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Education in New Zealand

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Education in New Zealand

Education in New Zealand
Ministry of Education
Minister of Education
Minister for Tertiary Education
Secretary for Education
Hekia Parata
Steven Joyce
Peter Hughes
National education budget (2014/15)
Budget NZ$13,183 million
General details
Primary languages English, Māori
System type decentralised national
Enrollment (July 2011[1])
Total 762,683
Primary 475,797
Secondary 286,886
Attainment (2011)
Secondary diploma 83.8%[2]

The education system in New Zealand is a three-tier model which includes primary schools, followed by secondary schools (high schools) and tertiary education at universities and/or polytechnics. The academic year in New Zealand varies between institutions, but generally runs from late January until mid-December for primary schools, secondary schools, and polytechnics, and from late February until mid-November for universities.

In 2009, the Programme for International Student Assessment, published by the OECD, ranked New Zealand 7th best at science and reading in the world, and 13th in maths.[3] The Education Index, published as part of the UN's Human Development Index consistently ranks New Zealand among the highest in the world.[4] However, this index appears to be based primarily on the average number of years that children spend at school rather than their level of achievement.[5]


  • History 1
  • Primary and secondary education 2
    • Years of schooling 2.1
    • Types of schools by years 2.2
    • Types of schools by funding 2.3
    • Types of school by function 2.4
    • State school enrolment schemes 2.5
    • Māori Language in Education 2.6
  • Tertiary education 3
    • Universities 3.1
    • Colleges of education 3.2
    • Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITP) 3.3
    • Private Training Establishments 3.4
    • Wānanga 3.5
      • Recognised wānanga in New Zealand 3.5.1
  • Funding 4
    • Primary and secondary 4.1
    • Tertiary education 4.2
    • Students 4.3
      • Student allowances 4.3.1
      • Student loans 4.3.2
  • Dropping standards in New Zealand 5
    • Maori & Pacific Island standards 5.1
  • School bullying 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


Prior to the arrival of Europeans, Māori ran schools to pass on tradition knowledge including songs, chants, tribal history, spiritual understanding and knowledge of medicinal plants. These wānanga were usually run by elders called tohunga, respected for their tribal knowledge and teaching was confined to the rangatira (chiefly) class. Reading and writing were unknown, but wood carving was well developed.[6][7]

Formal European-style schooling was first introduced in 1815 and was well established in 1832 by the London Missionary Society missionaries, who learnt Maori and built the first schools in the Bay of Islands. Both children and adults were taught. The main resources were the Christian New Testament and slates, and teaching was in Maori. For many year the bible was the only literature used in teaching, and this became a major factor in how Maori viewed the European world. In the 1850s a Maori trade school was established at Te Awamutu by John Gorst to teach Maori practical skills associated with European-style farming,[8] but in 1863 was burnt down by Rewi Maniapoto in the early stages of New Zealand Wars.[9]

In 1853 missionaries Mr and Mrs Ashwell had been running a school for 50 Maori girls for 3 years at Taupiri in the Waikato, teaching arithmetic and reading.

By 1860, 75% of Maori could read in Maori and 33% could write in Maori.[10]

Teaching by missionaries and in Native schools was in Maori between 1815 and 1900. The Young Maori Party MPs, especially Sir Maui Pomare and Ngata, advocated the teaching of Maori children using English, as well as teaching hygiene to lower the Maori sickness and death rates. Pomare was knighted after WW1 for his fearless work in improving Maori learning and integration of Maori into New Zealand society.

