Education in NZ - information for parents and teachers

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Education in NZ - information for parents and teachers


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Old 15th August 2010, 11:22 PM
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Post Education in NZ - information for parents and teachers

Hey Members (and Visitors)

So, there are a lot of questions being asked about education in NZ, both as a parent and as a teacher trying to source work; level, comparability, quality, examinations, set-up, finding work etc etc. I have decided to create a post to try and give as much of this information as I can. Education is one of the biggest factors for many parents moving their children (especially teenage children) over to NZ, and as a teacher relocating, it is useful to get a "head's-up" on the set-up. I am a secondary teacher and former university lecturer (used to train teachers!!!), so cannot necessarily give information about primary. If there is anyone who can give more information than I do, then please add to this!!!

Firstly, starting age. Children do not actually start at primary school until they actually turn 5. I will use my son as an example. His birthday is June 28th. In the UK, our academic year runs September to August, and your child starts the September of the academic year that your child turns 5. This means my son would start THIS September (at the age of 4), turning 5 in June towards the end of the ACADEMIC year (so he would be the youngest in his year class). In NZ, he wouldn't actually be allowed to start school until NEXT June, once he has actually turned 5. He would then stay in Year 0 (starter/nursery class) until the start of the next academic year (which runs January to December). This means he would be in Year 0 for 6 months, and then would start OFFICIAL Year 1 classes in January (well, February after the return from a lovely long holiday)!!

Set-up - School years run the same as in the UK - primary is Year 1-6, intermediate is Y7-8 (11-13years old), and secondary (often called "college") is combined with a Sixth Form with Y9-13. Children can legally leave school at the age of 16, but examinations and education continues to the age of 18. This means that in some schools, you will find that the numbers in each year group drops as they go higher up i.e. the older they get, the less students there are, as they may drop out to help out with the family farm (if rural), obtain work, or they find the examination levels getting too hard. Examinations (called National Certificate of Education Achievement, or NCEA) start in Y11. By UK standards, this would be the end of the first batch of exams (GCSE's). Here, things are slightly different!!!

NCEA - students acquire credits for different pieces of work throughout the year. A piece of work or unit may be worth 3 or 4 credits. To pass that level (Y11 is Level 1, Y12 is Level 2, and Y13 is Level 3), a student needs to acquire 80 credits throughout the year (roughly 20 per term). 60 of these credits must be from THAT level they are in (i.e. to pass Level 2, they need at least 60 credits from level 2 units). This is because sometimes subjects run credits from a lower year during their timetable, so they could be collecting credits from Level 1 whilst they are in Level 2. Only 20 of these lower level credits would count. I HAVE ATTACHED A FILE THAT EXPLAINS THIS ALL IN LAYMAN'S TERMS!!!!!!! There is not necessarily any examination at the end of the year (called an "external"), so in this way it is similar to the modular set-up that science and maths were going down in the UK for GCSE, but with coursework and the odd written assessment. From my perspective, the content is a little easier than in the UK, but it does get built upon each year you progress through. It is a condensed version of GCSE's and A-levels into 3 years, but not always with as much depth.

Comparability - a lot of parents with older children ask about the comparability of the NCEA and if it transfers well to UK universities. UK universities do not accept the standard NCEA qualification prior to entry, and students would be expected to enrol on a conversion course. I am uncertain how long this lasts or costs. But please note that this isn't limited to NZ education, ALL non-UK education systems and qualifications are like this. For further information, it is recommended to contact UCAS directly to ensure that you have the correct information. UCAS - Home. Some schools are starting to offer the IGCSE and A-levels, but they are pretty few and far-between, and tend to be located in the cities, such as Macleans College in Auckland. I do actually find that some of the NZ subjects are a lot more basic at lower levels, such as science. However, remember that the same content is covered as in the UK, just at later ages. E.g in science, students would cover properties of gases, liquids and solids in Y7, but here it probably wouldn't be until Y9.

Schools - a lot of parents ask for recommendations for schools in different areas. There isn't much point!! Every school is different. The only thing that is consistent is the examination offered - NCEA. In the UK, we have examination boards, and the school can select which board they offer PE, or Science or English etc etc with. Here, you can ONLY offer NCEA through the central organisation, so no choice of examination board. But schools are given a LOT more choice about how they choose to run their school, and it is governed by it's Board of Trustees, rather than by a local council like in the UK. Departments can write their own curriculum and get them approved by the Board, so it really does offer a lot of choice to the school. More rural schools may offer more agriculture, machinery and engineering classes than a city school, for example, and the content would depend on the local area. So, it is best to allow some time for you to look around the schools once settled. There is more choice of schools in the bigger towns and cities, than in the rural areas where kids could travel 20k to get to school!!!

