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The importance of NCEA Level 1


More news for Secondary School

Head of Secondary School, Evert van Florenstein, talks over the NCEA framework with Year 12 students, Sophie Law and Joshua Carr.

St Andrew’s College is proudly traditional in its approach to NCEA, despite several schools around New Zealand dropping the NCEA Level 1 Certificate for their Year 11 students, says Head of Secondary School, Evert van Florenstein.

“Some schools have foregone NCEA Level 1 in favour of other programmes, while students at other schools still study Level 1 courses in Year 11, but do not enter most of their work for assessment. At St Andrew’s, we strongly believe in the merits of the overarching NCEA framework, which has the foundation NCEA Level 1 course, with its internal assessments and external examinations, at its heart.”

Evert believes the ‘highly achievable’ NCEA Level 1 programme is critical preparation for the big step up to NCEA Level 2 and Level 3, and future tertiary study. “During their Level 1 studies, students figure out the NCEA system and how to make the most of it to reach their goals. They develop resilience, experience success and failure, and figure out what works for them. It really does set them up for future success.”

Other benefits of the NCEA Level 1 programme, include the structure and focus it provides for students, along with personal goals to aim at, he says. “The programme’s flexibility provides students with the opportunity to learn and be assessed in many different ways. They get a real sense of achievement from gaining this nationally recognised benchmark.”

In early 2021, a number of focus groups were held across the College, where completely unsolicited feedback from students across the academic spectrum was unanimous – that NCEA Level 1 is critical to their future academic success, whether at NCEA, New Zealand Scholarship, or tertiary level. “I was delighted that every single student we surveyed took such a mature approach to the question and validated the College’s position. They were thinking about the long game, where they wanted to head in the future, and the importance of NCEA Level 1 to help them get to there. Not one parent has said get rid of NCEA Level 1 either.”

St Andrew’s College achieved record-breaking academic success in NCEA and New Zealand Scholarship Awards in 2020, which included an outstanding 99.6 per cent of students achieving NCEA Level 1.

Evert says the overall results are testament to a sustained focus on the NCEA framework and the College’s ‘no one left behind’ policy, which recognises each student as an individual, and guides them to reach their full potential. “Our learning, pastoral, and well-being teams work alongside our students at every step of their learning journey to support their goals. Teachers and senior management keep a close eye on students’ progress by utilising a powerful analytics service called Power BI. This helps us to provide extra support if needed at the earliest stage, and identify our most capable academic scholars, who may be offered personalised extension programmes, the opportunity to take NCEA courses a year early, and Scholarships in a wide range of subjects. We are incredibly proud of the culture of excellence at St Andrew’s College, where everyone gets lifted up to be their best, wherever on the academic spectrum they sit.”


St Andrew’s College is proudly traditional in its approach to NCEA, despite several schools around New Zealand dropping the NCEA Level 1 Certificate.