QA News

QA News Issue 93
- 30 Sep 2016

ISSN 1170-3318 (Online)

QA News provides information about NZQA activities. It is produced by NZQA four times per year.

In this edition:
Chief Executive's News
NZQA's Digital Trials and Pilots
Māori students experience Āmua Ao
Improvements to NCEA Student App
Top Art Tour concludes
New web series from Careers New Zealand
Scholarships not being accessed
Where to next?
Revised Code of Practice for International students
New Zealand degrees now recognised in Malaysia
Designing a modernised, more useful Record of Achievement
Study in New Zealand brochures refreshed
A visit from the Higher Education Institute of Qatar
Learnings from Stanford Executive Programme

Chief Executive's News

KarenPoutasi.jpg How quickly exam time seems to roll around each year! The lead up to this season is a busy time for NZQA and, more importantly, for the more than 145,000 senior secondary students who will be preparing for external assessment for NCEA and New Zealand Scholarship.

The examination process is a large scale operation with around 1.4 million examination papers to be marked by a team of 1800 markers.

This year, examinations run from 9 November until Friday 2 December.

In the coming days, a specific page containing resources for students will be put up on the NZQA website. This will include study tips, timetables and examination rules. Following @nceaexams on Twitter or the NZQA Facebook page, are also useful ways to keep informed.

Other important resources are NZQA’s two Apps, NCEA Student, which allows students to plan their NCEA study programme, set goals and track their progress, and the NCEA Guide, which can help parents and employers better understand NCEA.

As we move towards having NCEA examinations, where appropriate, online by 2020, we are undertaking a number of digital Trials and Pilots. A Trial is considered to be a practice assessment that does not count towards a student’s NCEA. A Pilot is considered to be an assessment where a student can gain credits towards their NCEA. This year we are Trialling 10 Level 1 subjects and Piloting four.

Our young people are living in a global, digitally connected world. We recently produced a resource called “Digital Transformation in Schools (PDF, 231KB),” which you are welcome to order.

Speaking of our global approach to work, in this edition of QA News you can read more about our work with the Malaysian Qualifications Authority, and a visit from representatives of the Higher Education Institute of Qatar.

NCEA is a well-regarded qualification internationally. Our ‘Study in New Zealand’ brochures, which are published in several languages, have also recently been refreshed and are available for you to order.

Best wishes to all of the students preparing for their external assessment, and to their teachers, parents and whānau who play such a vital part in supporting our young people as they ‘qualify for the future world.’

Ngā mihi


NZQA's Digital Trials and Pilots

ASHS MAY2014 014The first of the 2016 NCEA digital Trial examinations commenced this month. A Trial is considered to be a practice assessment that does not count towards NCEA. This year we are Trialling ten Level 1 subjects:

  • Business Studies
  • Economics
  • Geography
  • Samoan
  • Health
  • History
  • Physics
  • Spanish
  • Science
  • Te Reo Rangatira

At the conclusion of the assessment, students are asked about their experience. This feedback is currently being collated.

NZQA is also Piloting four Level 1 subjects. Pilots are assessments in which students can gain credits towards NCEA. The Pilot subjects are; English, French, Classical Studies and Media Studies.

These Pilot examinations run at the same time as the paper-based versions.

Involvement in the Pilot is voluntary and paper-based versions will be available as a back-up.

Deputy Chief Executive Andrea Gray says candidates who require Special Assessment Conditions are taking part in both the trial and pilot examinations. These conditions may include; variable font size, resizable computer screens, alternative diagrams and extra time.

NZQA staff recently visited Karamu High School as they practised a digital Level 1 Media Studies sample assessment.

“I’m told the students had a high level of focus throughout the examination, and our staff were impressed with how they adapted to the different mode of assessment.

“We also visited Kapiti College. Staff were told the college decided to undertake the digital Pilots, largely because many students find it quicker to type than write by hand,” Andrea says.

Deputy Principal, Ragne Maxwell, likened the traditional written methods expected of students in an examination situation to “asking a student who can drive a car to get somewhere in a hurry, to use a horse and cart.”

