What is Literacy about?

Literacy is a foundational skill that enables access to further learning, develops important life skills, and allows people to fully engage in work and in their communities.

Everyone has a role to play in developing NCEA literacy, including school leaders, kaiako, whānau and ākonga.

Strong foundational reading and writing skills increase ākonga engagement and:

  • improve work and career outcomes;
  • enable broader contribution in communities; and
  • lead to better health outcomes.

About NCEA Literacy

NCEA Literacy supports ākonga to develop a level of literacy knowledge and skills to engage successfully with all the learning areas of the New Zealand Curriculum, as well as learning in non-school settings. NCEA Literacy covers foundational literacy. This is approximately Level 4/5 of the New Zealand Curriculum, whereby a student has full control over level 4 and is ready to work at Level 5.

From 2024, to gain an NCEA qualification, ākonga must pass either a Te Reo Matatini standard or these two Literacy standards:

  • US32403: Read written texts to understand ideas and information
  • US32405: Write texts to communicate ideas and information. The Literacy standards require ākonga to demonstrate the following skills:

Big Ideas and Significant Learning



Learners make sense of written texts

Learners use:

  • a processing system to decode and comprehend text. Readers develop expertise in using sources of information and comprehension strategies to make sense of text.
  • knowledge of text structures and features. Readers develop their knowledge of text features and use this to navigate and understand texts.
  • vocabulary knowledge. Successful comprehension depends on understanding most of the meanings of the words in the text.

Learners read critically


  • develop a critical awareness that enables them to consider who wrote a text, for whom, why and whether it may have purposes that are not immediately apparent.

Learners read for different purposes


  • are clear about their purpose for reading and have appropriate strategies to meet that purpose.
  • understand and use ideas in texts.
  • locate and evaluate the ideas and information within and across a range of print and digital texts to meet their purpose.



Learners write meaningful texts for different purposes and audiences


  • use strategies within a writing process to plan and create texts.
  • select content, text structure and language choices appropriate to purpose and audience.
  • select and use vocabulary that is specific to their topic, purpose and audience.
  • revise and edit their work.

Learners use written language conventions appropriately to support communication


  • develop their expertise in sentence construction, grammar, punctuation, spelling, word choice.

More Information

Literacy in Your Classroom - A guide for kaiako explaining why literacy is important in all subject areas.

Literacy Pedagogy Guides (LPGs) - A set of guides that translate the Unpacking Literacy document into specific NCEA learning areas and subjects. These may be useful when considering how you can incorporate literacy into your classroom.

About Te Reo Matatini - Find out more about the Te Reo Matatini standards ākonga can sit as an alternative to the Literacy standards.

About NCEA Numeracy - An overview of the changes to NCEA Numeracy.

Additional Readings

See additional readings and sources for NCEA Literacy and Numeracy.