Step one Schooling basics

In New Zealand, children can start school or kura anytime between the ages of five and six. Once children turn six, they must be enrolled and attend a school or kura every day.

Types of schools

The education system for schools and kura is made up of thirteen year levels and is loosely divided into two parts: Primary and Secondary.

Primary education starts at Year 1 and goes to Year 8 (six to twelve years of age), whilst Secondary education goes from Year 9 to Year 13 (around thirteen to eighteen years of age). Schools or Kura will either be single sex or co-educational.

There is a wide variety of schools to meet a child’s needs.  Most schools and kura are state schools, however, there are integrated schools which are state schools that have a special character, such as, catholic schools.  There are also private school options.  While most schools teach and learn in English, other language options are available, such as Te Reo.

Cohort entry

In the majority of schools, your child can start school on the day they turn five 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).

Our Find Your Nearest School tool on Education Counts can tell you if a school has a cohort entry policy.

Find out more

Schooling options


The process for enrolling in a school or kura with a zone is explained in the section on Enrolling