EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
New Zealand has a wide range of early childhood services. Many are run by private operators, community church groups and voluntary agencies.
Unlike primary and secondary schools, not all these services automatically receive state funding. As a general rule, state funding is provided only if the service is licensed and has a 'charter' that formally sets out educational policies. Licensing standards are set by the Ministry of Education. Criteria include minimum ratios of staff to children and restrictions on class sizes. The centres are regularly monitored by the Education Review Office (ERO)
The Ministry of Education provides local contacts and advice on the range of early childhood services available. This service is free. Your neighbours, local Citizens Advice Bureau or Plunket (see our Health section) can also be useful sources of information.
The following helpful guides, published by ERO and the Ministry of Education
are available free:
• What Counts as Quality in Early Childhood Centres (ERO)
• Choices in Early Childhood Education
provide early childhood education for children from the age of three to five years. Some have waiting lists – children can be placed on the waiting list from the age of two years.
Children attend either morning or afternoon sessions. Morning sessions are usually held five times a week and afternoon sessions three. Sessions are informal and focus on developing social skills and learning through play. Most kindergartens have two to three trained teachers. However, parents are expected to help out both with class supervision and with fundraising and committee work.
Most kindergartens open from 8:45am to 11:45am and from 12:45pm to 3:30pm. They do not charge fees, but a donation is generally expected.
Education and care centres
Education and care centres offer full-day or sessional (up to four hours a day) care and are open for up to eight or nine hours (between 7:30am and 6:00pm).
Some centres offer care in morning or afternoon sessions. Usually, care is charged on the basis of a weekly or daily fee – an hourly fee applies for casual care. Centres are licensed to take either under two-year-olds, over two-year-olds or a mix of both age groups. This applies to both standard facilities and specialist childcare centres such as those run by Montessori and Rudolph Steiner schools.
are run as parent co-operatives, and parents are closely involved in both running the centre and working with the children during session times. Individual playcentres arrange their own session times with one to 10 sessions per week. Children can attend up to five sessions per week. The fees are set by each centre, and parents run the sessions on a roster. Parents can undertake training for supervising sessions at a playcentre.
This service provides supervised, home-based care for very small groups of children. This is sometimes referred to as family day-care. Care is provided in the local caregiver's home.
Family day-care fees are charged on an hourly rate and the times are flexible – they can include evenings and weekends to help parents who work irregular hours.
Nannies are listed in the Yellow Pages
. A wide range of services is available. Although certification is not required, most nannies are professionally trained.
In special circumstances, the Correspondence School
provides early childhood education for children under the age of six. This is provided in cases where children either live in remote areas, are sick or disabled, do not have a settled address or have special needs.
Pacific Island Early Childhood Centres
There are approximately 70 Pacific Island Early Childhood Centres located throughout New Zealand. Most are attached to community churches or schools. Some centres are free but others charge around $80 a week.
Pacific Island Early Childhood Groups
These groups are more relaxed and informal. They usually require a high level of parent involvement and some may also ask for a small donation. There are about 170 groups across New Zealand. Like the Early Childhood Centres, these are usually located in either community churches or social centres. Many of the groups are open for only three hours a day, a few days a week. Further information is available from the Ministry of Education
These run community-based play programmes for children. Parents are required to supervise their children during sessions. Some playgroups also provide programmes that focus on preserving the language and culture of new migrants. Information on these groups is available from the Ministry of Education.
Children with special needs
In New Zealand, it is against the law for any educational institution to treat a student differently because they have a disability. Services for children and young people with special needs are provided by the Ministry of Education. Its early intervention teams offer family-focused support to young children with developmental needs from birth until they are settled at school. Services are provided by teams with specialist skills.
Local offices of the Special Education Services are listed at the front of The White Pages or freephone 0800 622 222.
Primary and Secondary School Education
FREE UNIVERSAL EDUCATION
Free secular education is available at all state (government-funded) schools.
