Academic Programme

An ESOL classroom

New Plymouth Boys’ High School uses the  National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA). This is the main national qualification for senior secondary school students in New Zealand.  NCEA is recognised by employers, and used for selection by universities and polytechnics, both in New Zealand and overseas.

In Year 9 and 10 the school has its own Junior Diploma awarded in a similar way to NCEA. This is designed to allow students to familiarise themselves with NCEA and motivate them to achieve.


  • Each year, students study a number of courses or subjects.
  • In each subject, skills and knowledge are assessed against a number of standards. For example, a Mathematics standard could be ‘Apply Numeric Reasoning in Solving Problems’.
  • Schools use a range of internal and external assessments to measure how well students meet these standards.
  • When a student achieves a standard, they gain a number of credits. Students must achieve a certain number of credits to gain an NCEA certificate.
  • There are three levels of NCEA certificate, depending on the difficulty of the standards achieved. In general, students work through levels 1 to 3 in Years 11 to 13 at school.
  • Students are recognised for high achievement at each level by gaining NCEA with Merit or NCEA with Excellence. High achievement in a course is also recognised.  For more information, read about endorsements.


Level 1 (Year 11)

NCEA Level 1 requires the gaining of 80 credits, including literacy and numeracy. All students must study English, Mathematics, and Science for the full year. Three additional optional subjects must be taken. The Level 1 certificate can be endorsed with Merit or Excellence.

Level 2 (Year 12)

NCEA Level 2 requires the gaining of 80 credits, 60 of which must be at Level 2. All students must study English for the full year. In addition all students must take four optional subjects, but they may take five if they wish. The Level 2 certificate can be endorsed with Merit or Excellence.

Level 3 (Year 13)

NCEA Level 3 requires the gaining of 80 credits, 60 of which must be at Level 3, with the remaining 20 at Level 2. All students must take five subjects all of which are optional. No subject is compulsory at this level. The Level 3 certificate can be endorsed with Merit or Excellence.


A recent study as undertaken by The Council for Educational Research and published by The Association of Boys Schools of NZ reports that students at boys schools are getting better NCEA results than boys at comparable co-educational schools of similar decile rating; this is at every level and with every ethnic group.

The proportion of boys leaving decile 5 and 6 schools, having achieved NCEA Level 2 in 2012 was 69 % in co-educational schools and in boys schools it was 77% (New Plymouth Boys’ High School is a decile 7 school).


NPBHS is proud of its identity and its values, and we offer a wide range of activities in our holistic-driven educational environment.

NPBHS  is proud of its academic focus and is committed to providing opportunities through excellent teaching so that our students can excel in academic achievement at the national level.

We also compare favourably to similar size boys schools in New Zealand.

NCEA results 2013

Level 1 pass rate 72.8%

Level 2 pass rate 79.8%

Level 3 pass rate 68.7%

NCEA results 2012

Level 1 pass rate 70% (Literacy 90%, Numeracy 91%, Merit endorsement 39%, Excellence endorsement 16%)

Level 2 pass rate 81% (Merit endorsement 32%, Excellence endorsement 9%)

Level 3 pass rate 73% (Merit endorsement 25%, Excellence endorsement 3%)