Choosing a secondary school

Choosing a secondary school is an important decision, and if you have a choice of secondary school it's worth you and your child taking the time together to look at possible schools and explore the options available.

What's important when choosing a secondary school?

Start with the practical things

  • How will your child get to and from school? Is there a safe route to walk or cycle? 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 meet up with friends after school?
  • Does the school have a uniform?
  • Do you have to pay to go to the school?
  • Do you live in the school zone?
  • Are there any schools that family or friends have recommended?
  • What schools are your child's friends going to?

Then list your education priorities

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

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

  • additional support for special needs or talents
  • a bilingual unit or Te Reo Māori schooling
  • single-sex, or co-educational school
  • how the school supports your child's culture and language
  • a strong emphasis on a particular curriculum area of interest to child, eg music or sport
  • particular subjects offered at senior level that will support your child's interests and possible career path.

Make a short-list and investigate some more

Make a list of schools near your home, and any others you might want to consider, and visit them:

  • go to the open days and parents' evenings
  • arrange your own meeting with the school if you can't get open days or want to follow up and get more information
  • ask questions - this is your chance to get all the information you need to make your decision
  • ask about the school rules - what are they, and how are students and parents made aware of them?
  • find out how the school will keep in touch with you - ask to see a school newsletter, school report, and how they like you to get in touch with them
  • include your child in the decision.

You can check the Education Review Office (ERO) report for the schools you are considering. 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. The reports cover things like learning environment, processes and procedures, how teachers relate to students, the commitment to bicultural practices, how they support Maori learners, how they review and monitor themselves, and their vision and philosophy.

What are the choices for secondary schools?

Where your child goes to secondary school will depend on where they live, schools in the area and what their needs are.

Here are the different kinds of secondary schools in New Zealand.

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