Working with external providers on the STAR programme
Externally provided STAR-funded courses
An externally provided STAR-funded course is an important educational opportunity. The courses allow students to gain qualifications they would not normally be able to complete. As a consequence, such courses rank equally in importance to other curriculum subjects, and students have a right to attend.
Teachers have the right to withhold approval for a student’s absence where a student is likely to lose credits through not attending class. It may be a class with an assessment towards the NCEA that cannot be rescheduled or with essential preparatory work for that assessment.
Memorandum of Understanding
Other than for enrolment in university papers, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) will be set up for each course or work-based learning experience. This will outline:
- what is to be delivered
- any unit standards or other qualifications the students are working towards
- relevant health and safety arrangements
- expectations around reporting absences
- format and timeliness of student results
- how providers will share student evaluations
- course costs and situations under which costs may be refunded.
The memorandum assures the school that:
- the required standards of teaching, assessment and moderation will be maintained
- collaborative arrangements are clearly set out and operate smoothly
- clear channels of authority, accountability and executive action are clearly identified.
The memorandum must be signed by the legally recognised signatories who represent the school and the accredited external provider/s to which the agreement applies before the delivery of any standard.
The memorandum must specify, as appropriate to the application:
- names of the parties to the agreement
- assessment and moderation arrangements
- duration of agreement
- responsibility for administrative arrangements such as:
- student enrolment; student welfare services
- decisions relating to progress through the course, assessment and appeals
- reporting student results
- remuneration of monitors and moderators (if applicable)
- communication of all necessary reporting of results and any other information required by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA)
- for verifying the accredited provider
- for agreeing on all necessary financial arrangements and the provision of resources, both physical and human
- for resolving any differences which might arise between the parties to this agreement
- for the protection of students should the arrangement terminate
- for the management of quality systems to oversee and maintain standards
- for the management of the standards delivered, and to include procedures for ongoing monitoring
- access to both parties by NZQA to quality assure all related processes and procedures
- acknowledgement that NZQA reserves the right to not recognise any results reported on behalf of an unaccredited school if issues arise as a result of an inadequate memorandum of understanding or if the agreed procedures are not being followed.
Contract for services
Under the umbrella of the memorandum of understanding, the contract for services will be an annual agreement with each external provider, linked to each year and the agreed course or work-based learning experience provided.
The memorandum of understanding will outline agreed procedures for reporting absences, both to the provider and to the school. Students sign an agreement that outlines the attendance requirements and provides an explanation of the procedures to follow in the event of an unavoidable absence from a work-based learning experience or study outside the school.
The NZQA website lists accredited external providers. Many have a designated person in charge of STAR. You will often find that they have brochures outlining the STAR-funded courses they offer, but they may also be willing to consider a course proposal from you. The school is responsible for checking that courses are eligible for STAR. If in doubt, ask your pathway advisor/facilitator.
Providers may present you with a prepared Memorandum of Understanding that outlines the understanding between them and the school. Remember that this is a partnership and that, within it, you have the ultimate responsibility for the welfare of your students.
You have the right to create the memorandum yourself or to negotiate with the provider to ensure that it reflects what you believe to be best practice. Make sure that it is consistent with your school's policy and that it includes details of:
- funding arrangements
- how attendance will be recorded and reported
- how the provider will provide quality assurance
- how and when the students' achievement will be assessed and reported.
Exemplar: Working with external providers
Work-based learning experiences and courses run off site involve additional risks for students. The STAR coordinator should investigate and address relevant health and safety issues at the time placements are investigated. Where relevant, specific issues will be covered in the Memorandum of Understanding. A health and safety checklist will be filled in for every work place.
Attendance requires an additional work commitment from the student. For this reason, get informed consent from all parties involved:
- students (and parents) must give their consent to attend, and agree to all conditions made around that attendance. This includes catching up essential work missed through absence from class.
- classroom teachers must give their permission for the student to be absent from class for the duration of the course. Consent will only be withheld where attendance will jeopardise achievement, as outlined above.
Students as school ambassadors
Students are school ambassadors when they attend externally provided courses. To meet this responsibility:
- students are expected to dress appropriately at all times, and only change into other clothing if this is a requirement of the work or course they are involved in
- schools will set clear expectations of behaviour and attendance that attending students will agree to in writing
- travel arrangements to and from the site must be clearly established and agreed to in writing before attendance.