Schooling is compulsory for all children from their sixth until their sixteenth birthday, although most start on their fifth birthday or soon after. Students can stay at school until the age of 19, or 21 for special education students with disabilities.
Although the Government meets almost all state schooling costs, parents are expected to pay some fees. These include the cost of schoolbooks, stationery, materials for art/trade classes, uniforms and school trips. Fees vary widely depending on individual school requirements.
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 and 2 are often referred to as 'primers' or 'juniors' and Years 3 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 Education guidelines. 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. Some offer single-sex education at secondary level.
Children must be enrolled at primary school by their sixth birthday. However, most attend from age five to the end of Year 6. 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 or 13 through to 17 or 18 (Year 9 to Year 13); students attend secondary school – also known as high school, college or grammar. Usually, students are grouped in classes, but 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 six 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.
Each state and state-integrated school is managed by a Board of Trustees. The Board is elected every three years by parents and includes parent and community representatives, the school principal and a staff representative. Secondary school Boards may also have a student representative. The Board is responsible for both setting and meeting the objectives identified in the school's charter. Management of the school's finances and general administration is also a Board responsibility. All parents can stand for election as Board trustees. Participation in Parent Teacher Associations is also open to all parents.
SCHOOL CURRICULUM AND SUBJECTS
THE NEW ZEALAND CURRICULUM
The New Zealand Curriculum is built around the acquisition of essential academic and practical skills. It identifies seven academic or 'essential learning' areas:
health and physical well-being.
These are balanced by eight practical or 'essential skills':
self-management and competitive skills
social and co-operative skills
work and study skills.
Each term, most schools prepare student Progress Reports and hold parent-teacher evenings.
SUBJECTS TAUGHT AT NEW ZEALAND SCHOOLS
The following is a general list of subjects taught in New Zealand schools. Not all schools offer all the subjects listed and others may offer additional disciplines. Some subjects are compulsory.
Primary school subjects:
Secondary school subjects
Agriculture and horticulture
Graphics and design
Maori language (te reo maori)
Textiles, clothing and design
Typing/text and information management
SCHOOL TERMS / SEMESTERS
The school year begins in late January or early February, after a summer holiday of about six weeks, and ends in December. It is divided into four terms with breaks of two to three weeks between them. Secondary school students have slightly longer holidays than primary school students.
Check with your local school for actual term dates. The terms usually run as follows:
Term 1: End of January to early April
Term 2: Late April to end of June
Term 3: Mid-July to late September
Term 4: Mid-October to mid-December (or early December for secondary schools).
CHOOSING A SCHOOL
Most New Zealand students attend state-funded schools. Every student has the right to enrol at the state school nearest to their home. If the school is at risk of overcrowding, it can set a 'home zone' that is geographically defined. Students living in this zone have the right to go to that school. Those living outside the zone can be enrolled only under special circumstances. These include situations where students have brothers or sisters attending the school or require access to special programmes such as special education or Maori language. If the school is still at risk of overcrowding, selection is made through a supervised ballot.
Education Review Office (ERO) reports are available at no charge from schools and ERO offices.
Families also have the right to visit schools and meet with the principal and staff before deciding to enrol their children as students
State schools are fully funded by the Government. At primary and intermediate level they are co-educational with classes that include both boys and girls. Both co-educational and single-sex schooling is available at secondary level.
State schools do not charge fees. However, parents are expected to make donations towards the support of special programmes or services. There are also charges for stationery and uniforms. Meals are not provided. Snacks can generally be purchased from the school Tuck Shop, but many parents prefer to provide a packed lunch.
The term 'integrated schools' generally refers to schools with a religious focus – usually Roman Catholic in denomination – that used to operate as private institutions. In recent years, these schools have been integrated into the state system – hence the name 'integrated schools' – and receive government funding. Although they follow the state curriculum requirements, all have retained their special religious or philosophical character. A small number of institutions, such as Montessori or Rudolf Steiner schools, are secular in character.
