Primary and Secondary Education

All New Zealand citizens, and those entitled to live in New Zealand indefinitely, are entitled to free primary and secondary schooling from their 5th birthday until the end of the calendar year following their 19th birthday. Education is compulsory between a student's 6th and 16th birthdays; however most students start primary school on (or shortly after) their 5th birthday, and the vast majority (around 82%) stay in school until at least their 17th birthday. In some special cases, 15-year-olds can apply for an early leaving exemption from the Ministry of Education (MOE). Families wishing to home-school their children can apply for exemption. To get an exemption from enrolment at a registered school, they must satisfy the Secretary of Education that their child will be taught "as regularly and as well as in a registered school".

A 2008 proposal by the New Zealand Government, called Schools Plus, would see students required to remain in some form of education until age 18. Disabled students with special educational needs can stay until the end of the calendar year they turn 21.

There are three main types of schools in New Zealand: state (public) schools, state-integrated schools, and private (independent) schools. State schools educate approximately 84.9% of students, state-integrated schools educate 11.3%, and private schools educate 3.6%. There are two additional types of schools: Vote Education schools funded directly out of the education budget, and charter schools (or partnership schools) which are state funded but privately run. These schools however educate only 0.1% of all students.

Years of schooling
Between 2000 and 2007, most New Zealand schools moved towards designating school class levels based on the years of schooling of the student cohort. The introduction of NCEA in the early 2000s, computerised enrolment and school roll return guideline changes, amongst others, have been drivers for this change. Before this, a system of Forms, Standards and Juniors or Primers was used. Although those older terms are no longer used for most school administration they still appear in education legislation, at some (mainly independent) schools, and in talk with older generations, who often prefer to use the terms they are more familiar with. However, one should ask today's students "Which year are you in?" rather than "Which form are you in?", as many will confuse "form" with form class. Auckland Grammar School is one of the last remaining schools to use the old system everyday.

There are 13 academic year levels, numbered 1 through to 13. Students turning five enter at Year 1 if they begin school at the beginning of the school year or before the cut-off date (31 March in legislation, later for most schools). Students who turn five late in the year might stay in Year 1 for the next school year depending on their academic progress. The Ministry of Education draws a distinction between academic and funding year levels, the latter being based on when a student first starts school--students first starting school after July, so do not appear on the July roll returns, so are classified as being in Funding Year 0 that year, so they are recorded as being in Year 1 on the next year's roll returns. Students in Years 7 and 8 may attend an Intermediate School or a conjoined Primary school (Years 1-8) which provides a transition from primary schooling to secondary schooling. The last year of primary schooling is Year 8, and students must vacate Year 8 by the end of the school year after their 14th birthday (although most students are 12-13 when they transition to secondary school). The first year of secondary education is Year 9. The Ministry of Education requires that a student's funding year and academic year are aligned in years 7, 8, and 9, irrespective of when they first started school. Students who do not achieve sufficient credits in NCEA may or may not repeat Year 11, 12 or 13, while attempting to attain credits not achieved in NCEA--repeating a year often depends on what credit have been attained and what NCEA levels the majority of study is at. Year 13 is seen as the traditional end of secondary school, with an extra funding year available for students who choose to remain after Year 13.

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.

ear Age on March 31 Old system School type
1 5 Junior 1/Primer 1 Full Primary School Contributing Primary School Composite school
2 6 Junior 2/Primer 2
3 7 Standard 1
4 8 Standard 2
5 9 Standard 3
6 10 Standard 4
7 11 Form 1/Standard 5 Intermediate school Year 7-13 secondary school /
Secondary school with intermediate
8 12 Form 2/Standard 6
9 13 Form 3 Secondary school
10 14 Form 4
11 15 Form 5
12 16 Form 6
13 17 Form 7

Curriculum and qualifications
All state and state integrated schools follow the national curriculum: The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) for English-medium schools and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa (TMoA) for Māori-medium schools. Private schools do not need to follow the national curriculum, but must have a curriculum that is at least equivalent to NZC or TMoA.
The New Zealand Curriculum has eight levels, numbered 1 to 8, and eight major learning areas: English, the arts, health and physical education, learning languages, mathematics and statistics, science, social sciences, and technology. Te Marautanga o Aotearoa includes a ninth learning area, Māori language.

The main secondary school qualification in New Zealand is the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA), which is offered in all state and state-integrated schools. Some schools offer Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) or the International Baccalaureate (IB) alongside NCEA.

Types of school by funding
State schools

State schools are government funded and operated, and are free to New Zealand citizens and permanent residents. Students and parents however are expected to pay for stationery, uniforms, textbooks and school trips. Schools may ask for donations to supplement their government operational funding. While it is completely voluntary to pay the donation, some schools have been reported coercing parents into paying the donation by withholding school reports and not allowing students on trips for non-payment; Some schools, especially those in affluent areas, request donations in excess of $1000 per year. Each state school is governed by an elected Board of Trustees, consisting of the school principal, a number of trustees (usually 5) elected by the parents of the students, one staff trustee elected by the school staff, and in secondary schools, one student trustee elected by the students. State schools follow the national curriculum, and are required to remain secular.

