Date posted: 29/07/2020 3 min read

Proposal to chop NCEA 1 Accounting lessons opposed

CA ANZ is fighting a NZ Ministry of Education proposal to create a NCEA 1 ‘super’ Commerce subject which has very little Accounting content.

In Brief

  • CA ANZ supports the proposal to merge Accounting, Economics and Business Studies into a single NCEA level 1 Commerce subject
  • However, there are concerns that the Commerce subject will have very little accounting content
  • The changes are an exciting opportunity to remove outdated material and to refresh the syllabus

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) supports merging Accounting, Economics and Business Studies into a single NCEA level 1 subject, Commerce. However, CA ANZ is concerned that the Ministry of Education's proposed combined Commerce subject, by their own admission, will have 'very little accounting content'.

In a submission to the Ministry, CA ANZ has drawn attention to a Ministry statement that "Commerce is likely to have very little Accounting content due to the practical constraints of the subject and the ability to access the subject directly at Level 2 in most settings".

"In general, the Ministry's approach to the new subject is very good, but we find its argument to downgrade Accounting unclear and unconvincing," said Peter Vial FCA, New Zealand Country Head for CA ANZ.

"It is not clear to us what those practical constraints are, but we believe the review of NCEA presents a great opportunity to update the syllabus to make Accounting both more relevant and engaging to students."

"There are clear benefits in combining multiple related subjects into a single broader subject, but only while the merged subject includes key ideas from each of the contributing subjects.

"NCEA Level 1 Commerce students should be taught basic accounting concepts and core skills as they set students up for taking the subject further and provide them with fundamental life skills, including financial capability."
Peter Vial FCA, New Zealand Country Head for CA ANZ.

Vial said he hoped the Ministry would re-think this part of what will be taught in the proposed Commerce subject.

"Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand is an educational organisation as well as a membership body, we are TEQSA accredited, and we would like to help with the review of the level 1 Commerce achievement standards."

Exciting opportunity

The CA ANZ submission says the gradual decline of enrolments in Accounting over time did not signal the need to remove the subject from NCEA level 1. Rather, it was a chance to refresh the syllabus.

"Accounting remains a popular subject choice for NCEA level 1 students."

Peter Vial FCA
Peter Vial FCA

"We suggest the gradual decline in NCEA level 1 enrolments most likely results from a limit on the number of courses students can select (usually three optional courses for NCEA level 1) combined with the introduction of a range of 'modern' subjects such as digital technologies, psychology and media studies," the submission says.

"We see a true merger of the current subjects, Accounting, Business Studies and Economics into a single offering as an exciting opportunity to remove outdated material and to refresh the syllabus."

The submission says the "integrated and multifaceted view" of business taught in the proposed Commerce subject will enable students to determine whether they are interested in pursuing further study in any or all of the subject areas in NCEA level 2 and beyond.

"We encourage the Ministry to take this opportunity to further engage students by refreshing the content of the merged subject via the combined use of authentic business data and technology to bring basic accounting, economic and business concepts to life."

"We would therefore expect Commerce to expose students to basic accounting principles and concepts, basic financial statements, and basic analysis and interpretation of financial information in addition to similar key concepts from the current NCEA level 1 Economics and Business Studies syllabus."

"Further, there is a very low likelihood that students not engaged in a subject at NCEA level 1 will go on to engage in that subject during NCEA level 2. This calls into question the justification provided for the absence of accounting content in NCEA level 1, being that it is included as a subject in NCEA level 2.

"Being able to read, navigate and analyse a set of basic financial statements, familiarity with accounting concepts such as profit, loss, capital, cashflow, PAYE, GST, and the definition of an asset and a liability form the building blocks of an education in accounting, but more importantly are the building blocks of basic financial literacy which are vital to students as members of society and consumers of financial services," the submission says.

Feedback on the NCEA Level 1 Provisional Subject List

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand has welcomed the opportunity to provide feedback to the Ministry of Education on the NCEA level 1 provisional subject list.

Read the submission

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