NCEA Pilots

Pilots in 2021

In the 2021 school year, the Ministry of Education is conducting three pilots as part of its work to strengthen NCEA. The first of these pilots is Te Ao Haka, the new Māori Performing Arts subject. Thirty-seven schools and kura are piloting the subject across all three NCEA levels and for University Entrance.

One of the NCEA changes is to create new standards that will directly assess Te Reo Matatini me te Pāngarau | Literacy and Numeracy. These standards will be piloted in 13 schools, six kura and two tertiary providers in Terms 3 and 4, with a wider pilot planned in 2022.

A mini-pilot with NCEA Level 1 English, Science, Religious Studies and Visual Arts is also being run in 25 schools this year. The mini-pilot is a test run of the process for piloting standards and supporting resources ahead of a full pilot of all NCEA Level 1 subjects, which will involve over 250 schools and kura in 2022.

Learn more about how St Patrick’s College-Wellington, Rotorua Boys’ High School, Tangaroa College, South Westland Area School, Trident High School and Whakatane High School are engaging with these pilots:

Pilots in 2022

Four pilots will be conducted in the 2022 school year ahead of the implementation of all new NCEA Level 1 subjects (from both The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa) and Te Reo Matatini me te Pāngarau | Literacy and Numeracy standards in 2023:

  • All Te Marautanga o Aotearoa (TMoA) Level 1 wāhanga ako, which includes Te Reo Rangatira, Pāngarau, Hauora, Tikanga-ā-Iwi, Ngā Toi (Toi Puoro, Ngā Mahi a te Rēhia, Toi Ataata), Pūtaiao, Hangarau
  • All New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) Level 1 subjects, including the four subjects that are part of the 2021 mini-pilot (English, Science, Religious Studies and Visual Arts)
  • Te Ao Haka, which will be piloted across all three NCEA levels and for University Entrance
  • Te Reo Matatini me te Pāngarau | Literacy and Numeracy

The wider pilots in 2022 will provide schools and kura as well as students and their parents/whānau an opportunity to test the robustness of the materials and provide their feedback. This will allow for further refinements before the new subjects and standards become compulsory in 2023.

Expressions of Interest for 2022 pilots

Secondary schools and kura, along with their whānau and communities, that wish to take part in the 2022 pilots are encouraged to submit Expressions of Interest (EOI) within the timeframes indicated below:

  • All TMoA Level 1 wāhanga ako: The EOI process will begin on 5 July 2021 and close on 22 August 2021. Read more here.
  • All NZC NCEA Level 1 subjects: The EOI process will run from 2 to 22 August 2021. Details of how to submit your kura/school’s EOI are available here.
  • Te Ao Haka: The EOI process will run from 2 to 22 August 2021. Details can be found here.
  • Te Reo Matatini me te Pāngarau | Literacy and Numeracy: The EOI process will run from 2 August 2021 to 1 October 2021. Details can be found here.

Questions and Answers:

1. Will all NCEA Level 1 subjects be piloted?

All NCEA Level 1 subjects, from both NZC and TMoA, will be piloted in the 2022 school year. As in the 2021 school year, Te Ao Haka will be piloted across all three NCEA levels and for University Entrance to an extended number of kura and schools.

2. Will schools/kura, along with their communities, be able to pilot as many NZC or TMoA subjects as they want?


  • For TMoA subjects, a pilot school/kura can pilot up to three wāhanga ako. They will also be required to pilot the full suite of paerewa paetae from 1.1 – 1.4 of the subject(s) they choose to pilot.
  • For NZC, in order to test the new achievement standards in a wide range of learning contexts, we need to limit the number of schools piloting large numbers of subjects. We will aim to have most pilot schools and kura piloting 1-6 subjects. We are also working with a small number of schools to pilot all Level 1 subjects, to test how a full implementation might work. If your school is interested in piloting all Level 1 subjects, please email to start the conversation.
  • For Te Ao Haka, a pilot school/kura will be required to pilot the subject across all three NCEA levels, where appropriate.
3. How can I prepare for the pilot now if I want to get involved next year?

