February 2021
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The team in School Quality Assurance and Liaison at NZQA wish you all the very best for 2021 and look forward to working with you over the year ahead. To those returning in the Principal’s Nominee role, welcome back. To those new to the role, it is good to have you on board.

2021 School Relationship Managers

Back row


Alice Wards (Otago, Southland, Wellington), Geoff Meadows (Buller/West Coast, Nelson, Marlborough, Hutt Valley, Wellington), Peter Walton-Jones (Wellington, Manawatu, Whanganui ), Daniel Dyer (Bay of Plenty, East Cape, Waikato), Tūirirangi Renau (Te Kura Kaupapa and Te Wharekura – Te Tai Tonga, Te Tai Tokerau, Ikaroa – Rawhiti), Andrew Macklin (Canterbury), Paul Smith (Auckland, Cook Islands), Frank Moran (Auckland)

Front row


Matehaere Clarke (Te Kura Kaupapa and Te Wharekura – Tamaki Makaurau, Hauraki-Waikato, Te Tai Hauauru), Robyn Thompson (Christchurch, Auckland, Northland), Karen Eder (Christchurch & North Canterbury, Auckland, Hutt Valley, Wellington), Jude Barnes (Taranaki, Waikato), Kay Wilson (Manager SQAL), Jane Griffin (Auckland, Coromandel), Jackie Power (Hawkes Bay, Mid & South Canterbury, North Otago), Sharron Morgan (Wairarapa, Manawatu, Auckland, Northland)
Absent Coralie Baines, Gabe Sorensen


In memory of Craig Ramsay

It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the passing of our dear friend and colleague, Craig Ramsay. Craig joined NZQA as a School Relationship Manager on 16 January 2012. He worked with schools in Wellington and the Wairarapa, Hawkes Bay and Gisborne, Tauranga and Rotorua, and the Cook Islands, to ensure their systems and processes deliver credible assessment for qualifications.

Craig quickly established himself as the go-to person for technical questions about the inner workings of the NCEA and the nuts and bolts of any of the many portfolios he held over the years. Craig was an excellent communicator, taking time to ensure even the most complex technical aspects of a policy or process were understood. He had the knack of being able to get complex information across and wouldn’t let you go until he was certain the message was understood; if you phoned Craig you knew you were going to get a full answer.

Some of Craig’s current colleagues are his former Principal’s Nominees. More than one says it was because of him they became an SRM. They recall Craig as being unrelentingly supportive and helpful; checking in rather than checking up; answering questions patiently. Other PNs Craig worked with agree, with one reporting to his new SRM how they learnt the Principal’s Nominee job from him and how helpful he always was, giving his time generously to guide and share his wide expertise.

Craig was a well-respected and admired member of the SQAL team.  He had a great love of travel and took great pleasure in sharing his overseas adventures with his colleagues on his return.  A naturally gifted teacher and mentor, he was always giving of his time to anyone who needed help and guidance about NZQA matters, especially new PNs.  The vibrancy, energy and enthusiasm that he brought to the office every day will be missed, as well as his mince pies and shortbread at Christmas.  Haere, haere, moe mai rā Craig.


The EmaiLink for Schools, which is sent periodically throughout the year, is designed as a brief summary of upcoming deadlines as well as a heads-up about any possible changes. It is also published online under the General Security/EmaiLink link through your school’s NZQA Provider Login.

Information contained within the EmaiLink complements that published online including: Action Items by Month and 2021 Key Dates.

Our contact with schools is very important to us.  Our current list of contacts for your school can be found under the High Security Features/School’s Administration/Profile link through your school’s NZQA Provider Login. Please update as needed.

You will have received an invitation to the Leading National Assessment (formerly Managing National Assessment) seminar. I would encourage you to ask the school leader in charge of assessment and/or curriculum in your school to accompany you. The 2021 seminar aims to:

  • provide the opportunity to explore and discuss the future of assessment
  • consider possible responses to upcoming changes in the context of your school/kura
  • consider the effects of the Review of Assessment Standards (RAS) and the NCEA Change Programme on your school/kura’s assessment practice

Key dates

Key Dates

1 Feb SPECIAL ASSESSMENT CONDITIONS (SAC)–Rollover/Change opens for entitled candidates
Revised 2021 Assessment (including Examination) Rules for Schools with Consent to Assess 2021 published on NZQA website
26 Feb  Final date for 2020 NCEA External Exam Reviews and Reconsiderations
28 Feb  Web access to ‘Late Internally Assessed Results’ closes for 2020
1 March  Web Entries Schools’ access opens
Memorandum of Agreement online applications open
5 March  Final date for 2020 NZ Scholarship Reviews and Reconsiderations
 11 March  Candidate Information Sheets (for students entering externals) sent to schools
 12 March  Update of 2021 External Assessment Specifications online
 22 March  Data file submission links open (entry and result data files can be uploaded to NZQA from this date)
 25 March  NZQA advertises for Panel Leaders (marking external exams)
 1 April  First data file submission due (include as many candidate enrolments, courses and entries as possible). Entry and result data file processing begins
 16 April  TERM 1 ENDS

