Designing mixed settings learning programmes

What is mixed settings secondary-tertiary learning for students?

Mixed settings programmes are an option for schools that want to help their students achieve NCEA Level 2 and 3 qualifications while working towards a tertiary or industry qualification. Current secondary and tertiary education policy settings and funding streams allow for enrolment across multiple settings for secondary students.

Secondary-Tertiary Programmes/Trades Academies are formal arrangements that enable students to experience learning across secondary and tertiary education. However, mixed settings programmes can be delivered in a variety of ways to help achieve educational success and make smoother transitions from school.

Designing mixed settings learning programmes

Strong partnerships are essential in enabling students to successfully combine school-based NCEA learning with part-time tertiary or workplace-based learning. When these programmes work well, they help students to gain the knowledge, skills and competencies that enable them to experience success at school and in further education and employment.

Building partnerships between secondary, tertiary and ITOs

The following questions can help educators to design mixed settings learning programmes:

  • What are our students’ needs? What evidence do we have to inform us? How can we use it?
  • How will students’ progress and needs be monitored and shared across settings? How will any new initiatives for students be tracked and monitored?
  • Who do we currently have relationships with? How could partnerships be strengthened?
  • What possible new partnerships could be formed? Who else do we need to include to deliver the programme effectively? How would new partnerships create benefits for our students?
  • How as partners can we alter our business models or share resources to effect changes that will benefit students?

What is required for this learning to be effective?

How can mixed programmes work in a school or tertiary setting?

Essential components for designing an effective learning programme



Students are engaged in learning and evidence is used to identify all student needs, interests, and future directions.

Current learning programmes

Partners review current programmes and assess the extent to which programmes are meeting the needs of the students, including those at risk of disengaging and those currently not achieving.

Community and industry

Collaboration with the community, strengthening of partnerships, and establishment of new partnerships to influence learning programme development. Resources may be reviewed as part of this process.


Partners assess current resourcing and explore possible new options with community input. Educator and other expertise (eg industry), is explored, identified, and sourced, including the need for particular expertise to support or extend students. The requirements for specialist facilities, equipment, materials, and tools are scoped.



Programme design

Programmes incorporate relevant industry content and from learning areas in  The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, and focus on essential knowledge and skills and key competencies, with opportunities for progression to further education and employment.

Teaching and learning delivery approaches

Educators use evidence of teaching approaches that have a positive impact on their students. A reflective approach is used by all educators and students (see table: Teaching and delivery approaches).

Location of learning

Partners identify and utilise the most appropriate locations for learning.


Connections with workplace, community, and industry are actively maintained.

Assessment approaches

Assessment delivery caters for individual student needs. Quality Assurance processes exist and are monitored.

Teaching and delivery approaches

An example framework for planning

Questions for self-review

Can I get help creating mixed programmes for students?