21 Aug 2013

Tokelau schools to be reviewed by New Zealand team

4:58 pm on 21 August 2013

Tokelau's government will know in a few weeks whether the territory's three schools are up to scratch, following a review by a team from New Zealand's Education Review Office.

The team of six heads to Tokelau later this week in order to assess the quality of education at schools on each of the territory's three atolls.

The head of the team, Violet Tu'uga Stevenson, says the Tokelau government requested the review of the three schools, which cater for students from early childhood to Year 11.

She told Annell Husband it is not known at this stage how many students go on to complete Years 12 and 13 outside of Tokelau.

VIOLET TU'UGA STEVENSON: We're going over there to see the transitions and to see where they actually do go. So they either go over to Apia or they come through to New Zealand. Most of them come through to New Zealand.

ANNELL HUSBAND: And what percentage of students, in your understanding, would actually finish school at that point and not go anywhere else?

VTS: Well, that's what we're wanting to know. We've got some data here, but we're wanting to find out just what actually happens with those students going on to secondary and tertiary. So the data that we've got, we can get as much documentation as we can, but we really have to go and see what the reality is.

AH: And what's your understanding of it at the moment?

VTS: Well, I would say most students would be coming over from New Zealand to do the Year 12, Year 13 end. I'm not sure right now how many actually stay behind and don't access that.

AH: What are the parameters or the criteria that you're using? Is it going to be tailored to what you're anticipating you'll find there, or is it going to be like a New Zealand Standards review?

VTS: Well, a New Zealand Standards review, it's a completely different context over there. They're quite isolated. We can't just take our methodology and plonk it over there. We've got to look at the context. So what we're doing is evaluating, and this will provide a baseline report to develop future policy development for education over there. So we're going over there to have a look at what's happening between early childhood and Year 11. We're looking at the curriculum, we're looking at the quality of teaching, we're looking at the resourcing and the leadership there.

AH: I would imagine for the staff at the schools this would be quite a big deal for them and something they are possibly feeling rather apprehensive about.

VTS: Possibly, yes. We've had some regular correspondence with the director of education there and he's been informing them. So we've given them quite a clear brief and they haven't been evaluated by us before. So, yes, of course they'd probably be anxious. So the team is experienced in terms of the whole relationship-building stuff, so it's really important we go in with the eyes on the context of Tokelau and just apply and adapt our evaluation methodology to suit. We've got to go in with an open mind. We have been given information. We've scoped our evaluation around that. And we've got to go in and have the discussions and I think the discussions are really key.