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New Zealand's world-class education system

New Zealand’s education system is world-class, modern and responsive, and New Zealand is ranked #1 in the world by The Economist Intelligence Unit for providing future-skills education for its youth.

Wellington has plenty of great options from early childhood education right through to university.

Early childhood education (0-5 years)

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Children can take part in early childhood education (ECE) from birth to school entry age. Wellington has a wide variety of pre-school, kindergarten and playcentre options but formal education usually begins at five years old.

ECE is not compulsory but around 95% of children go to an ECE service. You can learn more about how ECE works in New Zealand at

Primary School (5-12 years)

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Primary school usually begins at Year 1 (5 or 6 years old) and ends at Year 8 (11 or 12 years old). The last two years of primary school (Years 7 and 8) are often taken at a separate middle school, which is called an ‘intermediate school’ in New Zealand.

Wellington is full of excellent primary schooling options, including public (state-run) or private schooling, co-educational (boys and girls together) or single gender schools. The choice is yours, depending on what you want for your child.

Secondary School (13-17 years)

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New Zealand offers world leading education at secondary (or high school) level. Secondary school study is usually five years long, from Year 9 (12 or 13 years old) to Year 13 (17 or 18 years old), but many private and state integrated schools also include full programmes for students from Years 1 to 13, or Years 7 to 13.

Most secondary schools in Wellington are operated by the New Zealand Government and teach a nationally-set curriculum. There are also a number of privately owned secondary schools in the Wellington region, and a small number of schools also offer the International Baccalaureate qualification.

The National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) is the national senior secondary school qualification and is recognised by tertiary institutions throughout New Zealand and internationally.

Tertiary Study (15+ years)

Workforce Graduation procession through Wellington CBD workforce

Tertiary education includes all post-secondary education including higher and vocational education. Wellington's tertiary providers offer courses which range from transition (school to work) programmes, through to postgraduate study and research:

  • Industry training organisations represent particular industries (e.g. agriculture, building and construction, motor trade) and offer training and qualifications for those sectors
  • Private Training Establishments (PTEs) offer specific vocational courses at certificate and diploma level (e.g. travel and tourism)
  • Institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs) teach professional and vocational education and training from introductory studies to degrees
  • Wellington has three world-ranked universities, each offering a range of degrees in a large choice of subjects