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New Zealand - Secondary Education

national qualifications framework nzqa


National Vocational Qualifications: New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) has responsibility for advanced vocational awards qualifications, and trade certificate and advanced trade certificate qualifications; the New Zealand Diploma in Business; and New Zealand diploma qualifications. Many industries have moved to National Certificates and National Diplomas registered on the National Qualifications Framework. National certificates and national diplomas generally are developed by industry training organizations or other standards-setting bodies.

There is a wide range of other vocational qualifications. These include qualifications developed and administered by polytechnics and other tertiary training providers, national bodies such as the New Zealand Institute of Management and the New Zealand Air Force, and private training providers.


The National Qualifications Framework: The National Qualifications Framework brings together senior secondary education, industry training, and tertiary education under one system. It is coordinated and administered by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA). The framework is based on nationally agreed "unit standards." These standards are like building blocks towards a qualification. Each standard belongs to one of eight framework levels. Level 1 is comparable to entry-level learning (Year 11) while Level 8 is comparable to postgraduate degree learning.

The National Qualifications Framework has three types of qualifications: national certificates, national diplomas, and degrees. National certificates are generally earned at Levels 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the framework. National diplomas and degrees are generally earned at Levels 5, 6, and 7. Level 8 qualifications are regarded as postgraduate degrees. The framework means learners can continue their studies wherever they wish—at school, university, polytechnic, a private or government training establishment, wänanga, or even in the workplace. Up to 1 September 1999, 450,000 learners had been registered on the framework. There were 620 national qualifications registered, and 27,250 individual qualifications awarded.

To administer the National Framework and to ensure that it succeeds, the NZQA provides the following services:

  • Framework registration. NZQA quality assures unit standards, National Certificates, and National Diplomas that have been developed by Industry Training Organizations (ITOs) and other national standards setting bodies.
  • Moderation. National moderation systems ensure that assessment decisions made across all accredited providers are consistent. Where there is an ITO, the moderation system is run by the ITO. NZQA runs other moderation systems, including moderation for general education subjects (mostly offered in schools).
  • Accreditation. Schools, polytechnics, wänanga, colleges of education, universities and government and private training establishments can be accredited—they are entitled to assess against unit standards and award credits towards National Certificates and National Diplomas. Most ITOs are accredited to register workplace assessors. To be accredited any organization must meet stringent quality requirements.
  • Record of learning. Every learner being assessed for Framework qualifications receives a Record of Learning. This lists all unit standard credits, National Certificates and National Diplomas achieved in the previous year. Learners can accumulate Framework credits over a number of years and from many providers until they have completed a qualification.

The NZQA: The New Zealand Qualifications Authority was established to coordinate national qualifications. It took over the functions of several agencies that had run schools, trades, and vocational examinations. It also assumed new responsibilities, notably to develop a national qualifications framework and to approve nonuniversity degrees. The Qualifications Authority deals with the provision and quality of qualifications; it does not write the curriculum and it does not provide funds for education and training. The NZQA is a Crown Entity established under the Education Act of 1989. The authority is appointed by the Minister of Education, and is accountable through the Minister to Parliament. The Maorion of the Qualifications Authority is to promote improvement in the quality of education in New Zealand through the development and maintenance of a comprehensive, accessible and flexible National Qualifications Framework (NQF).


NZQA Board and Management: The NZQA is headed by a board appointed by the Minister of Education. The board represents industry, community, and education interests. The minister approves all policy matters related to schools. NZQA services are varied. It oversees national examinations, including School Certificate, Sixth Form Certificate, Higher School Certificate, and University Entrance, Bursaries, and Scholarships. Examination prescriptions are based on curriculum statements developed by the Ministry of Education. NZQA administers regulations, conducts examinations, and issues results and certificates. There are 34 School Certificate subjects, 30 Bursaries subjects, 28 national Sixth Form Certificate(SFC) courses, and hundreds of local SFC courses. In total, NZQA deals with 130,000 subject entries and issues 500,000 results annually.

