N.C.E.A. row blows up

The edition of the Sunday Star Times newspaper for 01 July 2018 had a full page letter attacking Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins for the manner in which he has conducted the review of the National Certificate for Educational Achievement (N.C.E.A.). The letter comes midway through the consultation period announced for the review.

It is interesting to note that at the time of the one page advertisement being placed in the Sunday Star Times, the schools whose Principal’s had signed the letter were almost exclusively from around Auckland. Very few if any were from the rest of the North Island, and so far as I could make out none at all were from the South Island.

Perhaps it is too early to judge and that the letter has simply not had time to reach the South Island high school principals. It is also possible that the organizers are constrained by a budget and have not yet gotten around to trying to reach out to principals in other parts of New Zealand. If either or both of these are the case then the failure to reach most parts of New Zealand is completely understandable.

The letter raised five points of contention around the letter. Given the size of the advert – a full A1 page – I am surprised so much of it was wasted on impact, and not setting out in depth detail for those who wanted the nitty gritty.

Mr Hipkins however is right to be making it a priority to undertake a comprehensive review of the N.C.E.A. system. That said, 13 separate reviews if one believes the school principals is a few to many and makes me wonder what is the point of them all?

It is no secret that I have no time for N.C.E.A. It never worked for me and the only problem with the system that it replaced in my personal context was that I was a minimalist at high school in that I did the amount of work that was necessary to pass and that was about it. One cannot blame the old system for a students relatively lax work ethic. In terms of going back to something like the old system, there would need to be a couple of changes – but if they go through I think it will be just fine:

  1. Make all courses have an internal assessment component so that those who are not necessarily adept at doing exams still have a good chance of passing
  2. Get rid of the scaling system – if you get 50% you get 50%; if you completely nail a course, you completely nail the course
  3. Have a prize system to encourage excellence – if you get say 75% across a year, your fees for the following year are halved

If N.C.E.A. was replaced, but the old system of School Certificate, Year 12 Certificate and University Bursary was not reintroduced, what would a replacement system look like?

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