Education - The New Zealand System


The Education System 
Primary education commences at 5 years of age and generally ends in the eleventh year.  Intermediate schooling covers the next two years.  Secondary education is compulsory until age 15.  Courses are general in the first two years running onto more specialized studies in the next three years.  Qualifying examinations for School Certificate (which is a national examination gained by subject) occur at the end of the third year.  The fourth year is normally for a national sixth form certificate qualification.  A fifth year of study can qualify a student for university study at a higher rate of bursary by means of an appropriate pass in the bursary or scholarship examinations.

The New Zealand Education System

New Zealand has a comprehensive, high-quality education system with a wide range of learning options. There are three parts in New Zealand's education system: early childhood education; compulsory schooling (age 5-18); tertiary education.

Early childhood
Early childhood services include kindergartens, childcare centres, play centres, home-based care centres, Kohanga Reo (which are based on total immersion in the Maori language and values), Pacific Islands language groups and playgroups. Each one has its own philosophy and way of working.

Compulsory schooling
Primary school, intermediate school, secondary school. Schooling is compulsory in New Zealand for all children from their sixth until their 16th birthday, although most start on their fifth birthday or soon after. It is free at state (government-funded) schools until the age of 19, or 21 for special education students (who have disabilities, learning or behavioural difficulties).

New Zealand's state school system provides for children's individual learning styles and for different philosophies of education. Some schools develop programmes with a strong focus on particular interests of the children, and others work in a more formal, structured style.

The school day usually begins at about 9am and finishes at about 3pm (the secondary school day is usually about half an hour longer than the primary school day).

The school year begins in late January or early February after a summer holiday of about six weeks, and ends in December. It is divided into four terms with breaks of two to three weeks between them. The terms usually run from:
*End of January to early April.
*Late April to the end of June.
*Mid-July to late September.
*Mid-October to mid-December (or early December for secondary schools).

Compulsory education in New Zealand falls into a number of categories. However, regardless of the type of school, students are classified in year levels, beginning at "Year 0" or "Year 1" (depending on the time of year they start school) and moving up one class each year to the final "Year 13". Many New Zealanders may still use the terms "primers" or "juniors" for Years 0 to 3, "standards" for Years 4 to 6, "forms 1 and 2" for Years 7 and 8, and "forms 3 to 7" for Years 9 to 13.

There are approximately 440 secondary schools in New Zealand. They are also known as colleges, grammar schools and high schools. Students start secondary education (Years 9-13) generally at the age of 13.

Students of 16 years and over may choose not to complete their secondary education, leaving in Year 11 or 12. State schools are co-educational at primary and intermediate level. Some offer single-sex education at secondary level.

Tertiary education system|
New Zealand's tertiary education system includes 8 universities, 24 polytechnics, 4 colleges of education, wananga (Maori tertiary institutions) and private training establishments.

Types of Schools - General information

Schools in Rotorua
Rotorua is well served by education institutions – there are many Primary (Elementary) schools and several Intermediate (Junior High) schools and Secondary Schools.  Rotorua also has numerous playcentres and kindergartens. 

This comprehensive list of schools in and around Rotorua or this list, has contact details for each school and in many cases you can visit the school website, or email the school for further information

Private (independent) schools are available just outside of Rotorua.  Generally though, the state system is considered by most to be of comparable academic standards.  Applications for entry into private schools outside of Rotorua, will be necessary far in advance.

Some schools require uniforms to be worn.

Most schools in New Zealand are part of the state system. While there is no legal requirement to pay fees at state schools, it is usual for parents to pay some fees/donations and charges. In general a child can attend any state school even one that is not the closest to where they live – though some schools are zoned for children living in that area.

Although most students attend state-funded schools, parents, caregivers and students have other options.

  • Kura kaupapa Maori are state schools where teaching is in the Maori language
  • Special Schools are state schools that provide education for students with special needs
  • Integrated schools are part of the state system but have a special character, usually based on a philosophical or religious belief
  • Independent (or private) schools are governed by their own boards. The students pay fees to attend
  • Boarding Schools are either independent or part of state funded schools that charge fees for boarding
  • Correspondence School provides distance education for students from primary school to adults
  • Home-based schooling is available for parents or caregivers who meet the criteria set by the Ministry of Education

A comprehensive guide from the Ministry of Education

Reports on the kindergartens, day care centres and schools of Rotorua carried out by the Education Review Office.

14/08/2009 3:15 p.m.
Desiree Edwards