Good Practice in Alternative Education (September 2010) 24/09/2010

Key challenges facing the providers in this evaluation

Pedagogical leadership

Pedagogical leadership has the potential to enhance teaching and learning in Alternative Education. For the providers in this evaluation, pedagogical leadership could have further improved the integration of curriculum materials and the work of the tutors. Tutors could have made Te Kura materials more relevant and engaging for students. Similarly, it would have given tutors even more strategies to build engaging learning activities for students outside correspondence education.

More use could also be made of the IEPs for students. In many cases these were functional documents outlining a narrow range of goals for students. They were not always well linked to the ‘future focused’ goals of students and to the steps needed to build effective plans for students when they leave Alternative Education.

More pedagogical leadership would also have improved the analysis and use of assessment information at the Alternative Education providers. Many schools have difficulty in this area, so it is no surprise that Alternative Education tutors, most of whom do not have a teaching background, were unable to fully use assessment tools and analysis to improve the quality of the overall programme.

Developing positive exit transitions

A challenge facing the Alternative Education providers in this evaluation is in building high quality exit transitions for students. More work is needed to combine the academic and vocational trajectories of students into destinations that they provide a foundation for student future success.

There are some system-wide barriers to the exit transitions of students. In the first instance there are questions about whether managing schools, enrolling schools or Alternative Education providers are responsible for the exit of students from Alternative Education. Other systemic issues include the age of students when they arrive and have to leave Alternative Education, the willingness of schools to enrol students from Alternative Education and the extent to which Alternative Education providers have had the time required to build a suitable exit plan for students.

There are also questions about what a good training programme might be for a student exiting from Alternative Education, especially if they have yet to develop qualifications. More work may be required by the Ministry and the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) to put in place pathways for Alternative Education students. Alternatively the Ministry and the TEC may need to do more work in helping providers understand just what pathways are currently available. Currently, many students go to youth training, and Manukau and Christchurch polytechnics have developed ‘pre-tertiary’ courses for students with a similar academic background to those in Alternative Education.

Aside from these systemic issues, a more integrated approach from Alternative Education providers to the academic and vocational pathways of students would also help develop student exit transitions. The challenge for providers is in making stronger links between exit transitions, IEPs and their ‘whole student’ focus. Ideally families are also fully engaged in this process too so that they can provide support for student pathways.

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