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Enter child date of birth below to determine year of entry into primary, intermediate and high school

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New Zealand Education System


The education system in New Zealand follows a single national program across both the North and South Island. Early childhood education begins with various types of pre-school such as childcare or kindergarten. Formal schooling in NZ commences with primary school followed by intermediate school and then secondary school.

In total the formal schooling system can run for a total of 14 years from year 0 through to Year 13. Further detail is provided about the school year levels and school entry requirements in NZ below.

Pre School

Between the ages of 0-5 children may attend a local pre-school, childcare, kindergarten centre or playgroup. These are run independently and are not part of the formal Government education system. The government offers a subsidy to parents of all children who attend Early Childhood Education (ECE) for up to 6 hours a day or a total of 30 hours per week. Use the above kindergarten calculator for NZ to determine when your child can start kindergarten.

Primary School

Entry Requirements

Children commence in primary school in NZ the year they turn 5 with students entering either Year 0 or Year 1 depending on their date of birth. Students born in the first half of the year will enter directly into Year 1, while students born in the second half of the year will enter Year 0 and then progress into year 1 the following year. Students do not have to commence school in the year they turn five, however students must be enrolled in school by the age of six.

School entry in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch is all the same with students entering the year they turn five. Use the school year school year date of birth calculator to determine year of entry into school in NZ.

Primary School Entry Dates NZ

Traditionally students would commence school only once the student has turned five, which means the student is starting mid-way through the school year and may not be starting at the same time as other students. Recently some schools have moved to a cohort entry system where students commence at the start of the term following their fifth birthday, which has the benefit of grouping students together to start at the same time.

The cohort entry system follows a consistent set of dates across the country, the entry dates and age cut-off ages are set out below.

2021 Cohort Entry Dates

Term Start of term date Mid-term date End of term date
1 9/02/2021 15/03/2021 16/04/2021
2 3/05/2021 8/06/2021 9/07/2021
3 26/07/2021 30/08/2021 1/10/2021
4 18/10/2021 15/11/2021 20/12/2021

2022 Cohort Entry Dates

Term Start of term date Mid-term date End of term date
1 8/02/2022 14/03/2022 14/04/2022
2 2/05/2022 7/06/2022 8/07/2022
3 25/07/2022 29/08/2022 30/09/2022
4 17/10/2022 21/11/2022 20/12/2022

Once a student has turned five, they can commence at either the start of term, or the mid-term date set out above.

In NZ parents may choose to delay entry until the following year when the child turns 6. All children in New Zealand must be enrolled in school once they have turned six.

Primary School Types in NZ

Children in NZ can attend either a contributing primary school or a full primary school. Contributing primary schools more common than full primary schools and will operate classes from Year 0 to Year 6, while full primary schools provide classes from Year 1 to Year 8.

Children attending a contributing primary school will then enrol in an intermediate school to complete Years 7 and 8.

Intermediate School NZ

Intermediate schools, a separate school for years 7 and 8, are a bridge between primary school and high school and are seen as a transitional step from primary (general) to secondary (subject-based) teaching. The majority of students in NZ attend intermediate schools which tend to offer an expanded curriculum, with a range of specialist teachers in subjects such as drama, art and technology.

Secondary School NZ

Secondary education commences in Year 9 and runs for five years through to Year 13. Secondary schools in NZ are commonly called high schools or colleges. The majority of students (around 85%) attend state based schooling, while others may attend private, religious and specialist teaching schools.

New Zealand's secondary schools provide national qualifications that are recognised by tertiary institutions and universities in New Zealand and internationally. The National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) is the main secondary school qualification in New Zealand and is comprised of three certificates: Levels 1, 2 and 3. Students usually begin studying for their NCEA Level 1 in Year 11 and continue through Years 12 and 13.