NZQA is working towards the goal of having all examinations (where appropriate) online by 2020.

Māori students experience Āmua Ao

Anua Ao ESV blueAnother group of young Māori students are currently in California, taking part in the Āmua Ao: Experience Silicon Valley 2016 Programme.

This programme is a partnership with Callaghan Innovation, NZQA and iwi and aims to increase Māori participation and achievement in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).

Included in the week-long programmes are visits to Google, Facebook and Stanford University where students will experience role modelling sessions and be exposed to speakers from renowned start-ups.

One of the students taking part in the programme is 13-year-old Kiliona Tamati-Tupa'i.

Kiliona, who is of Ngāi Tahu decent, spoke with NZQA prior to departing for California, and was really looking forward to the trip.

“I’m mostly excited about going to see Google. This is huge for me. I’ve been brought up in Te Ao Māori, but haven’t really got to experience other worlds.

“My heart is set on being a graphic designer. I want to turn our Māori stories into movies,” he said.

Kiliona’s mother, Jeanine Tamati-Elliffe has raised Kiliona with Māori as his first language.

She said when Kiliona saw the opportunity he wanted to give it a try.

“We need to support our young people to be navigators of their own future. We want them voyaging these opportunities for themselves. As Māori we’re natural born scientists, our values, stories and identity are laden with a blue print for how we can interact with the environment and engage with things that matter to us as iwi Māori and also keep us grounded.”

NZQA’s Deputy Chief Executive Māori, Daryn Bean says the programme is a fantastic opportunity for groups of young people to be taken out of their comfort zones, see something new and exciting and be inspired to think differently about STEM.

“It’s great to hear how this experience has impacted our young people. We’ve heard from the students on previous trips that they have come back feeling much more confident about taking STEM subjects at high school and they’ve had their eyes opened to a world of new career possibilities. It will stand them in great stead for the future,” he says.

This is the third Āmua Ao programme and Daryn says the feedback so far has been very positive. The programme encourages everyone to think about the value of STEM subjects.

Improvements to NCEA Student App

AppAlthough examination season is fast approaching, it is not too late to remind the NCEA students in your life of the importance of planning their programme of study, tracking their progress and setting goals.

As we move into an increasingly digital world, NZQA want to ensure students have the right tools to support them succeed in their assessment.

Deputy Chief Executive, Russell Wood, says NZQA has developed two Apps, one for parents, whānau and employers, and the other for students.

The student App has recently been enhanced. Russell says following on from user feedback, a number of modifications were made to the App, in order to ensure it best meets the needs of NCEA students.

“Students now have the ability to specify both the due date and type of assessment (test, practice examination, essay etc) and to include the date for each external examination and receive reminders ahead of time.

“It’s also possible now for students to set a reminder function for an assessment’s due date, or to turn this function off entirely if they don’t find it useful,” he says.

Another difference is that multiple levels of NCEA are now supported.

“Students may be working towards credits at levels 1, 2 or 3 simultaneously. The student App can now track this. New users are also able to add credits from previous years without having to add new standards information first. And last but not least, the list of available Standards has been updated.”

The NCEA Student App complements the NCEA Guide App, for parents and employers, which was launched by NZQA in 2014.

The Apps, which are both free, are available from both the iTunes and Google Play stores, along with a range of other student Apps.  NZQA encourages students to look at all available options and choose the one that best meets their needs.

More information about the NCEA Student App can be found here.

Top Art Tour concludes

Top ArtNZQA’s annual Top Art exhibition has completed another successful nationwide tour.

Top Art showcases a selection of visual arts portfolios that achieved Excellence in one of the five streams of NCEA Visual Arts: design, painting, photography, printmaking and sculpture.

Deputy Chief Executive, Kristine Kilkelly says the standard of work in this year’s tour, which included 56 physical and eight digital portfolios, was very impressive.

“Top Art allows current students and teachers to see what they should be aiming for with their visual arts work.

“It also allows the public to see the high calibre of art our students are creating, which is worth celebrating,” she says.