Primary and secondary education

Free primary and secondary education is a right for all New Zealand citizens, and those entitled to live in New Zealand indefinitely, from a student's 5th birthday until the end of the calendar year following the student's 19th birthday,[11] and compulsory between their 6th and 16th birthdays.[12] In some special cases, an exemption can be gained after applying to the Ministry of Education (MOE). These may be granted to students who are close to 16, have been experiencing some ongoing difficulty at school, and have a job already lined up. However, the vast majority of students (around 82%) stay in secondary school until at least their 17th birthday.[13] Families wishing to home-school their children can apply for exemption. To get an exemption from enrollment 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".[14]

All schools have a socioeconomic ranking commonly called a decile ranking that goes from 10—most wealthy—to 1—poorest. The ranking is reviewed about every 5 years. Factors taken into consideration are income, types of jobs, percentage on a benefit, parents qualifications. Schools with high rating receive less funds from Government than low rating schools. The system is not a ranking of student or school performance but high decile schools tend to have mainly high functioning academic students who do well in systems such as NCEA. Lower decile secondary schools produce significantly lower NCEA scores on average although there are some notable exceptions. Low decile schools are able to employ specialized teachers to address learning disabilities because of the extra funding. Lower decile school charge lower voluntary fees while high decile secondary schools often charge voluntary fees in the $300–500 Per Annum range. Lower decile schools can often afford more teachers so class size is smaller. Higher decile school have mainly European and Asian pupils whereas low decile school pupils are mainly Maori and Pacific Islanders. Over the years that the ranking system has been operating the number of pakeha students in low decile school has halved.

Children almost always start school on their fifth birthday, or the first School Day after it. Many children attend some form of early childhood education before they begin school such as:

  • Playcentre (birth to school age)
  • Kindergarten (ages 3–5)
  • Kohanga Reo,
  • Licensed Early Childhood Centres (ages 0–5) (usually privately owned)
  • Chartered Early Childhood Centres (ages 0–5) (state funded)

A recent proposal by the New Zealand Government, called Schools Plus, would see students required to remain in some form of education until age 18.[15] Disabled students with special educational needs can stay until the end of the calendar year they turn 21.

Most students start when they turn 5, and remain in school for the full 13 years. Students living more than 4.8 kilometres walking distance from the nearest school (or public transport to school) may be exempted from attending school but may be required to enrol in a correspondence school. Many schools outside the main centres contract public transport operators to provide school buses that deliver students to the school gate in the morning and home again at the end of the school day. In the main centres, these are usually only contracted to routes which regular public transport routes don't run.

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[16] changes, amongst others, have been drivers for this change. Before this, a system of Forms, Standards and Juniors or Primers was used.[17] 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.

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 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.

Year Age at 30 June Old system Curriculum/Qualification Level[18] School type
1 5 Junior 1/Primer 1 Level 1 Full Primary School Contributing Primary School Composite school
2 6 Junior 2/Primer 2
3 7 Standard 1 Level 1–2
4 8 Standard 2 Level 2
5 9 Standard 3 Level 2–3
6 10 Standard 4 Level 3
7 11 Form 1/Standard 5 Level 3 Intermediate school Year 7–13 secondary school /
Secondary school with intermediate
8 12 Form 2/Standard 6 Level 3-4
9 13 Form 3 Level 4 Secondary school
10 14 Form 4 Level 5
11 15 Form 5 Level 6 / Level 1
12 16 Form 6 Level 7 / Level 2
13 17 Form 7 Level 8 / Level 3

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 doe 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.

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 schools by funding

In terms of funding, four types of schools exist in New Zealand:

  1. state schools
  2. private (or independent) schools
  3. state-integrated schools
  4. charter schools

State and state-integrated schools are government-funded. Private schools may receive some funding from the government (between $1013 and $2156 per student per year in 2013, GST exclusive[19]), but largely rely on tuition fees. State-integrated schools are former private schools which have "integrated" into the state system under the Private Schools Conditional Integration Act 1975 "on a basis which will preserve and safeguard the special character of the education provided by them". According to the Ministry of Education, in July 2012, 84.8% of all school-aged children attend state schools, 11.4% attend state-integrated schools and 3.8% attend private schools.[20]

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",[21] and receive an annual grant[21] 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,[22] but there are many local and national support-groups.

