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Education in New Zealandmarker follows the three-tier model which includes primary schools, followed by secondary schools (high schools) and tertiary education at universities and/or polytechs. The Programme for International Student Assessment ranks New Zealand's education as the 7th best in the world.[32293]

Education is free and compulsory between the ages of 6 and 16; though typically, children start school on their 5th birthday, or the first School Day after it. Post-compulsory education is regulated within the New Zealand National Qualifications Framework, a unified system of national qualifications in schools, vocational education and training.

The academic year in New Zealand varies between institutions, but generally runs from late January until mid-December for primary and secondary schools and polytechnics, and from late February until mid-November for universities.

Early childhood education

Many children attend some form of early childhood education before they begin school.
  • Playcentre or Kindergarten (Ages 3 – 5)
  • Kohanga Reo,
  • Licensed Early Childhood Centres (Ages 0 – 5) (usually privately owned)
  • Chartered Early Childhood Centres (Ages 0 – 5) (state funded)

Compulsory (primary and secondary)

Primary and Secondary education is compulsory for students between the ages of 6 and 16 (15 with parental and school permission), and is a right until the end of the calendar year following the student's 19th birthday. Disabled students with special educational needs can stay until the end of the calendar year they turn 21. Most students start when they turn 5, and remain in school for the full 13 years. A recent proposal by the New Zealand Government, called Schools Plus, would see students required to remain in some form of education until age 18.

While there is overlap in some schools, primary school ends at Year 8 and secondary school at Year 13. The last two years of primary school are frequently taken at a separate intermediate school instead of at a primary school, leaving 'contributing' primary schools to end at Year 6. Some areas though have 'full' primary schools which go to year 8. Outside of the following categories, many private schools, state area schools and state integrated schools take students from Years 0 to 13, or Years 7 to 13.

There are three types of school: state, private (or registered or independent) and state integrated schools. State and state integrated schools are government funded. Private schools receive about 25% of their funding from the government [32294], and rely on tuition fees for the rest. State integrated schools are former private schools which are now "integrated" into the state system under the Private Schools Conditional Integration Act 1975 [32295] "on a basis which will preserve and safeguard the special character of the education provided by them". According to Independent Schools New Zealand, an advocacy group for private schools, about 86% of all school-aged children attend state schools, 10% attend state integrated schools and 4% attend private schools [32296].

Years of schooling

New Zealand has recently moved towards a system where school levels are identified by the year number. Before this, a system of Forms, Standards and Juniors was used. Although this system is not used in administration anymore, it is still used at some schools (mainly independent ones), and in talk with older generations, who often prefer to use the system they are more familiar with. However, one should always ask "Which year are you in?" rather than "Which form are you in?", as many of today's students confuse 'form' with form class.

The years are numbered from 1 to 13. Primary school goes up to year 6, intermediate school finishes at year 8 and secondary school is the remaining five years of schooling.

Under the old system of Forms, Standards and Juniors, there were two Junior years followed by four Standard years in primary school, followed by seven Forms. Forms 1 and 2 were in intermediate school and the remaining five were in secondary school. A summarized table of old to new system conversions is below:

Year Old system Student DOB between
( school year)
International equivalent
England & Wales Aust USA Hong Kong
0 New Entrants 1 May to 30 April Reception Kindergarten Kindergarten Kindergarten
1 Junior 1 1 May to 30 April Year 1 Primary 1
2 Junior 2 1 May to 30 April Year 2 Year 1 Grade 1 Primary 2
3 Standard 1 1 May to 30 April Year 3 Year 2 Grade 2 Primary 3
4 Standard 2 1 May to 30 April Year 4 Year 3 Grade 3 Primary 4
5 Standard 3 1 May to 30 April Year 5 Year 4 Grade 4 Primary 5
6 Standard 4 1 May to 30 April Year 6 Year 5 Grade 5 Primary 6
7 Form 1 1 May to 30 April Year 7 Year 6 Grade 6 Form 1
8 Form 2 1 May to 30 April Year 8 Year 7 Grade 7 Form 2
9 Form 3 1 May to 30 April Year 9 Year 8 Grade 8 Form 3
10 Form 4 1 May to 30 April Year 10 Year 9 Grade 9 Form 4
11 Form 5 1 May to 30 April Year 11 Year 10 Grade 10 Form 5
12 Form 6 1 May to 30 April Year 12 Year 11 Grade 11 Form 6
13 Form 7 1 May to 30 April Year 13 Year 12 Grade 12 Form 7

