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Childcare and Education
We are often asked for information on childcare facilities and recommended schools.
We have compiled some points we think you should take into account when considering where to to accommodate your preferences:
If you have children who need looking after while you are at work, New Zealand has many childcare options, such as childcare centres, crèches, home-based care and family day care or nannies. Childcare centres for young children offer session care (i.e. up to four hours a day) and are open for up to eight or nine hours (between 7.30am and 6pm) or full day options. Some centres may offer casual care in morning or afternoon sessions. Childcare centres will charge a sessional, weekly or daily fee, and an hourly fee for casual care.
Childcare centres are either licensed to take either under two-year-olds or over two-year-olds. Other options such as Montessori or Rudolph Steiner centres, have their own aims and philosophy.
Home-based care services provide a caregiver for very small groups of children in supervised homes in the community where the family needing the care lives. The main organisations that provide family daycare are Barnardo’s, Porse, Home Grown and Selwyn Toddlers. Their fees are charged on an hourly rate and the times are flexible - they can include evenings and weekends to help parents who do shift work (irregular hours).
Most of these services can offer the 20 Hours ECE (early childhood education) subsidy funded by the Ministry of Education. Any three, four or five year old child in New Zealand can be enrolled in ECE and receive 20 Hours ECE even if they are not a New Zealand resident or citizen. For more info visit the Ministry of Education website.
Education and Schools in New Zealand
In most circumstances, your children will attend the local school they are zoned for. If you choose to live outside the zone of your preferred school, your children may not get places - particularly if the school is a popular one with a reputation for high standards. Spare places at popular schools are allocated by ballot. Exceptions to zoning may include attendance at a school with a special character - such as a religious school.
School rules are set by the Board of Governors. The Board is elected by parents. School rules usually mean that school-uniform is compulsory at secondary school. In addition to wearing the uniform, pupils / students usually must not wear make-up, jewellery, unusual hair colourings, nose-piercings, etc, etc.
In addition to the state sector, there is also a flourishing private education sector.
Children who attend any of the better state schools in New Zealand receive a very good education.
Most children start Year 1 on their fifth birthday.
Primary schools teach Year 1 to Year 6 children.
Intermediate schools teach Years 7 and 8.
"Full Primaries" teach Year 1 to Year 8 children.
Secondary schools teach Year 9 to Year 13.
Education / School Costs in New Zealand
State education in New Zealand is meant to be free of charge. In reality, however, there are costs. You need to pay for your childrens' school uniforms, pencils, pens, glue-sticks, stationary etc. Textbooks can be provided free of charge, unless their use involves writing on them and they cannot be returned to the school. Some schools charge for textbooks.
Most state schools charge a fee of somewhere around $100 - $200 per year per child, although some charge considerably more than this. Although payment of the fee is voluntary, most parents pay. The fee pays for extra resources for your children's school, photocopying, etc and it is tax-deductible.
The New Zealand government provides more money to schools in socially deprived areas than it does to schools in better-off areas. The result of this is that, in order to make ends meet, schools in better-off areas tend to charge higher "voluntary" fees than schools in poorer areas.
Education – School Costs
State education in New Zealand is free of charge. You will, however need to pay for your childrens’ school uniforms, pencils, pens, glue-sticks, stationary etc. Text-books are provided free of charge, unless their use involves writing on them and they will not be returned to the school.
Most state schools charge a fee of somewhere around $100 – $300 per year per child, although some charge considerably more than this. Some state high schools charge an annual fee of between $400 and $900. If more than one child attends the same school then it is usual to get a reduction in fees. Although payment of the fee is voluntary, called a donation, most parents pay. The donation pays for extra resources for your children’s school, photocopying, etc. and it is tax-deductible.
Education,Schools Days and Holidays
School days are Monday to Friday. Primary schools usually start at 9 am, or a little earlier, and finish at 3pm. Secondary schools usually start at 8.30am and finish at 3pm or 3.15pm.
The school year runs from February to December and has four terms. Each term is roughly ten weeks long. Summer holidays last about five and a half weeks at primary schools and about a week longer at secondary schools. The Autumn, Winter and Spring holidays each last two weeks.
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