While the state covers tuition for New Zealand citizens and residents, students ordinarily pay for course materials and related costs, though these are not compulsory when related to the curriculum.[23] Also, almost all schools charge a tax deductible "donation" that most parents pay. Private or independent schools charge tuition fees while state-integrated schools may charge an additional levy ("attendance dues") for the upkeep of school buildings. International students holding valid student visas can also enrol in state-funded schools, provided they pay the appropriate international student tuition fees. Because Australian citizens and permanent residents do not require visas to study in New Zealand, they class as domestic students and therefore do not pay international fees. A number of schools use international student fees to supplement their state funding. Charter school are state funded school which operate outside 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 be profit making. They do not follow the national curriculum. They receive approximately 3 times the level of funding per student than normal state schools. If the charter school role drops during the year the school keep 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 a police vetting.

Types of school by function

  • Normal schools - designated as major practicum sites for trainee teachers[24]
  • Model schools

See also Charter schools in New Zealand.

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 enrollments 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,[25] 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.[26] 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,[27] 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[28]).

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.[29]

Prior to the arrival of the first European settlers in what would become New Zealand, traditional educational systems in Maori society (a ritual transfer of knowledge for most Maori, and the more formal whare wānanga—“house of learning”—model primarily for those of chiefly lineage) were naturally conducted through the medium of the Maori language.[30]

In 1816, the first mission school was opened to teach the Maori in the Bay of Islands. Here too, instruction was conducted primarily in the Maori language.[31] Though English-medium education would have also been available for children of European settlers from nearly their first arrival, ethnic Maori continued to learn primarily through the medium of the Maori 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 Maori children. And even with the passage of the act, the English-language provision was not rigorously enforced until 1900.[31]

Starting in 1903, a government policy to discourage, and even punish, the use of the Maori 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 Maori language added to the curriculum. Though not the only factor, the ban on the Maori language in education contributed to the widespread loss of Maori-language ability. By 1960 the number of Maori who could speak the language had fallen to 25% from 95% in 1900.[31]

Focus on falling Maori 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 Maori Studies programs in each of the Teacher Colleges by 1973.[31] The 1980s then marked a pivotal decade in the revival of Maori-medium education, with the establishment of the first kōhanga reo (“language nest” – essentially a total immersion Maori-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 Maori 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 Maori as an official language.[31]

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.[32] 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. See table below.

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 16,353 9.45% -7.26% 52,655 30.43% -5.81% 104,003 60.11% 19.27% 173,011
Non-Māori students 439 0.07% 43.00% 88,290 15.04% -4.24% 498,220 84.88% -2.58% 586,949
All students 16,792 2.21% -6.40% 140,945 18.55% -4.83% 602,223 79.24% 0.60% 759,960

Information taken from Education Counts (accessed 22 May 2013)

Tertiary education

Post-compulsory education is regulated within the New Zealand Qualifications Framework, a unified system of national qualifications in schools, vocational education and training.


Typically, a bachelor's degree will take three years, and a further year of study will lead to an Honours degree. Not every degree follows this 3+1 pattern: there are some four year degrees (which may or may not be awarded with Honours), and some specialist bachelor's degrees which take longer to complete. Typically, Honours may be awarded with first class, upper second class, lower second class or third class, but this can vary from degree to degree. A bachelor's degree may be followed by a Master's degree. A candidate who does not hold an Honours degree may be awarded a Master's degree with honours: such a degree usually involves two years study, compared to one year for a Master's degree for a candidate who does have an Honours degree. A candidate who has either a Master's degree or a bachelor's degree with Honours may proceed to a doctoral degree.

Entry to most universities was previously "open", that is to say that one only needed to meet the minimum requirements in the school-leaving examinations (be it NCEA or Bursary). However, most courses at New Zealand universities now have selective admissions, where candidates have to fulfill additional requirements through their qualifications, notably with the University of Auckland offering the largest number of selective-entry courses. Mature students usually do not need to meet the academic criteria demanded of students who enter directly from secondary school.

Domestic students will pay fees subsidised by the Government, and the student-paid portion of the fee can be loaned from the Government under the Government's Student Loan Scheme. Weekly stipends can be drawn from the loan for living expenses, or the student can apply for a needs based (on assessment of parental income) "Student Allowance", which does not need to be paid back. "Bonded Merit Scholarships" are also provided by the Government to cover the student-paid portion of fees. The New Zealand Scholarship is awarded to school leavers by a competitive examination and also provides financial support to school-leavers pursuing a university degree but does not entail any requirement to stay in the country after they finish university. International students pay full (non-subsidised) fees and are not eligible for Government financial assistance.

