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Horowhenua College offers a full range of subjects from Year 9 to Year 13.
Students are prepared for Levels 1-3 National Certificate of Educational Achievement and Level 4, Scholarship.

NCEA information for students and parents

How NCEA works

NCEA stands for the National Certificate of Educational Achievement. It is New Zealand’s national secondary school qualification.

NCEA was introduced in 2002 and replaced School Certificate, Sixth Form Certificate, and Bursary. It allows students to study for three levels of certificate – usually in years 11 to 13 (previously known as fifth, sixth and seventh form).

NCEA is a standards-based qualification. This means that standards of performance have been established for all work done by students that needs to be assessed or tested. Generally, a traditional school subject (English for example) is divided into 5 to 7 standards, representing particular topics, skills or pieces of knowledge. These standards were developed after extensive consultation with teachers, and are linked to areas of learning identified in the New Zealand Curriculum.

Students may be tested in several ways: they may sit an examination that covers a set of standards, they may be assessed internally in a series of tests covering individual standards, or, they may be tested using a combination of these approaches. This means that students, parents, and employers know what parts of a subject have been passed – and students don’t just get a single mark for an entire subject.


There are two types of standards – unit standards and achievement standards.

Unit standards are tested at school by teachers – this is called internal assessment and students either reach the required standard of performance and achieve the standard (and get an achieved grade in their results), or they do not achieve the required standard and get not achieved.

Achievement standards are either tested by teachers at schools or at the end of year in national exams. Commonly, students will be tested using both these methods. For achievement standards, students will get a not achieved grade if they do not meet the standard, but if they pass they can get Achieved (for a satisfactory performance), Merit (for very good performance) or Excellence (for outstanding performance), depending on how well they answer.

Standards are worth a set number of credits – generally between 2 and 5 credits. To gain NCEA certificates, students must reach a set total number of credits at each level, made up from achievement or unit standards or a mix of both. This is similar to the way university degrees are awarded.

What is changing?

A range of improvements are planned for NCEA over the next 18 months, designed to help motivate students and ensure the public has confidence in the system. These changes will not disrupt students part-way through their studies.

The aim of the changes is to provide more recognition for students who are performing well, and improve public confidence in the way NCEA operates.

They will not affect the way students study but there will be changes over the next 18 months in the way results are reported and how NZQA monitors internal assessment.

The improvements include:

Endorsement of Certificates

Students are able to gain NCEA certificates with Merit or Excellence. With at least 50 credits at Merit level student certificates are endorsed with Merit, and with at least 50 credits at Excellence level student certificates are endorsed with Excellence.

Not Achieved results

Students who do not achieve internal assessments for unit or achievement standards, this will be reported on their annual Result Notices.

Reporting Results

The Record of Achievement records only those standards that have been passed/achieved.

In addition, from next year, school-leavers will also receive a School Results Summary, which will list every standard attempted by students during their time at school, and what result they achieved. This will include not achieved results.

Online Help

There are also plans to set up an online system that will allow students to log on to plan their course and follow their progress towards qualifications.

Internal Assessment

Currently around 3% of student work that is tested in schools is checked to ensure that internal assessment by teachers is consistent with national standards. This is about 81,000 samples of student work.

From next year, this will increase up to 10% - that means about 250,000 samples of student work will be checked. Random sampling of student work is also being trialled in September.

Managing National Assessment Reports

Every 3 years, a report is written on how well schools are carrying out internal assessment – the testing done by teachers. These reports will go online on the NZQA website - www.nzqa.govt.nz - later in the year.

If you have any questions about these improvements, you can visit the Ministry of Education or NZQA websites. Schools will also be kept informed of how the changes are developing.


Years 9 and 10

Year 9 Information Booklet 2012.docx( 36 page(s) - 408kb )

Year 10 Handbook 2012( 13 page(s) - 144kb )

What will students study in Year 9?
  • Compulsory Core:
  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Physical Education/Health
  • Options:
  • Japanese
  • Spanish
  • Te Reo Maori
  • Reading
  • Rotation Subjects:
  • Art
  • Music
  • Drama
  • Information Technology
  • Materials Technology
  • Production and Processes
  • Tikanga Maori
What will students study in Year 10?
  • Compulsory Core:
  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Physical Education and Health.
  • Options:
  • Japanese
  • Spanish
  • Te Reo Maori
  • Reading (must choose one of these)
  • Art
  • Drama
  • Music
  • Outdoor Education (must choose two of these)
  • Rotation Subjects:
  • At Year 10 students participate in a rotation of subjects covering a wide range of skills and subject matter including Technology and Consumer Studies.

Years 11, 12 and 13

In addition to the compulsory core subjects required, Year 11 students can choose 3 optional subjects. In addition to English or Te Reo Maori, which is compulsory in Year 12, students can choose 5 optional subjects. In Year 13, students can choose 5 (if studying three subjects at Level 3) or 6 optional subjects.

Information on optional subjects and subject costs are detailed in theWord Document below.

Senior Handbook 2012
( 34 page(s) - 164kb )


What will students study in Year 11?
  • Compulsory Core:
  • English or Te Reo
  • Mathematics
  • Science or Biology
  • Optional:
  • 3 options from the Course Handbook.
What will students study in Year 12?
  • Compulsory Core:
  • English or Te Reo Maori
  • Optional:
  • 5 options from a number of subjects listed in the Course Handbook
What will students study in Year 13?
  • Optional:
  • 5 (if studying at least 3 subjects from Level 3) or 6 options from the Course Handbook.