From pre-school through to tertiary study, Southland offers some of the best educational opportunities in New Zealand with high-quality education facilities encouraging excellent learning environments for students.
New Zealand's education system has three levels:
- Early childhood education: from birth to school entry age
- Primary and secondary education: from five to 19 years of age
- Further education: higher and vocational education
In New Zealand, it’s common for children to start their education before starting primary school at age five. This involves early childhood education options such as kindergartens, daycare centres, home-based care, or play centres and playgroups.
Kindergartens, daycare centres and home-based care are licensed and involve registered teachers, whereas play centres and individual playgroups are parent-led with parents closely involved in the running of the centre and working with the children.
The government funds the cost of children aged three & four to attend early childhood education service or kōhanga reo, for up to 20 hours per week, for up to 6 hours per day. This is regardless of family income, immigration status or any other reason.
The usual fees and policies regarding this funding will vary from centre to centre. You can find more information on the 20 hours free scheme here
Primary & secondary
Schooling is compulsory from age 6-16. In the majority of schools, your child can start school on the day they turn 5 years old (they don't have to wait until the start of a new school year). However some schools have a policy of starting children at school together as a group at the start of each term (cohort entry).
The education system for schools is made up of 13 year levels, with primary education starting at Year 1 and going to Year 8 (around 5-12 years of age). Most primary schools in Southland run from year 1 to year 8, although there are a couple of intermediate schools that cater only for year 7 & 8 students.
Secondary education goes from Year 9 to Year 13 (around 13-17 years of age) and in Southland there are a range of co-ed, single-sex and faith-based schooling options available.
Most schools will have zoning in place – which means that you must live within the school’s zoning area in order to gain automatic entry for your child. You can apply to a school outside your zone area, but there will be no guarantees of acceptance. Zoning does not always apply to faith-based schools, but it is best to check with the respective school for more information.
Once students have completed their secondary level education, there are a number of tertiary education providers in Southland for them to choose from if they would like to continue studying. These include:
- The Southern Institute of Technology
- Otago University College of Education – Southland Campus
- Te Wānanga o Aotearoa
There are a number of New Zealand institutions that offer courses and qualifications by distance-learning also known as extramural study, including Massey University and the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand.
Coming to New Zealand to Study?
If you've been living overseas and come to New Zealand to study, you may be eligible for financial assitance.
To qualify you need to be:
- a New Zealand citizen or
- resident of New Zealand and either:
- have been living in New Zealand for at least 3 years while holding a residence class visa, or
- be a refugee or protected person, or
- be sponsored into New Zealand by someone in your family who, at the time you were sponsored, was a refugee or protected person.
If you're in one of these situations, you may be able to get a:
- Student Loan to help pay for your:
- compulsory course fees
- course-related costs
- living costs
- Student Allowance to help pay for your living costs.