QA News

QA News Issue 94
- 21 Dec 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
TEC advice on earthquake-prone education buildings
Introducing Kay Wilson
Song writing accepted as an NCEA subject
Record of Achievement – modernised, more comprehensive and user-friendly
Explaining NCEA to Korea
New Zealand shares expertise with China on national qualifications frameworks
NZQA collaborates with the United States Embassy
Rule 18 – English language proficiency
Expanding career horizons through pioneering Pasifika research
A degree is a smart investment
Merry Christmas from NZQA

Chief Executive's News

KarenPoutasi.jpg The significant Kaikoura earthquake on November 14 made this year’s examination season particularly challenging for many schools and students.

My thoughts were very much with the students who were unable to attend their NCEA examinations and those whose performance may have been impacted in some way.

Schools did an impressive job in managing through the difficulties presented by the earthquakes and I know how much our team appreciated the work that Principal’s Nominees in particular did in dealing with the challenges, not just on the day of the earthquake but during the examination period and beyond.  We are also building on what we learned in dealing with the impacts of the earthquakes in the affected regions to strengthen our support for students and schools in any events like this in the future.

This year we have continued working hard to meet the evolving needs of the education community. An important step towards our 2020 goal of having NCEA examinations take place (where appropriate) online was to run digital Pilot examinations.  NZQA proceeded with three Pilots including English, Classical Studies and Media Studies which involved more than 2000 students.

Marking is now well underway as is planning for the release of NCEA results on 17 January followed by Scholarship results release on 9 February.

Along with challenges, this year has also included several highlights. I always enjoy seeing the high calibre of work displayed in NZQA’s annual Top Art Exhibition, which show cases some of the great visual art work being created in our schools, and this year we also launched ‘Ringa Toi Māori’. This exhibition was a significant opportunity for Māori art forms to be recognised. On display were raranga, (weaving), kākahu (wearable art), tukutuku (ornamental weaving using reed latticework), tāniko (finger weave embroidery), whakairo (carving), kōwhaiwhai (Māori art patterns), mahi-tā (paint, print, spray), uku (clay sculptures), whakapakoko (sculpture) and mahi-matihiko (digital) works of art.

It was great to meet some of the talented artists who have created the work and for them to be recognised and acknowledged by their communities, their schools, whānau and the wider education sector.

Best wishes for a lovely Christmas and we look forward to working with you in 2017.

Ngā mihi


TEC advice on earthquake-prone education buildings

The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) has created a web page with information about a new legislative framework for identifying and managing earthquake-prone buildings.

The new legislation prioritises some earthquake-prone education buildings. As a result, the tertiary sector has shorter timeframes for the assessment and strengthening of any buildings identified by territorial authorities as being potentially earthquake prone in some areas of the country.

Further information is available on the TEC website.

Introducing Kay Wilson

kayKay Wilson is well placed to understand how schools work, having spent 20 years as a secondary school teacher, specialising in History and French.

Her association with NZQA is also long-standing, she has been involved with the organisation wearing various hats since 1999.

Now, as the Manager of School Quality Assurance and Liaison, Kay manages a team of 15 School Relationship Managers (SRMs). SRMs, who are former school curriculum leaders or senior managers, play a crucial role here at NZQA, working with schools to help them implement policies and procedures which will lead to valid results.

Kay says, having extensive experience in schools means SRMs are well placed to understand the impact of whatever it is NZQA is asking schools to do.

“We are customer focused, it’s important to know how NZQA fits into their world and understand the impact of whatever it is we’re asking schools to do.”

From March until November, SRMs regularly spend days visiting schools, running assessment system checks. They also talk with schools about moderation issues and any potential or emerging issues with reporting or data.

“Our team also has an important role to play in managing the process for Special Assessment Conditions (SAC). SAC ensures students with challenges have a fair opportunity in their assessment by removing barriers that could disadvantage them.

“We also receive applications for derived grades, which are made by schools on behalf of students who are sick or impaired at exam time. The team also manages a school’s initial application for consent to assess.

“We’re certainly never bored. I enjoy wearing so many different hats and operating in such different and distinct work areas.

“One day I could be helping with a particular aspect of our roadshow for Principal’s Nominees, which involves workshops at 28 venues and is attended by 484 schools. The next we could be looking at subcontracting arrangements for schools and the next, working with schools on their MNA (Managing National Assessment) reports to help them with their action plan.

“Every school is visited each year, including seven schools in the Cook Islands and one in Niue.”