Until 1961 there was only one degree-granting university in New Zealand, the University of New Zealand which had constituent colleges around New Zealand. Now the colleges are independent universities in their own right, and since then three new universities have been created (Auckland University of Technology, Lincoln University and Waikato University).

Universities in New Zealand:

Colleges of education

The name 'College of Education' is protected by Act of Parliament. (Previously the name 'Teachers' College' was protected.) Only universities and standalone colleges of education may use this title. Thus, privately owned institutions that are not listed in Acts and that provide teacher education such as the Bethlehem Institute (Tauranga) and New Zealand Graduate School of Education (Christchurch) must use alternative names.

Below is a partial list of historical or existing colleges—specifically those listed[33] in Acts of Parliament as public (Crown-owned) teacher education providers:

Most colleges of education in New Zealand in the past 30 years have gradually consolidated (for example, Ardmore with Auckland), with the trend in the last 15 years to consider and effect mergers with universities closely allied to them, for example, the Hamilton and Palmerston North colleges amalgamated with Waikato and Massey respectively. In the 2004–2005 period, the Auckland and Wellington colleges merged with Auckland University and Victoria University respectively. In 2007, the Christchurch College of Education merged with the University of Canterbury. The remaining stand-alone college in Dunedin merged with the University of Otago in January 2007.

Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITP)

Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics(ITP) offer general technical and vocational education. Curriculum are based on practical knowledge in a working environment.[34] Courses usually take place in workplaces (workshops, hospitols, studios...), certification upon graduation are industry-related and real work experiences are usually part of the curriculum.[34]

Private Training Establishments

Private training Establishments are to provide training often not available in the public sector. They offer curriculum in "niche occupations" like tourism, design or ICT.[34] They also provide training to special needs groups or in time frames that support different learner needs. The tutors are generally drawn from industry rather than academia and the goal for most learners is employment quickly. A list of providers is available on NZQA and TEC websites. Private trainers have the ability to respond quickly to the changing needs of industry. Most providers provide courses that are NZQA accredited and many offer certificates, diplomas and degrees. Private trainers offer an alternative to state schools and many learners prefer the supportive environment of most private trainers


In the education system of publicly owned tertiary institution that provides education in a Māori cultural context. Section 162 of the Education Act 1989[35] (re-affirmed by the Waitangi Tribunal in 2005) specifies that wānanga resemble mainstream universities in many ways. As of 2009, wānanga offer certificates, diplomas, and bachelor-level degrees, with some wānanga providing programmes in specialized areas up to doctorate level.

Wānanga educational programmes are accredited through the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) and the Ministry of Education, and are partly governed by New Zealand's Tertiary Education Commission (TEC).

In Maori tradition the word wānanga conveyed meanings related to highly evolved knowledge, lore, occult arts, and also "forum" in the sense of a discussion to arrive at deeper understanding.

Recognised wānanga in New Zealand


Primary and secondary

State and state integrated schools are allocated funding from the Government on a per-student basis to fund the running of the school. Smaller schools receive additional funding due to the added fixed costs of running them compared to larger schools, and schools also receive funding based on the school's socio-economic decile rating, with low-decile schools (i.e. those in poorer areas) receiving more funds. They may also receive funds from other activities, such as hiring out school facilities outside school hours to outside groups. Schools also ask for a voluntary donation from parents, informally known as "school fees", to cover extra expenses not covered by the government funding. This may range from $40 per child up to $800 per child in high decile state schools, to over $4000 in state integrated schools. The payment of this fee varies widely according to how parents perceive the school. Typically parents will also outlay $500–$1000 per year for uniforms, field trips, social events, sporting equipment and stationery at state schools.

Most state integrated schools also charge "attendance dues", a compulsory fee paid to the school's proprietors to cover the cost of maintaining and upgrading school land and buildings. Unlike voluntary donations, attendance dues are not optional and parents are contractually and legally required to pay them, and schools can take action to collect these or cancel the enrollment of a student if they are not paid.

