Basic New Zealand Secondary School Terms Glossary for International Students

Thursday, March 7, 2019

A short glossary of basic terms that are widely used across all New Zealand’s secondary educational facilities.

1. Secondary School/College: This is the school that you attend once you have been through the primary/intermediate school system in New Zealand. Children attend secondary school from Years 9-13 (ages 12-19).

2. NZQA: The New Zealand Qualifications Authority is the independent body that administers all of New Zealand’s tertiary and educational qualifications, including NCEA and the entire secondary school assessment system. The NZQA sets the standards that all New Zealand schools need to adhere to.

3. NCEA: The National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) is the most common form of assessing students in New Zealand who are at the level of Years 11,12 and 13. NCEA grades are given as Not Achieved (N) (below 50%), Achieved (50% to 70%), Merit (70% to 90%) and Excellence (90% and above). Every internal and external assessment is worth a certain amount of credits and 80 credits are required to pass NCEA at each level.

4. Text: Any content provided to the student for learning purposes such as books, videos, audio clips, images, and poetry are commonly referred to as ‘text’s in New Zealand. Students are asked to identify, recognise and make sense of the content of each text that they are given.

5. Board of Trustees: The governing body for schools, elected by parents and caregivers. The board of trustees sets the charter, which outlines the principles and functions of the school. The board is also responsible for deciding suspensions, stand-down periods and expulsions for students who have breached the schools code of conduct. The boards most important responsibility is student achievement, according to section 75 of the Education Act.

6. EFS: This stands for Education for Sustainability. EFS is a secondary school that is part of Enviroschools, a nationwide programme, which is teaching students across NZ how to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly in everything that they do.

7. Examination (Exam): This is assessment or test material undertaken, along with the other students in your year who are taking the subject. Exams occur at the end of the course/term once teachers have taught all the required learnings for the subject. Students have a designated time to complete the exam in (usually 2-3 hours) and must achieve a set standard to pass.

8. ICT: Information Communications Technologies are all the technology related devices that people in the modern world use to communicate. At colleges across NZ, there are multiple devices that will be used, and an entire subject dedicated to the study of ‘computer science’ (often called ICT).

9. P.E: Physical Education (often combined with ‘Health’ and called HPE) is a crucial component of the New Zealand school system, with compulsory classes throughout Years 1-10 at most New Zealand schools (with some making the subject compulsory through to Year 11, 12 and 13). PE classes encourage student fitness, and usually involve participating in a physical activity at school.

10. Exemplars: Often used around study/exam time, these are examples of past students work that are used as guides for students to understand what level they need to be at to achieve the best possible grades. Students will be given examples of work (I.e. an achieved paper, a merit paper and an excellence paper, if the school is using the NCEA system) and shown what the standards for reaching each grade are.

11. Student Timetable: Timetables are a schedule of the day’s activities. With school day’s running from around 8:30am to 3pm at most schools and breaks for interval (morning tea) and lunch, most senior students will need to ensure their own timetable is up to date with their subjects, classes and extra-curricular (after-school/outside of class) activities. Timetables are useful at Secondary School and continue to be used at university.

12. UE: University Entrance. Students who complete secondary school in New Zealand and who are under 20 years of age in when seeking entrance into university are required to meet set standards. UE requires a minimum of 42 credits at NCEA level three of higher. A student must gain at least 14 numeracy credits at level one or higher and eight literacy credits at level two or higher, four in reading and four in writing. Also, 14 of these credits must be in two separate subjects from the list of ‘approved subjects’, such as Business Studies, Social Studies, Science and Languages.

13. Homestay: A place that international students can stay when attending certain schools. The student lives with a host family that live within the school zone, who provide the student with a room and meals.

14. External Assessment: Assessments done by organisations that are not the school. This is most common in the form of NCEA exams, though could also be an art portfolio or outdoor education course, which is administered by another organisation.

15. Internal Assessment: All assessments that are provided by the school throughout each school term. Students work is assessed by a teacher and moderated by an awarding body (NZQA).


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