This year’s exhibition featured eight digital portfolios. This was up from one in 2015. Until 2013, students were only able to submit their work as a three-panel portfolio board, despite many candidates being skilled in using technology to create moving image digital aspects such as film or animation.

This opportunity provides candidates working within a time element, such as film or moving image, an opportunity to show their skills. It’s also great preparation for young people moving into tertiary institutions, where work is presented in a wider range of ways.

The submission of digital portfolios is still very much in its infancy and we are looking forward to seeing where it takes schools and students. There were 67 portfolios submitted digitally for Level 3 Visual Arts last year, and we expect the number to increase.

The portfolios for next year’s tour will be selected after marking of this year’s Visual Arts concludes.

New web series from Careers New Zealand

Charlie CampMeet Charlie Camp, a female building apprentice by day and rock-star drummer by night, who’s smashing stereotypes in the building industry.

In an eye opening interview with Oompher, an inspirational YouTube channel brought to you by Careers New Zealand, Charlie unravels her passion and motivation for building despite the hardships she faces on a daily basis as one of few females in the industry.

“It’s quite daunting, I definitely find it really hard,” Charlie shares.

Wellingtonian Charlie’s story is the fourth in the eight-part Oompher Web Series One, featuring a talented array of everyday Kiwis, who have paved extraordinary pathways by taking a brave step into the unknown.

Each episode exemplifies the essence of what Oompher is all about - that you don’t have to follow traditional pathways to achieve personal or professional success.

Oompher is a fantastic resource to share and start discussions with the young people in your life who are seeking inspiration or are exploring and discovering potential career paths.

Charlie’s story is featured alongside the sisters-in-law-duo behind Soldiers Rd Portraits, basketball star Brook Ruscoe and transgender icon Amanaki Prescott-Faletau.

Find out more about Oompher here, plus stay tuned each Monday for the latest episode in the Web Series.

Scholarships not being accessed

ASHS MAY2014 052At this time of year New Zealand secondary school students are thinking about their ‘next steps’ and life after high school: What will I do next year? Work? Polytech? Apprenticeship? Hundreds of students across New Zealand will be considering going to university. And many choose not to because of fees. What they may not consider is what funding might be available to them in the form of scholarships and awards.

One issue is that students do not realise they are eligible to apply. There persists a belief that scholarships are for ‘smart kids’; conversely, some students who are academically able or from middle class or wealthy homes perceive that scholarship funding is only available for those in hardship. It creates a kind of stalemate.

And that’s if students are aware there are scholarships available to them in the first place. Some scholarships are not well advertised, and others are restrictive in that the eligibility criteria are too obscure, meaning not many people can apply.

However, there are plenty, literally thousands of scholarships in New Zealand. Most of them are simply for the all-rounder – the average New Zealand secondary school student who is neither academically brilliant nor lives in poverty.

For school students a good place to begin the scholarship search is talking to teachers, deans, careers advisors and other support staff at their school, and parents.

Generosity New Zealand has a database of over 4,000 scholarships nationwide. Chief Executive Brenda Smith says that scholarships these days have a variety of entry criteria which don’t always necessarily include academic excellence, and that huge numbers of scholarships are going unclaimed and could possibly be in the value of millions of dollars.

Generosity New Zealand’s GivME funding database is a paid subscription but anyone can access it for free at locations across New Zealand including local libraries and councils. GivME’s free access locations map

Every New Zealand university has its own scholarships office with hundreds of different scholarship opportunities totalling millions of dollars, which comes from university budgets and external funders.

Universities New Zealand is the peak body for New Zealand universities, representing them nationally and internationally. It is responsible for the quality of university programmes and also administers a range of nationally available undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships.

Universities New Zealand Executive Director Chris Whelan believes that there is something for everyone. He explains that the motivations behind private donor schemes are all very different and come from both ends of the spectrum.

“There are full scholarships to prestigious universities in the UK and US and are awarded on grounds of academic excellence, but at the other end we’ve got active donors who just want to make a difference in the lives of worthy young New Zealanders who might struggle without financial support, or who have a dream where the money is the thing that’s getting in the way.

“The two key groups that give advice to young people around scholarship opportunities are often schools and parents. We want to make it very clear to young people and their advisors that if you’ve got potential, and money is an obstacle, there are a lot of these scholarship schemes out there.”

For more information go to Universities New Zealand or email

Where to next?

Where to Next Campaign webtilesThe end of the year is in sight, and this means decision time for school leavers. But… Where to Next?

Careers New Zealand is giving family, whānau and influencers advice and guidance on how to best support school leavers with their decision-making for next year.

A lot has changed in the last 30 years - technology has advanced significantly and new job titles such as ‘Social Media Manager’ now exist.  Our school leavers have so many options and may need support at this key transition point. But how do we give advice when things are so different now?

Where to Next provides a wealth of information influencers need to support their school leaver on their future learning and career journey. Articles, videos, and case studies give timely advice and information – easily accessed in one spot.

But what if my school leaver already knows what they want to do? Careers New Zealand has this covered too, with information on scholarships available, things to consider when starting university and how to start an apprenticeship.

Revised Code of Practice for International students

Onehunga MAY2014 035The Code of Practice has been revised to ensure that students coming to study in New Zealand are well-informed, safe and properly cared for.

Deputy Chief Executive Grant Klinkum explains the revised Code of Practice came into force on 1 July 2016.

“All applications to become a Code signatory and all new student enrolments now need to meet the requirements in the revised Code,” he says.

“The Code sets out the expectations of education providers about advice and care that international students can expect to receive.

“The revised Code details 10 outcomes that are sought from signatories across the areas of marketing, agents, offers, and enrolments, immigration, safety, well-being and support and advice for students, education provider closure or course withdrawal, grievances and disputes.”

NZQA has new functions and has responsibility for the investigation of suspected breaches of the Code that are not related to contractual matters. Contractual disputes will be directed to the Dispute Resolution Scheme Operator, Fairway Resolution.  The existing complaints process – the International Education Appeal Authority (IEAA) and Review Panel will remain in operation to consider all complaints made before 1 July 2016. 

To support signatories to comply with the revised Code, NZQA has released guidelines for schools and tertiary providers and ‘frequently asked questions’.

For further information, schools can email  Tertiary education organisations can email

New Zealand degrees now recognised in Malaysia

One of NZQA’s goals is to significantly increase the number of countries in which our qualifications are recognised.Malaysia

Deputy Chief Executive, Russell Wood, says a new report, by NZQA and the Malaysian government, is one example of how we are working to achieve this goal.

A new report (PDF, 4.7MB), ‘The comparability of Qualifications in New Zealand and Malaysia: A Comparative Analysis of Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral Degrees' presents information on the comparability of the two countries qualifications, for the purpose of increasing portability and recognition of qualifications between the two countries.

Russell explains that in the increasingly global, digital environment in which we live, it is common for people wanting to live, work or study abroad to want their qualifications recognised.

“This report will help employers, education organisations, government agencies and other stakeholders make judgements about the value and comparability of particular qualifications in practice.”

The report also showcases the projects that NZQA and MQA carried out from 2011 to 2015 as part of our obligations under the New Zealand – Malaysia Free Trade Agreement.

The publication adds to information already available to stakeholders, rather than replacing the processes for assessing an individual’s qualification.

NZQA has supported the Malaysian Qualification Authority to develop both a national qualifications framework and a quality assurance system.

The two countries have a long standing educational association, dating back to the Colombo plan scholarships of the 1950s and 1960s.

For more information please contact

Designing a modernised, more useful Record of Achievement

NZQA is working towards having an electronic Record of Achievement.

This will be an accessible, accurate, comprehensive and authoritative record of a learner’s qualifications and other quality assured learning NZQA recognises.

Deputy Chief Executive, Grant Klinkum, explains this work supports other projects within NZQA’s ‘Future State’ programme, promoting credit recognition and transfer, recognition of prior learning, and quality assurance in a borderless digital world.

NZQA recently sought feedback from secondary schools and tertiary education organisations on the proposed new electronic record, asking them to provide feedback on the design prototypes.