Private or independent schools receive only limited government funding and are almost entirely dependent on income derived from student fees. There are no standard fees as each school determines its own fee scale. Fees also vary according to levels, with fees in Years 12 and 13 usually significantly higher than those charged in Years 9 and 10. Fees at primary school also vary according to level, although these are generally much lower than secondary school fees. Private schools are governed by their own independent boards but must meet government standards in order to be registered. They are also subject to the same ERO audits as state schools.
Boarding schools exist mainly at secondary school level. There are currently a total of 96 boarding schools operating in the state, integrated and private sectors.
THE CORRESPONDENCE SCHOOL
The Correspondence School teaches a full range of school-level courses.
Home-based schooling must meet the same standards as registered schools, and approval to exempt the student from regular schooling must be obtained from the Ministry of Education. A small annual grant is available for teaching materials. Home schooling accounts for less than 1% of school enrolments.
EDUCATION FOR CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
Wherever possible, children with special education needs are enrolled with other children in ordinary classes. As in the case of early childhood education, a range of specialist support services is available. Residential special schools also provide teaching and live-in care for children with major difficulties. Children with sight or hearing disabilities may attend either their local school or specialist residential schools.
If you plan to change schools, the principal of your child's current school should be informed as soon as possible. Transfers involving a change in the level of schooling – such as from primary to intermediate or intermediate to secondary – require additional documentation. Details of application procedures for the school the student plans to transfer to are usually given to students in Years 3 and 8 while they are still at their current school. Most intermediate and secondary schools have open days.
Parents or guardians are legally responsible for making sure children are enrolled at, and regularly attend, school between the ages of six and 16 years.
If a child cannot go to school on a particular day, the school should be advised by 9:00am. Most schools have a special phone number, or absence line, for reporting absences. Children may be excused from school for such standard things as medical and dental appointments and for special family reasons. Parents or guardians may also request that a child be excused from religious or sex education classes.
Most schools require students to wear a uniform unless the school has an optional uniform policy. School uniforms are sold by most major department stores. Some schools also operate their own Uniform Shops and sell both new and second-hand items.
Teachers are not allowed to physically punish students in their care. Legal disciplinary methods include removal of privileges, extra homework or detention. Parents or guardians are advised in advance if a child is given detention, as this will require the child to stay at school for a specified time after the end of the standard school day.
For serious offences, students may be suspended from school for a period of time. If they are over 16, they can be expelled permanently. Expulsion generally occurs when a student's conduct either sets a dangerous example to other students or threatens their safety. There are formal procedures for suspending or expelling a student.
Most secondary and primary schools expect students to do homework. Each school has its own rules on the amount and type of homework.
Parents or guardians are responsible for ensuring that a child can get to school. Each year, about 100,000 children use school buses. Although school bus services are contracted by the Ministry of Education, students are expected to meet the cost of fares. If a child has to travel a long distance to school, and there is no public transport or school bus service, financial assistance can be provided. Financial assistance and/or bus and taxi services are provided for special education students.
NZ Qualification System
NATIONAL CERTIFICATE OF EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT (NCEA)
New Zealand's qualifications system is standards based. The NCEA is made up of credits that are awarded for meeting pre-defined standards (called achievement standards) in each subject area, along with industry-related unit standards.
For each subject, separate standards are given for different skills and knowledge within the subject. For example, in English there will be separate standards for speaking, reading, writing and research.
Industry-related unit standards are internally assessed. Students can use unit standards as credits toward an NCEA. No grades or marks are given for unit standards. Credit is simply given if the standard is achieved.
About 60% of the achievement standards are assessed externally (end-of-year examinations marked by teachers outside the school); the rest are assessed internally (assessments within the school).
To gain a National Certificate of Educational Achievement you must earn 80 credits with at least 60 from the relevant Level. For example, to get Level 2, you will need 60 credits at Level 2, and the rest from any Level.
