Frequently Asked Questions
Of course the Waldorf curriculum is about more than just classroom work. Plays, festivals, camps, workweeks etc. are a part of what parents sign up for when they send their children to a Steiner School. As APs, schools are required to confirm with us that students have met “Special Character” requirements before we can confirm final results and issue certificates. When NZCSE was first developed we felt it important to protect these aspects of school life which are so beneficial to students but which do not belong in the realm of assessment. Unfortunately there will always be students (and parents) who will push the boundaries and refuse to get on board. Schools have developed a variety of ways of formalising this process from annual parent interviews to carefully worded agreements which all parties are required to sign. SEDT plays no official role in this as we want schools to find their own process that suits their community.
Everything starts with the Waldorf curriculum. Schools need to be planning courses out of their curriculum based on the needs of the particular cohorts in front of them. Not all Class 10s are the same and if the same LOs are applied year after year regardless of the different cohorts then the quality of teaching can suffer. Developing high-quality assessment programmes for SSC requires teachers to sit around the table and talk about their intentions for different groups. In this way a more complete picture emerges as well as opportunities to combine assessments between subject areas so that students are not over-assessed. NZCSE is not a curriculum, nor is it the content. If teachers remain conscious of this as they plan and ensure the LOs are chosen last of all to match the programme arrived at through discussion, we can prevent the “tail wagging the dog”.
A student can take more than one year to complete a Level of SSC. Such students need to be identified prior to Class 10. Those with specific learning disabilities who have been diagnosed can apply for Special Assessment Conditions for things like extra time or reader/writers in tests.
Some New Zealand schools have developed programmes for students to spend time out of school gaining NZQF credits for trade-related qualifications while still at school. If the student gains up to eight credits this can be transferred to five NZCSE points so they can have some recognition for the time lost. For students doing larger courses which take them out of school for one day per week there is the Applied Learning LO which will give ten points for successful completion. This will also result in their certificate being “endorsed with Applied Learning”. This LO is designed for non-academic students to help them achieve the NZCSE at Levels 1 and 2 and should not be used for students who are academically capable of achieving NZCSE in the classroom.
There is a variety of solutions depending on the ability of the student. Most schools offer two term exchanges. Some very capable students may pass enough points in 2 terms to gain their NZCSE before they go away. If a student does an exchange with another school offering NZCSE then the student can continue with their qualification seamlessly. Otherwise students are advised to go overseas during Class 10/Level 1 and not receive a certificate for that year. As long as they work consistently while still at school and gain good grades, they will be given discretionary entry into the next Level of NZCSE the following year.
No. There is no agreement with NZQA to this effect. A student starting NZCSE in Class 11 at Level 2 can use a Level 1 NCEA as evidence of their ability to achieve successfully at this level, but the reverse does not apply as there is no pre-requisite to entering NCEA at levels above Level 1.
Usually a school will contact us as a result of a public talk or from this website. We will visit the school and talk to teachers and parents so all are clear about what they are getting out of it and what commitments they need to make. If the school wishes to move forward we initiate further visits which will include training for teachers in QMS processes and quality assured assessment practices.
To become an Accredited Provider (AP), a school must assure SEDT that the school is a Steiner school and works out of Waldorf pedagogy as well as meeting a rigorous and robust accreditation process to prove it can work out of a Quality Management System (QMS) process. Further detailed information can be found in the Quality Management System document available to APs and prospective APs.
Questions for Parents and Students
Most important information for students and parents can be found in the student handbook your school will provide. However some of the FAQs below may be useful.
NZCSE is the only qualification that fully validates and endorses a full, Waldorf High School/Upper School experience including recognition of special and unique aspects such as main lessons and the Class 12 Project. These are mostly unassessable using NCEA (for example) so schools using state qualifications have to offer “Steiner Credits” so that students will still do the work. In addition NZCSE is a dynamic qualification in that it can change and evolve over time and we value feedback from teachers and students in this respect. Steiner graduates already have a very good reputation at university level which is further enhanced by having a registered qualification to support it. Students doing NZCSE will in future be able to study in any NZCSE school in the world and the benefits to exchange programmes is enormous.
We take academic honesty seriously. Students who breach academic honesty policies receive an instant Not Achieved for that assessment with no possibility of a resit. The school may also instigate further disciplinary action.