State-integrated schools
State-integrated schools are former private schools which have chosen to integrate into the state education system, becoming state schools but retaining their special character. They were established in 1975 after the near-collapse of the then private Catholic school system, which had run into financial difficulties and threatened to overwhelm the state school system were they to close. The majority of state-integrated schools are Catholic, but other Christian denominations, religions and educational philosophies are also represented. The private school owners stay on as proprietors, and sit on the school's board of trustees to ensure the special character is maintained. State-integrated schools charge "attendance dues" to parents to cover the costs of the still privately owned land and buildings, and to pay off any debts accrued by the school prior to integration. Typical attendance dues range between $240 and $740 per year for Catholic schools, and between $1,150 and $2,300 per year for non-Catholic state-integrated schools.

Private schools
Private schools receive a small amount of government funding, but nearly all of them rely on tuition fees paid by students' parents to operate.

Alternative schooling
Charter schools are state funded schools which operate outside of the normal state system. They began in 2014 with 5 small schools. Charter schools do not have to operate with any registered or trained teachers. Teachers do not have to have current practicing certificates. They do not have to have a principal. They are allowed to benefit from profit making. They do not have to follow the national curriculum. They receive approximately 3 times the level of funding per student than normal state schools. If the charter school roll drops during the year, the school keeps the extra funding, unlike normal state schools, where funding is matched to students actually attending. If a charter school fails the management/owners are allowed to keep the land and buildings and other capital assets. Charter schools have less compliance with regulations than State schools although teachers must undergo police vetting.
Parents may home-school their own children, if they can prove that their child will be "taught at least as regularly and as well as in a registered school", and receive an annual grant to help with costs, including services from The Correspondence School. The percentage of children home-schooled is well under 2% even in the Nelson region, the area where the concept is most popular, but there are many quantify local and national support-groups.

Types of schools by years
While there is overlap in some schools, primary school traditionally runs from Year 1 to Year 8 and secondary school from Year 9 to Year 13. Depending on the area, Years 7 and 8 may be taken either at a 'full' primary school (in contrast to a Year 1-6 'contributing' primary school), a separate intermediate school, or at a Year 7-13 secondary school. Schools catering for both primary school and secondary school students (Years 1 to 13) are common among private schools, and also state schools in areas where the population does not justify separate primary and secondary schools (the latter are termed 'area schools').

The main six types of schools are:
Contributing Primary school: Years 1-6 (ages 5-11). There are no private contributing primaries.
Full Primary school: Years 1-8 (ages 5-13). Common among integrated and private schools.
Intermediate school: Years 7-8 (ages 10-13). Only two non-state intermediate schools exist.
Secondary school: Years 9-13 (ages 12-18).
Year 7-13 secondary school or Secondary school with intermediate: Years 7-13 (ages 10-18). Common among integrated and private schools, and state schools in Invercargill and South Island provincial areas.
Composite school or Area school: Years 1-13 (ages 5-18). Common among integrated and private schools.
There are some schools that fall outside the traditional year groupings. All of the following types of schools are rare, with less than ten of each type existing.
Middle School: Years 7-10 (ages 10-15). Only six exist
Senior School: Years 11-13 (ages 14-18). Only two exist (Albany Senior High School and Ormiston Senior College, both in Auckland)
In addition, there are three other types of schools defined by the Ministry of Education:
Correspondence school: Preschool - Year 13 (Preschool - age 19). Serves distance education, for those in remote areas or for individual subjects not offered by a school. The only school of this type is the national correspondence school: Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu.
Special school: Preschool - age 21. Serves special education to those with intellectual impairments, visual or hearing impairments, or learning and social difficulties, who receive Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) funding.
Teen parent unit: Years 9-15 (age 12-19). Serves teenage parents in continuing secondary school education. They are under the jurisdiction of a hosting secondary school, but are largely autonomous.

Types of school by function
Normal schools -- designated as major practicum sites for trainee teachers
Model schools

State school enrolment schemes
Geographically based state school enrolment schemes were abolished in 1991 by the Fourth National Government and the Education Amendment Act 1991. Although this greatly opened up the choice of schools for students, it had undesirable consequences. Popular high-decile schools experienced large roll growths, while less popular low-decile school experienced roll declines. Schools could operate a roll limit if there was a risk of overcrowding, but enrolments under this scheme were on a "first come, first served" basis, potentially excluding local students.

The Education Amendment Act 2000, enacted by the Fifth Labour Government, partially solved this problem by putting 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 past students; children of board employees and staff; all other students. If there are more applications than available places then selection must be through a randomly drawn ballot. The system is complicated by some state schools having boarding facilities for students living beyond the school's zone. Typically these students live in isolated farming regions in New Zealand, or their parents may live or work partly overseas. Many secondary schools offer limited scholarships to their boarding establishment to attract talented students in imitation of private school practice.

