Requirements for term dates, holidays and school closures

This resource supports boards to set their school’s term dates. Schools must comply with requirements regarding occasions including public holidays, paid union meetings and more.

Level of compliance Main audience Other

Required

  • Boards
  • Administrators
  • Principals and tumuaki
  • Parents, caregivers and whānau

Setting school terms and school holidays

  • Schools are able to choose a start date between Auckland Anniversary Day (the Monday closest to 29 January) and the day after Waitangi Day (6 February) and end no later than 20 December in any year.
  • The number of half days prescribed for secondary and composite schools is 380 half days every year.
  • The number of half days prescribed for primary, intermediate and special schools can vary between a minimum of 380 half days and a maximum of 390. (A key reason for this fluctuation is the shifting timing of Easter.)
  • In most years, the first school holidays are timed to include the Easter break. To create terms of a reasonably uniform length in years when Easter falls particularly early, all or some of the Easter break will be during the first term. In these years, fewer half days can be completed before the latest end date (20 December).
  • Schools sharing common community interests are expected to work together to establish a common start date for their community.

In Term 4 of each year, we recommend that you tell school bus operators your school’s term dates for the following year.

Easter Tuesday            

The Tuesday following Easter Monday is a school holiday (but not a statutory holiday), meaning schools must not be open.

The terms and holidays are usually set so that Easter occurs during the first term break and the Easter Tuesday school holiday goes unnoticed. However, in some years Easter falls much earlier than usual such as in 1997, 2005, 2008, 2013, 2016, 2021 and 2024.

To have the first 2-week break at Easter in those years would shorten the first term to only 8 or 9 weeks (instead of around 12 weeks). In turn, this would mean that at least 1 of the other 3 terms would have to be longer.

The Minister aims to set 4 terms of reasonably uniform length. This means that in years when Easter falls particularly early, all or some of the Easter break will be during the first term.

Monday-ised holidays

The public holidays for ANZAC Day (25 April) and Waitangi Day (6 February) are Monday-ised.

This means that when either of these dates fall on a Saturday or Sunday, the corresponding public holiday will be observed on the Monday immediately following.

School closures

Must close

  • State and state-integrated schools must be closed on Saturdays, Sundays and Easter Tuesday (a school holiday).
  • On public holidays and anniversary dates.

It is possible for schools to apply for an exemption to be open on Saturday or Sunday. Contact your local Ministry office for more information.

Local Ministry offices

If your local anniversary day public holiday falls within school term dates your school will need to close on this day and stay open for an extra day to ensure that it is open for the required number of half days.

If Waitangi Day or Anzac Day falls on a weekend, the next Monday is the public holiday.

Monday-ised holidays

May close

Your school may close from time to time for:

  • teacher preparation
  • teacher-only days
  • in-service training days
  • local events including local gala or show days.

As your school is not open for instruction on these days, you must ensure you make up for any closures by December 20 in order to meet the requirements of the prescribed number of half days in a year.

Paid union meetings

Members of the Post Primary Teacher’s Association (PPTA) and the New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) are entitled to attend at least 2 paid union meetings per year.

During these meetings, the board must make arrangements to ensure that the school remains open for instruction.

Paid union meetings – NZSTA(external link)

Emergencies

Your school may need to close because of an epidemic, flood, fire, earthquake or other emergency.

You do not need to get permission from the Ministry of Education to close a school in an emergency but you do need to tell your local Ministry office of the closure.

If the emergency means that your school will not be open for the required number of half-days, you will need to apply for approval to reduce the number of half-days. You should contact the Director of Education at your nearest Ministry office to help you with this application. 

Local Ministry offices

Emergencies do not include paid union meetings or strikes.

Varying school opening hours

Boards may vary their opening hours without approval by the Minister but must consult with parents, staff and the community before doing so.

State and state-integrated schools still need to be open for 2 half days per full school day and must follow the terms and holidays prescribed by the Minister of Education. For example, it is not possible to be open for 3 half days in a school day and then be open for fewer than the number of prescribed half days.

Guidelines for school boards who want to vary their school opening hours are available on the NZSTA website.

Varying school hours – NZSTA Resource Centre(external link)

Cohort entry

In the past, state and state-integrated schools had only 1 way to manage the flow of new entrants into school. This was called 'continuous entry' and parents could enrol their child on their fifth birthday or any subsequent day.

Although some schools had previously adopted 'cohort entry', they hadn't been able to enforce it. 

  • From January 2020, those schools that adopted a cohort entry policy could have children start school in cohorts, but only after they have turned 5.
  • In cohort entry, there are 2 entry points per term: 1 on the first day of a term and 1 at a mid-point during a term.

Mid-point entry

  • The mid-point of each term will be the Monday nearest to halfway between the first and the last day of the term.
  • If the Monday falls on a public holiday, the next working day will be used as the mid-term date.
  • The date used for the first term is the latest possible term start date. Even if your school uses an earlier start date than the day after Waitangi Day or finishes before the latest possible end date for Term 4, the mid-term dates will apply for the purposes of a cohort entry policy.

2024 dates for schools implementing cohort entry

Term

Start-of-term date

Mid-term date

1

7 February 2024

11 March 2024

2

29 April 2024

4 June 2024

3

22 July 2024

26 August 2024

4

14 October 2024

18 November 2024

2025 dates for schools implementing cohort entry

Term

Start-of-term date

Mid-term date

1

7 February 2025

10 March 2025

2

28 April 2025

26 May 2025

3

14 July 2025

18 August 2025

4

6 October 2025

10 November 2025

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