Explaining the New NCEA Materials

The new NCEA materials consist of a range of resources to support teaching, learning and assessment. This page will explain the new materials and how they are intended to be used as well as provide guidance on where to find them.

Please note that the NCEA materials are being updated to respond to learnings from the 2022 mini-pilot. The final pilot-ready versions of these materials will be published progressively as they are revised.

One of the key system shifts of the NCEA change programme is to correct the balance between ‘learning’ and ‘assessment’ so that curriculum drives learning. Fewer, more meaningful assessments reduce assessment workload and open space for curriculum-led learning.

Learning Tab


NCEA.education 'Learning' tab


A good starting point for exploring the new NCEA materials is to consider the Learning Area's Whakatauākī or Whakataukī in the Learning Matrix. This is the heart of the Learning Area and sets the tone for teaching and learning. Read through the Learning Tab and the Learning Matrix to get a sense of the Big Ideas and Significant Learning in the subject. Notice how you explore this learning in your current practice and be aware of any ideas, concepts and themes you may need to include or explore in more depth.

To design a course, draw on what we know about participating ākonga, group related outcomes together to start to build cohesive and engaging units of learning from the Big Ideas and Significant Learning. Beginning from the Learning tab means curriculum can drive the teaching and learning.

Mātauranga Māori concepts for your subject are woven through the Learning Matrix. A translation is provided in the Subject Glossary. Note that the glossary is just a starting point to support you in your planning. You will need to explore Mātauranga Māori in multiple authentic contexts to ensure the learning reflects the depth and richness of the concepts.

Build in activities to recognise prior learning and knowledge of your ākonga. Under the Learning Tab you will find an explanation of the subject and the Learning Matrix:

What the subject is about

  • Explains the subject’s broad context and direction of learning.
  • Unpacks, outlines the meaning of, and connection between, the Big Ideas and Significant Learning.
  • Includes connections to the Key Competencies and other subjects and learning areas.
  • Describes the knowledge and capabilities the subject develops to support future pathways for ākonga.

Learning Matrix

  • Describes the learning that matters for the subject.
  • Contains the relevant Learning Area’s whakataukī or whakatauākī, a subject’s Big Ideas, and Significant Learning.
    • ‘Whakatauākī’ is similar to a whakataukī, except that for whakatauākī the author, place of origin, and intended audience is known.
  • Informs the learning that can be assessed by Achievement Standards.
  • Aims to include all the Significant Learning in a course, however, some learning will be explored in more depth.
  • Clarifies progressions in the key subject-specific concepts, content and capabilities across applicable NCEA Levels 1, 2 and 3.

Teaching Tab


NCEA.education 'Teaching' tab


When planning a course, you will continue to consider what you know about the ākonga who will be participating. Designing intentionally for variation and diverse learners will help make your course more inclusive. Universal Design for Learning is a people-first design framework that guides the design of learning experiences to proactively meet the needs of each and every ākonga. A first step is to consider:

What do we know about the ākonga who will participate in this learning?

  • What do we know about our ākonga as a group and as individuals?
  • What do we know about prior learning and strengths in this area?
  • What community connections and relationships do we have to this area of learning?

What is the purpose and goal of this unit of learning?

  • In what ways will this unit resonate and have value for ākonga?
  • How can ākonga be involved in the design?

Further support on Universal Design for Learning.

Developing contexts that support ākonga to see themselves in their learning is likely part of your existing practice. Some of the contexts for learning in your existing practice may be able to be adapted to align with the new materials for your subject. Consider how to reduce barriers for ākonga to engage through implementing a Universal Design for Learning framework.

The Pacific Values Framework offers guidance on how you might design learning to reflect our Pacific context.

Maximise the learning opportunities for literacy and numeracy in your course. Aim to build in learning activities that focus on literacy or numeracy-rich contexts and provide opportunities for ākonga to develop and practice their skills and knowledge. The Literacy Pedagogical Guide and Numeracy Pedagogical Guide for your subject can support you on how to do this.

