NCEA Level 1 subject changes to give students a broader foundational education

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has announced significant changes to NCEA Level 1 that would provide students with a broader foundation and more pathways for their learning whilst reducing student and teacher workload.

“The changes will support learners to gain the key skills, knowledge and competencies needed for a strong foundation before more specialised learning starts from Level 2,” Minister Hipkins said.

He added that the finalisation of the Level 1 subjects marked the start of a series of changes that would be made gradually to NCEA over the next four years.

Feedback from thousands of stakeholders was factored into the Level 1 subject changes, which will be introduced from 2023.

Key changes at Level 1 include:

  • The number of Level 1 subjects will be reduced from 42 to 32.
  • There will be a general Science subject and two Science subjects that merge Chemistry with Biology and Physics with Earth & Space Science. This will provide for more coherent learning and reduce the number of standards from 41 to 16. Agricultural and Horticultural Science will also be part of this suite of subjects.
  • Latin will be removed at all NCEA levels due to low and steadily declining enrolments. Fewer than 200 students from around 10 schools study Latin per year, with only 25 students continuing through to Level 3.
  • Māori Performing Arts will be introduced as a new subject at Level 1.
  • Specialised subjects such as Art History, Classical Studies, Media Studies and Psychology will no longer be offered at Level 1.

With final decisions confirmed, the Ministry of Education will be developing the Level 1 subjects and supporting materials alongside experts from the sector, tertiary and industry.

All Level 1 subjects are expected to be developed by the end of 2021 so they can be piloted in schools in 2022 and offered to all students from 2023.

The Ministry continues to develop the subjects derived from Te Marautanga ō Aotearoa (TMOA), the Māori medium curriculum. These subjects include Pāngarau, Hauora, Pūtaiao, Te Reo Rangatira, Tikanga-ā-iwi, Hangarau and Ngā Toi. No changes were proposed to those subjects during public engagement on the provisional subject list and final confirmation of TMoA subjects is expected in early 2021.

Further information

Read Minister Hipkins’ Media Release(external link).

Access additional background information, including Frequently Asked Questions(external link).

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