Partnerships with external providers using the STAR funding

Find out about memorandums of understanding, contracts for services, risk management, informed consent, best practice and more.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Boards
  • Principals and Tumuaki
  • Administrators
  • External STAR Providers
  • Teachers and Kaiako

This guidance supports boards when thinking about what they need to consider when partnering with external providers using STAR funding.

Memorandum of Understanding

Other than for enrolment in university papers, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for each course or work-based learning experience will outline:

  • what's to be delivered
  • how it will lead to credit for NZQF standards for vocational, education and training courses at Level 1 or above, New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) or other assured qualifications
  • health and safety arrangements
  • expectations around reporting absences
  • format and timeliness of student results
  • how providers will share student evaluations
  • course costs and situations under which costs may be refunded.

The memorandum assures the school that:

  • the required standards of teaching, assessment and moderation will be maintained
  • collaborative arrangements are clearly set out
  • channels of authority, accountability and executive action are identified clearly.

The memorandum must be signed by the legally recognised signatories who represent the school and the accredited external provider/s to which the agreement applies before the delivery of any standard or course.

What the Memorandum must specify

The memorandum must specify, as appropriate to the application the following information.

The names of the parties to the agreement.

The assessment and moderation arrangements.

The duration of agreement.

Responsibility for administrative arrangements such as:

  • student enrolment; student welfare services
  • decisions relating to progress through the course, assessment and appeals
  • reporting student results
  • remuneration of monitors and moderators (if applicable)
  • communication about reporting of results and any other information required by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA)


  • for verifying the provider’s accreditation and consent to assess against relevant assessment standards
  • for agreeing on all necessary financial arrangements and the provision of resources, both physical and human
  • for resolving any differences that might arise between the parties to this agreement
  • for the protection of students should the arrangement terminate
  • for the management of systems to oversee and maintain quality of delivery
  • for the management of the standards delivered, and for ongoing monitoring

Access to both parties by NZQA to quality assure all related processes and procedures.

Acknowledgement that NZQA reserves the right to not recognise any results reported on behalf of a school that does not have consent to assess the relevant standards if issues arise as a result of an inadequate memorandum of understanding or if the agreed procedures are not followed.

Contract for services

Under the memorandum of understanding, the contract for services will be an annual agreement with each external provider, linked to each year and the agreed course or work-based learning experience provided.


The memorandum of understanding will outline agreed procedures for reporting absences to the provider and to the school. Students sign an agreement that outlines the attendance requirements and provides an explanation of the procedures to follow in the event of an absence from a work-based learning experience or study outside the school.


The NZQA website lists providers accredited to offer learning programmes that lead to New Zealand qualifications.

NZQA website(external link)

Many providers have a designated person in charge of STAR funding. They may also have brochures outlining the STAR-funded courses they offer, or may be willing to consider a course proposal.

Providers may present a prepared Memorandum of Understanding. However, within the partnership, schools have the ultimate responsibility for the welfare of students. A provider’s memorandum should be reviewed with this in mind.

A school has the right to prepare a memorandum itself or to negotiate with a provider to ensure a memorandum reflects best practice. A memorandum should be consistent with a school's policy and meet the requirements set out above.

Risk management

Work-based learning experiences and courses run off site involve additional risks for students.

The STAR coordinator should investigate and address relevant health and safety issues at the time placements are investigated. Where relevant, specific issues will be covered in the Memorandum of Understanding.

A health and safety checklist will be completed for every work place. The external provider and the school will need to consult, cooperate and coordinate activities to meet their shared health and safety responsibilities.

Informed consent

Attendance requires informed consent from all parties involved. Students and parents or caregivers must consent to attendance, and agree to all applicable conditions.

Best practice for external providers

All external providers must have consent to assess against the standards to be assessed and have a current Memorandum of Understanding with the school. If a training provider is contracted to a school, then the students can be assessed by the school, provided the school’s consent to assess includes the requisite standards.

