New Zealand


The education system in New Zealand is a three-tier model which includes primary and intermediate schools, followed by secondary schools (high schools) and tertiary education at universities and polytechnics.

The academic year in New Zealand varies between institutions, but generally runs from early February until mid-December for primary schools, late January to late
November or early December for secondary schools, and polytechnics, and from late February until mid-November for universities.

In 2009, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), ranked New Zealand 7th best at science and reading in the world, and 13th in maths. The Education Index, published as part of the UN’s Human Development Index consistently ranks New Zealand among the highest in the world.


  • New Zealand Bachelor Degrees are widely recognised internationally via the Lisbon Recognition Convention in Europe, which has been signed by 50
    countries and international organisations including the European Union, the
    United States, Australia, Canada, Russia and Israel.
  • New Zealanders are also called kiwis but kiwi is not a fruit. It is New Zealand’s native flightless bird.
  • The largest city in New Zealand is Auckland although its capital city is Wellington.
  • New Zealanders are also called kiwis but kiwi is not a fruit. It is New Zealand’s native flightless bird.


Primary School
Primary school students study subjects guided by New Zealand National Curriculum : English, the arts, health and physical education, languages, mathematics and statistics, science, social sciences and technology.

Students’ abilities in reading, writing and maths are regularly assessed against
expectations for their age level, as set out by New Zealand’s National Standards.

Students will start primary education at the age of 5 – 6, where the primary
education will take 6 years to complete (Year 1-6).


Intermediate School
Intermediate schools are a bridge between primary school and secondary school (Year 7&8).  Primary education starts at Year 1 and continues through to Year 8. Years 7 and 8 are offered either at a primary school or at a separate intermediate school. Students join intermediate school at the age of 11-12.


Secondary School
New Zealand has three types of school:

  1. State schools, where 85% of Kiwi children go
  2. State-integrated schools, which may be run by a religious faith or use specialist teaching methods
  3. Private schools.

Students at secondary schools (year 9 – 13) – also known as high schools or
colleges – work towards the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA). Secondary schools also offer some vocational subjects, such as tourism and computing. Some schools also offer Cambridge International Examinations and International Baccalaureate programmes.


Tertiary Education
New Zealand has eight state-funded universities, 16 Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs) and about 550 Private Training Establishments (PTEs), which
include English language schools.

Types of Higher Learning Institutions:

  • Universities offer higher degree-level education. Programmes are research-led and generally academic rather than vocational. In the 2015/16 QS World
    University Rankings, all eight of New Zealand’s universities were in the Top 100 in at least one subject.
  • ITPs and a few larger PTEs offer vocational degree-level education.
  • PTEs tend to offer specific vocational programmes, mainly at certificate and diploma level.

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