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Enabling students based offshore to continue their New Zealand schooling during the COVID- 19 pandemic
A2020/18 - 14 Sep 2020


Principal’s Nominee
All teachers

Updated version 5 Oct 2020

As a one-off, time-limited response to the COVID-19 pandemic and related travel restrictions, legislation has been passed (Education and Training Act 2020 clauses 11 & 12 of Schedule 1) to enable NCEA assessment by distance learning to students overseas. The arrangement is for a fixed period concluding at the end of the 2022 school year. NCEA assessment encompasses the award of University Entrance but does not allow the option to sit Scholarship examinations. 

This temporary exemption is only available to students outside of New Zealand that were enrolled in a registered (State, State Integrated or Private) school with consent to assess, on or before 3 July 2020. 

The approval process for a registered school to offer NCEA offshore

NCEA cannot be delivered outside New Zealand except in accordance with clauses 11 and 12 of Schedule 1 of the Education and Training Act 2020. Clause 12(6) of Schedule 1 allows NZQA to make rules for applications to NZQA for its approval.  Clauses 11 & 12, as well as the Rules, will expire at the end of the 2022 school year.

State and State Integrated schools must apply to the Minister through the Ministry of Education to gain approval to offer NCEA offshore.

Private schools do not require the Minister’s approval to deliver education offshore but will have to apply to NZQA through the Ministry of Education to deliver NCEA offshore.

All applications requesting approval to offer NCEA offshore will be sent to NZQA by the Ministry of Education for evaluation.  The school will need to be a current signatory to the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice.

Under the NZQA Rules, schools in their application to NZQA will need to provide information of the following kinds:

  1. a list of standards the school will use to assess students offshore and confirmation that they are suitable for the remote learning environment and are within the school’s consent to assess scope.
  2. details of each student being assessed.
  3. a written explanation of the Learning programmes being used. They (ie, the learning programmes) must reflect a coherent pathway and meet the needs of the student.
  4. that the school has NZQA approval under section 524 of the Education and Training Act where the learning programme is established exclusively or mainly for international students.
  5. where any assessment and moderation methods to be used are different to those in the school’s QMS or different to their teacher and student assessment information, an explanation is required. Assessment processes must be fair, valid, consistent and appropriate with results reported being authentic and credible.
  6. details of the information and support students will receive to show it is adequate and appropriate.
  7. for the assessment of externally assessed standards, confirmation that the school will use and follow the Overseas External Results process in Appendix 1 of the Rules.

Schools will be required to submit an updated student list and spreadsheet annually, detailing the standards being offered to students who meet the enrolment eligibility for 2020. Any changes to the above information will also be required.

Applications for approval to offer NCEA can be downloaded from the Ministry of Education website:

A copy of the Offshore Provision of NCEA Rules 2020 (PDF, 227KB) is attached to the application and can be found under School Assessment Rules on the NZQA website.

Completed applications should be sent to:

Schools will be notified by NZQA when their application to offer NCEA offshore has been approved and can report results assessed for these students from that date.

Schools will receive an invoice for a fee of $190 + GST per hour once their application to provide NCEA offshore has been processed. 

Temporarily allowing the provision of NCEA offshore – a COVID-19 response


Please refer any enquiries relating to this circular to your School Relationship Manager:

School Relationship Manager
School Quality Assurance and Liaison
Telephone: 04 463 3000

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