There are a variety of solutions depending on the ability of the student. Most schools offer two-term exchanges. Some very capable students may pass enough points in two terms to gain their NZCSE before they go away. If a student does an exchange with another school offering NZCSE, then the student can continue with their qualification seamlessly. Otherwise students are advised to go overseas during Class 10/Level 1 and not receive a certificate for that year. As long as they work consistently while still at school and gain good grades, they will be given discretionary entry into the next Level of NZCSE the following year.
Either ask the NZCSE Coordinator at your school to request a replacement from us or if you have left school contact us directly at email@example.com with the details of your request and a forwarding address. The cost of replacing a certificate is $30 NZD plus postage if overseas. ROAs are free to replace but again postage paid is required for requests outside of New Zealand.
Plagiarism is the use of someone else’s ideas or words in a piece of work without their permission or without acknowledging them as not being your own. Basically you are passing off someone else’s work as your own which is one of the commonest forms of plagiarism. Schools are generally very good at helping students to avoid the pitfalls of plagiarism and in NZCSE we ask that all research-based work is referenced using the APA referencing system which is a method for acknowledging your sources be they from books, the internet etc. This is a very useful tool for students to have especially if they want to continue on to tertiary study. Some schools are now using plagiarism software so that written work can be quickly and easily checked for authenticity.
Assessment in general is a valuable tool for teachers to tell how well their students are learning. If you give so much help to them that the work is no longer their own it is giving a false impression of that student’s ability and in the long run does no one any favours. Parents do need to take an interest and the best way to help is to ask them leading questions so they can eventually come to the solution themselves or point them in the right direction for resources.
The world of educational qualifications has undergone many changes over the past 20 years in Europe, the main one being a trend towards standardisation, testing and international comparisons of standards in education. Waldorf education is affected by many of these changes. The following FAQs aim to inform people in Waldorf schools what the main changes and terminology are.
It hopes to address questions around a possible alternative school leaving certificate based on learning outcomes, developed in New Zealand, which presupposes the Waldorf Curriculum.
The Bologna Process is a series of ministerial meetings and agreements between European countries designed to ensure comparability in the standards and quality of small units that feed into higher education qualifications (European Credit Transfer System) and does not apply to secondary education. Through the Bologna Accords, the process has created the European Higher Education Area. It is named after the place where it was proposed, the University of Bologna, with the signing of the Bologna declaration by Education Ministers from 29 European countries in 1999, forming a part of European integration. All countries of the European Higher Education Area committed to developing national qualifications frameworks compatible with the overarching framework of the European Higher Education Area by 2010.
Yes, there are. The European Baccalaureate (or EB), which may be awarded to students who pass the final year exam at a European School and the International Baccalaureate (IB). Both give access to universities. Both qualifications have roughly the same drawback as many national qualifications for Steiner Waldorf schools: they do not presuppose the Waldorf Curriculum.
Yes. The school needs to sign a contract with the Steiner Education Development Trust (SEDT) in New Zealand, which stipulates what requirements the school has to follow.
No it does not in itself do that. The school and its parents can, however, make a conscious choice to work with the NZCSE. This can be done alongside a national qualification, but also on its own.
It can if the country has signed the Lisbon Recognition Convention. However, a declaration of equivalence from the competent national authority of the country in which the university is located is needed if the university does not decide on its own. See ENIC (European Network of Information Centres) – NARIC (National Academic Recognition Information Centres) website http://www.enic-naric.net There are already students from New Zealand attending European universities with NZCSE as well as students from Steiner schools in England attending universities there.
The use of the NZCSE may be an alternative to national qualifications, based on standardised testing, which do not take the Steiner Waldorf curriculum, methods and ideals into account.
The meaning of the word curriculum depends on the context. It may refer to the content taught in a school or course, and it may also refer to the knowledge or skills students are expected to learn in combination with specific assignments and projects, materials, readings and so on.
Traditionally education used a strongly content-based curriculum and the standards for reaching a qualification were oriented towards knowledge of this content.
Many countries have established a national curriculum for school education. Their school qualifications system is then linked to this curriculum. Often some kind of standardised testing is organised by the state to generate evidence whether the individual pupils have met the standards of the national curriculum.
Nowadays outcomes-based education, which is directed towards goals, is preferred more and more. It offers
- a student-oriented approach;
- a clear expectation of what has to be accomplished at the end of a course for both students and teachers;
- flexibility and freedom for the teachers because they can choose how to teach their pupils, while taking into account what they need to reach the goals.