All students participating in STAR-funded courses will complete an appropriate evaluation form at the end of the course.
Best practice for external providers
Providers include schools, polytechnics, private training establishments (PTEs), government training establishments, wānanga and industry training organisations (ITOs). Most polytechnics offer short introductory courses that also provide unit standards that can contribute towards national qualifications.
All external providers must be accredited for the standards to be assessed and have a current Memorandum of Understanding with the school. If a provider is contracted to the school, then the students can be assessed under the school's accreditation system, provided the school's accreditation system has been extended to cover the requisite unit standards.
Some external providers offer quality-assured qualifications that are not registered on the National Qualifications Framework (for example, those of the New Zealand Institute of Management). You can access these qualifications through the New Zealand Register of Quality Assured Qualifications (the Register).
Provided that the standards do not come from within the STAR excluded list (SEL) [PDF; 86kb], programmes based on these standards can be funded from STAR. The school is responsible for deciding how to use STAR funding, not the external provider. Where uncertainty exists, STAR coordinators should seek advice from the STAR team within their school or from one of the nationally appointed STAR advisors/facilitators.
Working in conjunction with the school, it is the provider's responsibility to:
- have a current Memorandum of Understanding
- ensure that their courses conform to the aims and objectives of STAR
- clearly indicate the standards and qualifications students will be working towards
- clearly indicate when standards are learning areas associated with the national curriculum listed on the SEL, but ultimately it is the responsibility of the school to ensure anything listed on the SEL is NOT funded using STAR
- provide useful and relevant courses
- be well-informed and responsive to the needs of students, schools and local industries
- keep attendance records and pass them on to the school
- promptly inform the school of any unexplained absences
- care for the health and safety of students when students are located off site at the external provider's location
- report results to the school in a timely way
- conduct evaluations and communicate the results of these to the school
- credit students with their results if they return to study towards the qualification (rather than expecting them to repeat a standard to make up a full course).
If a course contains a mixture of eligible and ineligible components, only the eligible parts can be funded from STAR. Many providers have their own STAR coordinator, who is the first point of contact for schools. This person understands STAR's purpose and is able to check that the programmes they set up conform to its objectives and criteria. They are also familiar with the policies of the local schools and keep in contact with the schools' coordinators to make sure that they are meeting the schools' needs.
In monitoring the effectiveness of the courses, providers should use these questions as a guide:
- How well does this course align with the school curriculum?
- Does this course align to or involve assessment against any unit standards on the SEL?
- Does this course provide individual students with learning experiences that link to their possible, realistic career interests?
- Does this course introduce students to realistic possible career choices?
- What information can we gather about the effectiveness of the course from the students’ perspectives?
The National Qualifications Framework
The National Qualifications Framework (NQF) is a system for structuring national qualifications and is administered by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA). It is designed to provide:
- nationally recognised standards and qualifications
- recognition and credit for a wide range of knowledge and skills.
Unit standards and achievement standards, national certificates, and national diplomas are registered on the NQF. Every standard registered on the Framework describes what a learner needs to know or what they must be able to achieve.
Students can accumulate credits from unit standards and achievement standards towards national certificates, including the NCEAs, and towards national diplomas. Visit the New Zealand Qualifications Authority website for more information.
The National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEAs) levels 1–3 are New Zealand's national school qualifications normally assessed in years 11 to 13. Credits from all standards on the NQF can count towards the NCEA. Many credits also count towards specialist national certificates in areas such as horticulture and electronics technology.
At school, students can gain credits through traditional school curriculum areas, through alternative school curriculum programmes, and through links with tertiary and industry qualifications. STAR provides a mechanism through which these links can be made.
Only providers that are registered with and accredited by NZQA can award credit for unit standards. These providers can be any individual or organisation supplying education and/or training and/or assessment services that show they have the tutors, resources and equipment necessary to run their programmes.
See the NZQA website for registered education providers. This list is updated weekly and includes information about the fields, subfields and domains for which each provider is accredited. A ‘field’ is a broad area of learning on the NQF (for example, engineering and technology), a ‘subfield’ is an area of learning within that (for example, mechanical engineering), and a ‘domain’ sits within a subfield (for example, composites).
The NZQA website also has information about NQF-approved courses. A search for a unit standard or qualification in the subject of your choice will show accredited providers.