Please remember, that these
are all written from the perspective of a secondary school immigrant
teacher. Any mistakes are my own, and for any incorrect
in other areas of education, I apologise in advance.
In general, all state provided primary and secondary education in New
Zealand is free.
There is however a request for a voluntary
donation of varying amounts to provide extras for the students.
These extras are normally activities and other extra-curricular events,
but most schools
depend on this donation to provide at least part of the funds for
running the school..
Although most students attend state-funded schools, parents, caregivers
and students have other options.
- Kura kaupapa
Maori are state schools where teaching is in
the Maori language.
- Special Schools are state schools that provide education
for students with special needs.
- Integrated schools are part of the state system but have a
character, usually based on a philosophical or religious belief.
- Independent (or private) schools are governed by their own
boards. The students pay fees to attend.
- Boarding Schools are either independent or part of state
funded schools that charge fees for boarding.
- Correspondence School provides distance education for
students from primary school to adults.
- Home-based schooling is available for parents or caregivers
who meet the criteria set by the Ministry of Education.
Primary Education is provided for Years 1 - 6. (Approx. Age 5 - 10)
Intermediate Schools are for Years 7 &
Age 11 - 12)
Secondary Schools are for Years 9 - 13
(Approx. Age 13 - 18)
In rural areas, the schools may follow the
Primary/Intermediate/Secondary model, with small local Primaries, and
the pupils being bussed to a more distant centralised Secondary.
Other rural areas use an Area School model, which is really a small
Rural (and other) schools often use some Correspondence School courses
to help them fill
out to a fuller syllabus.
The secondary curriculum is undergoing a considerable revision at the
moment, and until we have actually implemented it, I would refer you to
for further information.
Pupils at secondary school used to work towards a School Certificate (School
.) similar to the old Scottish qualification.
Now, they work towards a National Certificate of Educational
Levels 1 to 3, sometimes Level 4
Achieving an NCEA depends not just on total credits (explained later)
but a particular mix of credits which must include literacy and
Credits are gained through passes
achievements in either Internal or External assessments.
There are two main types of assessments.
Unit Standards (all internal)
Achievement Standards (a mix of Internal and External)
Coming from Scotland, and remembering my training in Teaching College
in the 90s (1990s, I'm not really that old), I had a really strange
feeling of déjà vu
I had seen this type of approach before....NVQ Modules!
A National Standard descriptor is produced by the New Zealand
Qualification Authority (NZQA), and it is the responsibility of each
teacher (in reality the Head of Faculty (equivalent to the Scottish
Principal Teacher)) to produce an assessment and a marking schedule
compliant with the standard..
These can also be bought commercially.
These US can be achieved at Level 1 through 4 at secondary school
level, and they are also available throughout all New Zealand's
tertiary and vocational education system, up to Level 6.
Each US is given an NZQA Level and a number of credits. For
(Apply language and text processing skills to produce
communications) is assessed at Level 2, and if successful, the
candidate will be awarded 5 credits at Level 2.
The students either achieve or fail to achieve. There is no
differentiation in the achievement.
more complex to assess and teach than US, as they have to be awarded in
4 grades; Not Achieved, Achieved, Merit and Excellence.
Descriptors are available from the NZQA, but there are more
teaching and assessment tools available. See TKI
Each AS is also given a Level and Credit value, and as mentioned
before, can be Internal or External.
In addition to students gaining a NCEA at the various
they wish to gain entry to a University, then they must attain a
certain combination of credits at Level 3, totalling at least 42
Credits, and including both literacy and numeracy credits.
Is an additional award which students may apply for via
examination. Various rewards are linked to this exam.
Some schools (mostly private) also offer the International
Baccalaureate and/or International Cambridge A Levels.
Most secondary schools in New Zealand have a similar
syllabus, offering a range of courses in the following eight areas;
Arts, Technology, Mathematics, English, Social Studies, Physical
Education, Languages, Maori and Sciences.
Each of the faculties offer a range of courses inside each learning
area. For example Technology can offer:
Hard Materials, Computer Aided Design, Graphics, Textile Technology,
ICT can be within Technology, or as is becoming the norm, a separate
The Year 9s (youngest year group) normally cover all Faculty areas in
their first year, with the only choice probably being in Languages
(French, Japanese, Te Reo Maori). All the technology areas are visited
via a rotation.
Year 10s begin to specialise, opting for an Arts/Technology choice.
Some schools offer the first National Assessments at this stage.
The pupils cannot be awarded any NZQA achievements at this year level,
but any achieved internally can be 'banked' for their next
Year 11s are now on a senior timetable, with between 4 and 6 subjects
available to be chosen. (Depends on school and ability)
Most subjects are taught and assessed at Level 1, some at Level 1
Year 12s continue with their Year 11 choices (usually). Most
subjects are taught at Level 2, some at Level 3.
