Many expat families opt to place their children in one of New Zealand’s excellent public or private schools.
There are more than 20 schools in New Zealand, most in the Auckland area, that offer an International Baccalaureate (IB) programme. Some are private and some are state-sponsored. More than a dozen schools offer the Primary Years Programme, one school offers the Middle Years Programme, and 12 schools offer the Diploma Programme. Scots College in Wellington offers all three IB programmes.
New Zealand schools have a fine international reputation. They are divided into public and private systems. The vast majority of New Zealand children are educated in the public system. Private-school education is generally regarded as superior to public, but there are many exceptions. Places in private schools can be difficult to secure. Expats may send their children to public schools, private schools, or church schools.
Private schools are generally segregated by sex, although this is becoming less common. Students wear uniforms in most schools.
Parents are responsible for getting their children to school. School buses are contracted by the Ministry of Education, and families that use this service must pay for it.
State schooling is available to children from age five, and school is compulsory from ages six to 16. The New Zealand school year usually runs from the end of January to mid-December, and is divided into four terms. Primary education begins with Year 1 and ends with Year 8, while secondary education consists of Years 9 through 13. Most New Zealand schools teach in English, but some teach in Maori.
Boarding schools in New Zealand are not merely for the wealthy. In this fairly sparsely populated country where some families live isolated lives on farms, many parents send their children to boarding school for the opportunity for socialisation as much as for the education.
Referred to locally as tertiary education, New Zealand offers a number of educational options following the completion of Year 13 or its equivalent. New Zealand has seven state universities, and a large number of polytechnics. An education from one of these institutions is available to anyone meeting the entry criteria set by the individual universities.
All state-sponsored schools receive funding specifically for special needs education. The Ministry of Education has a branch that is dedicated wholly to supporting special needs students and their families. The Ministry of Education, Special Education handles referrals, assists in the development of individual assessment plans, provides professional development for special education teachers, and investigates complaints. The Ministry maintains local offices throughout New Zealand.