Ages and Year groups
All children aged 6 to 16 years in New Zealand must either attend school or be educated at home. Most children start school when they turn five years old. Children must start school between the ages of five and six. All children must be enrolled in school or in home education by their sixth birthday. Once your child starts school, they must attend it every day unless they have a valid reason to not attend (such as sick).
There are 13 years in the New Zealand school system. Schooling begins at primary school - the first year at primary school is referred to as ‘Year 1’. Primary school covers Years 1 to 8 if it is a ‘full’ primary school, or Years 1 to 6 if it is a ‘contributing’ primary school.
If your child enrols in a contributing primary school, they will attend an intermediate school to complete Years 7 and 8. After finishing primary or intermediate school, your child will attend secondary school (also called ‘college’ or ‘high school’) to complete their final school years (Years 9 to 13). They may leave secondary school before reaching Year 13, but not until their 16th birthday.
When international students are enrolled into New Zealand schools they will in most cases be placed in the same school year as other children of the same age. For example, if the child is 10 years old, they will probably be placed in year 5 or 6 with other 10 year olds. If the child is secondary school age (around 12 or 13 years old), which school year they are placed in also depends on giving them time to complete their National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) qualifications.