Thinking about leaving school without NCEA?

Thinking about leaving school?

Are you sure leaving school without NCEA is the right thing for your career? Check here.

If you're 16 or over, you can leave school without NCEA – but is it a good idea?

Staying at school and getting NCEA can make it easier for you to get qualified.

So whether it's because you don't want to stay at school or you've already got plans, find out about your options.

You're unhappy at school or you're not learning what you want

If you're unhappy at school, there can be ways to fix this. 

You might be able to change class, subjects or even which school you go to. 

It’s a good idea to chat to your family/whānau, someone at your school or a person you trust, before you make a decision.

At school, try talking to your dean, career adviser or guidance counsellor.

You could ask:

  • Can I change subjects or classes?
  • Can you help me plan my career?
  • Can you help me find a better way for me to study?
  • Can I get work experience at school ?

If you still decide to leave school, you can use our leaving school exit plan.

You've already got plans 

If you already have plans for work, training or study, check our guides on how to apply for and fund study, and how to get the best start for your study or job.

How staying at school can benefit you

Staying at school can make it easier for you to get into a course and get qualified.

People with more qualifications usually earn more, although this also depends on what subjects you study, and how easy it is to get a job when you qualify.

If you stay at school you have the chance to:

  • gain the NCEA credits you might need for a course or apprenticeship
  • get pre-trade training and NCEA Level 2 
  • get work experience through programmes such as Gateway, where you can try out jobs to see if you like them

Try a different type of school

There are lots of options to stay studying to get NCEA.

If you're unhappy at your school

Find out if you can:

  • shift to another class, or even another school
  • see if you're eligible to do all your study by distance at Te Kura. 

If your school doesn't offer subjects you want

Find out if you can

  • study with 'dual enrolment'  in two schools – attending both in person
  • study with dual enrolment – at school and studying by distance at Te Kura 

If you're pregnant

  • Talk to your school about options for teen parents.

If you can't attend school regularly

Whatever the reason, if you can't go to school regularly, find out if you're eligible for study at Te Kura.

Remember that you can get NCEA later

Even if you do decide to leave school now, you can upskill and gain NCEA later.


Unsure what to do after school? - video

Five learners give advice if you want to leave school but don't know what to do – 1.35 mins.

Amy: Obviously coming out of school is a big step. Let alone leaving your friends or family you have to decide what to do with the rest of your life.

TC: I think you need to weigh up your options and see how things are playing out in your life.

Shevaun: Don’t be pressured into studying especially if you don’t know what you want to study.

Shannon: You can always take a gap year taking a year off can always get you to think about the opportunities available to you and who knows, you might even miss school. I definitely

Amy: You’re gonna make a lot of mistakes, you’re gonna go down one path and it’s not going to work out but don’t just get in a slump, just think, o.k that didn’t work, let’s go this way instead and see what happens down that road.

TC: You just gotta make sure that you gonna end up living a life that you think is gonna keep you happy whether it be staying where you are or studying, travelling.

Shevaun: I travelled once I left school and I really enjoyed it, the experiences, seeing different countries and how different they are from New Zealand.

Francis: Find a lot of people who have left school and just talk to them as much as you can and you’ll probably get a few different ideas off of them.

Amy: Your life is full of trial and error at this age and you just got to roll with it.

Updated 4 Aug 2022