Private schools rely mainly on tuition fees paid to the school by the parents of the students, although some funding is provided by the government. As of 2013, private schools receives from the Government (exclusive of GST) $1013 for every Year 1 to 6 student, $1109 for every Year 7 and 8 student, $1420 for every Year 9 and 10 student, and $2156 for every Year 11 to 13 student.[19] However, the government funding is more of a partial tax rebate, as the GST payable to the government on the tuition fees collected often exceeds the government funding received in turn.

Salaries and wages for teaching staff in state and state integrated schools are paid directly from the Ministry of Education to the employee, and are not paid out of a school's funding. The salaries are fixed nationwide, and are based on the teacher's qualifications, years of service and workload, with middle and senior management awarded extra pay through "units". In 1991, following the decentralisation of school administration (the "Tomorrow's Schools" reforms), there was an attempt to move the responsibilities of paying teachers' salaries from the ministry to each school's Board of Trustees, in which each board would receive a lump sum from the government for all costs, including the payment of salaries. Known as "Bulk Funding", the proposal met strong opposition from teachers and their unions, particularly the Post Primary Teachers' Association, and wildcat strike action occurred among teachers as some schools' boards of trustees gradually elected to move to the new system. Bulk Funding was eventually scrapped in July 2000.[36]

Special needs students are entitled to Ongoing Resource Scheme (ORS) funding, which is used for facilitating the adaption of the curriculum to fit the student, funding of teacher aides and specialists, and procuring any special equipment required. There are three levels of funding based on the student's needs: very high, high or combined moderate. For example, a student who is totally blind or deaf is classified as very high needs, while a student who is partially sighted (6/36 or worse) or severely or profoundly deaf (71 dB loss or worse) is classified as high needs. ORS funding is permanent, so it continues until the student leaves school.[37]

Tertiary education

Funding for tertiary education in New Zealand is through a combination of government subsidies and student fees. The government funds approved courses by a tuition grant based on the number of enrolled students in each course and the amount of study time each course requires. Courses are rated on an equivalent full-time Student (EFTS) basis. Students enrolled in courses can access Student Loans and Student Allowances to assist with fees and living costs.

Funding for Tertiary Institutions has been criticised recently due to high fees and funding not keeping pace with costs or inflation. Some also point out that high fees are leading to skills shortages in New Zealand as high costs discourage participation and graduating students seek well paying jobs off shore to pay for their student loans debts. As a result, education funding has been undergoing an ongoing review in recent years.


Most tertiary education students rely on some form of state funding to pay for their tuition and living expenses. Mostly, students rely on state provided student loans and allowances. Secondary school students sitting the state run examinations are awarded scholarships, depending on their results, that assist in paying some tuition fees. Universities and other funders also provide scholarships or funding grants to promising students, though mostly at a postgraduate level. Some employers will also assist their employees to study (full-time or part-time) towards a qualification that is relevant to their work. People who receive state welfare benefits and are retraining, or returning to the workforce after raising children, may be eligible for supplementary assistance, however students already in full or part-time study are not eligible for most state welfare benefits.

Student allowances

Student Allowances, which are non-refundable grants to students of limited means, are means tested and the weekly amount granted depends on residential and citizenship qualifications, age, location, marital status, dependent children as well as personal, spousal or parental income. The allowance is intended for living expenses, so most students receiving an allowance will still need a student loan to pay for their tuition fees.

Student loans

The Student Loan Scheme is available to all New Zealand citizens and permanent residents. It covers course fees, course related expenses, and can also provide a weekly living allowance for full-time students. The loan must be repaid at a rate dependent on income and repayments are normally recovered via the income tax system by wage deductions. Low income earners and students in full-time study can have the interest on their loans written off.

On 26 July 2005, the Labour Party announced that they would abolish interest on Student Loans, if re-elected at the September election, which they were. From April 2006, the interest component on Student Loans was abolished for students who live in New Zealand. This has eased pressure on the government from current students. However, it has caused resentment from past students many of whom have accumulated large interests amounts in the years 1992–2006.