2021 Key Date Calendars will be posted to schools from mid-February.

PN checklist

PN Checklist: things to do

  • Encourage teachers to complete the 2020 exam survey by 21 February
  • Ensure that teachers check the 2021 Assessment Specifications for their subject areas
  • Ensure teachers check the 2021 exam calendar
  • Update your school’s contact information in your Provider Login
  • Ensure any amendments or additions to 2020 internal results are made online by 26 February
  • Update your SMS with the latest Results, Consents and Standards files
  • Review and update the ESL access for teachers
  • Notify students and teachers of the NCEA and Scholarship Review and Reconsideration closing dates
  • Check that your SENCO has completed their annual needs analysis before rolling over or amending existing SAC entitlements online
  • Discuss entering this year’s digital practice exams with teachers
  • Consider participating in a User Experience workshop

Topics in this EmaiLink:

2020 School NCEA Results and Statistics Results file

  • Results reports
  • Reporting 2020 internally assessed results amendments and additions
  • 2020 NCEA statistics
  • Updating contact information and Education Sector Login (ESL)

Return of Material, Reviews, Reconsideration & Ordering Documents

  • Reminder for students - accessing NCEA end of year digital exams
  • Return of external assessment material
  • Review and Reconsideration applications for 2020 external exam results
  • Cut scores
  • Review and Reconsideration application processes
  • Reconsideration applications for Level 3 and New Zealand Scholarship Visual Arts
  • Ordering results documents

NCEA Online

  • Digital Practice Exams
  • Results of 2020 research and innovation trials
  • User Experience workshops – website and digital exam design improvements

Special Assessment Conditions

Information for Staff

  • 2021 Assessment Specifications
  • Course confirmation
  • Planned review dates of achievement standards
  • Teacher survey on the 2020 exams


  • Students using NCEA overseas

2020 School NCEA Results and Statistics Results file

You can download your 2020 results into your SMS from the High Security Features/ File Downloads link. The file is called

Results reports

You can access results reports via the General Security Features/Reports link. Three of the reports contain all results, including those for externally assessed standards:

  • Entries and results by standard report: lists entries and results by standard
  • Qualifications report: lists attainment of qualifications, including University Entrance by student. This report also shows certificate endorsement details
  • Qualifications report with LRCs: same report as above including Learning Recognition Credits
  • Summary of total grades: lists the number of N, A, M and E grades by standard for each subject.

Both the results file and the results reports are dynamic, so they are built at the time of the requested download. This means results entered through the Add Results link will appear in this file as they are reported. However, as qualification checks occur overnight, these award updates cannot be viewed until the next day.

If a currently unassigned or incorrectly assigned standard needs to be correctly assigned to a course to ensure a course endorsement for the student, please contact your School Relationship Manager to request the change.

Reporting 2020 internally assessed results amendments and additions

You can amend or add 2020 internally assessed results through the High Security Features/Add Results link. This facility closes at 11.59 pm on 28 February 2021.

The Key Indicators list should be checked to ensure that there are no results reported for which the school, or assessing provider, do not have consent to assess. Check that you have used the correct external provider code or site code too.

If you need to add a result in a standard for which you do not already have entries, please contact your NZQA Data Liaison Officer. Once your file has one entry for a standard you will be able to report further results.

2020 NCEA statistics

The Principal’s Report is available through the High Security Features/Principal’s Report link.

Statistical data is available via the Statistics link. Data is not dynamic and will be refreshed another three times in February, March and April.

Updating contact information and Education Sector Login (ESL)

Please ensure that you update your school’s contact information through your Provider Login page.

Education Sector Login (ESL) access should be updated to ensure staff have the necessary access to your Provider Login and the External Moderation application. See the Quick Reference Guide (PDF, 129KB) for more details.

Guidelines to update contact details (DOC, 624KB)

Return of Material, Reviews, Reconsideration & Ordering Documents

Reminder for students - accessing NCEA end of year digital exams

Students who sat an NCEA exam digitally will be able to view marked digital exam scripts until 30 June.

Return of external assessment material

All NCEA material, including DVC reports and Technology portfolios, should have been returned to students or schools by mid-February. Please contact your School Relationship Manager as soon as possible if material is missing, so that we can locate this where possible.

Scholarship booklets will be returned once results have been released.

Further details are available here.

Review and Reconsideration applications for 2020 external exam results

It is advisable for students to talk to their teachers prior to applying for a review or reconsideration.

