Schools failing to implement digital curriculum: NZTech

Government should put more resources into digital technology curriculum for schools

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NZTech says New Zealand’s education system is not evolving fast enough to generate the talent needed to support the growing digital economy. The group is calling on the government to put more resources into the introduction of the digital technology curriculum for schools.

Under a plan floated in 2017, from January 2020 all schools will be required to implement the new curriculum content for all students in Years One to 10.

In June 2017 education minister Nikki Kaye set out proposals for new digital technologies content for the New Zealand curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, the Maori-medium curriculum, along with a $40 million investment package to upskill teachers so they could deliver the new curriculum.

NZTech CEO Graham Muller said a report released last August by the Education Review Office (ERO) showed that, at the end of 2018, only 7 per cent of schools felt they would be ready to introduce the digital curriculum in January 2020.

"Given the scale of this change, many teachers and school will obviously need ongoing assistance to develop the skills and confidence to teach digital technologies… If not done well, in the coming years issues will compound as demand for digital skills continues to increase and we are unable to create a local workforce.”

Muller said all sectors would suffer because the entire economy is becoming increasingly digital and more jobs require some level of digital understanding and capability.

"It will also potentially exacerbate the growing digital divide, leaving parts of society disadvantaged and New Zealand’s modern workforce lacking diversity for years to come. This will harm our country's future global competitiveness,” the CEO said.

Muller said NZTech was in the middle of a multi-city tour to develop a New Zealand digital technology sector industry transformation plan and gather feedback from throughout the country.

“A critical element highlighted at every meeting so far has been the importance of education and its role in developing a digital workforce.”

The ERO report It's Early Days for the New Digital Technologies Curriculum Content found progress had been slower than expected.

‘Most schools need to access support to raise understanding, knowledge and skill levels if they are to successfully implement the DT curriculum content,” it said.

“In ERO’s opinion, many schools will not be ready to implement the DT curriculum content as required by the start of 2020. School leaders have indicated that they need more time and resources to implement changes… It appears… schools are not planning to meet their obligations regarding implementation by January 2020.”

ERO suggested the ministry consider adopting appropriate professional learning development models to help teachers better understand digital curriculum content.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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