recently said they would not be offering NCEA Level 1, instead focusing on Level 2 over a two-year period.

NCEA is under Government review with a discussion document on reforming NCEA, proposing Level 1 requirements be halved from 80 credits to 40, and having only internally assessed tests.

For NCEA Levels 2 and 3, 20 out of the 80 credits required for each year will be earned from a trade’s course, a research project or community action project.

Rotorua Boys’ High School principal Chris Grinter said he would not be keen to see NCEA Level 1 go.

“We certainly are not thinking of reducing our exposure to it.

“For our school, NCEA is a very useful first qualification for many of our boys and unfortunately in the case of a small group, it may be a main high school qualification.”

He said NCEA Level 1 helped set students on a positive path of academic achievement.

“I am indeed one of the principals that signed the request to the minister to proceed with the review with caution. This was the position for a majority of the boys’ schools.

“Having said that, I can see opportunities to revise the way NCEA looks and operates. I would be happy for credits to reduce but not to 40. I would be happy for the qualification to be less intensive in terms of assessment.”

Grinter said a lot more research was needed before a project-based qualification was offered.

Western Heights High School principal’s nominee Ben Prangnell said the school was in consultation with the Government regarding the future of NCEA Level 1.

“One of the proposals from the Government is to reduce NCEA Level 1 credits and include passion projects alongside literacy and numeracy. We see some benefits of doing this but also see some challenges.

“We are having regular discussions both with outside agencies and with our school community on what the future is going to look like in terms of NCEA … but any decisions we do make have to be in the best interests of our students.”

John Paul College principal Patrick Walsh said the NCEA review had certainly animated a lot of principals.

“I don’t have a direct position either way when it comes to retaining NCEA Level 1. I am having discussions with both our board and staff and will wait for the review to be completed before making any decision.”

He said the school was “grappling with a couple of things” when it came to NCEA.

“One is the huge amount of work it places on staff and students. Another is that NCEA Level 1 has lost a lot of significance. It doesn’t lead to University Entrance, it doesn’t lead to any apprenticeships or courses – it seems to have lost a lot of value. Whereas Level 2 and 3 are good platforms to work off.

“These are the kinds of things we will carefully be weighing up.”

Source: Rotorua Daily Post

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