New Zealand’s education system

Education in New Zealand 

New Zealand’s education system has 3 levels and reflects NZ unique and diverse society.

New Zealand’s education system has 3 levels:

  • early childhood education – from birth to school entry age
  • primary and secondary schools – from 5 to 19 years of age (school is compulsory from 6 to 16 years of age)
  • further education – higher and vocational education.

New Zealand’s education system reflects NZ values. New Zealand welcomes different abilities, religious beliefs, ethnic groups, income levels and ideas about teaching and learning. New Zealand has processes in place to give students consistent, high-quality education at all levels.

Primary and secondary schools

Primary and secondary schools are the second level of education. Schooling is compulsory from age 6 to 16. Children can start school on the day they turn 5 years old (they do not have to wait until the start of a new school year). Most children stay at school until they are around 17.

The education system for schools is made up of 13 year levels. Children primary education starts at Year 1 and goes to Year 8 (around 5 to 12 years of age). Children secondary education goes from Year 9 to Year 13 (around 13 to 17 years of age).

Further education

Further education includes higher and vocational education. Courses range from programmes to help students into work, to certificates and diplomas, to postgraduate study and research. Full and part time distance learning options are also available from some further education providers.

The government partially funds state further education providers. Students pay about 30% of the cost of their courses. New Zealand students can borrow a loan from the government to pay for their courses until they are earning. Further education providers can be state or privately owned.