Ensure NCEA Levels 2 and 3 support good connections beyond schooling

Learning beyond the classroom – through self-directed projects, extracurricular activities, community work, or employment – can be undervalued by NCEA. Levels 2 and 3 need a sharper focus on encouraging these learner-driven experiences and better connecting

them to NCEA and a wider programme of learning. This opportunity explores whether NCEA Level 2 and 3 could include credits from a ‘pathways opportunity’, such as a research or community project, progress towards an out-of-school qualification, industry training or a work placement.

Many students enjoy learning opportunities that take them out of the classroom and let them explore the pathways they could take to work or tertiary study. At times, these opportunities can be undervalued by NCEA. Levels 2 and 3 could encourage these student-led opportunities and make sure they are clearly linked to NCEA.

Most students studying towards NCEA Level 2 or 3 are beginning to specialise. Sometimes this specialisation takes the form of learning through an out-of-school opportunity, for example, learning through a trades academy, Gateway, a science camp, a coding club, or industry training. At other times, it involves deeper learning in a smaller range of areas, for example, a self-directed research project.

We’ve heard that out-of-class learning opportunities can be viewed as less ‘academic’. However, students can gain huge benefits from meaningful learning that is connected to the real world and helps them achieve their goals.

Focus questions

  • How can NCEA acknowledge the value of all learning, including learning that occurs outside the classroom?
  • How can NCEA acknowledge learning gained in the workplace, including developing knowledge, skills, and attitudes valued by employers?
  • Should NCEA be more capable of recognising a student’s prior learning and learning that is not based on assessment standards?

Download the Big Opportunities discussion document

Download the Big Opportunities 3 Factsheet

Download the Big Opportunities 3 A3 Poster