Types of schooling
- Primary school: Referred to as Years 1 – 6, covers age’s approx 5 through to 10
- Intermediate: Referred to as Years 7 – 8, covers age’s approx 11 through to 12
- High School: Referred to as Years 8 – 13, covers age’s approx 13 through to 17
- College: Referred to as Years 7 – 13, covers age’s approx 11 through to 17
The New Zealand school year is broken into four terms of approx 10 weeks each. Term 1 generally starts in the first week of February and Term 4 usually ends in mid-December. Holiday breaks of 2 weeks occur between Terms 1 – 3, with the summer break being around 6 weeks long.
What to wear
Generally most schools have a compulsory uniform for general day use and sports activities, although this is not always the case especially in rural primary schools. Each school will have its own policy on jewelery, piercings, hair styles and footwear. Uniforms will be sold directly from the school.
How to carry books/school items and where to keep it
Although there are usually no specific rules arout bags most students favour backpack / satchel types bags. High schools and colleges provide lockers for students whilst primary school students are given a bag and coat hook in the corridor or outside the classroom.
School dinners are not provided, although most schools have a ‘tuck shop’ or are able to provide lunch from external providers (Subway, sushi etc) that students can purchase, although for the earlier years this is usually only available once a week. Lunches are generally brought from home with schools trying to encourage healthy options (i.e.: no chocolate or sweets allowed). Water bottles are either provided or brought from home and all teachers encourage students to have regular drink breaks. Senior students (years 12 and 13) are usually provided with a common room which contains a kettle, toaster, microwave and a fridge.
School Hours and Breaks
Each school can set its own schedule but generally start between 8:30am and 9:15am finishing between 2:30pm and 3:15pm. Most have a minimum of 3 breaks during the day; one mid morning of approx 20-30mins, one around midday for approx 40-60 mins and then one early afternoon for approx 15-30 mins. Students in years 1 – 6 are not usually allowed to leave the school grounds during this time, although again this differs from school to school.
Schools encourage students to walk wherever possible, with ‘walking buses’ being a popular option for the primary schools. Walking buses are supervised by at least two parents, one at the front of the walking bus and one at the rear; children are ‘picked up’ along a set route to school at the same time every morning so that their walk to school is safer than if they walk alone. Other options include cycling or parent drop off. Schools that cater for larger geographic regions (i.e.: serve rural areas) will usually provide buses free of charge. Students who have a legal driver’s license are permitted to drive and park cars at school once they have completed the schools legal requirements.
Teachers are encouraged to treat their students as individuals and schools aim to maintain respectful friendliness between student and teacher.
School attendance is compulsory from the age of 6 although home schooling is an accepted legal option where the parent or guardian can provide enough information that the child “will be taught as regularly and as well as in a registered school”. Children can legally leave school after 10 years of education approx 15 – 16 years old. All children in New Zealand, with the exception of foreign students, are entitled to attend school free from their fifth birthday.
Most schools do not have full time medical practitioners on site. Accidents and illness will initially be treated by staff members who are qualified in first aid, however if further attention is required parents will be contacted and the child will be taken to the local hospital or doctors surgery. NZ primary schools used to always have a dental nurse on site however over recent years these are being reduced as there is a move towards centralised dental clinics which service a number of schools within an area.