New Zealand is a great place to bring up your children. If you are coming to New Zealand on a work visa your dependent child is considered to be a domestic student and is entitled to attend state-funded primary and secondary (high) schools. Children start school on their fifth birthday.
By contrast, state funding is not available to students from overseas at tertiary (university) level, unless the parent has applied for and been granted permanent residency. Tertiary students whose parents are here on a work visa must pay the full international student fees.
The Education Review Office (ERO) is the government department which reviews and reports publicly on the quality of education in all New Zealand schools and early childhood centres.
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. State funding is generally only provided if the service is licensed to Ministry of Education standards and has a charter that formally sets out educational policies.
The Ministry of Education provides local contacts and advice on the range of early childhood services available. This service is free. Kindergarten and childcare groups are a great way for your child and partner to make friends in New Zealand.
Primary and Secondary (High) schooling
New Zealand has a four-term school year starting in early February and ending in December with the longest school holiday over the Christmas holiday period, usually from mid-December until the start of February. The school day is typically from 8.55am until 3.00pm. The other school holidays are two weeks in duration, with the exception of privately run schools which tend to have both longer school holidays, and a longer school day (often 8.30am until 3.30pm).
New Zealand school children bring their own lunches to school although many schools have the option for purchasing lunch orders and some have a canteen. There is no Saturday schooling; most New Zealand school children are involved in a team sport on Saturdays.
State schools are fully funded by Government and do not charge fees. However parents are expected to make donations toward the support of special programmes or services. These donations typically range from NZ$60 a year to NZ$500 a year. Additional charges are incurred for stationery and uniform. Meals are not provided and students bring a packed lunch.
Most New Zealand students attend state schools which are co-educational at primary and intermediate levels. Both co-educational and single-sex schooling is available at secondary level.
This term generally refers to schools, usually with a religious focus, which in the past operated as private institutions. More recently these have been integrated into the state system. Although they follow the state curriculum requirements, most have retained their special character. Many of these schools are Roman Catholic in denomination. Montessori or Rudolf Steiner schools are available in some areas of New Zealand.
Private or Independent schools
Private or independent schools receive only limited Government funding and are almost entirely dependent on income derived from student fees, with each school determining its own fee scale. Fees also vary according to levels, with fees in Years 12 and 13 usually significantly higher than those charged at earlier levels. Broadly fees are charged at NZ$1000 to NZ$2000 per term (four-term year) for day students. They tend to be single-sex schools at most levels.
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.
These exist mainly at secondary school level and often serve rural areas. Currently, 81 state and integrated schools and 22 private schools have boarding arrangements.
New Zealand offers a large range of tertiary or post-compulsory education and training. This is available through universities (including two medical schools), polytechnics, and colleges of education, wananga, private training establishments, foundation education agencies, industry organisations and adult and community providers. Tertiary education facilities can be accessed from most rural locations and there are also opportunities for learning by correspondence.