  • This assumes students haven't been held back or put forward a year.
  • Students must be 5 years of age to enter Year 0. Some schools don't have a separate Year 0, with these students integrated into Year 1.
  • Junior classes were also previously referred to as Primer (pronounced "primmer").
  • Form 1 and 2, (Year 7 and 8) were previously known as Standard 5 and 6.
  • would be eliminated under the new secondary school system; one more year of university education would be added upon elimination

Types of schools

Most schools cater for either primary, intermediate, or secondary school students:
  • Years 1–6: Primary School (Ages 5–11)
  • Years 7–8: Intermediate School (Ages 11–13)
  • Years 9–13: Secondary School (Ages 13–18)
However, some schools cater for students across two or more of these groups. These are rarer than schools which teach the groups above. Area schools are generally found in rural areas, where there are not enough students to run three separate schools productively. A list of these types of schools, and the years they cater for, is below.
  • Years 1–8: Full Primary School (Ages 5–13)
  • Years 7–10: Middle School (Ages 11–15)
  • Years 7–13: Intermediate/Secondary School (Ages 11–18)
  • Years 1–13: Area schools (Ages 5–18)
  • Preschool – Year 13: The Correspondence Schoolmarker (Preschool – Age 18)

State school enrolment schemes

For state schools, the Education Amendment Act 2000 puts in place a new "system for determining enrolment of students in circumstances where a school has reached its roll capacity and needs to avoid overcrowding." Schools which operate enrolment schemes have a geographically defined "home zone". Residence in this zone, or in the school's boarding house, if it has one, gives right of entry to the School. Students who live outside the school's home zone can be admitted, if there are places available, in the following order of priority: special programmes; siblings of currently enrolled students; siblings of past students; children of board employees; all other students. If there are more applications than available places then selection must be through a randomly-drawn ballot.

Critics have suggested that the system is fundamentally unfair as it restricts the choice for parents to choose schools and schools to choose their students. In addition, there is evidence that property values surrounding some more desirable schools become inflated, thus restricting the ability of lowers socio-economic groups to purchase a house in the zone.[32297]

Tertiary education

There are several branches of tertiary education in New Zealand.

For non-private institutions, see also: state sector organisations in New Zealand

Colleges of education (Teachers' Colleges)

Partial list of historical or currently existing colleges of education. Listed here are those which were listed [32298] in Acts of Parliament as public (Crown-owned) providers of teacher education: See: State sector organisations in New Zealand (current list)

Most colleges of education in New Zealand in the past 30 years have gradually consolidated (for example, Ardmore with Auckland), with the trend in the last 15 years to consider and effect mergers with universities closely allied to them, for example, the Hamilton and Palmerston North colleges amalgamated with Waikato and Massey respectively.

In the 2004-2005 period, the Auckland and Wellington colleges amalgamated with Auckland Universitymarker and Victoria Universitymarker respectively. In 2007 the Christchurch College of Education amalgamated with the University of Canterbury. The remaining stand-alone college in Dunedin amalgamated with the University of Otago in January 2007.

The name 'college of education' is protected by Act of Parliament—previously the name 'teachers' college' was protected. Only universities and standalone colleges of education may use this title. Thus, privately owned institutions (which are not listed in Acts) providing teacher education such as the Bethlehem Institute (Taurangamarker) must use alternative names.


For a list of polytechnics, see: state sector organisations in New Zealand

Private Training Establishments

Private Training Establishments have been around for many years in New Zealand. Their purpose is to provide training often not available in the public sector. They also provide training to special needs groups or in time frames that support different learner needs. Private Trainers like the Institute of Applied Learning in Otahuhu Auckland has provided domestic learners and international learners courses in Computing, Hospitality, Business, Health Care and Contact Centre for over 17 years. The tutors are generally drawn from industry rather than academia and the goal for most learners is employment quickly. A list of providers is available on NZQA and TEC websites. Private trainers have the ability to respond quickly to the changing needs of industry. Most providers provide courses that are NZQA accredited and many offer certificates, diplomas and degrees. Private trainers offer an alternative to state schools and many learners prefer the supportive environment of most private trainers


See Wananga

for a list of wānanga, see: state sector organisations in New Zealand


Typically, a bachelor's degree will take three years, and a further year of study will lead to an Honours degree. Not every degree follows this 3+1 pattern: there are some four year degrees (which may or may not be awarded with Honours), and some specialist bachelor's degrees which take longer to complete. Typically, Honours may be awarded with first class, upper second class, lower second class or third class, but this can vary from degree to degree. A bachelor's degree may be followed by a Master's degree. A candidate who does not hold an Honours degree may be awarded a Master's degree with honours: such a degree usually involves two years study, compared to one year for a Master's degree for a candidate who does have an Honours degree. A candidate who has either a Master's degree or a bachelor's degree with Honours may proceed to a doctoral degree.