“While there was not one interface which stood out as a preferred option, the general consensus was that the information was displayed in a clear, logical way. The ability to add or not add the education organisation where the learning took place helps students customise their record, and the ability to print, save and email the record was valued,” Grant says.

Learners have said that there is not ‘one record that fits all’. They want options for sorting their information and choosing what could be displayed. Grant says these features are necessary to create a modernised, more useful record.

NZQA is currently finalising the Record’s ‘new look’ and the new learner home page interface.

The Record will continue to evolve as other education-wide projects progress. It will allow for components of learning other than standards to be added to the Record, and to link components of learning and qualifications achieved. This approach allows us to gather more feedback, enables ongoing improvement and alignment with similar work developed for learners.

Study in New Zealand brochures refreshed

Study in New Zealand

NZQA recently refreshed its Study in New Zealand brochures (PDF, 787KB) with a new design and photos.

The Study in New Zealand brochures are available in English and translated into Chinese, Thai, German, Korean and Spanish and Japanese.

The translated brochures feature students’ experiences of studying NCEA in New Zealand.

They continue to be available to download and hard copies are free to order from the NZQA website.

The brochures continue to be in demand by agents, schools and national and international education agencies to help promote the study of NCEA in New Zealand.

A visit from the Higher Education Institute of Qatar

QatarNZQA recently had the pleasure of helping visitors from Qatar learn how to design, build, implement and maintain a qualifications framework.

The representatives, from the Higher Education Institute (HEI) of Qatar, visited NZQA from 25-28 July.

Deputy Chief Executive, Russell Wood, says in addition to this, the visitors also wanted to understand how an agency like NZQA operates its systems, policies and procedures, with a view to creating a similar agency in Qatar.

The visitors attended presentations from across the key areas of NZQA and visits to Whitireia Polytechnic and Victoria University. They also attended a presentation by Universities NZ, in order to understand how NZQA links with the various parts of the tertiary education system, and what the linkages and quality assurance processes look like from an institution's perspective.

The visit was organised in partnership with G2G Know How, a Government entity co-funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and NZ Trade and Enterprise. G2G are working with around 100 public sector entities to grow offshore business development opportunities and the sale of public sector IP, knowledge and expertise.

Learnings from Stanford Executive Programme

GrantEarlier this year, Deputy Chief Executive Grant Klinkum attended a Stanford University programme on Executive Leadership in California.

For the six week programme, Stanford University welcomed 160 participants from 37 countries.

Grant says this programme focussed on; innovation, thinking skills, leadership and management.

“NZQA’s participation was in support of our future state work. Our future state programme is about putting the customer at the heart of our service delivery and ensuring our services are relevant in a digital era. The Stanford Graduate School of Business have a specialisation in design thinking and this made the programme ideal for NZQA’s needs.”

“It was invigorating to hear from Silicon Valley business leaders, Stanford University professors such as former U.S Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice and of course fellow course participants. With such a diverse and dynamic group of participants there was plenty of vigorous debate, stimulated and supplemented by a daily diet of case studies on organisational failure and success.

Grant says NZQA’s digital transformation work and an understanding of how technology may impact on digital assessment, evaluation processes, the structure of qualifications and programmes, were top of mind.

“We learned about how what got an organisation to its current state won’t necessarily get it to the next phase in its journey. We also heard how design thinking requires the co-creation of services with clients, rather than merely consulting once an agency has developed its own thinking.”

Grant says he also learned a lot about the latest thinking regarding effective leadership.

“Leaders don’t have the answers, they create the conditions for the right answer to emerge, while making sense of things and setting direction.

“There was a strong focus on making use of the ‘collective brain’ through creating cross functional teams and making a virtue of experimentation.” This relates to the need to co-create.

The ability to thrive in a crisis, to innovate rather than default to business as usual practices was also focused on.

“A crisis can be used to spotlight a particular issue, turning what could be a ‘disaster’ into an outcome that benefits the organisation.”

A strength of the programme was training in recognising and mitigating various forms of bias in decision making. The need to continually ask questions, rather than just look at data, was highlighted and is something that we can all learn from.

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