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Polyfest NCEA credits

Polyfest logo.

Polyfest is New Zealand’s largest schools cultural event, with almost 10,000 performers every year.  Held regionally across Aotearoa, and culminating in a three day event in Auckland, it is a chance for schools to showcase their cultural performance talents in a competitive, but community focused environment.  More importantly, it allows for the expression of student agency and leadership, collaboration across all levels of the school, and a chance to connect with culture and community.

For those students performing, and the teachers and community members who help them, performing at Polyfest is hours of work.  Now, those hours of work can be translated for students into NCEA credits, with schools assessing students against NCEA achievement standards in the arts.

Polyfest dancers.

The assessment often involves students being filmed performing in a group. They are assessed on factors including dance choreography, movement, technique, and coordination. Students can achieve credits in year 11, 12, and 13 in achievement and unit standards chosen by the teacher. For example, year 12 students can gain credits under the achievement standard Dance 2.4: Perform in a theatre dance work. Many schools use a level 2 standard: Perform an ethnic or social dance to communicate understanding of the style and a level 3 standard: Perform a group dance. However the repertoire standards – 2.5 and 3.5 were specifically written for this type of performance and give the students more appropriate credit value for the amount of work involved in being part of a festival performance.

Stories and tools

Credit where it's due
New Zealand's cultural diversity is expressed in a huge variety of dance traditions. This Education Gazette story looks at how dance educators are recognising those traditions with credits toward secondary school qualifications.

Connecting Polyfest with academic performance
Pasifika students discuss the importance and relevance that the ASB Polyfest has played in their classroom learning, which in effect improved their academic achievement. Key points in this story also include the senior students mentoring younger students – tuakana/teina model, the opportunity to celebrate their culture by engaging with their traditional performing arts and being able to connect their cultural identifiers to Pasifika giftedness.

Polyfest allows students to gain credits towards their NCEA
Tagata Pasifika's Marama Papau talks to Manu Faaea-Semeatu about whether Polyfest is impeding education.

Vocational Pathways – Introduction to Performance Technologies in New Zealand
Guidance for developing a contextualised learning programme for the Creative Industries vocational pathway. This document provides guidance to schools, ITOs, and tertiary providers who wish to develop programmes using the Vocational Pathways. Contexts of learning are provided as examples to encourage development in the sector.

More thinking about NCEA pathways

Choosing your own path through NCEA
Kristan Mowat, Head of Media Studies at Logan Park High School, describes how her school empowers students to set goals and make choices. Students are supported to make choices about their learning pathways through flexibility with NCEA internals and externals, and the standards that match their interest and needs. Schools can use this video to support their own curriculum decision making about learning pathways.


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