Students can get NCEA credits for completing menial tasks such as picking up litter.

This insight into the national qualification that replaced School Certificate came after a former Cambridge High School student wrote to an education magazine saying that the school got students who were not going to pass to pick up litter so they could get the extra credits they needed.

The school, which at 99.5 per cent had one of the country's highest NCEA pass rates last year, has claimed that its action was legitimate under a unit standard that required students to participate in a group or team to complete routine tasks.

Acting principal Warren Purdy said the students got two credits, which went towards the 80 credits needed to pass NCEA level one.

"We were targeting some students who did need extra help to get their 80 credits, that is correct.

"The philosophy is that you give them some success and it leads on to success in other subjects."

Act education spokeswoman Deborah Coddington said that if the student's allegations were true the school had deliberately passed students who should have failed.

"Although Cambridge High might have the country's cleanest grounds, we can judge nothing of the pupils' true performance."

Qualifications Authority spokesman Bill Lennox said picking up rubbish and subsequent written activities did fit within the unit standard.

He said schools and students could choose from a range of activities and as long as they met requirements and were assessed properly the authority was satisfied.

Last month Cambridge High was one of the schools accused of manipulating pass rates by not allowing students who were likely to fail to sit the exams.

At that time, Mr Purdy said the school guidance counsellors did offer different study options to struggling students, but they were directed to the most suitable level of learning rather than out of NCEA altogether.

* Porirua's Whitireia Community Polytechnic is planning to offer a year-long disc jockey and "turntablism" certificate course from next year, with students expected to borrow up to $4000 for fees, and extra for DJ equipment.

Senior music tutor George Packard said students who used the loan to buy turntables and mixing decks would take them home with them, just as other students kept books or instruments.

Course co-founder Shannon Chng-Rawiri said the 24 students would learn scratching, mixing, turntable theory and how to market themselves.