Dropping standards in New Zealand

In 1995 New Zealand students finished 18th out of 24 countries on an international survey, Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). There was considerable public concern so the Government created a taskforce to address the problem. In 2001, the Ministry introduced the Numeracy Development Project, which was supposed to lift student performance. Instead, the new teaching methods appear to have "confused teachers, children and parents by presenting multiple alternative problem-solving strategies but neglecting basic knowledge" and over the next few years New Zealand's rating dropped even further.

In December 2012, the latest TIMSS survey found New Zealand 9-year-olds ranked 34th out of 53 countries - and were bottom equal among developed nations.[38] Almost half could not add 218 and 191 compared to 73% internationally. Ministry of Education figures show the number of 12-year-olds who were able to answer simple multiplication questions correctly dropped from "47% in 2001 - the year new maths teaching methods were introduced - to 37% in 2009".[39] The problem flows on to high schools, where "there are still students who have difficulty with the very basics such as knowledge about whole numbers and decimals".[40]

Sir Vaughan Jones, New Zealand's foremost mathematician, is concerned about the way maths is now taught in New Zealand arguing that children need to learn how to multiply and add and really understand those processes before moving on. Jones said children "need to know basic arithmetic before they try to start problem solving".[41]

In December 2012 a broader ranking process put New Zealand eighth out of 40 countries - seemingly giving the country one of the top education systems in the world. This ranking came from The Learning Curve global education report, published by education firm

  • edCentre - gateway to New Zealand education (government website)
  • "Education Act 1989 No 80 (as of 01 January 2012), Public Act -- New Zealand Legislation Online". Parliamentary Counsel Office. 1 January 2012. Retrieved 22 January 2012. 
  • Information on education in New Zealand, OECD - Contains indicators and information about New Zealand and how it compares to other OECD and non-OECD countries
  • Diagram of New Zealand's education system, OECD - Using 1997 ISCED classification of programmes and typical ages.
  • Vocational Education in New Zealand, UNESCO-UNEVOC(2012)- Overview of the vocational education system

