As the winter terms finish our attention is focussed on exams, assessments, and doing everything we can to ensure our students get the best possible NCEA results. From the tracking data that I am seeing the school is lifting the bar in terms of achievement, and most importantly, the quality of achievement. There is some outstanding learning taking place, and outstanding teaching facilitating that learning. Personally, I still feel there is a “she’ll be right” apathetic attitude that seems to stick to a few students and we exert a lot of energy trying to negate that. However, across the board that attitude is diminishing rapidly as students and parents realise what is at stake in terms of getting a good start on adult life and career.
Jobs puzzle me. I get that a little work outside of school teaches a great deal. But jobs that take priority over unique opportunities and academic achievement are not something I believe in for adolescents. Most of us spend our whole adult life working hard. I see no reason to sacrifice the precious gift of time to learn and experience new things for an early start on working life. A little part-time and some pocket (fuel or phone) money is reasonable, but for some students their jobs are considerably more than that. I would urge families to consider balance, and that a boss pressuring a young person into turning up because they are “short staffed” and it's “real world” is simply adding to teenager stress. Teenage brains need downtime and sports, music and similar activities allow that.
It has been a wonderful term of considerable progress and success for our school, emphatically demonstrated by our outstanding Premier Netball Team. Never have I sent out so many congratulations letters to deserving students. From the wonderful “Beauty and the Beast” school show to Winter Tournament week - we are already for a breather.
Have a lovely family holiday, and whilst one eye will be on the looming NCEA exams, hopefully you will find some fun distractions on the way.
Ps – The MCAT…
Clearly there has been a problem here with NZQA’s quality control procedures. Teachers and students are stressed by what has happened and that is the very last thing we want coming into the business end of the NCEA year. Moreover, we want students to gain confidence with their maths, not be put off by an exam paper they can’t engage with.
NZQA are talking about making sure that no students are disadvantaged, and their intention will be to create a marking schedule which effectively scales everyone up. The problem is that the test was so challenging that many students struggled to engage, and hence haven’t produced sufficient material to be scaled. There is little the school can do except lodge a complaint. We will ignore the MCAT for 2017 pre-requisites and use other assessments and our knowledge of the students.