• Exams shifted back to give extra time for study

NCEA students who may be worried about the impact the lockdown has had on their learning have been given a slight reprieve with their end-of-year exams being shifted forward.

While this will help, one Eastern Bay principal says schools are facing the biggest achievement challenge they have ever seen and may have to do things a little differently to what they have done in the past.

NCEA exams have been moved from a November 6 starting date to November 16, allowing another week for teaching, learning and internal assessment in term four.

The Ministry of Education and New Zealand Qualifications Authority have also extended the submission date for subjects which require students to submit a portfolio, such as design and visual communication, from October 28 to November 12, giving students more time to prepare.

The requirement for NZQA verification of level one and two visual arts portfolios will also be waived, allowing students more time to complete their portfolios and teachers more time for marking.

The delay to NCEA examinations means students will now finish on December 9. An amended examination timetable is available on NZQA’s website.

NZQA is also consulting with Universities New Zealand on whether there should be changes to the requirements for university entrance this year, owing to the disruption of Covid-19.

Whakatane High School principal Martyn Knapton said all schools would be facing achievement challenges.

“We have had seven weeks away. We have year 11, 12 and 13 students who have had varying levels of engagement, and this is the message that has come across from all principals across the country.

“Every school is going to be looking for ways in which they can support the students to get the best out of the next two terms or so.”

Mr Knapton said the changes to exam dates and art portfolio submissions were a “reasonable response”.

But he added; “We have lost seven weeks of traction with some of our young people and so pushing the moderation, marking and submission date by two weeks doesn’t relate to the size of the gap the students have had off, so that is a challenge.”

He said the NCEA qualification was globally recognised so no one wanted any changes to the qualification that would impact its quality.

“For all schools the problem of achievement is going to be bigger than we have ever experienced before … I think schools are going to have to look differently at solving that problem.

“We will have some quite intensive mentoring that will help put into place some action plans for each young person.

“Probably the most important thing is to come from a student’s perspective; work alongside the student and their family and find out what the most important thing in terms of pathway for that young person.

“If they are going to go to university let’s find out what is important in terms of a pathway for that young person. If they are going into the trades and they need level two, what is the way we can work alongside our young people to do that.”

Another challenge for teachers is that with the shift in exam dates. Examiners may have to mark papers into the Christmas holidays.

Trident High School deputy principal of academic programmes Adrienne Scott-Jones said it was a relief they had the extra and it should reduce student anxiety.

“The news that the art portfolios deadlines had been shifted too is great as many students did not have access to the materials they needed and therefore during lockdown their progress has been limited.

“I think the focus of the whole of term four will inevitably shift and our approach will be for using the term effectively for senior students’ achievement.”