Kay says an aspect of the role she particularly enjoys is the cross agency interaction and contributing as a decision-maker.

 “We certainly really appreciate the dedication and hard work of Principal’s Nominees (who are the people within schools who manage assessment processes) – it’s a big job and it’s crucial to the smooth running of our assessment system.”

As Christmas approaches Kay is looking forward to spending time with family in advance of NCEA results release on 17 January.

Song writing accepted as an NCEA subject

songwritingFrom 2017 students will be able to gain song-writing credits, in a move welcomed by music teachers and students.

For several years, NZQA has been working with Mike Chunn, the CEO of Play It Strange, to recognise student achievement outside of the classroom by enabling students to gain credits in a song writing and performance competition ‘Play it Strange’.

Now a new achievement standard (91489) will be registered at Level 3.

A NZQA survey showed many teachers wanted a song-writing standard. NZQA worked with the Ministry of Education to support the development of a Standard that would sit alongside composition, but have enough of a point of difference to warrant a new standard.

The standard is published on the NZQA Music Subject Page.

Record of Achievement – modernised, more comprehensive and user-friendly

NZQA has finalised the design for the new Record of Achievement.

An electronic, more comprehensive and user-friendly Record has been created alongside a refreshed home page interface. Learners will be able to access the redesigned home page and customise their Record from early March 2017.

The redesign of the home page interface will include new features allowing learners to:

  • organise their information the way they want, displaying their most relevant and/or most up-do-date qualifications and components of learning
  • access their contact details on a separate tab, update their contact details and choose whether they wish to display this information on their Record
  • add relevant tertiary education organisation information from where their learning took place
  • save, print, and email their Record directly in PDF format
  • request to have their Record emailed to a third party of their choice directly from an NZQA mailbox.

The Record will progressively display all New Zealand Qualifications Framework Level 1-10 qualifications. As other education-wide projects progress, components of learning will be included in addition to assessment standards.

Explaining NCEA to Korea

DarynKoreaIn October, Deputy Chief Executive Daryn Bean gave a seminar on National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) in Seoul, Korea, to provide more information about the New Zealand school qualification system.

Korea is New Zealand’s fourth largest market for the secondary school sector, and it is hoped that improving understanding of NCEA and its pathway options, will significantly help to attract more Korean students to study in New Zealand schools.

Attendees at the NZQA seminar included key Korean agents, university admission officers and Ministry of Education officials.

Kristina Kim, a third-year student at Yonsei University, also presented, sharing her personal experience with NCEA from her time at Auckland’s Westlake Girls High School.

The presentation helped to reinforce key messages about New Zealand’s national senior secondary school qualification.

Shinyong Yang, an admission officer from Handong Global University, said the seminar was extremely helpful.

“We have recently seen a jump in the number of applicants with NCEA to our undergraduate programmes, which is promising.

“I found the seminar helpful in clarifying my understanding of the New Zealand system, and specific aspects of NCEA such as the Student Results Summary.”

Daryn says NZQA is committed to continuing to work with Education New Zealand to continue to provide more detailed information about NCEA in Korea.

NZQA also hosted a group from the Korea Institute for Vocational Education and Training which visited NZQA in October.

The purpose of their visit was to understand the process of design, introduction, and implementation of the National Qualifications Framework in New Zealand.

The visitors were interested in hearing about NZQA’s experience of implementing the New Zealand Qualifications Framework, especially across several agencies, tertiary education organisations and schools.

New Zealand shares expertise with China on national qualifications frameworks

ChineseA senior delegation from Guangdong, China visited New Zealand in December on a fact-finding mission about our New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF) and associated approvals, accreditation and quality assurance processes.

The delegation included six experts from the Open University of Guangdong, all contracted by the Provincial Government to undertake the development of a qualifications framework for the province. Vice President Li Jian, head of the delegation, described their work as “pioneering” within the Chinese system.

NZQA’s International  Director, Karen Chalmers, says the visitors were interested in the NZQF as it is regarded internationally as being robust and comprehensive.

“Back in 1992, the NZQF was one of the first qualifications frameworks to be developed and we are responsible for its integrity, currency and accuracy.

“NZQA has provided policy advice and support for implementation to many other countries as they develop their National Qualifications Frameworks.

“A National Qualifications Framework is dynamic and needs to reflect the needs of its citizens and economy, so policy dialogue to share experience is valuable to countries as they begin their development process,” she says.

