If you have more than one option to choose from, choosing the right local school or kura for your child is important and can make a big difference in their happiness and wellbeing as well as how well they do at school.
Think about the practical things
Ask yourself these questions:
- How will your child get to and from school?
- Does the school you’re considering provide supervision for children aged 14 and under, before and after school?
- Does the school have a uniform?
- Does the school have a donations scheme?
- Do you live in the enrolment zone?
To see if your local school has an enrolment zone and whether you live within that, visit the Education Counts website, type in a school, or your address and search. You should also contact the school or kura to check if you’re in the school’s zone.
List your child’s education priorities
These priorities will depend on your child’s needs and preferences, and your circumstances. What are your child’s must-haves and what could you compromise on?
Here are some examples of priorities that you might see as important when choosing your local school or kura.
The school or kura’s approach to supporting children with special education needs or talents.
Additional learning support is available in every local school or kura. It’s planned to support student, educators, families and whanau in a range of different ways depending on individual needs
Every child should be able to get to and from school safely. Seven out of eight students make their own way to their local school or kura without Government assistance, but we help students get to their closest school if it’s a long way and there’s no public transport available. We also help students who have specific safety or mobility needs.
Does the school or kura have a bilingual unit or teach in Te Reo Māori? Māori Medium Education is where students are taught either all or some curriculum subjects in the Māori language for at least half of the time (Māori Language Immersion Levels 1-2).
Does the school or kura have particular education philosophies or principles?
Some schools have their own special or designated character. These schools have a character that differs in some specific ways and cater for students whose parents want them to get such an education. Examples include religious, cultural, and teaching philosophies.
Is there a strong emphasis on a particular curriculum area of interest to your child, such as music or sport?
Are there particular subjects offered at a senior level that will support your child's interests and possible career path?
The national curriculum covers subjects that are taught at primary and secondary schools and the standards students should reach in each subject.
Schools that teach in the English language use the New Zealand curriculum whereas schools that teach in the Māori language use Te Marautanga o Aotearoa (a curriculum based on Māori philosophies).
Make a shortlist
Make a list of schools near your home and any others you might want to consider.
To see what schools are available, a good place to start is our Find Your Nearest School tool on Education Counts.
You can search for a specific school or kura, or by your address to find nearby schools. You can also use filters to search for specific schools or kura, including school types (based on year level), school authority (private vs. integrated); if there are Maori or Pacific Medium schools; and whether the school or kura is co-educational or single-sex.
Find Your Nearest School contains contact details for each school or kura, and lets you know if it is a cohort entry school. Find Your Nearest School also includes the enrolment zones for schools and kura, although you should check with schools to confirm that you are within the school zone.
Decide on a school
Here are some things you can do to help in your decision on a school:
- Talk to other families whose children go to those schools.
- Make appointments to visit your nearest schools or kura and meet with the principals, and possibly your child’s potential teacher(s).
- Visit the schools or kura at different times of the day, to observe class time and visit during a break or lunchtime.
- Go to open days or evenings
- Check out the Education Review Office (ERO) Report for the schools you are considering.
Find Your Nearest School contains ERO reports for each school or kura. ERO is a government department that reviews schools as part of its work. ERO’s reports provide information for parents and communities about a school’s strengths and next steps for development.