How does New Zealand's education system compare? OECD's Education at a Glance 2014

Publication Details

This report "How does New Zealand's education system compare?" draws on the New Zealand results in OECD's Education at a Glance 2014 and summarises the characteristics and performance of New Zealand's education system in an international context. This year's report mostly relates to education in 2012.

Author(s): David Scott, Ministry of Education.

Date Published: November 2014

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New Zealand's Education System at a Glance

Early Childhood Education (ECE) and Schooling

  • New Zealand continues to perform well on ECE indicators – participation, funding and teacher-child ratios are all well above OECD averages.
  • Upper secondary retention is increasing but remains below the OECD average.
  • Compared with other countries, young New Zealanders are more likely to leave school sooner, and work, or go on to further education, or enter further education when they're older.
  • They are, however, also more likely to be unemployed, and rates of young people not in education or training (NEET) remained high in 2012. They have since fallen in 2013, back to their lowest level since 2008.
  • PISA results show above average but declining performance in mathematics for 15 year-olds, high levels of top performers, but also increasing levels of low performers, and a higher level of socio-economic inequity in maths performance.
  • New Zealand spends less per student than the OECD average, but relative to national wealth, public investment is very high.
  • There is on average one child more per primary teacher compared to the average OECD ratio, and about average ratios at upper secondary level.
  • Teachers at the beginning of their careers earn more than the average earnings of other tertiary educated adults in New Zealand, but slightly less than teachers overseas. Their salaries also increase faster than the OECD average, but reach a maximum which is lower than the average maximum in other OECD countries. Salaries for New Zealand teachers have increased ahead of average OECD increases since 2005.
  • New Zealand teachers work longer hours on average than their OECD counterparts. The proportion of time spent teaching is lower than the OECD average at primary level, but higher than the average at secondary level.
  • New Zealand school teachers are a little older on average.

Tertiary and international education and the post-study outcomes of education

  • New Zealand has a high proportion of tertiary qualified adults.
  • New Zealand has one of the highest tertiary attainment rates amongst women. Female attainment now exceeds that of males in the majority of OECD countries, and in New Zealand this difference is one of the largest.
  • New Zealand has high levels of participation in tertiary study, especially at older ages and in vocational programmes. New Zealand also has one of the highest levels of part-time study.
  • New Zealand students are more likely to enter science, mathematics and computing programmes than students in other OECD countries, but are less likely to enter engineering, manufacturing and construction programmes.
  • Public investment in tertiary education is high, but more of it goes to students as loans and grants than as direct funding to institutions.
  • At degree level, New Zealand has more students per teacher on average, and more women teaching.
  • New Zealand remains a key player in the international tertiary student market, being the 13th largest in absolute market share terms, and one of five countries with more than 15% of tertiary students coming from overseas.
  • Employment and earnings increase with education, as with all countries in the OECD, but the relative benefits are smaller in New Zealand.
  • There are a range of social indicators that are positively associated with higher levels of education, including self-reported health, levels of smoking, obesity, levels of volunteering, levels of trust and civic engagement.