Education New Zealand’s International Market Manager (China, Korea, Japan) Tania Woodcock says the visit provided a great opportunity to showcase New Zealand’s education system, as well as the people behind it.

“While the delegation gained insights into the New Zealand Qualifications Framework, they also went away with a broader understanding of how our organisations in the education sector work together.”

The two-day visit was hosted by Education New Zealand (ENZ) in close partnership with NZQA, Weltec, Universities New Zealand, the Academic Quality Agency for New Zealand Universities and Victoria University of Wellington.

The programme focused on the design and administration of the New Zealand Qualifications Framework.

Tania says the delegation found the visit invaluable in shaping its thinking, and will shortly submit its report to the Provincial Government.

“The success of the visit couldn’t have been done without the warm hospitality of all those involved, especially in light of the recent earthquakes which provided a few logistical challenges.

“Thankfully, both the hosts and the delegation had a good sense of humour about it, and at one point agreed to continue meetings under the table in the event of another quake!”

An additional objective for the delegation was to build relationships with government officials and providers, making this visit an important first step in that process.

The ENZ China team will be following up with the Guangdong team in China on engaging further on this project.

NZQA will continue to communicate with the Open University of Guangdong to both monitor and support their progress in setting up the first qualifications framework in the province.

NZQA collaborates with the United States Embassy

ASHS MAY2014 035Ensuring New Zealand qualifications are well understood and recognised internationally is a key focus for NZQA.

As part of this commitment, NZQA recently worked with the United States Embassy in Wellington to produce three short videos to promote better understanding of New Zealand qualifications in the United States.

The three videos cover the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA), New Zealand degrees, and Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs), a type of provider that American audiences are less familiar with.

NZQA’s Deputy Chief Executive, Russell Wood, says as more New Zealanders are studying in the United States than ever before it is important for American universities to better understand NCEA, and the New Zealand education providers.

The series of videos includes information about how degrees are gained in New Zealand, and the key differences between the New Zealand and American systems.

“The videos also explain what New Zealand’s ITPs do and how ITPs have extended their delivery to degree programmes,” he says.

For more information about New Zealand qualifications being recognised internationally, please email

Rule 18 – English language proficiency

NZQA has an updated resource to assist tertiary education organisations with guidance on English language requirements for international students.

Changes to the English language proficiency criteria were introduced in October 2016. Under criteria 2 – previous tertiary study in English, the qualification duration of a minimum of three years is no longer relevant, and offshore qualifications taught in English by tertiary education organisations from the listed countries are now included.

In the updated criteria, international students are eligible for enrolment in programmes at all levels of the NZQF when they can provide clear evidence of completion of a Bachelor’s Degree, Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma, Bachelor Honours Degree, Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, Master’s Degree, or Doctoral Degree with English as the language of instruction, from tertiary education organisations from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United Kingdom, or the United States.

You can view the updated information. guidance-English-entry.pdf

Expanding career horizons through pioneering Pasifika research

CareersCareers New Zealand has released Project Lumana’i – pioneering research that investigates what resources Pasifika young people need to make successful learning and work choices.

With New Zealand’s fastest growing youth population (46.1% of Pasifika people under 20 years old compared to 27.4% for the total population), it’s crucial that this future workforce and their families have access to digital tools and resources that expand their career horizons.

In 2011, Careers New Zealand, along with the Ministry of Education, Education Review Office, and Ministry for Pacific Peoples commissioned the Pacific Adolescent Career Pathways report.  The longitudinal study identified barriers faced by young Pasifika people and as such, the importance of creating more effective subject selection and career planning resources and programmes to meet their needs.

“The findings from Project Lumana’i will help address these barriers by guiding the development of engaging, interactive and visual learning, which young Pasifika told us are the methods they prefer when exploring and planning their career,” says Cassius Kuresa, Chair of Careers New Zealand’s
Va Pasifika Network.

“Lumana’i translates to ‘future’ in Samoan, a fitting description for the incredible opportunity Careers New Zealand, our partner agencies, teachers and parents have been given to shape our future workforce – by empowering young Pasifika to reach their career aspirations,” says Careers New Zealand CEO Keith Marshall.

What we’ve learned through the findings will help Careers New Zealand create digital resources that excite, engage and raise Pasifika young peoples’ knowledge of the diverse careers and industries that exist today and build their expectation that they can reach these heights.

