primary & secondary
Schooling is compulsory in New
Zealand for all children from their sixth until sixteenth
birthday although most start on their fifth birthday or soon
Schooling is free at state (government funded) schools until the
age of 19, or 21 for special education students with
disabilities. Parents are, however, expected to meet some minor
costs, including the cost of school books, stationary and
uniforms. Costs vary widely depending on individual school
The school day usually begins about 9.00am and finishes about
3.00pm (the secondary school day ends around 3.30pm). There is
generally a short break in the morning, about an hour for lunch
and sometimes, a short afternoon break.
Students are classified in year levels, beginning at Year
1 and moving up one class each year to the final Year
13. Years 1 to 3 are often referred to as
primers or juniors and Years 4 to 6 as
standards. Years 7 and 8 are known as forms 1
and 2 and Years 9 to 13 as forms 3 to 7.
Class sizes are set by the school in accordance with Ministry of
Some junior classes may include children of different ages and
year levels in the same classroom; these are called composite classes.
Students 16 years and over may choose not to finish their
secondary education and leave in Year 11 or 12. By contrast,
students can also attend school until the end of the year in
which they reach 19 years of age if they choose.
State schools are co-educational at primary and intermediate
level but some offer single-sex education at secondary level.
Children must be enrolled at primary school by their
sixth birthday. However, most attend from age 5 to the end of
their sixth year of schooling. Many schools have waiting lists
and it is consequently advisable to pre-enrol children before
their fifth birthday.
Depending on local options, children in their seventh and eighth
years either continue to attend primary school or move to a
separate intermediate school. Intermediate schools operate only
in urban areas.
From age 12 to 13 through to 17 or 18 (Year 9 to Year
13), students attend secondary school - also known as high
school, college or grammar. Students are usually grouped in
classes, but generally have different teachers and go to
different classrooms for each subject. Some secondary schools
enrol students early and it is advisable to contact schools at
least 6 months before the official enrolment date.
Also known as composite schools, these usually operate
in rural areas and combine primary, intermediate and secondary
schooling in one location.