As a parent looking to migrate, it’s only natural that you have a million questions about education in New Zealand.
Let us start by telling you that New Zealand prides itself on an education system that is world-class, modern and responsive.
It’s not just talk either.
New Zealand came 5th out of 33 countries around the world for ‘Education’ in HSBC’s 2019 Expat Explorer Survey. In 2017, New Zealand’s education system was ranked top in the world for educating children in a way that best prepare them for the future.
Now let’s get to the essentials you need to know. We’re going to answer these questions:
- At what should children attend school?
- What are the different types of schools in New Zealand?
- What is the learning environment like?
- Does New Zealand have a school zoning system?
- When are the school terms?
- How do I enroll my child in a school?
- How do children to get to school?
At what age should children start school?
Going to school is compulsory for New Zealand children from the ages of 6 to 16. Parents are allowed to already send their children to primary school at the age of 5, but by the age of 6 children must be enrolled to start their schooling.
Secondary school, or high school, continues from the age of 12 onwards. New Zealand also has intermediate schools for children who are in their final primary school years from ages 11 to 12.
What are the different types of schools in New Zealand?
New Zealand has three types of schools:
- State schools;
- State integrated schools; and
- Private schools.
State schools are schools owned and funded by the government. Education is free in these schools for domestic children, but parents normally have to still pay for things like uniforms, stationery, exam fees and, in some case, extra-curricular and sports activities.
Your child will be deemed a ‘domestic’ student if they:
- Are a New Zealand resident, permanent resident or citizen; or
- Hold a student visa based on your temporary work visa.
State-integrated schools are school with a ‘special character’. This means the school is either run by a particular religious faith or use specialist education methods, like Montessori.
Education in state-integrated schools is also funded by the government, but these schools normally charge ‘attendance dues’ fees to help maintain the school.
Private schools are not funded by the government. Instead these schools charge set fees for the term or year. You’ll find some private schools are co-ed, while others are single sex schools for either boys or girls.
What is the learning environment like?
Getting an education in New Zealand means a child is taught through practical and theoretical learning, with students encouraged to think creatively, independently and analytically. Personal, focused attention is usually guaranteed, thanks to relatively small class sizes.
Does New Zealand have a school zoning system?
Yes, New Zealand does have a school zoning system. These school enrolment zones stop schools from getting overcrowded, and give children who live in the school area, or zone, a guarantee that they can go to their local school.
For more information on school zones, you can go to our article on New Zealand school zones.
When are the school terms?
The school year is split into four terms commencing in late January through to mid-December. Each term normally ends with a 2-week holiday, but with a 6-week holiday in December:
- 1st Term: Late January to mid-April.
- 2nd Term: Late April to early July.
- 3rd Term: Mid July to late September.
- 4th Term: Mid October to mid-December.
How do I enroll my child in a school?
It is best to contact your local school to find out what the enrollment process is. Please be aware that you might need to provide evidence of your child’s visa status as part of the process.
How do children get to school?
New Zealand is known as one of the safest countries in the world, so it’s no surprise that parents feel comfortable letting their children walk or bike to school. Many children also take the bus to school.
Your child doesn’t have to walk alone either, if that’s what they choose to do. New Zealand has a system called a ‘walking schools bus’, where children walk to school in organized and supervised groups.
In summary ….
You can rest assured that your child will receive a quality education in New Zealand. Should you need help with a study visa for your child, or your own visas, please do not hesitate to contact us for expert advice and assistance.
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