Year 13s continue with their Year 12 choices (usually). Most
subjects are taught at Level 2 or 3, some at Level 4.
Pupils can, under some circumstances, stay at school until 21,
repeating Year 13.
Adults can be admitted to classes as students. It is unusual,
but not unheard of.
The Course Levels are variable, dependant on pupil ability.
In general it is useful to compare the Levels as:
||SQA Level (Scotland)
||QCA (England, N.Ireland and Wales)
||Access II/Intermediate I
||Intermediate I/Intermediate II
There are however variations between these comparisons, indeed, there
are variations between Levels in the NZQA qualifications.
Level 1 in computing, (US101
Develop and use keyboarding skills to enter text) is considerably
easier to attain then almost any of the English Level 1 qualifications.
Level 4 in computing (US18742
and operate a relational database to provide a solution for an
organisation) is considerably more complex than a Level 4 in Chemistry.
(It's also slightly more difficult(in practice, not the
component) than the equivalent Advanced Higher on the SQA)
Very similar to a Scottish (and I believe, English) structure, with
This is a simplified diagram, with many ancillary and support staff not
One layer of the structure is not shown, as it does not normally impact
on the day to day running of the school.
The Board of Trustees
is an elected body entrusted with the overall
governance of the school.
This is no rubber stamping group, as under the New Zealand system, each
school is awarded a sum of money, based primarily on pupil numbers,
which is used to run the school.
This operations grant
practically everything used in everyday activities, with the notable
exclusion of teacher's salaries and some of the building maintenance.
The BOT, which includes the Principal and a staff representative,
establish the school's priorities and allocate monies through an annual
They also (or at least a representative) sit on employment interview
panels for HOF and above, and on disciplinary panels in cases of severe
They form the main committees running Finance, Building and Student
Discipline (more on this last one later)
The BOT represent the local community's interest in their school, and a
well-running board will, with the Principal, ensure that the school
meets the communities needs and expectations.
The BOT is supposed to focus on the long term governance
school, not the day to day management, which is left to the Principal
and his management team. Occasionally, BOT and
Principal will disagree to such an
that the school can no longer operate efficiently. This is a
occurrence, but it does happen. The Minister of Education can
and appoint a statutory manager or Principal, or can even dismiss an
interfering or non-functional Board.
This overall structure has advantages and disadvantages over the
Scottish and UK systems.
- Flexibility on Strategy (within essential curriculum and
- Increased school identity and character.
- Teachers can be employed on pure ability, with no regard to
their pay level.
- Lack of centralised support.
- Schools can have severe financial difficulty.
Every school has some problem pupils, and even normally good students
can go off the rails, so every school needs a discipline policy.
Internal school procedures will vary, but there are overall guidelines
from the MOE and laws from Parliament.
Corporal punishment is illegal in NZ schools.
Caning was abolished in 1989, and although almost all NZ schools
complied with the legislation and introduced non-violent consequences,
some schools of a special character managed to circumvent this by
bringing in the parents/caregivers of the student to administer some
form of corporal punishment.
The passing of the controversial anti-smacking
in 2007 closed this loophole.
Schools vary in day to day usage of punishment and rewards, but at
elevated levels of misbehaviour, the following disciplinary methods can
employed by the Principal and his Senior Management Team (SMT)
- Stand Down;
up to a maximum of 5 days removal from school. The student
will automatically return to classes (possibly with some extra
guidance) at the end of the stand down period. Each pupil can
only be stood down for a maximum of 5 school days per term.
The pupil is removed from school, and cannot return until
seen by the school's disciplinary committee (see BOT above).
This committee will examine the evidence and the students
record, and may impose conditions (sometimes quite severe) on that
pupil's return. Return to school is not automatic, and the
committee may decide that it is not in the pupil's or the school's best
interests to allow the return. In that case the pupil will
The pupil will be removed from the school roll, and will have
to find a school to accept him/her someplace else.
A fourth type of action has also become an option. The first 3
mentioned above are all obvious disciplinary actions, e.g. A pupil
breaks a school rule and receives an appropriate punishment, awarded by
the school management. The fourth type is not primarily a
punishment, but is rather a form of restorative justice, using Section 27
of the Education Act. The student is removed from school for up
to 5 days, and during this time, a conference is arranged with all
interested parties. The objective of the conference is to
investigate the facts which led to the removal, discussion with the
pupil, family and staff, agreement of all parties to the next
steps, and finally returning the pupil to normal school attendance.
It really differs from the traditional system, in that it is not
a "punishment" system, but a means of restoring the mutual respect of
student and teaching staff. It does work in many cases, but the
older system of Stand Down etc. is still needed for those pupils who do
not accept that they have done anything remotely wrong.
As with many schools in the UK, high levels of truancy can be a problem.
