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Update to Year 11 Curriculum Communications

5 June 2018


Dear Parents and Caregivers,

Curriculum Information Evenings

There are two upcoming meetings for parents and caregivers about the curriculum changes to help our Year 11 students succeed in their senior years and life after Scots College.

– Parents’ Association Meeting: 7pm, 19 June, The Hub. A presentation at this meeting on the curriculum changes and a chance for discussion.

– Middle School Information Evening: 6.30pm, 28 June, The Hall. Please note change in date.
Specifically for those with sons in the Middle School – all the details on the curriculum change, implementation, relationship and change programme for Middle School students and a chance to talk to senior staff.

Changes to Year 11 curriculum

Earlier this year we announced Scots College is changing its Year 11 curriculum in 2019 to better prepare students for their futures.

We have spent the first half of this year planning the curriculum and considering how best to teach the skills students need to succeed in school and life after Scots. We have now finalised the model for our Year 11 curriculum and would like to provide parents an opportunity to offer feedback and ask questions about the changes.

You’ll also be aware that the Government has announced a review of NCEA Level 1. Headmaster Graeme Yule shared an update on this review last week. We’ll be following the review closely, while continuing with our changes to the curriculum.

Shifting the focus from assessment to learning

At Scots, we believe NCEA Level 1 places too much of an emphasis on assessment, and not enough on learning.

Under the current system, students sitting NCEA Level 1 focus on collecting credits and sitting assessment. Currently when teachers plan a course, they start with the assessment and then plan the course to ensure students are prepared for assessment. 

Our aim is to change this. At Scots, we want to spend more time teaching students how to learn and develop soft skills, rather than preparing them for a constant cycle of assessment. This is why we are making changes to our Year 11 curriculum, starting in 2019.

Changes to the Year 11 curriculum – three key components

 Five full year subjects
  • English, math and science will be compulsory
  • Students will also choose two full year options similar to the current Year 11 offerings such as languages, technology, business studies and arts
  • These subjects will give students the core skills they need for NCEA Level 2 or IBDP
  • Each of these subjects will include one internal assessment and one external assessment to provide a balance between assessment and learning
Two half-year options
  • Scots College intends to offer a range of courses which provide real-world, practical experience to students in a variety of fields
  • The exact nature of these courses will be determined by staff availability and facilities
  • Examples of option courses include environmental studies, food technology and cyber security
A collaborative project
  • Full year group project
  • Students will spend one period a week considering a real-world problem
  • Students will research a problem and plan a solution, building in a number of 21st century skills such as collaboration and design thinking
  • Projects can be based on a range of issues from technology and energy to health and culture and heritage
  • Students will be asked to reflect on the project throughout the year, demonstrating what they have learned or how they would have done something differently – this reflection will be the main focus for the project’s assessment
  • The approach to the projects will draw on a number of existing project-learning models and learnings from experts in the field, such as the Young Enterprise scheme, the BP challenge and the Conrad Innovation challenge, so students can learn a variety of life skills in a structured and meaningful way

Introducing a collaborative project builds on work students do in the Year 6 Exhibition and the Year 10 Community Project. It encourages students to choose a topic they are passionate about. Project-based learning is useful for teaching skills such as collaboration and critical thinking, and provides opportunities for community engagement or outreach.

These changes give us the opportunity to teach our students the 21st century skills they need to succeed in life. It enables Scots to introduce new ways of teaching and learning, including blended and online learning, and we will continue to develop the offering as new facilities are built. 

Assessment and progression through the Senior School

Students will have access to approximately 40 credits at NCEA Level 1 in 2019. This is in line with the recent government announcement. We will confirm the exact number of credits once teachers have finished designing courses to fit the new curriculum.

Our focus will be on the quality of credits. In the past, students have been able to achieve more than 120 credits which places the emphasis on assessment rather than learning. The new curriculum will focus on the required numeracy and literacy credits and teaching what is needed for internal and external assessments or exams. This will better prepare students for Year 12 and 13, and also life beyond Scots. 

Students do not need to achieve NCEA Level 1 to study towards NCEA Level 2 or the IBDP. When they gain NCEA Level 2 they are also awarded NCEA Level 1.

We’re also exploring ways to measure the 21st century skills which are a major focus of the updated curriculum. We are considering different models and will trial one later this year.

Parents will be informed about measurement and assessment of student progress and key skills to ensure they have a clear view and understanding of how their child is performing.

The impact on teaching staff

Our teachers have mapped the key skills that are taught in the New Zealand curriculum and IBDP. They are now developing courses based on how they will teach and assess these skills.

Scots is also investing in professional development to prepare teachers for this new way of working, including a course with the 21C Skills Lab, to give teachers a chance to upskill in design thinking. Each department is currently undertaking sessions dedicated to developing and writing course plans. 

The impact of the Ministry of Education review of NCEA Level 1

As mentioned, the Government is reviewing NCEA Level 1. A proposal to Minister Hipkins from his ministerial advisory group includes suggestions to reduce the number of credits for Level 1 (likely to 40) and removing external exams to enhance student learning. We are pleased to see the government review is reflecting the planning and changes we have been looking at over the past two years. Our Year 11 curriculum changes are in line with the review reducing the focus on assessment while ensuring students are prepared for exams at Year 12 and 13.  We will continue to monitor the review closely. If the government removes external assessment at Level 1, we would also have to remove external assessment.  

We look forward to seeing you and sharing more information with you about the process, implementation and plans around the course design at the information evenings.  We will release our curriculum handbooks early in Term 3. These handbooks will include detail on the courses, enabling students to make decisions on their chosen course for 2019.

We always welcome your feedback and if you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Senior School Principal, Christian Zachariassen at zachariassenc@scotscollege.school.nz or visit our Senior School website.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Christian Zachariassen
Senior School Principal

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