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Last year, we had lots of conversations about whether or not to keep NCEA Level 1.

This website has been wound up and is no longer maintained. For up-to-date information and resources about the NCEA Change Programme, go to NCEA.education.govt.nz.




What we’ve heard

We heard that, for many students, Level 1 is a vital part of NCEA. It introduces them to the format of NCEA assessment and prepares them for their next step. Many school leaders wanted to keep Level 1 as it keeps their students motivated by giving them a goal to work towards. Māori and Pacific people told us that they also value Level 1 highly.

For around 10% of students, NCEA Level 1 will be their highest level qualification. Removing it as an option has the potential to disadvantage this group of students.

Others have suggested that removing Level 1 will allow teachers to focus more on teaching and less on assessment. By reducing their assessment workload, teachers would be free to develop innovative approaches to Year 11 which would be of more value to students than a Level 1 qualification.

What you need to know

We want to keep NCEA Level 1 as an optional level for schools who want to continue to use this qualification. Others would be free to adopt alternative approaches to Year 11, in a way that best meets the needs of their students.

As part of our rebuild of NCEA standards (change 4 - fewer, larger standards), Level 1 will be refocused on a broad education across a wide range of Learning Areas | Wāhanga Ako. We will work closely with teachers and subject associations to build these standards.

Through this process, we want to explore ways that students can access opportunities to credential a wider variety of content, such as extracurricular activities, strengths and skills, or work experience, as part of their NCEA.

Students in classroom

NCEA Change Package Overview 2019

Read the NCEA Change Package Overview 2019 for more detail about the changes, the journey we took with New Zealand to get to them, and what an NCEA programme could look like.

cover image of overview document

Around 16,000 New Zealanders took part in the year-long review of NCEA, and the Ministry of Education is to continue to work with stakeholders to confirm a detailed design and implementation plan for the changes by the end of the year.

Read the other changes

  1. Make NCEA more accessible
  2. Mana ōrite mō te mātauranga Māori
  3. Strengthen literacy and numeracy requirements
  4. Have fewer, larger standards
  5. Simplify NCEA’s structure
  6. Show clearer pathways to further education and employment
  7. Keep NCEA Level 1 as an optional level