The original answer booklet must accompany any application for a review or reconsideration except for digital exams and digitally submitted Technology standards.

Closing dates for NCEA external exam Review and Reconsideration applications is Friday 26 February

Closing date for Scholarship Review and Reconsideration applications is Friday 5 March.

Cut scores

Cut scores have been released and may be found at the relevant subject link here.  These scores may assist students in their decision about whether to request a Review or Reconsideration.

Review and Reconsideration application processes

Details for the Review or Reconsideration of NCEA exam results are found here.

Details for the Review or Reconsideration of Scholarship exam results are found here.

Reconsideration applications for Level 3 and New Zealand Scholarship Visual Arts

These can also be completed from the Learner Login.

High-quality A4 coloured photographs and an authenticity declaration must be posted to NZQA. Scholarship applications must include both photographs and workbook. No portfolios are to be sent to NZQA.

Check details for a Reconsideration of Level 3 and NZ Scholarship Visual Arts results here.

Ordering results documents

Students can order, through their Learner Login, any documents for which they are eligible and want a copy. One free copy of each certificate is available.

Students should wait for the results of a Review or Reconsideration before ordering a certificate.

NCEA Online

Digital Practice Exams

Digital practice exams using NZQA’s online platform will be offered from 2 August to 1 October. This extended window will allow schools to pick a time that best suits them. More information about what you need to know and do will be provided at key stages in coming months.

Offering digital practice exams to schools in 2020 was an opportunity for students to get exam experience using NZQA’s online platform before the ‘real thing’ and for schools to test their systems. Check out the survey feedback from schools and students in the summary  (PDF, 344KB)and full report (PDF, 1.4MB) on our website.

Results of 2020 research and innovation trials

Our research work shapes how we might deliver future digital exams and stimulate changes in teaching and learning. The updated Research, Innovation and Enhancements section of our website includes reports on research and innovation trials completed in 2020:

  • digital Statistics & Maths (Calculus) Assessment (Innovation Trials reports)
  • Squirm Germ Gamified Assessment (Innovation Trial report)
  • Special Assessment Conditions software stocktake
  • more than one assessment opportunity a year (literature review)
  • automated marking (Innovation Trial report)
  • externally sourced assessment – digital practice exams delivered on NZQA’s platform (Report on 2020 student and school experience)
  • Scholarship online (Summary report on key factors for consideration)
  • scanned paper responses (Summary report of the Innovation Trial)  
  • enhancing benchmarking and check marking (Summary report of the Innovation Trial)
  • Assessment Master Planner (Summary of the Innovation Trial.

Special Assessment Conditions

2021 Applications

New applications can be submitted for 2021. The first deadline for applications is the end of term one, 9 April. Any changes to SACs requested can be made during the rollover process if needed, even if these had previously been declined. The link to process rollovers of 2020 applications is available from 1 February.

Notification of Computer Use

The notification process for students who only want to use a computer for external exams can be accessed through the SAC online tool.

SAC Update #1

You and your SENCO have received this emailed update containing important information about the 2021 timeline and application processes. You can also find it online through your High Security link.

Update contact information

Please ensure that your SENCO details are updated in your school’s Contact information found on your Provider Login. This information is used to email updates to SENCOs.

Information for staff

2021 Assessment Specifications

2021 Assessment Specifications for NCEA and New Zealand Scholarship external assessment have been published. Details appear on the relevant subject pages.

Please remind teachers to check the Assessment Specifications for the external assessments that they will be offering this year.  This will help to ensure that any changes are included in their planning and teaching.

Further information is available in this circular.

Course confirmation

When teachers are confirming courses for students, they need to check:

Planned review dates of achievement standards

All standards listed on the Directory of Assessment Standards are required to have a planned review date.  Some standards may have a review date of 31 December 2020.

The Review of Achievement Standards (RAS), currently underway by the Ministry of Education, serves as the review of these achievement standards. Assessments completed against the current standards are valid until the standards have been replaced and are expired.

Teacher survey on the 2020 exams

We are seeking feedback on the 2020 exams through our annual teacher survey.  Please share these links with your teaching staff.

NCEA survey

Scholarship Award survey

The survey closes on 21 February.

Teachers are encouraged to respond to these surveys, either as an individual or as a group.

Feedback from the teacher surveys is highly valued by NZQA.

Students using NCEA overseas

You can find information about specific country requirements for the recognition of NCEA on the NZQA website. This includes information on requirements for United States National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Scholarships.

Advice for students considering tertiary studies overseas (DOCX, 23KB)

International fee-paying students can download an Overseas Results Notice from the “order documents” section of the Learner Login. Visit NZQA’s Ordering results documents for more results information for overseas study.

If you or your students have any questions, please contact NZQA on

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