The New Zealand Scholarship is a New Zealand secondary school award gained by sitting an examination set at a level higher than NCEA Level 3. The award of a scholarship provides some financial support for study at a New Zealand university. The standard of assessment in each subject is both challenging and demanding. Scholarship candidates are expected to demonstrate high-level critical thinking, and to integrate, synthesise and apply knowledge and skills to complex situations.
Sacred Heart Girls’ College, New Plymouth, takes an holistic approach to scholarship through the Blue Sky programme. Our emphasis is on scholarship, not as an award gained by sitting an exam, but rather, as a process by which a person is able to demonstrate scholarship in the way they think, evaluate and articulate, which may result in the sitting of the scholarship exam, which in turn may result in gaining an award.
We have an expectation of teamwork around scholarship – students, caregivers, mentors, staff – all work as a team. This process:
Acknowledges the work of previous years and other subject areas. Students are expected to use their skills in one subject area to benefit another.
Raises expectations we have in all classes – higher level thinking is available to, and an expectation of, all students.
Changes the culture of scholarship – from “I”- centred, to one where students work as a team.
In practice, subject areas deal with the “what” directing students to advanced content and further reading. The skills of advanced literacy are taught to students in a series of workshops. (These groups are not just for scholarship candidates.) Students motivate themselves to initiate and pursue ideas.
Our Blue Sky programme is in line with Catholic education beliefs, set out by the Council of Proprietors of Catholic Integrated Schools, that students have the opportunity to critique society, fulfill their personal potential and appreciate education as a personal good which enriches the possessor, while being a social good which brings advantages to the whole of society.