NCEA LEVEL 1
This equates to Year 11 (5th Form). Comparable overseas qualifications include:
the British GCSE at grades A to E
the British 'O' Level (now available outside Britain only)
the Canadian or United States Grade 10
In different Australian states: Year 10 Awards, School Certificate, Junior Certificate, Achievement Certificate.
NCEA LEVEL 2
This equates to Year 12 (6th Form). Comparable overseas qualifications include Canadian or United States Grade 11.
NCEA LEVEL 3
This equates to Year 13 (7th Form). Comparable overseas qualifications are:
the British ‘A’ Levels and GCSE
The Australian Year 12 Awards.
University entrance can be gained by meeting a standard established by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority.
NEW ZEALAND SCHOLARSHIP
Secondary school students also have the opportunity to gain an additional (Level 4) qualification called New Zealand Scholarship. Although a higher level of analysis is required, the subject matter assessed for New Zealand Scholarship is the same as that covered for Level 3 NCEA. Students enter external scholarship assessments in addition to those required for a Level 3 qualification. It is expected that New Zealand Scholarship candidates will have completed a full year of Level 3 studies at secondary school.
New Zealand has eight universities. All offer general undergraduate and graduate degrees and diplomas in arts, sciences and commerce, as well as specialist degrees in particular disciplines. Undergraduate degrees such as a BA (Bachelor of Arts) or a BSc (Bachelor of Science) usually take three years to complete. Vocational or professional training may take longer.
Each university publishes an annual Calendar detailing the terms, entry requirements, fees and courses scheduled for the academic year. This information is also made available on university websites.
Term dates and fees vary between universities. The reference sections of most public libraries hold copies of the latest Calendars. These can also be purchased from leading booksellers and university bookshops.
All university students must be able to speak English and some universities have a set level of competency.
UNIVERSITY GUIDE: SPECIALIST SUBJECTS
The University of Auckland
Auckland University of Technology
The University of Waikato
(Palmerston North, Wellington and Auckland)
Agriculture & Horticulture
Massey is the only New Zealand University that offers extramural courses (distance learning) in a wide range of subjects.
The University of Canterbury
Agriculture & Horticulture
Natural Resource Management
The University of Otago
Medical Laboratory Science
New Zealand has 20 polytechnics and institutes of technology offering a wide range of academic, vocational and professional courses. As well as three- and four-year degrees, polytechnics also offer short full-time and part-time courses. These courses are scheduled throughout the year. Each polytechnic publishes an annual Prospectus detailing the courses scheduled during the academic year. Fees and entry requirements are also included in the Prospectus.
INDUSTRY TRAINING ORGANISATIONS (ITOs)
These organisations provide on-the-job training in many industries. Industry Training concentrates on workplace learning that raises skills and provides nationally recognised qualifications. Workplace learning can be on-job, off-job by a registered training provider, or a combination of both. There are 41Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) around the country, established by particular industries or groups of industries. Industry training is also a useful way of gaining New Zealand experience by up skilling in your chosen trade. For more information, visit The Industry Training Federation (ITF).
COLLEGES OF EDUCATION / TEACHER TRAINING COLLEGES
In New Zealand, a recent trend has seen colleges of education (or 'teacher training colleges') merge with universities in their respective areas. Auckland, Waikato, Massey and Victoria Universities already offer teacher training and Christchurch and Dunedin Colleges of Education are both discussing the possibility of mergers in the future. A number of polytechnics and private training establishments also run teaching courses, but not a comprehensive range of teacher training programmes.
PRIVATE TRAINING ESTABLISHMENTS
There are several thousand private training establishments in New Zealand offering a wide range of courses, although most tend to specialise in particular subjects. Over 900 are registered with the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) and a small number offer degrees. About a quarter are Maori owned and operated.
