A South Island eLearning Cluster Scholarship Mentoring Initiative
By Ken Pullar, Vicki Smith, Trevor Storr & Darren Sudlow
- 1 Need for a pan-cluster Scholarship Mentoring Initiative (SMI)
- 2 Our proposal
- 3 Protocols and Documentation
- 4 Citations
- 5 Contact
Need for a pan-cluster Scholarship Mentoring Initiative (SMI)
Scholarship Mentoring is the provison of extra, expert tuition designed to prepare Y13 candidates for success in NCEA Scholarship examinations. Scholarship Mentoring while designed for scholarship success, is also likely to improve success at NCEA Level3 and also raise the aspirations of participants. Individual schools have always provided scholarship mentoring using informal methods in a variety of subjects. It is likely that very large schools, by the fact of having a larger pool of teachers and learners to draw upon, find the provision of scholarship mentoring classes less problemmatic than smaller schools. The scheme outlined below is designed to be suitable for all schools in Aorakinet, Cantatech, Otagonet and Westnet and address two key problems that have been highlighted in the Otagonet SMI: teacher expertise and sustainability.
List of Scholarship Subjects
The 2009 Scholarship subjects are:
|Language and Languages||Chinese|
|Te Reo Māori|
|Te Reo Rangatira|
|Mathematics with Calculus|
|Statistics and Modelling|
|Physical Education & Health||Physical Education|
|Sciences||Agricultural and Horticultural Science|
|Social Sciences||Classical Studies|
|The Arts||Art History|
|Visual Arts - Design|
|Visual Arts - Painting|
|Visual Arts - Printmaking|
|Visual Arts - Photography|
|Visual Arts - Sculpture|
The Otagonet SMI Experience
In 2005 the Otago Secondary Principals Association, was successful in obtaining a grant from the Community Trust of Otago, to establish and fund for 2 years for a scholarship mentoring programme. Two separate programmes were established – one for Dunedin schools, involving ‘face to face’ tutorials at different Dunedin secondary schools; and our own OtagoNet SMI programme using online technologies particularly videoconferencing, for the rural schools of Otago (including the non-OtagoNet Oamaru schools). Both programmes employed ‘expert’ teachers with strong scholarship experience, to run a series of one hour after school tutorials in Terms 3 & 4 to prepare students for end of year scholarship exams. These teachers are ‘paid’ over and above their normal teaching salary to prepare, run these weekly tutorials and provide feedback individual students (mark set work, respond to email, etc). Due to the success of both town and OtagoNet programmes, further funding was sort by the Otago Principals to extend these programmes beyond 2006. The University of Otago currently fund both programmes in a generous 3 year sponsorship arrangement which will run until the end of 2009. Since its inception, the OtagoNet SMI programme has grown both in terms of the number of students enrolling in SMI classes, and the breadth of scholarship subjects covered. This year, there have been 155 enrolments (up 70% from 2005), covering 12 subjects in 16 classes (in 2005 there were 9 classes). We had hoped that this year we would be able to offer any ‘spare’ spaces in our SMI classes to the rural schools of Southland and South Canterbury, but because of internal demand from the Otago schools very limited spare capacity was available – only Northern Southland College & Fiordland College have students in the programme.
There is widespread satisfaction among the schools with the SMI programme. While it is difficult to quantifying the precise success of SMI, undoubtedly the programme has lifted the number of scholarships gained by students in the Otago schools. It’s also extremely likely that the programme is assisting students gaining higher grades in Level 3 NCEA external assessments. Annual evaluations by SMI students and teachers have consistently indicated a very high level of satisfaction with the programme. This, with the low attrition rates (bearing in mind that these classes and associated work is all done in the students own time), indicate to us that the SMI programme is meeting a very real need amongst this group of very academically able students. The following excerpt from the summary of last year’s students’ evaluations highlight a number of other benefits:-
“To date this has been a successful programme. The exam results in January will give further insight about the extent of the success but the comments from both students and teachers are overwhelmingly positive. The students have enjoyed the interaction with others with similar subject interests in other schools. It is quite isolating for rural students in relatively small schools taking subjects at Scholarship level and this programme has certainly reduced that sense of being alone. The teachers have all commented on the enthusiasm of the students and they have certainly enjoyed being stretched by the able students in their best subject area. This programme does enable some teachers to teach at that top level and maintain professional freshness. One group (of students) found that the scholarship level was beyond them but requested that they be allowed to continue the extra lessons to help with their Level 3 studies. The needs of the student were put first and they continued enthusiastically.”
In many of rural schools it is difficult to find teachers with the necessary expertise and experience to adequately offer students the necessary extension work to enable them to go beyond the NCEA L3 of attainment in specific subjects. Through SMI, teachers from across Otago and beyond, are being employed to ensure every student capable of working at this very high level of academic challenge, has an opportunity of doing so. All our SMI teachers enjoy the experience and challenge of teaching these gifted students.