Many schools employ support staff to chase up the absent pupil's
parents/caregivers, either through phone calls, letters or e-mails.
Schools are now being encouraged to use sections
31(7) and (8) of the Education Act 1989 to prosecute parents/caregivers
through the courts.
Teachers in NZ have about the same status as teachers in England.
Overworked, underpaid and overlooked.
We have great holidays, but after teaching 600 kids a week for four10
week terms, we need as much rest as we can get.
Salaries in NZ are generally lower than the UK equivalent, and teaching
is no exception.
Zealand Pay Rates
||Current rate in
||Current rates in
||Current rates in
||Current rate in
||Current rates in Sterling (0.406)
||Current rate in NZ Dollars
Entry into the NZ pay rate is dependant on qualifications and
experience. See the PPTA
for more details.
In addition to the base salary, extra pay can be awarded for extra
duties, as a Dean (Guidance teacher), Specialist Classroom Teacher, or
as a Head or Assistant Head of a Faculty (HOF). The extra
payments are of two main types, Management Units(MU) and Middle
Management Allowance (MMA).
As of now (March 2008), a MU is worth $3650
per annum, and
an MMA is worth $1000
The MU can be permanent
(assigned to a teacher, normally a HOF or assistant HOF) or fixed term
to a position, Dean etc.)
The MU can be assigned in multiples, with Deans and Assistant HOFs
generally getting 1 MU, HOFs getting between 2 and 5 MU, depending on
size of Faculty and any extra responsibilities.
MMAs are generally distributed amongst all staff with any extra
duties/responsibilities below the management team level.
To give you some idea of the pay differentials between NZ and UK for
those in the leadership groups, here's an example.
(The equivalent salaries are only approximate, due to the different
criteria/duties in each country
An experienced HOF with 4 staff (2 MU + 1 MMA)
Nobody ever said teachers do it to get rich, especially in New Zealand
I have not compared Principals and Deputy Principals salaries, as this
site is primarily designed for immigrants and possible immigrants, and
it is highly unlikely that a new immigrant teacher would be considered
for a senior management role "just off the plane".
In the past, teachers were able to have been appointed by
the Principal or BOT without having any formal qualifications.
These days, NZ, like most of W. Europe and the "First
World" has regulations in place which preclude non-qualified or
non-registered teachers from taking up appointments in the school
There are some hangovers from the previous ad-hoc system however, as
many schools still use non-qualified individuals as relief teachers
(cover for short term teacher illness), and some teachers
in technology areas. having taught for many, many years, can
examinations/assessments, moving their experience gained skills into
the rarefied heights of academe.
The initial qualifications held by a new teacher will decide where on
the pay scale (above
their pay rate will commence, and also how far up the scale they will
be allowed to progress. There is normally plenty of
and support for all staff to progress through more qualifications,
either via a part time release system, or through a longer term
sabbatical leave. Many teachers gain a Masters in Education
still employed as a teacher.
One unfortunate effect of the Kiwi predilection to "the bodge job" (see
is appointing a teacher with a speciality/qualification in one subject,
but timetabling them to teach another, in an often completely unrelated
In Scotland, by Law, a teacher must possess a relevant degree, a post
graduate teaching qualification in the speciality
which will allow them to teach only
in that area.
The Kiwi system does allow for schools to function with a lower
teacher/pupil ratio, as it is rare for a teacher to have any extra
"free periods" during a normal week, but as an example, one of my
colleagues teaches ICT, French, English and Social Studies...all in 1
Nowadays, a teacher needs to possess a Teaching
(TC) registration as well as a degree and post grad.
teaching qualification to get a job as a teacher in a NZ school.
Registration is of three main types
Subject to Confirmation and Full.
A Limited Authority to Teach
available, mostly of a short duration.
Registration has to be renewed every three years at a cost (2008) of
(More details on the acquisition of TC registration in the section on
These are very similar to those in the UK.
There are normally 4 terms in each school year (comparable with the
calander year), each of approximately 10 weeks. School term dates
are available from the Ministry of Education
There are two week holidays between each of the terms, with a longer 6-7 week break in summer, between the school years.
Schools run a five day week, Monday to Friday. Times vary slightly, but a common example would be 8:45 to 15:00.
The number of periods taught each day will vary from school to school, from 4 to 8, with breaks for tea and lunch.
Unlike Scotland, each teacher is expected to perform some
extra-classroom pupil supervision (duties) before school starts, during
tea, lunch and after school.
(We stop the little angels from committing mayhem on each other and on school, or other property)
Scottish teachers managed (during the last big industrial action ) to
remove their obligations of non-classroom supervision, and I hope we
Kiwis do it soon.
It's no fun, missing tea or half of your lunch time.
Animated GIFs courtesy of http://www.freefever.com/