The standard of education in New Zealand is excellent.  Expats moving to the country with children won’t struggle to find an affordable, high-quality school. Major cities such as Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch have a broad range of schooling options to choose from.

Schooling in New Zealand is compulsory from age six up until 16. Most children in New Zealand do continue to Years 12 and 13 to acquire the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA). The NCEA is internationally regarded and readily accepted by overseas universities.

New Zealand follows a southern-hemisphere school calendar, meaning the school year begins in late January and ends in mid-December. There are four terms each year, and the longest holiday periods are in July and December. Dates often differ slightly for primary and secondary schools.

Most people in New Zealand send their children to public schools which are known for providing a high standard of education. There are both co-educational and single-sex schooling options available in the public sector. While most of these schools are secular, there are small number which are guided by a particular religious ethos. While these schools are privately owned, they are overseen by government authorities.

Citizens and permanent residents of New Zealand are entitled to attend public schools at no cost. Expats in the country on a temporary visa will need to apply for a student visa for their children which registers them as domestic students, enabling them to receive a free education within the public school system. Although residents do not pay public school fees, some schools ask for voluntary donations from parents. In addition, parents should budget for other expenses such as uniforms, stationery and field trips.

Public school places are granted based on geographic zones and having good public schools typically pushes up the property prices in an area. Expats should therefore consider schooling options when choosing where to live in New Zealand.

There are also a range of private schooling options available in New Zealand. While some private schools follow the local curriculum, there are others that offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) and IGCSE/A-levels.

Private schools receive about a quarter of their funding from the government, and the rest from school fees. As a result of better funding, private schools tend to offer a broader range of extra-curricular activities and better facilities than would typically be found at a public school.

For expats who aren’t planning on staying in New Zealand for long, international schools are a good option because they have the benefit of allowing students to continue following the curriculum of their home country.

There are a number of international schools which offer the US, UK or IB curricula as well as a small number which follow the curricula of France, Germany and Italy.

Some of the more popular international schools tend to be oversubscribed so those that intend on sending their expat children to these institutions should begin the application process as early as possible.

The major downside of international schooling in New Zealand is the hefty price tag. Expats should therefore try to negotiate a schooling allowance into their employment contract.