Late last year I announced that the Government will undertake a review of National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) this year.

The review starts in February and has a number of stages. It is an opportunity to take the pulse of New Zealand’s key secondary school national qualification, and to make necessary refinements and changes to ensure it remains modern and relevant for young people leaving school.

We want to channel the experiences of people who interact with NCEA. Everyone can make a contribution – parents, whānau, teachers, school leaders, tertiary providers, iwi, employers, and the public.

At the top of the list of issues we will focus on are the over-assessment of students and the teacher workload. Students and teachers have been saying things need to be done in these areas to counter teacher burnout and put more emphasis on actual teaching. And the full potential of NCEA has yet to be fully realised, likely due in part to the way targets around credit accumulation have driven the implementation of the qualifications.

And there’s a lot more than this besides, including looking at the role of each level of NCEA, particularly the structure and relevance of NCEA Level 1 and whether all young people should attempt it.

The Ministry of Education is running the review, starting with range of stakeholders and opening up for all New Zealanders to comment and contribute.

They will be supported by a special Ministerial Advisory Group that has been tasked with challenging traditional thinking. A youth advisory group has also been set up to capture the insights of students.

I encourage Education Review readers to read the Terms of Reference for the review and the Cabinet Paper ‘Reviewing NCEA’ at

They are passionate about education and I’m keen for them to share their ideas. NCEA is an important and enduring qualification and, collectively, we have a great opportunity to make it even better.

Let’s make this review count.

Key stages and dates

1 Representative Consultation From February 2018 the Ministry and the Ministerial Advisory Group, in consultation with stakeholders, will identify relevant topics for public consultation.
2 Working Groups The Ministry and the Ministerial Advisory Group will work with groups and stakeholders to refine topics to be focused on by the review, and the consultation process.
3 Discussion Document In late April the Ministerial Advisory Group, supported by the Ministry of Education, and with contribution from the
Youth Advisory Group, will draft a Discussion Document which will be submitted to the Minister of Education.
4 Public Consultation From late April the Ministry will hold wider public consultation on NCEA through a range of formats such as workshops and surveys. The Ministry of Education will also engage with focus groups to capture the voices of young people and their families and whānau.
5 Consultation and Recommendation Reports In late August the Ministry will summarise inputs into a Consultation Report from its consultation processes. In September, with contribution from the Ministerial and Youth advisory groups, the Ministry of Education will draft a Recommendations Report for the Minister of Education.
6 Implementation Report An Implementation Report will be developed by the Ministry of Education and released in early 2019. It will lay out the next steps to implement recommendations.
7 Implementation Any outcomes of the review will be clearly signalled and implemented with regard to the impact upon stakeholders.



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