Education System in New Zealand


 EducationSchool/LevelGrade FromGrade ToAge FromAge ToYearsNotes
PrimaryPrimary School196159 
SecondarySecondary Education101315194 
VocationalVocational/Technical School      
TertiaryUniversity      

Primary Education

New Zealand education, which has been ranked 7th best in the world, follows the model of primary schools, secondary schools and tertiary education. From age 6 to 16, education is both compulsory and free (although course materials are not). In an unusual twist, a pupil living over 5 kilometers from their nearest school may opt for distance learning. Most children enter primary school at age 5 where they remain for 6 years.

Middle Education

The primary education program merges into middle school in different ways. Children may remain on at their primary school for grades 7 and 8, or complete these 2 years at bridging intermediate school (stream “a”). Alternatively they may go directly on to junior secondary school where they spend 4 years (stream “b”).

Secondary Education

Students who followed either version of stream “a” complete their last 5 years at secondary schools, while stream “b” spend the last 3 of these at senior secondary school. This unusual composite model is designed to accommodate varying structural capacity in city and rural areas. Sparsely populated areas may have only primary and secondary schools, while city folk may have the benefit of all 4 tiers. In the end though, the outcomes are the same, and the same high teaching standards prevail.

Vocational Education

New Zealand is well served by nearly 40 industry training organizations under the aegis of the industry training act. Unusually, these are financed by a combination of state funding and contributions from trade and industry. They purchase capacity blocks from accredited service providers in advance. The actual training is increasingly being provided in the workplace. Outputs include both apprenticeships for youth, and re-training for adults of all ages.

Tertiary Education

New Zealand EducationThe country is well endowed with a combination of 8 universities and a variety of teacher training colleges. There are in addition a number of private training establishments that fill gaps in the state system, for example in practical business, computing, health care, and hospitality skills.


The oldest tertiary institution is the University of Otago founded in 1869 and illustrated here. It has approximately 22,000 students enrolled, and is considered academically second only  to the larger University of Auckland.


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