School starts this week

School started yesterday for most primary school children. Secondary schools often start with just Year 9 students on the first day. These are all new students and they need to find their way around the school. Then returning students start the following day. The school year is from the end of January, or the first week in February, until a date in December. The school year is divided into four terms, each about 10 weeks. There is a two-week holiday at the end of the first three terms and six weeks at the end of the fourth term.

Primary schools in New Zealand teach children from Year 1 to Year 8 although some children in Years 7 and 8 go to an Intermediate school. Secondary school – also called High school – is for students from Years 9 to 13. Usually students are aged 13 in Year 9 and 18 in Year 13. Most students in New Zealand attend a state school – only about 4% go to a private school.

School is compulsory between the ages of 6 and 16; however, most children start when they are 5. In fact, they can start school on their birthday, the day they turn 5. New Zealand is probably the only country in the world to do this but it seems to work. Teachers say that children who start school in the middle of the year soon learn the school routine by watching other children. New Zealand primary school teachers are skilled in teaching to small groups of children, each group at a different level. Often children are placed in a mixed-level class, for example Years 3 and 4 together. Schools have to do this to keep the numbers of children in each class equal.

Usually primary school children look forward to going back to school. Many secondary school students also like school and find the holidays boring.


• primary – 1st, secondary – 2nd
• routine – how to do things at school e.g. line up outside the door
• look forward to …ing – are happy when they think about the future


1. Can you compare New Zealand schools with schools in your country?
2. Did you enjoy school? Why or why not?
3. If you live in New Zealand, you probably know quite a lot about school here. What other things have you noticed?

14 thoughts on “School starts this week”

  1. I am from China. Elementary school and junior high school are called mandatory education in China. Everyone has to finish up to 9th grade. But education system has caused a lot of stress on students. People compete with each other so as to get accepted to better high school. Students are burned out quite often

  2. We don’t have the same need to compete for schools here, luckily. If you want to read more about schools in New Zealand, click on ‘school’ in the tags.

  3. People called secondary school is junior high school in my hometown which in China. Children must finish their primary school(year 1 to year 6),then they can go to secondary school for education(year 7 to year 9).Usually students do not have little holiday in school life except festival(1 day plus Saturday and Sunday) and weekend,but when they finish semester that have winter holiday or summer holiday.If they are year 9 students who need to study hard for their senior high school entrance examination.Get more points will have better senior high school(year 10 to year 12) for their study.

    I do not enjoy school in China because I have no time to do my hobby (E.g. playing basketball)I start class at 7am in the morning and finish at 8pm in the evening.

    I know the students (in NZ) go to school at 9 am and finish school at 3.30 or 4 pm

  4. Japanese people call secondary school junior high school. Schools in Japan have three terms. Japanese school year is from April to March. Japanese people call primary school elementary school. Elementary school in Japan teach children from Year 1 to Year 6.

    I enjoyed school because I made many friends.

    I know NZ children bring lunch from their home.

  5. i think New Zealand schools are more interesting than Chinese schools and the Chinese schools are harder for students. Because the Chinese students should study hard to pass every test.But i enjoy my school life,because i have lots of nice teachers and classmates. i also know New Zealand schools are better at improving the students life skills.

  6. I’m from Iran. In Iran all the students going to school for 9 months and thy have 3 months holiday in summer. So I think New Zealand rules is much better than Iran.

  7. Actually NZ is not really very different. Schools close for a 2 week holiday at the end of every 10 week term – so they have 3 x 2 weeks during the school year then a 6 week summer break. However, the difference is that a 2 week break is not long enough for students to forget everything. It gives everyone a rest from studying and they can start the new term feeling refreshed. On the other hand 3 months is long enough to forget everything. Even after the 6 week summer break, teachers have to revise first before starting a new topic.

  8. In China, students are forced to complete their nine years of study,There are 5 years of primary school and 4 years of junior high school. After nine years, students need to pay more effort to learn because they need to be a good university. It is very strict for everyone, in high school, students don’t have holidays, and more than 15 hours a day of study time, so everyone is tired, I don’t like the Chinese school, because my time only to do homework and study, I have no other time to do what I want to do, even if it’s sports.
    but NZ school is different, students can arrange their own time. so i like this.

  9. 1/The school in SAUDI ARABIA is three stagges of the pimary and intermediate level , and hig schoole .
    The primary schoole start from age 7 to 12 yaers , and the entermediate from 13 to 15 years and the hig school from 16 to 18 yaers, after that you can study in university .
    The school in my country is characterized by the isolation school girls from boys .

    2/I enjoyed school becouse , i learn and made many frindes .

    3/Iknow NZ students start the scool at 9 am , and they can arrange own time .

  10. A
    1. What is this about? School starte&holidays, students, teachers

    2. Who is this about?primary school& Secondary schools&High school

    3. When did it happen?February 2, 2016

    4. Where did it happen?o NZ

    5. What did you learn from listening to this? Primary schools in New Zealand teach children from Year 1 to Year 8 although some children in Years 7 and 8 go to an Intermediate school. Secondary school – also called High school – is for students from Years 9 to 13. Usually students are aged 13 in Year 9 and 18 in Year 13.

  11. 1.In China study Primary school is from 6 years old. And full study primary school is 6 years.
    2.I enjoy school because we can learn lots at school
    3.I studied at high school before, I noticed New Zealand school attention to practical ability.

  12. In Somalia children start school as soon they start talking clearly . I have learnt N.Z rules are different children start school by 5 years also different age children will have t level and school . some of year level children also start different dates. It’s also different in Australia and N.Z , Australia by age 5 years you will go Prep then when you turn 6 years old , you will start school. People moved to Australia with their children will go back on year level and people moved N.Z will go one year up so it’s good idea children to start school by young age it will improve their learning and knowledge.

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