Types of schools and year levels

You might be thinking about local schools when you’re moving into a new area or looking at renting, buying or building a new house.

The network is made up of schools of different types and structures to be able to offer every child and young person the opportunities they need to learn and achieve.

Years and levels
School types and structures
Boarding schools and hostels
Trades academies
Find out more

Years and levels

There are around 13 years in the New Zealand school system, which begins at primary school. Primary school covers years 0 to 8 if it’s a ‘full’ primary school, or years 0 to 6 if it’s a ‘contributing’ primary school. Year 0 students are new entrants that start primary school in the second half of the year, and move into year 1 the following year. An intermediate school then receives children from a contributing primary school for years 7 and 8.

After finishing primary or intermediate school, children attend secondary school to complete their final school years (Years 9 to 13). They can leave secondary school before reaching year 13, but usually not until after their 16th birthday.

The national curriculum is not strictly tied to year, level or age. Curriculum levels represent a stage of learning because each student's rate of learning is different. Students progress from one level to the next when they’re ready to, and when they’ve achieved the skills, knowledge and understanding required for each level. This means that teachers teach students at multiple levels in their classes.

School types and structures

TypeLevelLearningDescriptionGovernanceSchool propertyProperty funded by
State Range between Years 0-13 Teach the national curriculum The majority of schools in New Zealand. Government-owned and fully state funded, and mostly co-educational (ie. teach boys and girls). Board of Trustees We manage property in partnership with Boards of Trustees. Some Boards might delegate some property responsibilities to project managers. Entirely funded by the government - 5YA and funding specifically for expansion projects.
State integrated Range between Years 0-13 Teach the national curriculum according to the principles of their own special character Mostly schools that started as private schools and have become part of the state system – a state school with a special character which might be a particular religion, philosophy or set of values. Board of Trustees Land and buildings are owned by proprietors (usually a church or other trust board) not the government. Proprietors are responsible for property maintenance, improvements and construction projects, and maintaining the school’s special character. Receive some government funding to maintain and upgrade property, and schools charge attendance dues to meet remaining property costs.
Designated character Range between Years 0-13 Teach the national curriculum and follow an approach specific to their character. This might be a particular iwi tradition, language or culture, or a particular educational philosophy State schools designated under section 156 of the Education Act that have their own unique character with their own set of aims, purposes and objectives reflecting their own values. Examples include Māori medium schools affiliated to a particular iwi. 2 Board of Trustees We manage property in partnership with Boards of Trustees. Some Boards might delegate some property responsibilities to project managers. Entirely funded by the government - 5YA and funding specifically for expansion projects.

