There are a number of education and care options available to parents with children younger than five years, or even younger than two years. You can enrol your child full-time or part-time in a kindergarten (licensed with qualified teachers), child care centre (licensed, maybe especially themed) or playcentre (may be licensed). Playgroups are community based and without license, home-based care is offered by certain groups and of course private nannies can be hired as well.
Licenced child care providers are regularly assessed by the Ministry of Education.
With few exceptions, all children in New Zealand must attend school between the ages of 5 and 16. Government-funded (state) schools provide for the individual learning styles of children and for different philosophies of education. They are free in general for residents but there are costs involved with school uniforms, books, stationary, camps etc. and most schools expect annual donations and fundraising from parents.
Privately operated schools (which may be partially government funded) are also available at all levels.
The school year lasts until December and has 4 terms with holiday breaks between them. There are 6 weeks of summer holidays between Christmas and end of January or early February.
To avoid overcrowding schools can tighten their enrolment policy. It can be important where you live because this can determine your school options.
The Ministry of Education assesses schools every 3 years and publishes its results.
- Full primary schools educate students from year 1-8 (ages 5 – 12).
- Contributing primary schools (central suburbs) educate students from year 1-6 and lead into one of the intermediate schools (ages 5 – 10).
- Intermediate schools educate students from year 7-8 (ages 11 – 12).
- Secondary schools (colleges and high schools) last from year 7 or 9 to 13. The NCEA (National Certificate of Educational Achievement) examination is taken by students in years 11 to 13 (ages 11 – 17).
- Composite schools have special focus and educate students from year 1-15.
New Zealand’s tertiary (higher) education system includes universities, polytechnics, colleges of education and private training establishments. Each of these institutions provides a high level of tertiary education and internationally recognised degrees and diplomas. The academic year usually starts in February and application forms are available from each tertiary institution.
The most important local polytechnic institution is Northtec with locations all over Northland and international programmes. Auckland University has campuses in Northland for certain studies.
Adult evening education is usually located in schools with a wide and changing range of courses on offer for anyone interested.