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Private Schools for Expats in New Zealand

Submitted: October 2014

There are generally two kinds of private school in New Zealand: state integrated schools and traditional private schools. There are around 300 state integrated schools and 100 private schools in New Zealand. Education at state integrated schools is funded by the state; but they charge fees of around NZ$1,500 – NZ$5,000 per year to pay for facilities. These schools teach the New Zealand curriculum, aiming to educate the children to the level required for entry into university, some may also offer internationally recognised curricula as an add-on. For more details regarding state integrated schools, see Education - State Schools in New Zealand. Traditional private schools receive limited funding from the state, charge fees, and are free to choose their own curriculum. Many private schools offer internationally recognised standards such as GCSE (UK) and the International Baccalaureate (IB).

From the age of three, children may attend pre-school education. This is either teacher-led as in a traditional kindergarten, or parent-led as in play centres and playgroups. While they can charge fees, 20 hours a week of early childhood education (ECE) is provided free by the State between the ages of three and five.

Education is compulsory from the age of six to sixteen, though most children will attend school from the age of five. Primary education generally lasts between the ages of about five or six and 12/13 (years 1 to 8). After the end of primary school, children will move on to secondary education. This generally lasts between the ages of about 13 to 17 (years 9 to 13). Around 5% of children attend private schools. Contributory primary schools only take children between year 1 and year 6, after which the children will either move onto an intermediate school for years 7 and 8, or go to a secondary school with intermediate classes. There are also composite schools which provide education all the way through from years 1 to 13.

The curriculum at each school will vary, depending on which educational standard the school has adopted. Generally at secondary level your children will study maths, science, technology, history, geography, English, art and PE, and they may also study one or sometimes two other languages. For details of the standards offered it is necessary to check with each school. There is a useful search tool for finding a suitable school at any level here. There is also a list of private schools which contains contact details, website links and other information here. There is a list of schools offering the International Baccalaureate programme here.

While entry into higher education in New Zealand is generally decided on the basis of the New Zealand NCEA certificate results, most universities and colleges will also accept applications based on internationally recognised standards. The level of fees varies from school to school but can be as high as NZ$20,000 per year with extra fees for children who attend a full boarding basis. Fees can also vary widely between New Zealand resident children and those coming from abroad. Each school has its own registration requirements and may charge registration and other fees.

New Zealand is unusual in that there are four terms in the school year. Details of the dates of the terms in the state sector are here, however private schools are free to set their own term dates, so they will vary from school to school.




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