School-to-school exchanges

A New Zealand school-to-school student exchange scheme is an exchange scheme that has been approved by the Ministry of Education and is offered by a Code signatory school.
School-to-school exchanges, also called sister school exchanges, are direct relationships between a school in New Zealand and a school overseas.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


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

Establishing a school to school exchange programme

Your school might like to consider the following factors when establishing an exchange programme and choosing an exchange partner school.

Establishing a school-to-school exchange programme

  • How do exchanges fit with your school’s internationalisation policy, if you have one?
  • Do you have the time, resources and funds to establish and maintain the school relationships, and to support both inbound and outbound students?
  • Is there demand from your current students for student exchanges?
  • If you teach a language, can you connect to a school in a country with the target language?
  • How do outbound exchanges fit with your school’s EOTC policy?
  • Funding the exchange.

Finding an exchange partner

  • Has your school been involved in other international learning opportunities which you can expand?
  • Do you have a current relationship with an overseas school which you could extend to include exchanges?
  • Is your school part of an international network of schools with similar values or philosophies?
  • School staff connections: do any teachers or staff members have connections with schools in other countries? Have any of your teachers taught overseas?
  • School community: are any of your school community from overseas? Do they have connections with schools in other countries?
  • Does your town have an active sister city relationship?

Sister Cities New Zealand website(external link)

The Asia-New Zealand Foundation website has information on developing sister school relationships, which can help you develop your exchange programme.

Asia New Zealand Foundation(external link)

Requirements to operate a school-to-school exchange

Your school must be a signatory to the Education (Pastoral Care of Tertiary and International Learners) Code of Practice 2021 (the Code) to apply.

Tertiary and International Learners Code of Practice – NZQA(external link)

Before approving a school-to-school student exchange scheme, the Ministry will need to be satisfied that:

  • The scheme has educational and intercultural value.
  • The scheme is designed in a way that supports sustainability and long-term viability of the scheme.
  • The scheme is reciprocal, the numbers of inbound and outgoing students are the same.
  • The scheme is for students aged 14 to 19 years and who are enrolling in years 9-15 (or the overseas equivalent).
  • A written agreement with the overseas partner school/s that gives the board confidence that reciprocal tuition, pastoral care, accommodation, and risk analysis of education outside the classroom will be in place for outbound students as it is for inbound students.
  • The board of trustees can demonstrate that they will apply the same pastoral care requirements of the Code to its exchange students.

Application forms

You must then submit a full application to operate an exchange programme in your school to

2022 School-to-School Student Exchanges: Application for approval [DOCX, 73 KB]

2022 School-to-School Student Exchanges: Template [DOCX, 17 KB]

If you already have an approved exchange programme, you can add additional overseas partner schools by using the following application form and a Memorandum of Understanding with a partner school.

School-to-school student exchanges additional application form [DOCX, 241 KB]

We’ll contact you to let you know the outcome of your application.

Last reviewed: Has this been useful? Give us your feedback