Thank you for your email of 21 April 2013 regarding the inquiry into 21st Century Learning environments and digital literacy.
You raise important points about the place of computer and information science in education.
A number of submissions to the Education and Science Select Committee inquiry made similar points, and these are reflected in the recommendations made by the Select Committee in its report to Government.
I am establishing a 21st Century Learning reference group to provide input into a 21st Century Learning strategy, which will address the recommendations of the Select Committee report.
I anticipate that the reference group, in the course of its deliberations, will consult with a range of interested parties, including, potentially, the New Zealand Association for Computing, Digital and Information Technology Teachers.
You asked specifically about computer programming. Programming is identified as an essential component of the Programming and Computer Science specialist area of Digital Technologies. NCEA Levels 1, 2 and 3 Achievement Standards are registered on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework which assess student understandings of, and skills in programming. Senior students have the opportunity to take the Technology Scholarship Examination, demonstrating their skills and understandings in programming.
You also asked about support for teachers of computer science. The Ministry, in conjunction with NZQA, is conducting a series of Digital Information teacher professional development workshops designed to equip teachers to prepare students for external assessment against Achievement Standard 91070 (Demonstrate understanding of basic concepts of information management). The Ministry is providing assistance to schools to release teachers to attend these workshops.
Four workshops are being conducted in Auckland, one in Wellington and one in Christchurch. Planning is also underway for a workshop in lnvercargill. The key points presented at the workshops will be captured on video and published on the Ministry's
Technology Online website: http://technology.tki.org.nz.
Both of the Ministry funded Professional Learning Development providers offer teachers support in Digital Technologies - Team Solutions (University of Auckland), which has a specialist facilitator in Digital Technologies, and Te Tapuae o Rehua Consortium, which contracts an experienced Digital Technology teacher to facilitate digital technology workshops for teachers.
Thank you for taking the time to email me, and for your commitment to teaching the digital technology skills that are a critical part of the 21st Century skills young people need for their future success. I share your commitment and look forward to leading the development of a 21st Century Learning strategy that I believe will address the points you raised in your email.