Choices if a school has limited subjects

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Discover how to access the subjects needed for your young person’s future career if their school doesn’t offer the right ones.

Subject choice and future decisions can be stressful for young people, especially if their school doesn’t offer a subject they need. Here’s how you can help your young person access the subjects they need for their future career.

Check what subjects are available at school

Check your young person's school website to see what subjects are available. Then encourage them to talk to their school career adviser or dean, who will be able to explain what’s available and help them find the best subject choices for their future.

Check what subjects are needed for future jobs or training

Make sure your young person checks exactly which subjects they need for the job or training they want. For example, if they want to be a doctor, English is as important as science subjects.

How to check subject requirements for jobs

Our jobs database contains information on the secondary school subjects needed for over 400 jobs (open the job and look under "How to enter the job").

Vocational Pathways show students how to choose the right subjects for a working in a particular industry, such as construction and infrastructure or social and community services.

How to check subject requirements for tertiary courses

Look up tertiary courses in our courses database to find out about entry requirements.

Find contact details for tertiary course providers (such as universities, wānanga and polytechnics) and talk to a course co-ordinator about how flexible their subject requirements are.

Five ways to study for subjects a school doesn’t offer

1. Study with dual enrolment – at school and by distance learning through Te Kura

Eligible students may be able to:

  • attend classes in person at their school for most subjects
  • study by distance (online) through Te Kura for subjects they need that their school doesn’t offer. 

This option is free to eligible New Zealand school students.

2. Study at school and through NetNZ or OLC groups

Some secondary and area schools share teachers in online classrooms so their students can study a wider range of subjects.

This option is free to New Zealand students in schools that belong to NetNZ or an OLC (online learning community) group.

Students can find which courses are available through the Journey website.

If the school isn’t a member of NetNZ or OLC:

  • you could ask the school principal to consider joining
  • students may be able to enrol with NetNZ anyway, but the school is usually charged.

3. Study with dual enrolment – in two schools, attending both in person

Some schools work in partnership, so your young person may be able to travel to another school for a particular subject.

4. Study both secondary and tertiary subjects while at school

Your young person may be able to combine secondary education with tertiary study while still at school. Some options include work experience.

Gateway – study for NCEA and tertiary credits and discover possible career options while spending time in a workplace.

STAR – study for NCEA credits and explore tertiary qualifications while still at school.

Trades Academies – study for NCEA Level 2 and trade-related tertiary qualifications while still at school. This may also involve work experience.

Services Academies – study for NCEA Levels 1 and 2 and trade-related credits in a military-style programme that includes physical challenges and leadership training.

5. Other options when a school doesn’t offer a subject 

Really motivated and capable students may be able to study on their own. For example, it may suit someone who wants to take a scholarship subject that isn’t available at their school. 

Get in touch with us for career information and guidance

For personal advice your young person can talk to their school’s career adviser or dean, or contact us.

Updated 9 Aug 2022