|NEW ZEALAND'S EDUCATION
More focus needed on preparing secondary students for life after school, new ERO report says
Many secondary schools need to ensure their curriculum better prepares their students for life after school, according to a new report released today by the Education Review Office (ERO).
The report, Secondary Schools: Pathways for future education, training and employment, discusses how well secondary schools have prepared their students for future opportunities in education, training or employment. The findings are based on reviews of 74 secondary schools by ERO last year.
ERO evaluated how responsive each school’s curriculum and systems were to the future plans of individual students. It found considerable variation with ten of the 74 secondary schools considered to be responsive, 38 partially responsive, 23 had limited responsiveness, and three were found to be poor.
Stephanie Greaney, acting National Manager Evaluation Services for ERO, says that the report’s key finding is that students need options that will suit their ability, interests and future plans, and they need help with making choices.
“It’s not enough that courses are available to students. A challenge for many secondary schools was that more innovation was needed to create the curriculum opportunities required by the range of students within a school.
“This innovation needs to apply more widely than the traditional academic pathways students might take. Sometimes this will mean connecting with local businesses or agencies to find the right pathway for a student. Or it might mean working closely with family or whānau to develop a suitable pathway,” she says.
In the report ERO notes that the most responsive schools put considerable effort into ensuring teachers understood the goals for each student and designed programmes to help achieve these. These top performing schools also had initiatives that encouraged students to develop leadership and self-management skills.
The report found that vocational programmes are having a greater role in many secondary schools. Gateway, Youth Guarantee, Work Experience and other school and polytechnic programmes provided diverse ways for students to succeed.
However, ERO notes that some schools are seeing vocational programmes mainly as a way to increase qualifications for Māori and Pacific students, particularly for the boys. It says schools also need to develop academic courses that focus on Māori and Pacific students’ interests and aspirations.
The report is designed to help schools improve by outlining the features of secondary schools that are doing well in meeting students’ needs. It also makes several recommendations for schools and the Ministry of Education.