Key findings include:

  1. Fun, simple, visual resources are more effective for engaging Pasifika young people.
  2. Access to Pasifika role models inspire young people.
  3. Strong cultural identity matters.
  4. Family, friends and community groups have a significant influence on youth and their decisions.
  5. Pasifika young people are less likely to choose foundation subjects (English, maths, science)
  6. Aiga want to build their digital/IT skills.
  7. Youth need to expand their career horizons to be aware of all the career options that are available and how to build pathways to achieve them.

“With technology constantly changing and playing an increasing role at home and at work, digital channels are becoming an important avenue that the whole family can tap into for information – whether it’s exploring study and job interests, finding out what skills are needed, or where the growth opportunities are,” says Cassius.

Download the Project Lumana’i report at

A degree is a smart investment

Chris Whelan, Universities NZGuest contributor: Chris Whelan, Executive Director, Universities New Zealand

I’m always surprised at how many people think that it’s not worth getting a university education because there’s better job security in the trades.  Or, that the average arts graduate ends up working as a barista or in the local McDonalds.

Given the level of misinformation, myths and misconceptions around the value of different types of degrees, it must be tough for school leavers, and their advisers, to navigate their way through.

So I’ve analysed the 2013 Census results to find out what the evidence actually says about education, earnings and job security.  At a headline level when the numbers are crunched for all 2.15 million people that were in the workforce at the time of the Census, the clear message is that a degree is a very good investment.

The more educated you are the more you earn.  A typical bachelors graduate will earn around $1.38m more over their working life than a non-graduate.  Though this is much higher for a medical doctor ($4m), professional engineers ($3m) and information technology graduates ($2m), it’s typical for those who choose careers in areas such as teaching, science and agriculture.

And, the more educated you are, the less likely it is you will be unemployed. Graduates have low unemployment rates at about 3%, about half the unemployment rates for 25-29 year olds.

The much maligned arts graduates do well on other counts also.  Only 10% end up in jobs that, on the face of it, probably don’t need a degree – such as sales assistant, personal assistant or other administration roles.  90% are in degree relevant roles such as teachers, managers, policy and planning roles.  The average arts graduate is earning above the national median for salary and wage earners.

I also recommend school leavers think of student loans as an investment in their future.  Our research shows that on average you’re better off by the time you’re 33 years-old.  There’s more information on our website.

I realise that the word ‘average’ is peppered liberally through the statistics above and not everyone is average.  There will be some super-stars who beat the average and some who struggle and never come close.  I also realise that none of this accounts for factors such as how much people enjoy their jobs and lives.  I know people who just love being a chef or builder and who hate the idea of being stuck in an office in a nine to five job.

  • To finish, here’s my top 5 tips for school leavers:When making your choices, think about how to prepare yourself for your career – not just your first job.
  • A tertiary education is a smart choice as it opens up more options and opportunities for your future.
  • Today’s employers are looking employees with a different set of skills.  They want the technical or professional skills they need eg engineering, teaching or nursing.  But they are also seeking what are called enterprise or transferrable skills.  These are skills like problem-solving, creativity, presentation skills, teamwork and communications skills – the sorts of things you can typically gain from an Arts degree
  • To future-proof yourself, the jobs that are least likely to be automated will be those that demand these enterprise skill
  • We have a very good public education system in New Zealand, for example, all eight universities are ranked in the top 3% of universities in the world, so you can’t make a bad choice about where to study.

Ultimately, my message for students is simple. If you choose to study, then my advice is to follow your passions – study what interests you and what you love doing.  The evidence says you are likely to end up personally and economically better off.

Universities New Zealand is the voice of New Zealand’s eight universities, nationally and internationally.

Merry Christmas from NZQA

Holiday cardThis year’s Christmas card features a sculpture made by former Craighead Diocesan School student Chutimon Boonsprasit.

Chutimon was one of the 64 level 3 visual art students whose work was selected to feature in NZQA’s Top Art exhibition.

Top Art showcases a selection of the Visual Art portfolios that achieved Excellence. It gives students an idea of what ‘Excellence’ looks like and is a celebration of the high quality of artwork being created in New Zealand’s secondary schools.

Chutimon’s Top Art biography outlines how throughout her portfolio, Natural Beauty, she explored ideas about movement and transformation, sometimes contrasting them with the natural environment or rearranging them and exploring space, surround, harmonies or juxtaposition.

She developed these ideas further by collecting natural elements and relocating them into man made space, exploring the idea of 'natural beauty' being recreated.

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