Kura Kaupapa Māori

  • Kura
  • Wharekura
Years 0-8, Years 9-13, or Years 0-13 Teach in te reo Māori, and learning is based on Māori culture and values, and within a particular philosophy called Te Aho Matua. A specific type of designated character school where teaching and learning is mainly in te reo (the Māori language) and the school operates in accordance with Te Aho Matua as its philosophy. 3 Board of Trustees We manage property in partnership with Boards of Trustees. Some Boards might delegate some property responsibilities to project managers. Entirely funded by the government - 5YA and funding specifically for expansion projects.
Private (also referred to as independent) Range between Years 0-13 Choose an appropriate curriculum A non-state school that can apply to be registered with us and that must meet certain standards to be registered. May be either co-educational or single-sex. There are differences between private schools and state schools, usually in terms of their legal structure and how they are governed and funded. Often a Trust Board, but can employ any governance structure they choose. Independently-owned, so managers provide and maintain school land and buildings. Receive some government funding to run the school but mainly fund themselves with their own resources.
Area Years 0-13 Teach the national curriculum A state school that offers primary, intermediate and secondary education in one school, usually located in a rural or small population area. Board of Trustees We manage property in partnership with Boards of Trustees. Some Boards might delegate some property responsibilities to project managers.  Entirely funded by the government - 5YA and funding specifically for expansion projects.
Composite Range between years 0-13 Teach the national curriculum A school that offers some combination of primary, intermediate and secondary education at one school (eg. A Year 7-10 junior high). A composite school may be state, state integrated or a designated character school. Board of Trustees We manage property in partnership with Boards of Trustees. Some Boards might delegate some property responsibilities to project managers. Entirely funded by the government - 5YA and funding specifically for expansion projects.
Restricted composite (also referred to as
Junior High,
Junior College
Middle School)
Years 7-10 Teach the national curriculum Focus on middle school education for students in Year 7-10. Board of Trustees Boards of Trustees and the Ministry manage property at state schools in partnership. Some Boards of Trustees might delegate some property work responsibilities to project managers. State-owned and property entirely funded by the government - 5YA and funding, specifically for expansion projects.
Day Special Range between Years 0-13 Teach the national curriculum A state school providing specialist education and support for students with specific physical, behavioural, sensory or intellectual needs. Enrolments are only accepted through a section 9 agreement, and learning can be delivered in base or satellite classrooms, or an Intensive Wrap Around Service (IWS). 4 Board of Trustees We manage property in partnership with Boards of Trustees. Some Boards might delegate some property responsibilities to project managers. Entirely funded by the government - 5YA and funding specifically for expansion projects.
Residential Special and Sensory Range between Years 0-13   A school providing 24 hour specialist education and support for students with physical, behavioural, sensory or intellectual needs. Enrolments are only accepted through a section 9 agreement, and learning can be delivered in base or satellite classrooms, or an Intensive Wrap Around Service (IWS). 5 Board of Trustees We manage property in partnership with Boards of Trustees. Some Boards might delegate some property responsibilities to project managers. Entirely funded by the government - 5YA and funding specifically for expansion projects.
Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu Years 0-13 Teach the national curriculum Te Kura used to be called The Correspondence School. It offers a range of learning options for students who might live remotely or too far from their closest school, live overseas, have medical or special learning requirements, or want to study a specific subject not offered by their school. Board of Trustees N/A Entirely funded by the government, with staff in communities around the country, and regional offices in Wellington, Auckland, Hamilton and Christchurch.
Regional health Range between Years 0-13 Teach the national curriculum, with teaching provided in a hospital school or home setting, or in a regional health facility. Learning opportunities for students who are experiencing significant health issues, and who might be in hospital, recovering at home or gradually returning to school. There are three regional health schools in New Zealand covering the Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch areas.   We manage property in partnership with Boards of Trustees. Some Boards might delegate some property responsibilities to project managers.  
Teen Parent Unit (TPU) Years 9-13 Teach the national curriculum A learning environment provided by some state secondary schools for pregnant or young parent students. Board of Trustees As per the school  
Home schooling Ages 6-16 We consider applications for home schooling. Approval requires evidence that the regularity and quality of the learning will be at least the same as received at a registered school or class, clinic or service for children with special learning needs. An option for parents, caregivers and whānau who want to educate their child at home, which is only available if we grant an exemption from the requirement to enrol at school.
An annual grant to help with the cost of learning materials is available, or teaching services can be purchased from Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu.
     

Boarding schools and hostels

Some schools operate boarding facilities, or hostels, to accommodate students who need to live on campus during term time. Boarding schools charge boarding fees, and must comply with the requirements of the Education (Hostels) Regulations 20051. Some state integrated schools with boarding facilities are owned by proprietors, and they must also comply with the Regulations.

School hostels are not specifically attached to any school. They are always operated as private businesses, and where they are being run by a school’s Board of Trustees, they remain a separate legal entity to the school. The Government does not fund hostels – our role is solely as the Licensing Authority that regulates them.

Trades academies

While not part of the schooling network, trades academies aim to get young New Zealanders engaged in education and equip tomorrow’s workforce with relevant skills by linking with the wider industry training system.

Footnotes

Education (Hostels) Regulations 2005

Education Act 1989, s156 Designated character schools

Education Act 1989, s156 Designated character schools, s156AA Process for establishing designated character schools, and s155A-s155F Kura Kaupapa Māori

Education Act 1989, s9 (1) Special education

Education Act 1989, s9 (1) Special education

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