Understanding the Newzealand Education System

study in newzealand

Understanding the Newzealand Education System

Education in New Zealand is a student-centred pathway providing continuous learning progression and choice so that students’ progress every year and their learning at one level sets the foundation for the next steps along a chosen pathway.
New Zealand’s education system has 3 levels:

  • early childhood education - from birth to school entry age
  • primary and secondary education - from 5 to 19 years of age 
  • further education - higher and vocational education.

Our education system reflects our unique and diverse society. We welcome different abilities, religious beliefs, ethnic groups, income levels and ideas about teaching and learning. We have processes in place to give our students consistent, high-quality education at all levels.

The University conducted little research until the 1930s, when there was a spike in interest in academic research during the Depression. At this point, the college's executive council issued several resolutions in favour of academic freedom after the controversial dismissal of John Beaglehole (allegedly for a letter to a newspaper where he publicly defended the right of communists to distribute their literature), which helped encourage the college's growth.

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Early childhood education

Early learning helps children to be confident and curious about the world. It also helps them do better when they go to school or kura, and can help your child learn important skills that will help them become strong, happy, and successful in later life. ECE is not compulsory but around 96.8% of children attend Early Childhood Education (ECE).

Primary and secondary education

Primary and secondary schools are the second level of education. Your child’s education is free between the ages of 5 and 19 at state schools (schools that are government owned and funded) if they are a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident. Schooling is compulsory from age 6 to 16. In the majority of schools, your child can start school on the day they turn 5 years old (they do not have to wait until the start of a new school year). However some schools have a policy of starting children at school together as a group at the start of each term (cohort entry). Most children stay at school until they are around 17. The education system for schools is made up of 13 Year levels. Your child’s primary education starts at Year 1 and goes to Year 8 (around 5 to 12 years of age). Your child’s secondary education goes from Year 9 to Year 13 (around 13 to 17 years of age).

Local schools

Many children go to a school close to where they live. Many schools have an enrolment scheme called zoning. If you live in an area close to a school (the school’s zone), your child is guaranteed to get a place at that school. If you want your child to go to a school outside the area where you live, you may have to apply and a place is not guaranteed. Depending on the schools in your area, you may have the choice to send your child to a single-sex or co-educational school.

State, state integrated and private schools

Most schools in New Zealand are owned and funded by the state (state schools). They teach the national curriculum and are secular (non-religious). State integrated schools are schools with a special character. They are funded by the government and teach the national curriculum. They will have their own sets of aims and objectives to reflect their own particular values, and are set within a specific philosophy or religion. You will pay compulsory attendance dues. Private schools get some government funding but are mostly funded through charging parents school fees. They develop their own learning programmes and do not have to follow the national curriculum.

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