As of September 2010, 700 of New Zealand's 2550 primary and secondary schools operate an enrolment scheme, while the remaining 1850 schools are "open enrolment", meaning any student can enrol in the school without rejection. Enrolment schemes mostly exist in major towns and cities where school density is high and school choice is active; they rarely exist for primary schools in rural areas and secondary schools outside the major towns and cities, where school density is low and school choice is limited by the distance to the nearest alternative school.

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 although it does allow all students living in the community to have entry, as of right, regardless of their academic or social profile. In addition, there is evidence that property values surrounding some more desirable schools become inflated, thus restricting the ability of lower socio-economic groups to purchase a house in the zone, though this is off set by the fact that students are accepted from rental accommodation or from homes where they are boarding with a bona fide relative or friend living in the zone. Some parents have purposely flouted zone boundaries by giving false addresses, such as that of a business they own in the zone, or by renting homes in the zone only through the enrolment process and moving out before the student commences school. Schools are now requesting rates invoices, tenancy agreements, or power and telephone bills from parents to prove their residential address, Some schools have gone as far as requiring parents to make a statutory declaration before a Justice of the Peace or similar that they live in the school zone, which makes it impossible for a parent to cheat the zone without also committing a criminal offence (making a false statutory declaration is punishable by up to three years' imprisonment).

Māori Language in Education
While English is the dominant language of education throughout New Zealand, this was not always the case, and in recent years there have been ongoing efforts to raise the availability of Māori language education in New Zealand as one of New Zealand's three official languages.

Prior to the arrival of the first European settlers in what would become New Zealand, traditional educational systems in Māori society (a ritual transfer of knowledge for most Māori, and the more formal whare wānanga--"house of learning"--model primarily for those of chiefly lineage) were naturally conducted through the medium of the Māori language.

In 1816, the first mission school was opened to teach the Māori in the Bay of Islands. Here too, instruction was conducted primarily in the Māori language. Though English-medium education would have also been available for children of European settlers from nearly their first arrival, ethnic Māori continued to learn primarily through the medium of the Māori language for many years. It was not until the Native Schools Act was passed in 1867 that a systematic government preference was articulated for the English language as a medium of instruction for Māori children. And even with the passage of the act, the English-language provision was not rigorously enforced until 1900.

Starting in 1903, a government policy to discourage, and even punish, the use of the Māori language in playgrounds was enacted. In the early 1930s the director of Education blocked an initiative by the New Zealand Federation of Teachers to have the Māori language added to the curriculum. Though not the only factor, the ban on the Māori language in education contributed to the widespread loss of Māori-language ability. By 1960 the number of Māori who could speak the language had fallen to 25% from 95% in 1900.

Focus on falling Māori academic achievement in the 1960s coupled with the loss of the language, led to heavy lobbying by Ngā Tamatoa and the Te Reo Māori Society in the 1970s for the introduction of the language into the schools. This was accompanied by the establishment of Māori Studies programs in each of the Teacher Colleges by 1973. The 1980s then marked a pivotal decade in the revival of Māori-medium education, with the establishment of the first kōhanga reo ("language nest" - essentially a total immersion Māori-medium pre-school and kindergarten) in 1981, the first kura kaupapa (established at Hoani Waititi Marae, West Auckland) in 1985, a finding by the Waitangi Tribunal the Māori language is guaranteed protection under Article II of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1986, and the passage of the Māori Language Act in 1987, recognizing Māori as an official language.

Under New Zealand's current education laws, Māori language education is available in many locations throughout the country, both as a subject in a normal English-medium school as well as through immersion in a Māori-medium school set up under Section 155 (s155) or Section 156 (s156) of the Education Act 1990. The full immersion schools are commonly referred to as Kura Kaupapa Māori. Though enrollment numbers in Māori language programs have remained relatively stable in the last 5 years, both the raw total as well as the percentage of students enrolled have fallen since a high mark set in 2004. The decrease has primarily been among ethnic Māori themselves.

The definitions provided by the New Zealand Ministry of Education are as follows:
Māori Medium: Māori Medium includes students who are taught the curriculum in the Māori language for at least 51 percent of the time (Māori Language Immersion levels 1-2).
Māori Language in English Medium: Māori Language in English Medium includes students who are learning the Māori language as a language subject, or who are taught the curriculum in the Māori language for up to 50 percent of the time (Māori Language Immersion levels 3-5).
No Māori Language in Education: No Māori Language in Education includes those students who are only introduced to the Māori language via Taha Māori, i.e. simple words, greetings or songs in Māori (Māori Immersion Level 6), and students who are not involved in Māori language education at any level.

Māori Medium Māori Language in English Medium No Māori Language in Education Total Enrollment July 2012 % Enrolled Change from July 2004 Enrollment July 2012 % Enrolled Change from July 2004 Enrollment July 2012 % Enrolled Change from July 2004 Enrollment July 2012 Māori students Non-Māori students All students
16,353 9.45% -7.26% 52,655 30.43% -5.81% 104,003 60.11% 19.27% 173,011
439 0.07% 43.00% 88,290 15.04% -4.24% 498,220 84.88% -2.58% 586,949
16,792 2.21% -6.40% 140,945 18.55% -4.83% 602,223 79.24% 0.60% 759,960