New Zealand Schools: Ngā Kura o Aotearoa (2002)

Publication Details

The report of the Minister of Education on the compulsory schools sector in NZ pertaining to 2002 (also known as the Schools Sector Report).

Author(s): Data Management and Analysis Division, Ministry of Education

Date Published: 2003

Key Findings

Student Achievement

Overall, students at all levels of schooling do well on assessments of basic skills such as describing and following instructions. Assessments suggest there is a need to keep strengthening higher-order thinking skills such as explaining or applying concepts across different contexts.

On average, New Zealand students perform similarly to, or better than, international averages across a range of studies. However, within New Zealand there is a wide spread of achievement, with a much larger proportion of students performing at low levels compared with most other countries with similar performance.

The pattern of student achievement differs according to the specific learning area. However, in general terms,New Zealand European and Asian students achieve at higher levels than do Māori and Pasifika students.

Year 4 there have been small improvements over the last few years in achievement levels in viewing, information skills, social studies and maths. Achievement levels have been maintained in listening, writing and health and physical education.

At Year 8 there has been a small improvement over the last few years in achievement levels in viewing, and a slight decline in writing. Achievement levels have been maintained in listening, information skills, social studies, maths, and health and physical education.

Some preliminary evidence suggests that differences in achievement levels may have reduced in some learning areas for both Year 4 and Year 8 students, between Māori and non-Māori, girls and boys, and students from low and high decile schools.

2002 is the first year in which students have been able to accumulate credits across years for the new NCEA qualification. Half of all Year 11 students (50 percent) gained the Level 1 qualification and a further 36 percent gained some credits towards it.

Leaving school with at least a Level 2 qualification is important if students are to experience positive life outcomes. Two-thirds of school leavers in 2002 had such qualifications.

Engagement of Students, Families and Communities

In learning at school has a significant impact on a student's subsequent life. Significant factors in engaging students are the quality of teaching, and the partnership between school and home and family.

home-school partnerships have placed the primary focus on learning they have had greater impact on student learning outcomes.

When students are able to participate in school decisions that affect them, they are likely to be more engaged in the learning process.

The provision of appropriate career education and guidance to all students in Year 7 and above needs to be strengthened.

Effective programmes aimed at assisting the transition of senior school students from school emphasise student engagement and recognise the importance of collaborative relationships with tertiary providers and employers.

An increasing proportion of school leavers is going straight on to tertiary education, particularly Pasifika school leavers and students from low decile schools.

Secondary schools need to ensure they provide clear pathways into tertiary education, beginning in Year 9.

Quality Teaching

Quality teaching focuses on making a difference for every individual student,to raise achievement and improve learning outcomes.

Quality teachers are expert in teaching approaches that integrate curriculum, assessment and pedagogy.

Analysing and acting on assessment information raises standards of learning, particularly for lower-achieving students.

Professional development that creates positive teacher beliefs and expectations about student achievement, and explicitly focuses on classroom practice, has a significant role in improving the quality of teaching.

Changed teaching practice can bring about marked improvements in learning outcomes for Māori and Pasifika students.

Strong communities of professional practice, including strong professional leadership by the principal, have been linked with higher student achievement.

Beginning teachers are valued for their enthusiasm and vitality, and the fresh perspectives they bring to teaching, but they also require considerable assistance and support.

Schools in remote areas and Māori-medium schools can find it difficult to support professional development opportunities for their beginning teachers.

School Governance and Leadership

Number of school boards are working together to achieve alternative, more flexible governance structures.

The effectiveness of student representatives' participation on boards of trustees is strongly influenced by the chair and principal, as well as by their own commitment and ability.

Many schools received training and support to help with new planning and reporting requirements in 2002.

Educational Leaders, formerly LeadSpace, is a dedicated website providing information and services for principals, and the First Time Principals Programme that helps develop the knowledge, skills and competencies required for the position, have both proven very popular.

Many primary schools participated in the Literacy Leadership Programme in 2002, and it was extended to secondary schools later in the year.

Resourcing Schools

Increasingly, changes to the network of schools are initiated for the purpose of maintaining and strengthening education provision.

Additional resources can make a difference to educational outcomes, but this depends as much on how resources are used as how many resources are provided.

Resources appear to be used most effectively when they are focused on school-wide improvement programmes, building and supporting effective teaching practice, and creating a positive school environment.

The new Five-year Property Programme has shifted the focus for schools from making efforts to obtain funding for property, to making the best possible investment decisions.

Overall, the schools sector is in a financially sound position with increasing revenue and net worth. However, there are some schools with operating deficits and increased borrowing, and the position of these schools will continue to be monitored.

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