The proposed SMI addresses two key barriers to establishing a successful scheme: sustainabilty and teacher expertise. We believe that sustainability of the initiative will be achieved through devolving the real costs to participating schools. The cooperation of four South Island eLearning Clusters provides a pool of about 40 schools through which economies of scale can operate. We expect the cost per learner per SM course to be about $150. The Otagonet SMI identified teacher expertise as a limiting factor. By introducing the concept of 'Mentoring Teams' we aim to increase the capability of teachers to deliver suitable SMI programmes. This will result in the initiative being more resilient and able to withstand staffing changes.
What the Initiative will be like for participants
Learners will have access to the following programme which will run during Terms 3 and 4: Eight video-conference tutorials, 7 online tutorials, problem solving skills. The online tutorials will be made available using a LMS eg Moodle, or any other LMS that the teacher is able to use. The aim is to provide tutorial content and an online space for assignments and questions and answers. The VC sessions will support the work that occurs in the LMS. The possibility of more frequent VC sessions exists, but scalability problems are likely to prevent this happening. It may be possible to augment the VC sessions with Adobe Connect or audio conferencing.
Staffing the Scholarship Mentoring Scheme with suitably experienced teachers will be critical to its success. Two aspects of staffing are problematical. Firstly recruiting the initial tranche of teachers in the range of subjects required and secondly, retaining them or providing for resiliency of teacher supply when, for example, a teacher moves to a position out of cluster, retires or is on maternity leave. Together the two problems combine to present a significant challenge to developing scholarship mentoring capability in the eLearning clusters.
This SMS will mitigate both challenges by organising teachers into subject teams and encouraging a team approach to teaching resource development and mentoring delivery. For example, an experienced Mathematics SMS teacher would be able to lead a team of 3 other less experienced Mathematics teachers.
Teachers who teach in the SMI should be paid for the extra responsibility and work that they undertake. The payment is necessary to attract suitable teachers to the initiative. Payment may also bring the extra duties within the terms of the PPTA Secondary Teachers' Collective Agreement. The Otagonet SMI paid teachers approximately $1800 ($120 gross per session for 15 sessions) over and above their usual teaching salary. The larger South Island eLearning Cluster Scholarship Mentoring Initiative that we propose will need to formalise payments to teachers so that accountability, performance management and tax liability concerns are able to be met. In our model schools will invoice the administering school [Mt Aspiring College for 2009] for $120 per session taught exclusive of GST. This will be distributed to the SMI teacher using the ESP 20/T form  or using banked staffing (Part time teachrs only or FTMU/MU's. For example a teacher at School A delivers fifteen sessions and is paid $1800 gross. School A invoices Mt Aspiring for $1800 + GST, the Executive Officer fills in ESP 20/T and the teacher is paid by MoE Payroll system
Each SMI course needs to generate enough income from schools to provide for $1800, which will be paid to the teacher who delivers that course. With a working average enrollment on a SMI course of 12 students, the fee charged for each enrollment is $150. This results in a course income of $1800.
The minimum class size to enable a sustainable class needs to be five. Classes may need to be bigger to be financially viable and the final decision in each case will be made by the SMI management. Revenue from enrolments will match outgoing expenses including administration of the programme. Budgets will be reviewed annually to assess the costs/fees match.
To participate in the SMI scheme, each school will pay a one off $200 fee. This will be used to enable SMI courses to run; supplementary course costs and administration.
|SMI Event||Deadline Date|
|Annual Review SMI Policy & Procedures||End of Term 1|
| SMI Management identify available mentor teachers willing to take SMI classes
(i.e. identify the pool of available teachers)
|End of week 3 of Term 2|
|Meeting of Cluster Leaders - identify SMI 'Course Lead Teachers' and the pool of teachers for each subject. Determine probable SMI course menu||Beginning of week 4 of Term 2|
|VC meeting of the teaching cohort [pedagogy and delivery ground rules established]||throughout week 4 of Term 2|
|LMS class sites/resources repository are established||End of week 4 of Term 2|
|Teacher planning/preparation of course structure and timetable requests||End of week 4 of Term 2|
|Training (online pedagogy; use of VC and LMS) of prospective SMI tutor teachers begins|| Runs from week 4 through to end of Term 2 |
(& ongoing support offered in T3 & 4)
|Set up VLN class pages. Check new student enrolment process is ready to be used||End of week 4 of Term 2|
|Send out SMI info & begin accepting enrolments||Beginning of week 6 of Term 2|
| Sorting of likely classes
Invite other clusters to enrol students
|Beginning of week 9 of Term 2|
| SMI classes and mentor teachers finalised;
schools invoiced for students they have enrolled;
Timetable for VC tutorials finalised (& VC bridge bookings done); LMS logons set up
|Week 10 of Term 2|
|Final information sent to students, schools and SMI mentor teachers for the start of programme in Term 3||End of week 10 of Term 2|
|SMI Tutorials commence||Week 1 of Term 3|
|Student withdrawals (& late enrolments)||End of week 2 of Term 3|
|Payment of SMI tutor teachers (via their schools); Student evaluation of SMI programme||Term 4|
|Final SMI tutorials||End of week 5 of Term 4|
|Analysis of Scholarship results||Late January 2010|
Protocols and Documentation
Aorakinet Director of eLearning
Waimate High School
03 689 8920
Cantatech eLearning Leader
027 217 1121
027 446 8532
021 778 067