Secondary Education in New Zealand

It is compulsory for children in New Zealand to attend school until they are 16, so they will have some experience of the secondary education system there. For most children, secondary education begins at the age of 12 or 13 and it will run for around five years, covering years 9 to 13. However, children do have the option to leave before year 13, providing they attend school until at least the date of their 16th birthday.

Most of the secondary education establishments in New Zealand are owned by the state and there is a defined curriculum that is followed by all pupils. Private secondary schools in New Zealand often follow different religious or philosophic traditions, practices and teachings. English, maths and science are all compulsory until year 11. After this there are no compulsory subjects although some schools might encourage pupils to continue with English or another language to assist with applications to university.

There are national qualifications that can be taken by all pupils attending a secondary school in New Zealand. These are monitored and checked by the government and educational agencies. The National Certificate of Educational Achievement – also known as NCEA – actually comprises three different certificates. Study for level 1 of NCEA begins in year 11 and this is followed with levels 2 and 3 as pupils progress through to year 13. Level 1 allows for a broad understanding of many subjects, while levels 2 and 3 allow the pupil to specialize in one area or subject. It is the Level 2 results are usually those that are considered for entry to university, but some subjects may require a level 3 qualification for entry to a university course.

These qualifications are recognized by higher education establishments and employers both in New Zealand and internationally. However, these are not the only qualifications that can be earned by pupils in secondary education in New Zealand. They can study for vocational qualifications including national certificates in subjects such as computing, motor engineering and tourism.