Education in NZ

The School System

Schooling in NZ is compulsory from 6 years old to 16 years of age. In general, the school year runs from January until December over 4 terms.   

State Schools or Public Schools – can be single sex or coeducational and are funded by the state however some will ask for a school ‘donation’ to help with the education of your child.

State Integrated Schools – have a special character, for example, Roman Catholic, Anglican, Montessori and Rudolf Steiner.

Private Schools – primarily single sex but can be coeducational. Fees are charged.

ERO reports (Education Review Office) - report on schools and early childhood education and can be a useful resource when deciding on a school. 

School Zones – Most schools in New Zealand have a school enrolment zone. If you live inside the zone, your child is guaranteed a place in that school. If you do not live in zone, you can apply as an out of zone student if there are extra places. 

Most children in NZ will attend some form of preschool education commonly known as Early Childhood Education (ECE) however, it is not compulsory. All ECE services and Kōhanga Reo (Maori Language) preschools are licensed or certificated by the Ministry of Education. This means that they must meet minimum standards of education and care to operate.

The government subsidises ECE and Kōhanga Reo for children 3 – 5 years of age to a maximum of 20 hours. This is dependent on the particular centre, the hours your child attends and the facilities and services offered.  Government Education website for parents

Early Childhood Services are available to the children of staff and students at UC from three Childhood Learning Centres; Early Childhood Learning Centre, Montana Early Learning Centre and Ilam Early Learning Centre. 

Children must be enrolled in school by the time they are 6 years old, however most children in NZ start school on their 5th birthday. Primary school covers years 1 to 8 if it is a ‘full’ primary school or years 1 to 6 if it is a ‘contributing’ primary school. For a contributing primary, years 7 and 8 are then at an Intermediate (middle) School.

The local Primary School to the University is Ilam School

At high school, your child is taught under the guide of the National Curriculum. In years, 11 – 13 the subjects your child studies will be assessed by unit standards or NCEA credits.

NCEA, National Certificate of Educational Achievement, is the main secondary school qualification for students gained at three levels. Level 1 in year 11; Level 2 in year 12 and Level 3 in year 13. Credits are achieved via a mixture of internal and external assessments.

For more information on NZ schools visit: