TCS in the Cook Islands
The Correspondence School (TCS, Te Kura) of New Zealand operates in the Cook Islands.
The Correspondence School provides learning programmes over a range of subjects and levels - from Year 9 to NCEA. There are currently 138 Cook Island students engaged in 411 TCS distance courses.
The Correspondence School became involved in the education of secondary students in the Cook Islands via an agreement between it and the Cook Islands Ministry of Education at the end of the 1990s. This agreement enabled Cook Islands students to enrol with TCS through the school's secondary dual enrolment policy.
Students are now enrolled via the school's online enrolment process. This has reduced the enrolment processing time so that learning programmes have been actioned within the school and mailed out to students a lot faster than in the past.
The Correspondence School provides their learning programmes via a variety of medium. The traditional booklets are often accompanied by audio and video tapes. These are now being converted to CDs and DVDs which is particularly appropriate because tapes tend to deteriorate quickly in the island environments.
All schools in the Cook Islands have computers for student use although only some schools have them connected to the internet.
These computers are stored in air-conditioned rooms.
Some schools also have DVD players so that they can use these for their TCS learning programmes rather than taking up time on the school computers which can be used for other purposes.
Information and Communication Technology
Technology is also helping to make things a lot easier for Cook Islands students to receive and return course material. Completed work in booklets that was once posted back to the school in Wellington, is now scanned onto CD and sent to Rarotonga for emailing on to Wellington teachers. When outer island schools eventually get broadband, they will be able to email their work directly to the teachers themselves. Outer island schools already have email facilities, and sometimes email teachers to discuss work. Teachers are already returning their marking comments via email to the students.
Students may have been enrolled with the Correspondence School for one of three reasons:
- They are in an outer island school where there are no secondary teachers and they have to do their studies by distance
- They are enrolled in one of the secondary schools on Mangaia, Aitutaki, Mauke or Rarotonga and there is no secondary teacher to take a subject required for your chosen career pathway
- They are a special circumstances enrolment with the Ministry of Education on an Alternative Education programme.
The Correspondence School offers students the opportunity to continue with a New Zealand-based education despite not being in a normal face to face school. Students can study the same work, and carry out the same programmes required for NCEA as other Cook Islands (and New Zealand) senior secondary students.
With the Correspondence School, students will be sent a programme of learning based on their needs and goals. Course materials are posted out at present, but when the Cook Islands get broadband to the outer islands, this material will be emailed to the student, or the student could be doing quite a bit of work online.
Outer islands students in the past have been just as successful in their NCEA passes as students on Araura and Rarotonga. All it takes is that you work hard, and ask your supervisor or principal for help when you need it. Also, make sure that your work is sent to Rarotonga for email transfer to the teachers in Wellington.
Guidance to Principals
Principals of outer islands schools with secondary students, are entitled to enrol their students with The Correspondence School in New Zealand, if there are no available qualified secondary teachers in the school. All enrolments are via the Distance Education Manager.
Correspondence School Enrolments 2008
All proposed enrolments withThe Correspondence School for 2008 must sent to the Distance Education Manager before the end of the Cook Islands school year.
Due to the heavy demand of enrolments made to TCS at the beginning of each school year, Principals who delay enrolments risk their students not having work on hand for the first day of the new school year.
When sending in student enrolments, Principals must include:
- The student's full name (as verified by their birth certificate or their passport). A hard copy of one of these documents should be kept in the school files.
- The student's date of birth (also from the birth certificate or passport)
- The subjects and levels that the student will be enrolled in. Course handbooks are seldom printed any more, so please use the outlines on the school's website www.correspondence.school.nz to find the most appropriate courses and levels for each student.
- It would be of value to the teachers in TCS for other background information be sent to give the teacher some idea of the students and their capabilities. For example, current reading age (from the latest running record or PAT test).
- Samples of their written work or a maths test would also be helpful.
Guidance for School Supervisors
School Supervisors are responsible for ensuring that distance learning students are enrolled onto appropriate courses; communication is maintained with the TCS coordinator in Rarotonga and with teachers in Wellington; and that progress records are sent regularly to the TCS coordinator in Rarotonga. Any problems with communication with Wellington or work returns should be referred to the TCS Coordinator (The Distance Education Manager) in Rarotonga.
At the beginning of each year, School supervisors will be sent a progress sheet with the names of students who have been enrolled with The Correspondence School and the courses that they have been enrolled in.
When schools receive the learning programmes assigned to individual students, supervisors are required to enter the assigned courses to the class level progress sheet. As students complete their booklets or other projects, these are to be entered onto the progress sheet with the date of completion.
Ideally, completed work should be scanned onto a CD, so that the students completed activities to be marked by the teacher in Wellington can be transferred to the TCS Coordinator in Rarotonga, for email transfer directly to Wellington teachers. Compared to a couple of years ago when hard copy booklets took months to make their way to TCS and back by boat, students can now get email feedback within days.
The Correspondence School will return upated information about students who have achieved unit standards and internal achievement standards at the end of each term.