The curriculum is still the most important aspect and this is set and confirmed each academic year. Only then are appropriate Learning Outcomes chosen to assess the work
This is a qualification that has a similar structure to the National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) of New Zealand. The NZCSE has been recognised by the New Zealand Qualification Authority (NZQA) and put on their National Qualification Framework. It has 3 levels: Level 1 (equivalent to EQF 2) after class 10, Level 2 (equivalent to EQF 3) for most pupils after class 11 and Level 3 with University Entrance after class 12 (or optionally 13 – both equivalent to EQF level 4). Level 1 and 2 can also be used as school-leaving certificates.
The NZCSE is an outcomes-based qualification designed for Steiner Waldorf education. It has a rigorous quality control system. The teachers work together on an internal quality assessment system. Experienced Steiner Waldorf teachers external to the school moderate samples of internally moderated learning outcomes.
The NZCSE is not a curriculum in itself but presupposes the Steiner Waldorf curriculum with its broad focus on many subjects. The achievements of the pupils are compared to a catalogue for each level of broadly described learning outcomes.
There is no restriction on the method of assessment as long as it is valid and transparent for both teachers and pupils at the beginning of a series of lessons. On level 3 (EQF 4) at least three, but preferably four, elective subject domains have to be deepened. Basic skills in numeracy and literacy are also mandatory.
Points from NZCSE in New Zealand can be transferred to a school doing the qualification in Europe if a pupil spends a year abroad. Similarly, if a pupil from Europe wishes to attend a New Zealand school, their attainments in classes 10,11 or 12 in their home school can be given an NZCSE equivalent if they are adequately documented.
Preconditions for attending higher education differ from country to country, and sometimes from university to university and from course to course. Some countries have school qualifications, mapped to EQF level 4 with a right to university entrance. There may be other additional conditions for certain courses and knowledge of the language the university courses are taught in, may also be a precondition. It is not impossible even to enter a higher education course without a secondary school qualification. The higher education institution may provide a procedure for evidencing and acknowledging the necessary knowledge, skills and competences.
The Lisbon Recognition Convention, officially the Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region, is an international convention of the Council of Europe elaborated together with the UNESCO. As of 2012, the Convention has been ratified by all 47 member states of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg except for Greece and Monaco. It has also been ratified by the Council of Europe non-member states Australia, Belarus, the Holy See, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and New Zealand. Canada and the USA have signed but not ratified the Convention.
All countries of the European Higher Education Area have committed to developing national qualifications frameworks compatible with the overarching framework of the European Higher Education Area, created by the Bologna Process and the Lisbon Recognition Convention.
In each country a national agency is responsible for the qualification framework. The levels of the national qualification frameworks are mapped onto a level of the European Qualifications Framework.
The declaration of equivalence of foreign qualifications is another matter. Information can be found on the ENIC (European Network of Information Centres) – NARIC (National Academic Recognition Information Centres) website http://www.enic-naric.net
A National Qualifications Framework is a formal system within a country for describing qualifications. 47 countries participating in the Bologna Process committed to producing national qualifications frameworks.
The European Qualifications Framework is a translation tool that helps communication and comparison between qualifications systems in Europe. Its eight common European reference levels are described in terms of learning outcomes: knowledge, skills and competences.
Each of the eight levels is defined by a set of descriptors indicating the learning outcomes relevant to qualifications at that level in any system of qualifications. It can be used for educational as well as professional qualifications. Level 1 indicates a very basic level of knowledge skills and competences; while level 8 is for doctoral study.
This allows a comparison between national qualification systems, national qualifications frameworks (NQFs) and qualifications in Europe relating them to the EQF levels. Learners, graduates, providers and employers can use these levels to understand and compare qualifications awarded in different countries and by different education and training providers.
A certificate is a written statement, made by someone in authority that may be used as evidence of something. In education it may be evidence of knowledge and skills.
In many English-speaking countries, the word certificate is used for educational qualifications: e.g. General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) and the General Certificate of Secondary Education Advanced Level (A level). These certificates give evidence of a qualification in one or more subjects.
A qualification is a degree or a diploma, etc., awarded at the end of a period of training or schooling that certifies that a person has reached certain standards.
A diploma is an educational certification of proficiency, issued by an educational institution. In some countries the word is only used for academic awards, in others it may be used for a certificate that ensures university entrance after secondary education.