The government fully funds ECE 20 hours per week for all children aged 3 to 4.
ECE licensed centers include:
Pre-School (called Kindergarten), which are teacher-led programs
Play-centers and playgroups, which can be teacher or parent-led programs
All use a curriculum framework called Te Whariki (this is a metaphor using the Maori word for woven mat). The curriculum focuses on child-centered, play based activities.
The Ministry of Education states that currently there are over 4,000 centers across the country.
Primary School Education:
Most students start primary school on their 5th birthday (Year 0), but it is not compulsory until age 6 (Year 1).
Full primary schools teach years 1 – 8, and contributing primary schools teach years 1 – 6. Students who attend a contributing school, go on to intermediate school for years 7 and 8.
According to the Education Counts site, New Zealand currently has 1,945 primary schools, with enrollment ranging from 10 to 2,000 students.
English-medium primary schools use the New Zealand Curriculum, which focuses on 5 key competencies and 8 learning areas.
Maori-medium schools, where at least half the curriculum is taught in Te Reo Maori, use Te Marautanga o Aotearoa. This curriculum has 9 learning areas because it separately teaches Maori language/literature and English language.
Interesting note: All of the English-medium schools I visited incorporated some level of Maori words and phrases into their classrooms.
Secondary Education (referred to as college/high school):
This is for Years 9 – 13 (ages 13 – 19)
For 6 to 16 years old – school is compulsory; 16 to 19 years old – school is optional, depending on the scores from their National Certificate in Educational Achievement (NCEA) and plans to transition to further education, training or a career.
According to the Education Counts site New Zealand currently has 374 secondary schools, which includes 25 teen parent units and a few other specialized correspondence-type schools.
The country also has 173 Composite schools, which encompass Years 1 – 15 (years 14 & 15 would be considered tertiary, and include technology, polytechnic, and workplace training programs).
Tertiary education covers all education after secondary school, and includes both higher education and vocational training.
Beginning January 1, 2018 the Government declared that all New Zealand students, who finish schooling in 2017-18, can receive their first year of tertiary education (including industry training) fees-free. They also introduced other monetary boosts for student allowances and certain living costs. The Ministry of Education predicts 80,000 students will use this benefit.