External links

  1. ^ "School Roll Summary Report: July 2011 -- Education Counts". New Zealand Ministry of Education. Retrieved 25 February 2012. 
  2. ^ "School leavers with NCEA Level 1 or above -- Education Counts". New Zealand Ministry of Education. Retrieved 1 July 2013. 
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ "Human development indices". Human Development Reports. 18 December 2008. Retrieved 16 February 2010. 
  5. ^ Regional and National Trends in the Human Development Index 1980–2011
  6. ^ "", Te Ara
  7. ^ "The Whare Wananga", Elsdon Best, via NZETC
  8. ^ "John Gorst at Te Awamutu", "The Old Frontier", James Cowan, via NZETC
  9. ^ The Road to War 1860-64.Monogram 16. Whakatane Historical Society
  10. ^ "Mission schools and the arrival of literacy", Te Ara
  11. ^ Education Act 1989, section 3
  12. ^ Education Act 1989, section 20
  13. ^ "Retention of students in senior secondary schools". Ministry of Education. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  14. ^ "Home schooling", Ministry of Education website
  15. ^  
  16. ^ School Roll Return Guidelines, 2006–2008, retrieved 16 January 2011.
  17. ^ Cooper, Tracey (21 September 2009). "School Year". Choosing the right road. Waikato Times. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  18. ^ "Curriculum achievement objectives by level -- New Zealand Curriculum". Te Kete Ipurangi. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  19. ^ a b "Circular 2012/07 - Private school subsidy funding 2013". New Zealand Ministry of Education. September 2012. Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  20. ^ "Roll by Regional Council & Authority - 1 July 2012". New Zealand Ministry of Education. Retrieved 5 February 2013. 
  21. ^ a b "Home schooling", Ministry of Education
  22. ^ "Homeschooling as at 1 July 2011 - Education Counts". 1 July 2011. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  23. ^ Ministry of Education Circular 2013/06
  24. ^ "What is a Normal School?". Dunedin: George Street Normal School. Retrieved 2014-07-20. The 22 Normal schools in New Zealand appointed by the Government provide a major teaching practicum facility for five universities nationwide. [...] Most trainee teachers in Dunedin will spend time at George Street Normal School during the course of their study. As well as observing and teaching small groups and classes, 'College Teachers'[,] as they are known, add to [...] sports, cultural and elective programmes. 
  25. ^ "NZ School Zones (Sept 2010)". New Zealand ministry of Education (via September 2010. Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  26. ^
  27. ^ Dickison, Michael (28 January 2013). "Top schools hire private eye to catch zone cheats". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  28. ^ "Section 111: False statements or declarations -- Crimes Act 1961 -- New Zealand Legislation". Parliamentary Counsel Office. Retrieved 28 August 2013. 
  29. ^ Tahana, Yvonne (10 November 2011). "Maori Party wants te reo available to all". Retrieved 25 November 2011. The Maori Party wants to make te reo 'compulsorily available' in schools by 2015 but students wouldn't be compelled to take the subject. 
  30. ^ Retrieved 6 January 2014. 
  31. ^ a b c d e Retrieved 6 January 2014. 
  32. ^ "Māori Language in Education". Ministry of Education: Education Counts. 2013. Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  33. ^
  34. ^ a b c "Vocational education in New Zealand". UNESCO-UNEVOC. 2012. Retrieved 23 July 2014. 
  35. ^ Education Act 1989section 162 of the
  36. ^ Cross, Bronwyn (September 2003), Bulk Funding in New Zealand: A Retrospective, retrieved 24 January 2012 
  37. ^ "About Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS)". New Zealand Ministry of Education. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  38. ^ The great maths division
  39. ^ New MOE figures show its true - kids struggling at Maths
  40. ^ Govt eyes back to basics in maths
  41. ^ Top mathematician backs call to change teaching methods
  42. ^ Collins, Gail (27 April 2012). "A Very Pricey Pineapple". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 August 2012. 
  43. ^ NZ's education system ranked high globally
  44. ^ Parata calls for system shift in education
  45. ^ Parents told to take charge online
  46. ^ Parliamentary thugs give free lessons to child bullies
  47. ^ Anti-bullying fight gains more support
  48. ^ Bullying: Principals want action


See also

The Government responded by putting $60 million into a Positive Behaviour for Learning plan but the results were less than satisfactory. In March 2013, Secondary Principals Association president Patrick Walsh asked the Ministry to "urgently draft a comprehensive bullying policy for schools, after being surprised to find it did not have one." Mr Walsh believes that since schools are supposed to be self-managing, each school has "work it out" for themselves which "would mean that all 2500 schools all have to reinvent the wheel".[48]

In 2009, the Ombudsman launched an investigation into school bullying and violence after serious incidents at Hutt Valley High School in Lower Hutt, which included students being dragged to the ground, "removing their pants and violating them with screwdrivers, pens, scissors, branches, drills and pencils," a student "being beaten unconscious and a student being burnt with a lighter". The Ombudsman's report recommended schools' guidelines be amended to make anti-bullying programmes compulsory in schools. Post Primary Teachers' Association president Robin Duff said the report illustrated a systemic failure by the Ministry of Education to help schools deal with bullying.[47]

Bullying is a widespread issue in New Zealand schools. In 2007, one in five New Zealand high school students reported being cyber-bullied.[45] In regard to physical bullying, an international study in 2009 found New Zealand had the second highest incidence of bullying out of the 40 countries surveyed.[46]

School bullying

According to Education Minister Hekia Parata, New Zealand needs to raise the academic achievement of its Maori and Pacific Island students to match those of Pakeha students. In 2013, she said that PISA international standard showed Pakeha were ranked second in the world, Maori were 34th equal and Pacific students were ranked 44th.[44]

Maori & Pacific Island standards

On a more general note, the Pearson report said the quality of teaching was key factor in a successful education system but also highlighted the importance of an underlying culture focussed on children's learning. The report noted that that Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore, which were all ahead of New Zealand, had societies "where education and learning was of the greatest importance and where parents were very much involved with their children's education".[43]


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