Some external providers offer quality-assured qualifications that aren't based on assessment standards (for example, those of the New Zealand Institute of Management). These qualifications can be accessed through the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF).

NZQF – NZQA website(external link)

Working in conjunction with the school, it's a provider's responsibility to:

  • have a current Memorandum of Understanding
  • ensure that courses conform to the aims and objectives of the STAR funding
  • clearly indicate the standards and qualifications students will work towards
  • clearly indicate when standards are in learning areas associated with the New Zealand Curriculum or Te Marautanga o Aotearoa and/or are linked to Vocational Pathways
  • be well-informed and responsive to the needs of students, schools and local industries
  • keep attendance records and pass them on to the school
  • promptly inform the school of any unexplained absences
  • care for the health and safety of students when students are located at the external provider's location
  • report results to the school in a timely way
  • conduct evaluations and communicate the results of these to the school acknowledge their results if they return to study towards the qualification (rather than expecting them to repeat a standard to make up a full course).

Many providers have their own STAR coordinator, who is the first point of contact for schools. This person understands the purpose of the STAR funding' and is able to check that the programmes they arrange conform to its objectives. They're also familiar with the policies of the local schools and keep in contact with the schools' STAR coordinators to make sure that they're meeting the schools' needs.

In monitoring the effectiveness of the courses, providers should use these questions as a guide:

  • How well does the course align with the school curriculum? 
  • How well does the course align with Vocational Pathways?
  • Does this course provide individual students with learning experiences that link to possible, realistic career aspirations? 
  • Does this course introduce students to realistic career choices? 
  • What information can be gathered about the effectiveness of the course from the students’ perspectives?

The New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF)

The NZQF is a comprehensive list of all quality-assured qualifications in New Zealand.

NZQF – NZQA website(external link)

There are two quality assurance bodies responsible for approving qualifications in New Zealand:

  1. New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA)
  2. Universities New Zealand (formerly the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee).

These bodies are responsible for monitoring the quality of programme delivery.


  • conveys the skills, knowledge and attributes a graduate has gained through completing a qualification
  • enables and supports the provision of high-quality education pathways
  • requires the development of integrated and coherent qualifications
  • enhances confidence in the quality and international comparability of New Zealand qualifications
  • contributes to the strengthening of Maori as a people by enhancing and advancing matauranga Maori
  • represents value for money and is sustainable and robust.

The National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEAs) Levels 1–3 are New Zealand's national school qualifications usually assessed in Year 11–13.

Credits from all standards on the Directory of Assessment Standards (see below) can count towards NCEA. Many credits also count towards specialist national or New Zealand certificates in areas such as horticulture and electronics technology and the Vocational Pathways Awards.

The Directory of Assessment Standards (DAS)

The DAS lists all quality assured unit and achievement standards, known collectively as ‘assessment standards’. The assessment standards listed on the DAS can contribute to national qualifications.

Students can accumulate credits gained from assessment standards towards national or New Zealand certificates, including NCEA, and towards national or New Zealand diplomas. Visit the NZQA website for more information.

NZQA website(external link)

At school, students can gain credits through traditional school curriculum areas, through alternative school curriculum programmes, and through links with tertiary and industry qualifications. STAR funding provides a mechanism through which these links can be made.

Only education organisations offering courses accredited by NZQA can award credit for unit standards. Visit the NZQA website for education organisations.

NZQA website(external link)

This list is updated weekly and includes information about the fields, subfields and domains that each organisation has consent to assess. A field is a broad area of learning on the DAS (for example, Manufacturing), a subfield is an area of learning within that (for example, Composites), and comprises one or more domains (for example, Industrial Composites).

The NZQA website also has information about approved courses – search for a qualification and select ‘# organisations can assist in gaining this qualification’. A search for a specific unit standard subject will show education organisations with consent to assess the standard. This search can be refined to show results within a region.

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