New Zealand’s education system has three levels
early childhood education, school education, and tertiary education –
across which students can follow a variety of flexible pathways.
EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
Early Childhood Education (ECE) in New Zealand covers the years from birth to school entry age. It is the first level of education and recognises the young child as a learner from birth. There are just over 4,000 licensed ECE services available from kindergartens, centre or home based education and care, to play centres and over 800 playgroups. ECE services have a variety of different operating structures, philosophies and affiliations. There are full day, part day and casual options. Some ECE centres are led by registered teachers, while in others, parents, whānau (family) or caregivers provide the education. There are also services where a home-based education and care in private homes, with support from registered teachers whovisit and advise.
Although the primary language medium is English, ECE is taught in many different languages. Some services provide language-specific and culturally oriented programmes, such as Kōhanga Reo (teaching in Māori language and culture) and A’oga Amata (teaching in Samoan language and culture). Other services have programmes based on a particular educational philosophy, such as Montessori or Rudolph Steiner centres.
ECE is not compulsory in New Zealand but participation rates have increased steadily over the last ten years (to around 96%). Children aged three and four usually attend ECE for around 20 hours per week.
The Government fully funds up to 20 hours’ ECE per week for children aged three and four, regardless of their parents’ income, ethnicity or work status.
Schools provide the second level of education. Free education is provided to New Zealand citizens or permanent residents in state (government owned andfunded) schools between the ages of five and 19.
New Zealand's curriculum of School Education is all 13 grades. 6 years of Primary school (primary school), 2 years of Intermediate School (secondary school) and 5 years of college (high school or college).
In other words, the high school in Korea is here in the 13th grade. Early childhood education is possible from 3 years old. Then, from 5 years old, children are able to enter elementary school and receive regular education courses.
Both single-sex and co-educational secondary schooling options are available and state schools are secular. Most students attend school close to where they live.
There are over 2,500 state schools in New Zealand. School rolls range from 10 to over 2,000 students. Most school-aged children attend state schools (85%).
Some school students attend state integrated schools (11%), which are operated as a state school but with the particular religious or learning philosophy of their owner, and the remainder (4%) in private and boarding schools, schools that cater for special education needs (such as impairments, learning or behavior difficulties), or are schooled at home. The independent school sector in New Zealand is small, comprising 3.7% of student enrolments in 2014, in 87 schools. The Government does not provide students attending private schools with the same level of funding as those attending state schools.
Children may start school at age five and the majority do so, although schooling is not compulsory until age six.Primary education starts at Year 1 and continues until Year 8, with Years 7 and 8 mostly offered at either a primary, or a separate intermediate school.Primary education focuses on strong foundation learning, especially in literacy and numeracy.
Secondary education covers Years 9 to 13 (ages 13 to 18/19). State secondary schools are usually known as secondary schools, high schools or colleges.
In secondary schools the timetable is arranged around subjects, and although students continue to experience a broad and balanced curriculum, some specialisation is possible especially in Years 11 to 13. Students are provided with professional career information and guidance.
Secondary students may begin courses of a more vocational nature while at school but there is no direct
separation of programmes into academic and vocational streams. Entry to work or further study (eg. university) is not limited by the type of secondary school a student attends.
After graduating from secondary school, students can enter universities, Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs) or Private Training Establishments (PTEs).
New Zealand elementary schools lay the foundation for reading, writing, and arithmetic skills and help you to complete a diverse and balanced curriculum in a free environment.
In secondary school, education in New Zealand focuses on the study of each subject, encourage independent thinking by selecting subjects according to the progress of learning and exploring the fields of specialization.
SCHOOL ASSESSMENT AND QUALIFICATIONS
New Zealand measures and monitors students’ achievement throughout their schooling. Teachers and schools are supplied with examples of best-practice material and assessment tools linked to the National Curriculum and benchmarking data. They are expected to make use of these tools for both student development
and reporting purposes. Information from the results of assessment is then able to be used to providefeedback to students, parents and teachers so that learning needs are addressed.
The National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEAs)
NCEAs are the national senior secondary school qualifications.
NCEAs allow schools to develop learning programmes to suit students’ needs and then assess their achievement against national standards derived from the New Zealand.
Curriculum and/or Te Marautanga o Aotearoa. Each standard describes what a student needs to know, or what they must be able to achieve, in order to meet the standard. Having met it, they will gain credits towards national qualifications. Students are able to achieve an NCEA at three levels via a wide range of courses and subjects, both within and beyond the traditional school curriculum. For most students, the three levels (Levels 1, 2 and 3 on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework) of NCEA correspond to the final three years of secondary schooling (Years 11 to 13). To gain an NCEA the student must achieve 80 credits, including
a minimum of 10 credits in literacy and a minimum of 10 credits in numeracy. Sixty credits must be at the level of the certificate.
There are also many vocational qualifications offered in secondary schools in subjects like tourism, computing and motor engineering – to name a few.
Some schools offer additional programmes such as the Cambridge International Examination (CIE) , the International Baccalaureate (IB PROGRAM) or an Accelerated Christian Education programme.
International Recognition of NCEA
A number of international agreements ensure NCEA results are understood and accepted overseas. The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA), the government agency responsible for quality assurance and recognition, is part of the National Academic Recognition Information Centres (NARIC) network. United Kingdom NARIC maintains a set of databases that can be used by tertiary providers and deals with academic recognition of diplomas and periods of study in the member states of the European Union, the European Economic Area, and Central and Eastern Europe.
NCEA results are used to calculate International Tertiary Admission Ranking System (ITARS) scores. This ensures a unified approach when New Zealand school leavers apply for entry to universities overseas.
NZQA has equivalency arrangements with many countries. Including:
- NCEA Level 3 is recognised as broadly equivalent to Senior Secondary Certificates of Education.
