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Choosing a Subject

Our hopes and goals for your next years as seniors in our college centre around seeing you take some time to plan your course so that you are motivated to achieve in a wide range of areas that we can offer you at Kavanagh College.

We hope this success will be not only in achieving your academic goals but also your cultural, spiritual, sporting and social goals.

These skills along with your ongoing development of skills such as self-discipline, working towards independence and taking responsibility as a learner, are ones you will need more and more in your later years at school and are also ones which will assist you to have a smooth transition in your development into adulthood. This includes equipping you with a commitment to lifelong learning.  We hope this sees you being involved in educating yourself in an ongoing way, and across a broad spectrum of areas beyond the college environment.  

Also when in Year 12 and 13 we are aware of how well your Religious Education courses prepares you too, to know yourselves better and to be more confident about knowing your strengths and areas of need.  Students regularly tell us how much our retreats assist you to get to know yourselves better.

How could this section of the website assist you in your long-term planning?

The aim of this page is to continue this support.  It aims to assist you to plan and select your programme of study for the next year and beyond.   It contains information about NCEA Levels 1,2 and 3 courses offered to you, our Kavanagh College’s Year 11-13 students.

It is an introductory guide. Every effort will be made to provide a programme of study that meets the needs of each student, and consultation and advice about different courses should be sought readily.   The choice of courses should always be discussed with parents, the Dean, subject teachers, Heads of Departments or Teachers in Charge, the Careers Department staff, the Assistant Principals and Deputy Principal.

We encourage you to download this Careers Course planning form to use as you read through this section.

Some subjects offered at Kavanagh have more academic pathways.  Others are approved local and national courses designed to meet varying needs of our students. These courses do not necessarily all progress to NCEA Level 3 subjects.

As a general guide, when making course choices, the following points should be kept in mind:

  • Ability and interest in an area of learning

  • How a course will help and where it will lead to

  • Pre-requisites; some courses can be picked up at Year 11, Year 12 or Year 13 level but others require a background of previous study in the subject. These courses can be at a variety of levels – NCEA Level 1, Level 2 or Level 3 – or a mix of levels.  Check the course information further on in the booklet to see whether or not you are eligible to take the subject

  • The desirability of a balanced education - it can be unwise to specialise too soon

  • What are the University Entrance requirements for studying at University and some Polytechnic courses?

Every year, you and your parents are invited to the Course Advice and Career Planning meeting in the Kavanagh College Auditorium. Its purpose is to provide course and career planning information rather than be a career expo. Representatives are present from the University of Otago, Otago Polytechnic, NZ Police, NZ Fire Service, College of Education and Career Services New Zealand. The school's careers advisor is present and a model for planning courses at school is provided. 

More material and pamphlets about various careers are available from our Career Advice staff- Ms Amelia Bresanello (extension 237) and Mrs Paula Dodds (extension 236)

Subject choice - general principles

  • Choose subjects that keep as many career options open as possible,

  • Check how many subjects develop in the senior school and where they can lead to in tertiary education and careers (eg. Geography, Economics, Mathematics and a language form an excellent programme for a career in Tourism Management).

  • Please check out the tools on the Careers Website.
  • A level of education is often as important as grades in courses.  A year in Year 12 and/or Year 13 for instance, may be important in itself if it allows you the chance to try new subjects, develop new skills, participate in extra-curricular activities, while you gain another year of personal maturity.

  • Check whether you need to study a subject at each level.  It is now possible to start many subjects at tertiary level.  Physics, Mathematics and Chemistry are exceptions.   (Note: Bridging courses are offered by some Universities and Polytechnics to enable students to bring these areas up to standard if some foundation work has been missed.  Check whether there are costs attached to such courses – eg. are the courses free of charges – do students end up adding to student loans?  Would you be better placed if you had completed these courses at school?

  • Watch the Science subjects.  These are the hardest ones to retrieve if you drop them or don’t choose them at school.  A few key points are:

    • You must have studied NCEA L1 Science (and achieved certain grades) if you wish to take NCEA Level 2 or Level 3 Science subjects.

    • Biology on its own does not have as much career future as other Science courses. Its partner is usually Chemistry.

    • Mathematics and/or Physics are essential for many technical careers.

  • Check out the minimum subject requirements for tertiary courses, eg. a good Art portfolio on its own may not be enough.  It is supported by study in Digital technology, Design & Visual Communication and Technology.

Subject & Course selection assistance

Multi-Level Courses

Why might you complete a course with students of a different year level?

It is important to select courses to meet your needs and plans.  This may involve your selecting courses offered at a different level to your current year level peers.

In Year 12 you might select a course at NCEA Level 1 instead of Level 2 as:

  • you wish to gain certain prerequisites and then complete the course offered at Level 2 the following year

  • you feel that the work at your new level is too difficult and you want more background learning to work with confidence at that level the following year

  • you have not studied that subject before and wish to pick it up for interest to balance your load

Some of these courses are open, and may be recommended generally to certain multi-level groups,  eg. Years 11 – 12 or Years 12 – 13.  If you meet the other prerequisites (eg. certain Achievement Standards or Unit Standards), and this course interests you and/or seems to best fit your plans and needs, then your year level is not an issue.

You may wish to apply to pursue a course of study at a level in advance of your current year level.

This could include a Year 11 student wishing to attempt an NCEA Level 2 course, or a Year 10 student completing part or all of an NCEA Level 1 course where

  • you believe your results, interest and motivation show you could achieve at this level, and

  • you can show you already meet the prerequisites for this course

  • there are no prerequisites for this course and you can demonstrate it better meets your longer term plans and goals than any of the courses on offer at your current year level.

Check that this last point does not mean you may miss out on prerequisites for other courses as you pursue this goal.

What is considered when a course that is offered does not go ahead?

Classes are organised and timetabled according to demand, that is, if there are sufficient numbers of students interested and where there are trained and qualified staff and resources available.

Sometimes this is best met with multi-level classes to ensure the numbers of a course are viable.  In the past, we have been able to provide NCEA Level 2 German and NCEA Level 3 German using this multi-level approach.

Please note - if there are not sufficient numbers of students to make up a class in one of the courses offered, that course will not operate and another one will have to be chosen.  Alternatively, we may be able to provide the course through the Virtual Learning Network or the Correspondence School.

Other subjects not offered by the College may be available through the Correspondence School. Students should consult with Ms James.