You can use the Course Outlines for ideas on how a course could be designed.

Each school and kura will have a local curriculum that is unique and responsive to the priorities, preferences, and issues of your community and your people, and reflects the school or kura's strategic goals. Individual courses should be planned in this context.

Further support on local course design

Course Outlines

  • Outlines how a year-long course could be developed using the subject’s Significant Learning, aligned to how the learning contributes to Achievement Standards.
  • Indicative only and do not mandate any particular context, sequence or approach.

Assessment Tab


NCEA.education 'Assessment' tab


Under the Assessment Tab you will find the Assessment Matrix and the general Conditions of Assessment for internally assessed achievement standards.

Assessment Matrix

  • Describes all the Achievement Standards available for a subject.
  • Includes both internally assessed and externally assessed standards.

Conditions of Assessment

  • Outline the general parameters and requirements for assessment against internal Achievement Standards.


If you select one of the Achievement Standards from the Assessment Matrix, you will be taken to the Achievement Standard and a new tab menu of supporting materials. 

Both internally and externally assessed standards will have information to support your understanding of the Achievement Standard. Achievement Standards provide the formal means to make a decision about the extent to which a student can independently demonstrate they have gained a particular competency. This is likely to include elements of different items of Significant Learning found in the Learning Matrix.

A course developed around the Big Ideas and Significant Learning will provide learning opportunities for ākonga to develop the knowledge and capabilities required of the standards for that subject. Opportunities to gather evidence for assessment against Achievement Standards can be identified and formalised.

Achievement Standards

  • Describes what ākonga need to know or be able to do in order to gain credits towards certification.
  • Provides the criteria against which ākonga evidence is assessed to determine whether the standard has been met.

To support an in-depth understanding of the Achievement Standard, Unpacking the Standard provides more detail to help you understand the competence being assessed, and how the assessment relates to learning. Unpacking the standard can support you to incorporate the learning required of the Achievement Standard into a course.

Unpacking the Standard

  • Describes the intent of, and provides further depth and detail, on the Achievement Standard.
  • Describes how courses might include opportunities for assessment.


Internal Assessment

If the standard is internally assessed, the supporting materials will include the Achievement Standard, Unpacking the standard, Conditions of Assessment and Assessment Activities and Schedules.

Conditions of Assessment

  • Outline the parameters and requirements for assessment against an internal Achievement Standard.

Assessment Activities and Schedules

  • Provided for each internal Achievement Standard, to exemplify what the assessment may look like in practice. 
  • Includes activity instructions and guidance for ākonga. May include additional teacher resources and guidance.
  • Exemplify what the assessment of the Standard may look like at Achieved, Merit and Excellence.


External Assessment

If the standard is externally assessed the supporting materials will include the Achievement Standard, Unpacking the standard, Assessment Specifications and Supporting Information.

External Assessment Specifications

  • Describe how external assessments are implemented, including timing, credits, form, and conditions.
  • Include other additional information relevant to implementation.

Supporting Information

  • External assessment activities and other exemplars from previous pilot years.


Subject Glossary Tab


NCEA.eduction 'Glossary' tab


The last tab on each subject’s page is the Subject Glossary. This is to support teachers, kaiako and ākonga and anyone engaging with a subject to understand subject-specific words and phrases in English, Te Reo Māori, or a Pacific language, used in NCEA materials.

Subject Glossary

  • The Glossary provides English definitions of English and Te Reo Māori terms and terms from Pacific languages used in the NCEA materials for a subject.
  • The definitions are general and brief and do not include the unpacking or contextualisation of terms.
  • Kaupapa Ako Māori NZC glossaries will be bilingual.


Additional Resources

Download Download

NZC NCEA Materials: Definitions and Purpose

Downloadable summary of NZC NCEA teaching materials
Downloadable summary of NZC NCEA teaching materials