- NCEA Level 3 results are used in the Australian Tertiary Admission Rankfor entrance to all Australian universities.
- When an application is received from a New Zealand school leaver, the Australian Tertiary Admissions Centres contact NZQA directly. Results are sent from early January each year.
- NCEA Level 3 is recognised as broadly equivalent to General Certificate of Education (GCE) Advanced-level (A-Level).
- NCEA is listed in the International Qualifications for Entry to Higher Education published annually by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).This reference guide is used by UK tertiary providers to evaluate school leaving qualifications. It is also used by other countries as an authoritative guide.
- NARIC recognises that University Entrance and NCEA Level 3 (with Merits/ Excellences in subjects to be studied at higher education institutions) are comparable to those with the overall GCE A-Level/Scottish Advanced Higher standard.
- Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the German states have recommended that German universities accept NCEA results.
- German entry requirements for universities are similar to New Zealand’s but require results in at least five distinct NCEA subjects.
- The Association of Indian Universities recognises NCEA Level 3 as equivalent to its university entrance requirement
- Students completing high school qualifications outside Thailand need a Matthayom 6 equivalence certificate, issued by Thailand’s Bureau of Educational Testing (BET).
- NZQA and BET have agreed on equivalence criteria for NCEA (largely based on NCEA Level 2).
New Zealand’s international connections have been reinforced in recent years. In 2008, New Zealand signed the Lisbon Recognition Convention and joined the European Network of Information Centres-NARIC networks. This enables a shared understanding of qualifications in Europe. NZQA is also now New Zealand’s National Education Information Centre, providing information and advice on the New Zealand education system, secondary and tertiary qualifications, and recognition of overseas qualifications.
Tertiary education includes all post-secondary education including higher and vocational education. It is the third level of education and is delivered by both state and privately owned institutions.Tertiary education providers offer courses which range from transition (school to work) programmes, through to postgraduate study and research. There are no fixed divisions between the types of courses offered by providers. The focus is on their ability to offer education to the required quality standards, rather than based on their type.
The academic year for most tertiary providers starts in February and finishes in November. It is most often divided into two semesters but a third, ‘summer’, semester is becoming increasingly popular.
Government partly funds state tertiary providers. Students need to contribute about 30 per cent of the cost of their courses. New Zealand students can take out a student loan from the government to pay for their courses until they are earning.
The Government states its priorities for tertiary education in its Tertiary Education Strategy. which sets out the Government’s long-term strategic direction for tertiary education. This strategy highlights the need to build international relationships that contribute to improved competitiveness, support business and innovation through development of relevant skills and research and improve outcomes for all. The strategy focuses on ensuring we have an outward-facing and engaged tertiary education system, with strong links to industry, community and the global economy.
All providers operate in an environment of decentralised governance and management. To ensure the most effective use of its funding, government encourages sector cooperation.
New Zealand has eight public state-funded universities. All are well-recognised internationally, have strong international connections and collaborate with universities in other countries on a range of research and teaching programmes.
New Zealand’s university quality assurance system ensures that the standards of both teaching and research are high and consistent across all the universities. All New Zealand’s universities offer a broad range of subjects for undergraduate, masters and Doctoral (PhD) degrees in commerce, science and the humanities. A number of universities have more than one campus, often located in different cities. Many have overseas programmes, usually in partnership with an offshore provider, as a base for delivery of courses. A range of programmes are also delivered online.
A performance-based funding system encourages and rewards research that is of the highest quality and relevance to contemporary needs.
Universities also work closely with the business community in New Zealand and overseas to involve students in leading-edge research and development.
New Zealand has a number of government-funded Centres of Research Excellence (CoRE), which are primarily, but not exclusively inter-institutional research networks, with researchers working on a commonly agreed work programme. Each CoRE is hosted by a university and comprises a number ofpartner organisations including other universities, Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) and Wānanga (tertiary providers focused on Māori tradition and custom).
Most university staff combine research and teaching. They come from all over the world and keep their international connections using sabbatical and other provisions for ensuring regular engagement with the global academic community. Faculties of Education within universities are closely involved with the wider education system in New Zealand and internationally, and carry out the majority of research underpinning policies and practice in New Zealand schools and early childhood centres. Most of our teacher education for schools is carried out in the universities.
Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics
There are 16 Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs) in New Zealand. They provide professional and vocational education and training on a wide range of subjects from introductory studies through to full degree programmes. Programmes are at all levels: community interest courses, English language training, foundation programmes, certificates, diplomas, degrees and some postgraduate qualifications. The most common qualifications ITPs award are certificates and diplomas encouraging students to build from lower qualifications to higher ones. Courses emphasize practical experience and application to work situations such
as studios, workshops, laboratories, hospitals and other workplaces.
Below is a list of links to institutes of technology and polytechnics in New Zealand
- Ara Institute of Canterbury (ARA)
- Eastern Institute of Technology (Hawkes Bay) (EIT)
- Manukau Institute of Technology
- Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT)
- Northland Polytechnic (NorthTec)
- Otago Polytechnic
- Southern Institute of Technology (SIT)
- Tai Poutini Polytechnic
- The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand
- Unitec New Zealand
- Universal College of Learning (UCOL)
- Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology
- Waikato Institute of Technology (Wintec)
- Wellington Institute of Technology (Weltec)
- Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki (WITT)
- Whitireia Community Polytechnic
Private Training Establishments (PTE)
Many of New Zealand’s Private Training Establishments (PTEs) offer specific vocational niches at certificate and diploma level for occupations. For example, travel and tourism, design, computer training in certificate, diploma programmes and English language learning, and more. At any one time there are approximately 550 registered Private Training Establishments (PTEs), including registered private English language schools.