Early leaving exemption (ELX)

Find out about early leaving exemptions and alternative options that should be considered before seeking an exemption.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Students
  • Parents, Caregivers and Whānau
  • Teachers and Kaiako
  • Principals and Tumuaki
  • Employers
  • Tertiary training providers

By law, children in New Zealand aged 6 to 16 years old must be enrolled in school. However, in some circumstances, students aged 15 are permitted to leave school to follow a different pathway.

About early learning exemptions

Before considering an early leaving exemption (ELX), students should be encouraged to explore other options.

The early leaving exemption (ELX) is for students aged 15 who are intending to follow a successful pathway outside the formal school system. This may include employment or a training course.

If seeking an exemption for your child, you must contact your local Ministry office to discuss your child’s circumstances. If an exemption is an option for the student, our staff will talk you through the process.

Other options to explore

The Youth Guarantee website has information about the Gateway programme, Secondary Tertiary Alignment Resource (STAR) and Trades Academies initiatives.

Youth Guarantee website(external link)

The Careers NZ website has information on work experience options and making career decisions after school.

Work experience options — Careers NZ website(external link)

The Te Kura (formerly known as the Correspondence School) website has information on a range of programmes and courses.

Subjects and courses — Te Kura website(external link)

The Te Kura Ipurangi (TKI) website has information on alternative education options, activity centres and service academies.

Alternative education  TKI website(external link)

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