Pressure mounts on Government to delay NCEA Level 1 changes

Pressure is mounting on the Government to delay its proposed changes to NCEA Level 1 as the future of the curriculum's structure is up in the air. 

The Government revealed in April, long-proposed changes to Levels 2 and 3 would be pushed out by a year but Level 1 was left in question. 

After a series of interviews on the curriculum changes by AM's Ryan Bridge, Minister Michael Wood today told AM it's important Kiwis get certainty on the changes and said the Education Minister Jan Tinetti would indicate these soon. 

Wood said the Government worked with the sector and experts on the changes.

"Whether it's the assessment or the curriculum, it's not the Government imposing it, it's something that's been developed with the sector and the whole set of changes effectively roll out up until 2026, so it's about how you phase it in, it's about how you implement it in way that's manageable."

He said Minister Tinetti is working to ensure she has confidence in how the changes will roll out. 

On Wednesday, Tinetti told AM she has not yet asked for advice on whether she should delay the changes, and said she's "open to that if the case of integrity cannot be maintained".

"I haven't sought that advice yet because I have been told that integrity is being maintained to the qualification at this point in time."

Tinetti said she's "waiting to see" from her officials about what the impact is on NCEA Level 1. 

When asked if the Government was buttering up Kiwis for potential delays, Minister Wood said no.  

"There's what you're rolling out and there's making sure what will roll out well, particularly in a complex system and that effectively is what the minister is saying that she just wants to be assured that it's rolled out well and [it's] better to measure twice than cut out once."

National's Education spokesperson Erica Stanford told AM co-host Ryan Bridge she thought it was "incredulous" that Minister Tinetti hadn't sought advice despite one of Aotearoa's largest schools, Rangitoto College pulling out of the curriculum. 

"They pulled out. When that happened she should have been asking questions, we're in June for goodness sake, this is happening next year."

Stanford believes the Government has "no choice" but to delay the changes. 

"If you want a bi-partisan approach here, we're offering to say actually we'll support you in this, it has to be delayed there is really no choice for the minister," she said 

"I can tell you what's sitting in behind all of this, yes it is a lot of change for teachers they're not ready for, but the big thing in all of this is they have not done the curriculum, they did the tests, the standards, they put those in place first before they wrote the curriculum."

PPTA executive representative Louise Ryan on Thursday told AM she sees benefits in there being a delay to NCEA Level 1 changes. 

"Initially the members called for a pause last year, so we were really pleased in April when the minister announced there would be a pause to the review."

She said the PPTA was "surprised" it was just levels 2 and 3 that would see a delay and level 1 would continue. 

"As some have raised there are going to be some logistical issues around having a new standard next year in one year level, then going back to using the current ones before 2026 and 2027 when level 2 and 3 come out."

She said if the changes are delayed for a year it would help with teachers strikes.

"In actual fact, one of the things that is key to why we are striking, why we are doing industrial action at the moment is recruitment and retention of teachers and it's about the sustainability of the workforce and the workload."

Six months are left until the end of the school year and Ryan told AM the education sector cannot be left to wait until the end of the year to find out if the changes are going ahead or not.

"We can't have that uncertainty."

Wood, whose children are going through the secondary system, said the minister will provide some certainty "soon".

Newshub has approached Tinetti's office for clarification, asking if she has since sought advice on delaying the NCEA Level 1 changes.