Entrance Requirements – Tertiary Education
NCEA is the entry standard for university. To gain entry, students must have achieved at least 42 credits at Level 3. They must have 14 credits in Mathematics at Level 1 or higher, and eight in English or Te Reo Maori (four in Reading, four in Writing). Students must also have 14 credits at Level 3 or higher in each of two approved subjects and another 14 credits from no more than two other subjects. Many universities require students to submit a recommendation from their school principal. Some also require students to write a letter outlining their reasons for undertaking university study. Formal requirements for university entrance are waived once you are 20 years old. Admittance to some courses is keenly competitive. In these cases, only those students with strong academic records are enrolled.
Polytechnics and Colleges of Education
Entry requirements for polytechnics and colleges of education vary, depending on the course. Some have no pre-requisites, for others you may need to have done several years at secondary school or an appropriate entry level polytechnic course.
Students who have not been educated in the New Zealand school system may still undertake tertiary studies. Each university, polytechnic and college of education has its own entry requirements for students educated overseas.
English language requirements
Most tertiary institutions require evidence of competency in both spoken and written English. Requirements vary but universities generally ask for at least IELTS Level 6.0 or a score of 550 on the paper-based TOEFL examination.
Tertiary institutions generally begin their academic year in February. Closing dates for applications vary. For courses starting in February, it is advisable to apply by September of the previous year. This is particularly so with the more popular courses. Half-year courses run by polytechnics generally begin in July and, as in the case of universities, early enrolment is advisable for popular courses. Application forms are available directly from each individual institution. An application fee of up to NZ$150 applies in some cases. Certified translations should be provided for all educational certificates in any language other than English.
Student allowances are available for New Zealand born students (or holders of Permanent Residence*) aged 18 years and over who are studying in recognised full-time tertiary courses. The allowance is income-tested, and how much a student receives depends on individual circumstances. Allowances are managed by Study Link. (freephone 0800 88 99 00).Considerations include:
whether or not the student lives at home
whether or not the student has dependent children
other sources of income, such as wages earned by the student's spouse.
If the student is single and under 25, parental income is taken into account.
Students who are not citizens must have:
held a New Zealand permanent residence for two years, and
lived in New Zealand for two years before they can access a student allowance.
FEES AND STUDENT LOANS
The Government funds state tertiary institutions and meets most, but not all, of the costs of providing tuition. Currently, students contribute about 30% of the cost of a course. Costs vary depending on the type and level of courses taken. For example, the first year of full-time study for an Arts degree may cost about $3,000, while fees for the final year's training as a doctor or dentist can be as much as $10,000.
Student loans are available to meet these costs. All students – even those receiving student allowances – can apply for a government-funded student loan. While students are studying full-time, the loans are interest-free. When students have completed their studies, repayments are made through Inland Revenue. These are income-related. Repayment rates are currently 10% of everything earned over $16,588 in any one year, or $319 per week before tax. (For further information, see Study Link: Student Loans)
Currently, students can borrow the following under the loan scheme:
the full cost of course fees
up to $1,000 a year for course-related expenses
up to $150 a week for living expenses for the length of the course, less any student allowances.
(This provision applies only to full-time students.)
Student’s enrolled at most public tertiary institutions become members of student associations. Fees range from $50 to $500 a year. Student associations provide a range of services and facilities that differ between institutions. They also represent students' interests on the institution's decision-making bodies.
OTHER STUDENT SUPPORT SYSTEMS
The range of other support systems available to tertiary students and trainees includes:
course and career advice in schools and other education institutions
scholarships funded from public and private sources
counselling and other student services (such as accommodation and recreation)
courses that allow disadvantaged students to meet entry requirements and learning support for students throughout their degree.
Distance Learning & English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)
Massey University and The Open Polytechnic offer certificate, diploma and degree courses by correspondence.
ENGLISH FOR SPEAKERS OF OTHER LANGUAGES (ESOL)
Adult education courses
These range from courses for beginners, to advanced courses in Business English, and are available at most polytechnics and universities. The Correspondence School also offers a range of ESOL courses.
