New Zealand


School Education in New Zealand

All children aged six to 16 in New Zealand must attend school. Most children start school when they turn five. There are 13 years in the New Zealand school system. Schooling begins at elementary school (referred to as primary school in New Zealand) – the first year at primary school is referred to as ‘Year 1’. 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. If your child enrolls in a contributing primary school, they will attend an intermediate school to complete years 7 and 8.

After finishing primary or intermediate school, your child will attend secondary school (also called ‘college’ or ‘high school’) to complete their final school years (years 9 to 13). They may leave secondary school before reaching Year 13, but not until their 16th birthday. Most children stay at school until they are around 17.

All schools must be registered with the education department and are subject to government requirements in terms of infrastructure and teacher registration.

A higher standard of learning

  • New Zealand schools are among the finest in the world. See for yourself what makes a New Zealand education so valuable.
  • Small class sizes – focused personal attention from teachers.
  • Great atmosphere, great facilities, great opportunities.
  • University-trained and qualified teachers and specialist teachers in subject areas.
  • Facilities of a high standard – including a high level of technology, with all schools having computers and internet access.
  • ‘Gifted and talented’ programs to extend students who are high achievers.
  • Quality assurance frameworks where schools must meet required standards.

Producing global leaders

The New Zealand school curriculum prepares you for your future. Learning involves a balance of practical and theoretical learning. Our schools aim to develop students into independent and successful learners, confident and creative individuals. Students educated in New Zealand are able to solve problems, process information, work with others, and create and innovate – with the view to giving them all the skills, knowledge and capabilities to thrive in a globalized world.

From start to finish, New Zealand schools focus on providing equity for every student, and striving for excellence in all areas of education.

School qualifications

After completion of senior secondary school students sit exams and receive an official certificate of qualification. The qualification is called the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA). The NCEA qualification is the national senior secondary school qualification. Your child will usually be assessed during their last three years at school (Years 11 to 13). They can achieve NCEA at 3 levels in a wide range of courses and subjects.

The NCEA is recognized by all universities, higher education and vocational education and training institutions, as well as most institutions internationally.

Pastoral care

New Zealanders are genuinely concerned about people and you’ll find there are plenty of places to turn to if you need help.

Every institution hosting international students like you has staff dedicated to ensuring your time in New Zealand is successful and stress-free. Halls of residence and hostels have live-in wardens who can provide advice and guidance.

You’re also protected by a Code of Practice that sets the standards every institution must meet in supporting its international students.

The New Zealand Government was the first in the world to introduce such a Code. Amongst other things, it covers the educational standards your school or institution must maintain, financial dealings and support if you need help with cultural issues or accommodation. As part of this code, your fees are also protected.

To view information on a particular school and the most popular courses they offer click on the following school logos:

For other educational options click below:

To study in other countries click your choice below: