> Login
forgot your password?

Secondary Education / High Schools in New Zealand

Secondary schools in New Zealand will assess each student’s English and academic levels on arrival in New Zealand and place the student in the Year level most appropriate to their abilities. Most secondary schools are government established but there are some private or integrated schools. All secondary schools offer national qualifications that are recognised by all New Zealand tertiary organisations.

Many international students enrol at secondary schools for senior studies between the 11th and 13th year, being 15–18 years old, in preparation for tertiary studies in New Zealand or in other English-speaking countries. New Zealand secondary schools provide a sound education to students aged 13-18 years. Some schools have classes for students aged 11 and 12 as well. 

Most secondary schools are government-established but there are also a number of other schools that have special philosophical or religious traditions. These schools are either private or integrated schools. Integrated schools were privately funded in the past, but are now government funded. The entry requirements, courses and educational standards of all secondary schools are similar and prepare students for the same national qualifications.

Secondary schooling is compulsory in New Zealand until the age of 16 years. Most secondary schools are government established but there are some private or integrated schools that have special philosophical or religious traditions. They are allowed by law to teach particular religious values, but must also conform to the nationally set curriculum. All secondary schools offer national qualifications that are recognised by all New Zealand tertiary organisations.

Students attend secondary school for 5 years and can enrol from Year 9 to Year 13. The school year begins early February and finishes early December. Because students take the National University Entrance Bursary examination at the end of Year 13 most schools will not accept new students into Year 13 from after May or June. Even at this time students may not complete sufficient of the course to qualify to take the Bursary examination.

Students can begin at secondary school in Years 9-12 at anytime of the year however if you are planning to arrive from September it is better for you to attend English school until the end of January when the new secondary school year begins. This is also because much of the school time in October and November is spent on examination preparation and then the long summer holiday is in December and January.

Secondary school students must complete Year 13 and pass the University Entrance Bursary examination to qualify for Entry to University. All secondary schools are Government registered and there are several different types of secondary schools to choose from.

Why would you send your daughter to an all Girls’ School?

General information on the Secondary school system in New Zealand

Please view our educational institute overview e-brochure here.

Graduating from high school in New Zealand
European summer programmes in New Zealand High Schools
Group travel to New Zealand for High School students

Schooling is compulsory in New Zealand for all children from their sixth until sixteenth birthday although most start on their fifth birthday or soon after.

Schooling for New Zealand citizens and people with permanent residence in New Zealand, is free at state (government funded) schools until the age of 19, or 21 for special education students with disabilities (International students pay a fee for education in New Zealand). Parents are, however, expected to meet some minor costs, including the cost of school books, stationary and uniforms. Costs 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 to 3 are often referred to as ‘primers’ or ‘juniors’ and Years 4 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.

Student’s 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 but some offer single-sex education at secondary level.

Primary Schools
Children must be enrolled at primary school by their sixth birthday. However, most attend from age 5 to the end of their sixth year of schooling. 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.

Secondary Schools
From age 12 to 13 through to 17 or 18 (Year 9 to Year 13), students attend secondary school - also known as high school, college or grammar. Students are usually grouped in classes, but generally 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 6 months before the official enrolment date.

Area Schools
Also known as composite schools, these usually operate in rural areas and combine primary, intermediate and secondary schooling in one location.

Please view our high school e-brochure here.

Ask for more information from info@studynewzealand.eu