Secondary school courses
Most schools offer ESOL tuition for non-English speaking students. As with tertiary courses, assistance is also available through the Correspondence School and a wide range of private English language schools.
ESOL home tutors
A national network of volunteer home tutors also offers free elementary ESOL tuition for new migrants. The volunteer tutors visit homes and provide adults unable to attend formal language classes with individual tuition.
ENGLISH FOR MIGRANTS (PRE-PAID ESOL)
Some migrants pay Immigration New Zealand for English language tuition before they arrive in New Zealand. This is often referred to as "pre-paid ESOL". The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) then works with migrants to manage their English language tuition when they arrive. The TEC publishes regional directories of ESOL providers. Migrants can enrol with any of these course providers. It is a good idea to also visit the college or institution you plan to study at before enrolling. The cost of English language tuition varies according to the type and length of the ESOL course.
For regional directories of ESOL course providers, visit Tertiary Education Commission.
GOVERNMENT SITES / FREEPHONES
Ministry of Education
Advice on early childhood services.
A portal to online information about education in New Zealand.
Education Review Office
Provides quality assessments of schools and pre-schools.
Tertiary Education Commission
Comprehensive guide to vocational training courses and apprenticeships across all industries. Also information on ESOL courses for migrants.
Freephone: 0800 832 463 (0800 TEC INFO)
Details of student allowances and loan schemes.
Freephone: 0800 TEC INFO (832 463)
Information on becoming a teacher in New Zealand.
Freephone: 0800 832 246 (0800 TEACHNZ)
INDUSTRY TRAINING FEDERATION
The Industry Training Federation (ITF) is a membership-based organisation, representing Industry Training Organisations (ITOs). Comprehensive links to specific industry training organisations (i.e. motor industry, building and construction, and apparels and textile industries, etc) can be found on their website.
ASSOCIATIONS OF SCHOOLS
New Zealand Educational Administration and Leadership Society
Information on tertiary education in New Zealand and links and contact details for polytechnics and institutes of technology.
New Zealand Boarding Schools' Association
Independent Schools of New Zealand
Information on 43 independent (private) schools.
The Independent Tertiary Education New Zealand
The former New Zealand Association of Private Education Providers.
Freephone: 0800 692 737 (0800 NZAPEP)
New Zealand Kindergartens Incorporated
New Zealand Playcentre Federation
The Open Polytechnic
Specialises in distance learning at tertiary level.
COLLEGES OF EDUCATION
Christchurch College of Education
Freephone: 0800 265 534 (0800 COLLEGE)
Dunedin College of Education
Freephone: 0800 868 322 (0800 TO TEACH)
The University of Auckland
Freephone: 0800 61 62 63
Auckland University of Technology
Freephone: 0800 367 2888
The University of Canterbury
Freephone: 0800 827 748 (0800 VARSITY)
Freephone: 0800 10 60 10
Freephone: 0800 627 739 (0800 MASSEY)
The University of Otago
Freephone: 0800 80 80 98
Victoria University of Wellington
Freephone: 0800 842 864 (0800 VIC UNI)
The University of Waikato
Freephone: 0800 924 528 (0800 WAIKATO)
GETTING HELP WITH SPEAKING ENGLISH
If you need help in learning English, your local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) is a good place to start. CAB staff are trained in assisting new migrants and will be able to refer you to local ESOL training organisations, colleges and schools that can provide the type of tuition you require. Local CAB offices are listed under CITIZENS ADVICE BUREAU (INC) in The White Pages.
Tertiary Education Commission
The Tertiary Education Commission also publishes an English for Migrants Course Directory. You can obtain this by calling free on: 0800 832 463 (0800 TEC INFO).
Provides ESOL correspondence courses at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels.
Freephone: 0800 659 988
EDUCATION IN NEW ZEALAND
Correspondence courses at all levels.
Freephone: 0800 659 988
Information on New Zealand's education system – pre-school to adult education.
New Zealand Educated
Information for overseas students wanting to study here. Search by region and subject.