The NZQA also oversees trades and vocational examinations, including business studies. Learning takes place in polytechnics, other education providers, and the workplace. In consultation with these providers and industry, NZQA develops prescriptions, conducts examinations, and issues results and certificates. Most industries have moved to National Certificates and National Diplomas on the National Qualifications Framework.

To keep pace with global developments, the NZQA provides a service that compares overseas qualifications with New Zealand qualifications and may give exemptions towards technical qualifications. This is a cost-recovery service in which individuals, generally people migrating to New Zealand, deal directly with the authority.

Registration and accreditation provides the public with an assurance of quality in programs leading to qualifications. The authority deals with the registration of government and private training establishments (of which there are approximately 800). For these providers, the authority approves and accredits thousands of local courses and qualifications. The authority has approved almost 200 degrees outside of universities—in polytechnics, colleges of education, wänanga and private training establishments. NZQA also accredits organizations for the National Qualifications Framework.


Maori: The Qualifications Authority is committed to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. Today the Treaty has become the basis for negotiations between government representatives and Maori. The authority has a team called Te Tari o Te Pou (the Office of Te Pou) that is dedicated to dealing with Maori issues. All Maori staff are part of the NZQA Maori network. The Network meets monthly and provides a chance to raise Maori issues across the Authority. A main priority for the Network is also professional development. A Responsiveness to Maori Management plan gives all staff opportunities to learn about Maori language, culture and values within the context of the Authority.


Special Education: The special education policy provides: extra assistance; adapted programs or learning environments; and specialized equipment or materials to support young children and school students to access the New Zealand Curriculum Framework. Historically young children and school students with special education needs have not had equal access to funding or quality education services throughout New Zealand. To address this, in 1996 the government introduced Special Education 2000. Special Education 2000 addresses specific physical, intellectual, sensory, social, and emotional needs while preserving the parent or caregiver's right to choose. The policy insists that schools and early childhood centers work closely with students and their families, communities, and specialists to identify needs and together make the best decisions to meet those needs.


He Tohu Ümanga Mätauranga (Specialist Education Services): Specialist Education Services (SES) is a Crown entity working with children and young people who have complex individual needs, their families, schools and early childhood centers. SES staff include speech-language therapists, special education advisers, advisers on deaf children, registered psychologists, kaitakawaenga, early intervention teachers, and education support workers. The staff work in teams to meet individual needs of students. Families, early childhood centers, and schools are included as part of the team around the child. SES is contracted by the Ministry of Education to provide services to schools. It also provides a range of additional programs and services which schools, early childhood centers, and other clients can purchase directly. SES was set up in 1989 to deliver services to children and young people with special education needs. Since that time services have changed substantially and today SES works largely with children and young people with high support needs. Work with students with moderate needs is on a cost recovery basis. SES has a national office in Wellington and 15 Area offices, each with a manager and service leaders who take responsibility for each of the four strands.


International Students: Overseas students can get information about fees, courses of study in New Zealand, and academic entry requirements from the New Zealand Government Office in their home country or by writing directly to the school they wish to attend. A student visa is required for any course of study longer than 28 days. International students are not entitled to student loans or student allowances. Overseas students need a written guarantee of suitable accommodation and must also be able to show that they have enough funds to support them during their stay in New Zealand.


Additional Resources for Teaching: The Rural Education Activities Program (REAP) is a communitymanaged package of education resources based in a number of rural communities from the Far North to Southland. REAP provides programs and assistance of a supplementary and complementary educational nature across early childhood, primary, secondary, and community education.

Information studies and teacher librarianship is a three-year part-time program offered through the six colleges of education. Trained teacher librarians manage school library resource centers.

Advisory services are routinely provided to educators. Primary and secondary advisers are employed by colleges of education. They provide advice and guidance to schools and run professional development programs for teachers throughout the country. Particular emphasis is given to assisting schools to achieve local and national educational objectives. The Early Childhood Development and Specialist Education Services also provide specialist assistance and advice.


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