Different types of secondary schools

There are a range of secondary schools available in New Zealand.

State schools

Secondary education is offered at:

Secondary school (sometimes called college or  high school) for years 9 - 13

Composite school for years 1 - 13

Middle school for years 7 – 10

Within the state school system there are options for different language and cultures, life stages, values and religious beliefs.

Te kura kaupapa Māori are state schools where the teaching is in te reo Māori and is based on Māori culture and values. These schools follow the curriculum for Māori-medium teaching, learning and assessment, Te Marautanga o Aotearoa. For students from years 1 to 8 or years 1 to 13.

Wharekura are schools that  generally cater for students above year 8. However, some wharekura cater for years 1 to 10 and others cater for years 1 to 13. 

Partnership Schools/Kura Hourua are the newest type of school in the education system.  These schools are partnerships between education, business and community groups to provide new opportunities for students to achieve education success. You can find out more about partnership schools in the charter schools section of the Youth Law website.

Designated character schools are state schools that teach the New Zealand Curriculum but have developed their own sets of aims, purposes and objectives to reflect their own particular values, for example religious beliefs or culture.

Te Kura (formerly The Correspondence School) provides distance learning for students who are unable to attend their local school. Students may also study with Te Kura if they have a medical condition, have special education needs, or meet the gifted and talented criteria for enrolment. Students aged between 16 and 19 years old are also able to enrol with Te Kura if they are not attending another school on a full-time basis.

To find out if your child is eligible to enrol at Te Kura visit their website.

Regional health schools are for students with ongoing or serious health issues who can’t attend their local school because they are in hospital, recovering at home, or gradually returning to school. Teachers work with students both in hospital and at home. Three regional health schools based in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch together service the whole country, including remote country areas.

For more information about regional health schools and the entry criteria see When your child needs extra support.

Special schools provide education for students with particular needs, arising from special talents, learning or behavioural issues. They use the New Zealand Curriculum.

To find out if there is a special school in your area see Special schools.

Teen parent units are facilities attached to a state secondary school that provides education for teenage students who are pregnant or are raising a child and want to continue their education.

State-integrated schools

State-integrated schools used to be private but are now part of the state system. They teach the New Zealand Curriculum but keep their own special character (usually a philosophical or religious belief) as part of their school programme. State-integrated schools receive the same government funding for each student as other state schools but their buildings and land are privately owned, so they usually charge compulsory fees called “attendance dues” to meet property costs.

Private schools

Private (or independent) schools charge fees, but also receive some funding from the government. They are governed by their own independent boards and must meet certain standards to be registered with the Ministry of Education. They don’t have to follow the New Zealand Curriculum but must follow a learning programme of at least the same quality.

Homeschooling

Homeschooling is when parents educate their chilld themselves, instead of enrolling them in school. Parents who want to do this need to apply to the Ministry of Education for a Certificate of Exemption from enrolment at a registered school. The Ministry must be satisfied that the child will be taught at least as regularly and as well as they would be in a registered school, or in a special class or clinic, or by a special service if your child has special needs. 

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