While information about the subjects for the 2022 pilots will be available starting in mid-July, you can further build your understanding of the NCEA changes, and review the draft subject content and draft achievement standards on the NCEA Education website. 

This will also help you prepare for the implementation of all NCEA Level 1 subjects and Te Reo Matatini me te Pāngarau | Literacy and Numeracy standards in 2023, regardless of whether you take part in the pilot next year.

We suggest thinking about tools and resources you currently use to support NCEA Level 1 and Te Reo Matatini me te Pāngarau | Literacy and Numeracy and how these can be used in your setting. The Teacher Only Day modules and Action Plan templates on the NCEA.Education website and on our Learning Management System will help you with this. 

4.    Will a pilot school/kura be required to present a full coherent course (i.e. all standards for a particular subject)?

For the 2022 pilot, schools/kura will be required to use all four standards in a subject’s Assessment Matrix/Tukutuku Aromatawai to assess the learning described in the Learning Matrix/Tukutuku Ako. 

5.    Will learners/ākonga studying pilot subjects be eligible for credits?

Yes. All learners/ākonga piloting new achievement standards will be eligible for credits for both internal and external standards.

6.    In the NZC context, how many classes within a school/kura should be signed up for a pilot – one class, the whole cohort, or part of the cohort?

When submitting an Expression of Interest to take part in the 2022 pilots, schools/kura will be asked to provide details of the estimated size of the pilot cohort, and what percentage of the overall cohort will be piloting. 

For Te Ao Haka, schools/kura submitting an Expression of Interest will be asked to provide details on the number of students/ākonga that will be assessed at each level to enable adequate and consistent testing of the standards across levels.

7. In the TMoA context, is there a minimum number of ākonga per kura who should be signed up to pilot a wāhanga ako?

No. When submitting an Expression of Interest, kura will be asked to provide an indication of the number of ākonga that will be assessed against the standards. This will enable adequate and consistent testing across all wāhanga ako.

The Ministry recognises that some kura have a smaller student population than others. However, this should not be a barrier to submitting an EOI. The numbers will inform the selection panel on the allocation of kura per subject where there may be more kura in one subject than another.

8. Can bespoke, mix-and-match courses be piloted (for example, two standards from Agricultural and Horticultural Science and two standards from Science)?

No. We need to test how the standards work together to assess the Learning Matrix/Tukutuku Ako for each subject. After the 2022 pilot year, schools will be able to design courses using standards from more than one subject. A small number of schools will be invited develop programmes that use standards from multiple matrices to test this approach.

9. How much student work will need to be submitted during the pilot?

For internal assessments, a sample of eight pieces of student work from each subject cohort will need to be submitted.
However, we understand that some kura/schools have a relatively small student population so this may not be achievable. Further details will be made available once pilot schools/kura are confirmed.

10.    Will course outlines be sought from next year’s pilot schools/kura? Will these carry remuneration?

Pilot schools/kura will be invited to submit proposals for developing full teaching and learning programmes using the new standards. If their proposals are accepted, schools/kura will be asked to work with the Ministry to develop a quality exemplar programme that will be published as a support resource. Schools/kura will be remunerated for this contribution.

11.    What support will be provided by the Ministry and NZQA for pilot schools/kura?

A support package that includes a range of guidance material is being developed. NZQA and the Ministry of Education will provide initial and ongoing support to schools/kura, beginning with pilot planning workshops that will teach you how to use the material and to get ready for the pilot year. Ongoing support will include regular online and face-to-face meetings at key points of the year, and direct support from NZQA and the Ministry.

The Teacher Only Days supporting the implementation of the NCEA Change Programme will also support pilot schools through the development of readiness guides and tools for schools to use as they pilot and implement the new achievement standards. These will be part of an increasing set of resources that will support schools to implement the NCEA changes.

Alongside this, our Learning Area Leads will be providing learning area and subject specific guidance, and specialist support to regions, subject associations, and middle and senior leaders. 

Additional information and resources:

Frequently Asked Questions on Literacy and Numeracy
Additional FAQs on Literacy and Numeracy