Principal ‘disappointed’ with some NCEA changes

The removal of fees for NCEA and scholarship students appears to be a misnomer for at least one Rotorua secondary school.

Yesterday, the Government, among other decisions, said it would wipe $76.50 fee for NCEA and the $30 fee to scholarship students were obliged to pay with immediate effect.

Western Heights High School principal Jim Gemmell termed the decision “pretty disappointing” especially the reintroduction of a new credit system.

“That was what we had in the past before NCEA came in,” says Jim.

WHHS, with the most pupils of five high schools in the Rotorua city area, also had a system where no pupil missed a chance for either NCEA or scholarships.

Asked if students with ability whose parents could not afford the fee did not sit because they did afford the fee, Jim says: “We would never have allowed that to happen. That was never a major one with us – we’d make arrangements.

“There is limited change to what they’ve proposed, it’s very general.

As for the scholarship fee, Jim says the school prepared “students to sit through scholarships – certainly, it’s not a biggie for us”.

The decision was also a slight return to the past, before the introduction of NCEA nearly 20 years ago, with regard to external examinations to move away from school certificate.

The move to 60 credits was also a reminder of earlier standards.

“That was always the way – it’s pretty disappointing.”

More than 145,000 households are estimated to benefit from the removal of the $76.70 NCEA fee that families pay every year. In many cases, families are forced to pay the fee in successive years depending on the number of children in each family.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins says as part of the Wellbeing Budget fees were being abolished “to make things a bit easier for families”.

Changes, to be phased in over four years starting next year, are part of a major overhaul of the qualification.

Level one of the NCEA will stay. The number of credits required for each level were 80.

Credits from lower levels will no longer count toward higher levels of the qualification Students will not be allowed to resubmit assignments unless they are trying to improve from a fail grade.

There will be a new externally-marked 20-credit literacy and numeracy benchmark.

The single common benchmark in English and te reo Māori will provide a clear standard to evaluate performance and level of quality across literacy and numeracy, says the NCEA document.


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