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?