Secondary School

In New Zealand, there is free universal education. It is compulsory for all children aged 6 to 16 to go to school, although most start around their fifth birthday.
Most New Zealand students attend state-funded schools. Every student has the right to enrol at the state school nearest to their home. If the school has too many people applying to be students there, it can set a ‘home zone’.   Students living inside this  zone have the right to go to that school. Those living outside the zone can only be enrolled under special circumstances, such as where students have brothers or sisters attending the school or they require access to special programmes. 

State Schools
The Government meets almost all the costs of state schooling, but parents are expected to pay for things like the cost of schoolbooks, stationery, materials for art/trade classes, uniforms and school trips. Fees vary widely.  At primary and intermediate level, state school classes include both boys and girls. Co-educational and single-gender schooling is available at secondary level.

State schools do not charge fees. However, parents are expected to make donations towards the support of special programmes or services. There are also charges for stationery and uniforms. Meals are not provided. Snacks and lunches can generally be purchased from the school shop, but many parents prefer to provide a packed lunch.

Integrated schools
The term ‘integrated schools’ generally refers to schools with a religious focus – usually Roman Catholic in denomination – that used to operate privately.   In recent years, these schools have been integrated into the state system. Integrated schools receive the same Government funding for each student as state schools but their buildings and land are privately owned so they charge fees meet their property costs.  Although they follow the state curriculum requirements, these schools have kept their special religious or philosophical character.  A small number of these schools, such as Montessori or Rudolf Steiner schools, are not religiously-based.

Private/Iindependent schools
Private or independent schools receive only limited government funding and are almost entirely dependent on income derived from student fees. Each school decides what it will charge. Fees also vary according to levels, with fees in Years 12 and 13 usually significantly higher than those charged in Years 9 and 10.  Fees at primary school also vary according to level, although these are generally much lower than secondary school fees. Private schools have their own independent boards but must meet government standards in order to be registered. They are also subject to the same ERO (Education Review Office) audits as state schools.

Boarding schools
Boarding schools exist mainly at secondary school level in the state, integrated and private sectors. All charge boarding fees.

Correspondence School
The Correspondence School teaches a full range of school-level courses.

Home-based schooling
Home-based schooling must meet the same standards as registered schools, and approval to exempt the student from regular schooling must be obtained from the Ministry of Education.  A small annual grant is available for teaching materials. Home schooling accounts for less than 1% of school enrolments.

Schooling Levels
Children start school at Year 1 and move up one class each year to the final Year 13. Years 1 and 2 are often referred to as ‘primmers’ or ‘juniors’ and Years 3 to 6 as ‘standards’. Years 7 and 8 are known as Forms 1 and 2 or in city areas as ‘intermediate’ and Years 9 to 13 as Forms 3 to 7 or ‘high school’. Class sizes are set by the school.

Primary schools
Many primary schools have waiting lists, so it’s a good idea to pre-enrol your child before their fifth birthday. Children in their seventh and eighth years either continue at primary school or move to a separate intermediate school.

Secondary Schools
From age 12 or 13 through to 17 or 18 (Year 9 to Year 13), students attend secondary school – also known as high school, college or grammar. Usually students are grouped in classes, but they have different teachers and classrooms for each subject. It’s a good idea to contact the local secondary school at least six months before your child needs to start there.

School Terms/Semesters
The terms are normally:
Term 1: End of January to mid-April
Term 2: Late April to the beginning of July
Term 3: Mid-July to late September
Term 4: Mid-October to mid-December (or early December for secondary schools).