The best foundation for Years 12 & 13

St Margaret’s College students are already reaping the benefits of the Foundation Diploma, now into its second year.

The Diploma was introduced for Year 11 students in 2022, replacing NCEA Level 1. Its inception was prompted by the desire for a more SMC-specific Year 11 programme that could better cater for our dual pathways of International Baccalaureate or NCEA in Years 12 and 13.

Sian Evans, Head of Senior School, couldn’t be happier with how the Foundation Diploma has been received. 

“Our reviews at the end of 2022 were fantastic – from teachers, from students, from parents. 

“Although we still conducted thorough and rigorous assessments/testing/exams, there was less red tape involved in these and they took up far less time. This gave the teachers and students more time to focus on the learning rather than the assessment. Teachers feel confident that Year 12 students who completed the Diploma in 2022 are better prepared for both NCEA Level 2 and IB this year than they have been in previous years

“I was bracing myself for some criticism when I asked for feedback and overviews at various points last year. Each time I was blown away by the positive reactions from teachers.”

Ms Evans’ comments are echoed by inaugural Foundation Diploma graduates Anna Babington, and Iliana Sarri, both now in Year 12 and studying IB and NCEA Level 2 respectively.

Anna says the Diploma made the transition into IB less daunting.

“With Foundation Diploma, it felt like the emphasis was on the learning rather than the end result and, although there were tests throughout the year, these assessments never overshadowed the learning. 

“The programme focuses on more holistic learning and encourages students to also engage in extracurriculars, develop their leadership skills and to become open-minded global citizens which pushed us to achieve and grow in all aspects of our lives.” 

Iliana agrees.

“We were exposed to a lot of different topics that we’re starting to look at again in NCEA. It means I’m familiar with the concepts so I can grasp things more quickly.”

Their mutual endorsement reflects the Diploma’s purpose of providing the best possible foundation for either IB or NCEA.

Ms Evans says:

“Ultimately, the main goal is unashamedly academic. I wanted our girls to be as well prepared for Year 12 and 13 as they possibly could be, and to ensure that they had a very solid academic foundation in Year 11 to achieve this.”

She’s confident this has been achieved through:

  • reduced time away from learning for assessments, reassessments, and lengthy study leave
  • increased focus on teaching and learning 
  • maintaining specialist subjects that will be lost as Year 11 offerings in many other schools across the country
  • the ability to decide what core content and skills Year 12 and 13 teachers want to prioritise in Year 11 students.

Ms Evans concludes:

“Alongside this, though, the Diploma has also offered us a lovely opportunity to be able to formalise some of the wider values and aspects of holistic education that are so important to us at St Margaret’s.”

Ms Evans has been invited to present on SMC’s Foundation Diploma at the International Alliance of Girls’ Schools’ Asia-Pacific summit in Australia next month. Learn more about our Senior School here