Service academies provide military-focused education for secondary students who have had limited-to-average success at school. The academies are funded by the Ministry of Education and have been established in predominantly low decile secondary schools.
ERO reviewed 16 service academies in 2011 and found that most provided high quality education and support for their students.
“We found that the motivation, academic achievement, demeanour and physical fitness of many students had improved greatly through being part of an academy” said Chief Review Officer, Dr Graham Stoop.
ERO noted that the leadership of academy directors was a key factor in the gains made by students. Directors were not trained as teachers, but their excellent relationships with students and the host schools meant they were able to mentor previously struggling students, help them set goals and apply high standards in discipline and learning.
Another key factor was the support given by the host school and the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).
Academy programmes have different objectives depending on the intake of students. Some are focused on students entering the military as a career option. Others see it as a way for disengaged students to make progress in their education and training. Some cater for the whole range of likely outcomes and careers.
Most students are male and 80 per cent are Māori or Pacific – reflecting the ethnicity of students in the schools where the academies are located.
In the past students have been disadvantaged by the lack of alignment of their service academy programme with the National Qualifications Framework. Work is now being done to ensure that student learning with the NZDF is reflected in the credits gained on the NQF, and that school-based learning at academies is assessed in terms of the NQF where applicable.
The report is on ERO’s website.
For more information please contact Jenny Clark, National Manager Public Affairs, Education Review Office: firstname.lastname@example.org; phone: 0-4-474 1228; mobile: 0275 437 465