Entry to most universities is "open", that is to say that one only needs to meet the minimum requirements in the school-leaving examinations (be it NCEA or Bursary). A greater number of courses at NZ universities now have selective admissions, with the University of Auckland offering a large number of selective-entry courses. Mature students usually do not need to meet the academic criteria demanded of students who enter directly from secondary school.

Domestic students will pay fees subsidised by the Government, and the student-paid portion of the fee can be loaned from the Government under the Government's Student Loan Scheme. Weekly stipends can be drawn from the loan for living expenses, or the student can apply for a needs based (on assessment of parental income) "Student Allowance", which does not need to be paid back. "Bonded Merit Scholarships" are also provided by the Government to cover the student-paid portion of fees, however, receipt of the Scholarship requires the recipient to stay in New Zealand for a certain time after graduation. The New Zealand Scholarship and the New Zealand University Bursary are awarded to school leavers by a competitive examination and also provide financial support to school-leavers pursuing a university degree but do not entail any requirement to stay in the country after they finish university. International students pay full (non-subsidised) fees and are not eligible for Government financial assistance.

Until 1961 there was only one degree-granting university in New Zealand, the University of New Zealand which had constituent colleges around New Zealand. Now the colleges are independent universities in their own right, and since then two new universities have been created (Auckland University of Technology and Waikato University).

Universities in New Zealand:


Primary and secondary

Government directly provides all or most of the funding for state and "integrated schools" and about 25% of the funding for private schools. A significant portion of the extra funding is available, dependant on the decile rating, and most schools also ask for a voluntary donation from parents, informally known as "school fees". This may range from $40 per child up to $800 per child in high decile schools. Typically parents will outlay $500–$1000 per year for uniforms, field trips, social events, sporting equipment and stationery.

For tertiary education

Funding for tertiary education in New Zealand is through a combination of government subsidies and student fees. The government funds approved courses by a tuition grant based on the number of enrolled students in each course and the amount of study time each course requires. Courses are rated on an equivalent full-time Student (EFTS) basis. Students enrolled in courses can access Student Loans and Student Allowances to assist with fees and living costs.

Funding for Tertiary Institutions has been criticised recently due to high fees and funding not keeping pace with costs or inflation. Some also point out that high fees are leading to skills shortages in New Zealand as high costs discourage participation and graduating students seek well paying jobs off shore to pay for their student loans debts. As a result, education funding has been undergoing an ongoing review in recent years.

For students

Most tertiary education students rely on some form of state funding to pay for their tuition and living expenses. Mostly, students rely on state provided student loans and allowances. Secondary school students sitting the state run examinations are awarded bursaries and scholarships, depending on their results, that assist in paying some tuition fees. Universities and other funders also provide scholarships or funding grants to promising students, though mostly at a postgraduate level. Some employers will also assist their employees to study (full time or part time) towards a qualification that is relevant to their work. People who receive state welfare benefits and are retraining, or returning to the workforce after raising children, may be eligible for supplementary assistance, however students already in full or part time study are not eligible for most state welfare benefits.

Student allowances

Student Allowances, which are non-refundable grants to students of limited means, are means tested and the weekly amount granted depends on residential and citizenship qualifications, age, location, marital status, dependent children as well as personal, spousal or parental income. The allowance is intended for living expenses, so most students receiving an allowance will still need a student loan to pay for their tuition fees.

Student loans

The Student Loan Scheme is available to all New Zealand permanent residents and can cover course fees, course related expenses and can also provide a weekly living allowance for full time students. The loan must be repaid at a rate dependent on income and repayments are normally recovered via the income tax system by wage deductions. Low income earners and students in full time study can have the interest on their loans written off.

On 26 July 2005 the Labour Party announced that they would abolish interest on Student Loans, if re-elected at the September election, which they were. From April 2006, the interest component on Student Loans was abolished for students who live in New Zealand.

This has eased pressure on the government from current students. However it has caused resentment from past students many of whom have accumulated large interest loan portions in the years 1992-2006. As stated before many have reluctantly been forced to seek employment overseas in order to pay back their loans, with the UK and Australia gaining benefit from young, educated diaspora.

See also


External links

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