Choosing a school

Many children have the option of one local school to go to. If you do have more options, then choosing the right school or kura for your child is important and can make a big difference to their happiness and wellbeing, as well as how well they do at school.

What schools can I choose from?

To see what's available a good place to start is the Ministry's find a school tool.

If you need more help to find a school or kura in your area, or a particular type of school, you can contact your local Ministry of Education office.

What's important when choosing a school?

Think about the practical things

  • are there any schools that family or friends have recommended?
  • do you live in the school zone?
  • how will your child get to and from school? Is there a safe route to walk or cycle, or is someone available to take them and pick them up? Is there a school bus?
  • under 14s need to be supervised before and after school. Does the school have before and after school care? Will your child be able to play or meet up with friends after school?
  • do you have to pay to go to the school?
  • does the school have a uniform?
  • what schools are your child's friends going to?

Then list your education priorities

Your priorities will depend on your child's needs and your circumstances and preferences. What are your must-haves and what could you compromise on?

Here are some examples of priorities that you might see as important:

  • the school or kura's approach to supporting children with special education needs or talents
  • a bilingual unit or te reo Māori schooling
  • a particular education philosophy or special character
  • whether your child would suit a large school or a smaller one

Get a feel for the school

  • do you feel welcome, personally and culturally?
  • are the teachers keen and well informed?
  • is there friendly, open, respectful communication between the teachers and children?
  • are there displays and celebrations of children's work on the walls?

I've got a shortlist, what's next?

When you've decided on a shortlist:

  • talk to other families whose children go there
  • read the school website
  • make an appointment to visit the school or kura and meet with the principal, and possibly your child's potential teacher
  • visit the school or kura at different times of the day - see if you can observe some class time, and also visit during a break or lunch time. You can often get a good feel for the school by seeing how the children interact with each other at play and how the teachers interact with the children
  • go to the open days or information evenings
  • ask for an enrolment pack
  • you can also check the Education Review Office (ERO) report.

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