Teachers - it is VERY unlikely that you will gain work over in NZ before you move from the UK. Too many schools have had their fingers burnt in the past with this. Occasionally, if you are a very in-demand subject, then this may happen, but usually based on meeting you or contacts that are already in place. For example, if someone came out on a visit and had a look around a few schools and met the principal, then they would be more likely to get a role prior to moving. Instead, expect to have to sign up with a lot of schools and relieve for a period of time (supply, or "relief" teaching, is organised directly with the school). Jobs can be created for you if they like you, and it usually is a case of who you know, not what you know. Show enthusiasm and intiative, take any work (regardless of subject) that is offered, and try to be a part of the school. Work in IT, PE and English is hard to come by. Science, Maths and specialist subjects are far more likely to secure work pretty quickly. If you are primary-trained, this is even harder to obtain.

So, there you go!!!! I will keep adding bits when I think of them, and hope that this helps a lot of people. Let me know of there is anything else that could be covered. If you have anything else to add, then please do!!

Jen
Attached Files
File Type: pdf NCEA Presentation.pdf (1.10 MB, 271 views)


Last edited by jenswaters; 16th August 2010 at 12:18 AM.
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Old 16th August 2010, 06:22 AM
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Good one, Jen
I've made it a 'sticky' as I can see it being well read!

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Old 18th August 2010, 07:33 PM
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Default Childs education on extended vacation

Hi Jen,

We are thinking of holidaying in New Zealand next year with a view to a permanent move. Would we be able to put our 11 year old daughter into full time education for the 6 months we intend to be on holiday?

Thanks,

SAM

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Old 19th August 2010, 02:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmartinsrus View Post
Hi Jen,

We are thinking of holidaying in New Zealand next year with a view to a permanent move. Would we be able to put our 11 year old daughter into full time education for the 6 months we intend to be on holiday?

Thanks,

SAM
Hi Sam

I just checked this one at the school I am currently working at. As you know, everyone who is in NZ must have a permit/visa, and this would be the same for your daughter. To attend a school, you must apply for a student permit, even though she would only be attending for a period of 6months.

See http://www.nzvisa.org.tw/1013.pdf for further information.

Hope this helps????

Jen

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Old 19th August 2010, 05:05 AM
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Nice post it will be helpful for me! Thanks.

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Old 19th August 2010, 11:19 AM
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Many Thanks - SAM

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Old 22nd October 2010, 12:03 PM
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Hi Jen,

Can't see too much info on special needs in mainstream Senior school. My twin boys will be 12 by the time we are hoping to be in NZ. One of them, has traits of Aspergers Syndrome. He is not 'statemented' here as, luckily, not bad enough, but certainly struggles with learning and needs help at school. How are NZ schools for coping with special needs in the mainstream rather than special schools for disabilities? Any info gratefully received, good or bad!!
Pettsie

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Old 22nd October 2010, 09:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pettsie View Post
Hi Jen,

Can't see too much info on special needs in mainstream Senior school. My twin boys will be 12 by the time we are hoping to be in NZ. One of them, has traits of Aspergers Syndrome. He is not 'statemented' here as, luckily, not bad enough, but certainly struggles with learning and needs help at school. How are NZ schools for coping with special needs in the mainstream rather than special schools for disabilities? Any info gratefully received, good or bad!!
Pettsie
Hey Pettsie

Again, will do my best to help!

I have actually found that the support in mainstream schools in better than UK schools. By this, I mean that integration occurs as much as possible, and students are given a lot of supporting equipment through the school and government. Having said that, they need to be formally assessed (like 'statements' in the UK). For example, thinking of 2 Y9 students I teach, a blind student who has full teacher support in every lesson, and has her own braille machine that works off USB. I just give all and every piece of information to her support worker, and she gets it translated. AWESOME! And another boy who has severe communication issues, he has a wrist computer device that allows him to communicate with his teachers and classmates. My most favourite thing is that these kids are completely accepted by their peers. Occasionally, you see the inquisitiveness that comes out in whispers, but generally, total acceptance.

Most schools in the bigger towns and cities will have a specialist unit within the mainstream school, catering for a variety of levels of disability. In the more rural areas, schools are usually separated, with children generally going to a specialist school. I have been bowled over by the level of support here, whereas in England, parents and teachers are fighting for the support and finances. Don't get me wrong, I am sure there is still a fight, but it is usually within a school and the Board of Trustees, as opposed to a political body, such as a council or government.

Having said that, if your child is NOT statemented (so traits of Aspergers, rather than diagnosed Aspergers), this could prove to be a little more difficult. In the UK schools I was in, a file was readily available of every SEN student, and we kept a record in our registers etc of any child with ANY level of difficulty. That isn't so prevalent here. Whether that is down to the school, the department within the school, or a nationwide pattern, I really couldn't tell you. For example, I gave a detention to a boy for defiance. His HOY (called 'deans' here) came to see me and ask if I was sure I wanted to give it, as he was Aspergers, and therefore didn't understand what was being asked of him. I was appalled, as I had NO idea (other than the usual teacher instinct) that there was anything wrong. When I tried to follow-up and obtain a list of all students like this, I couldn't find one!!! HOWEVER, apparently it does exist, but my HOD had "misplaced" it!!!

Having worked in 4 different countries and cultures now, I can honestly say that no system has it right. What may be great in the UK could be bad here, and vice versa. My advice...check out the schools around first. EVERY school is different, and is unique in it's own way, far more so than in the UK. It is a matter of choice.

Try this link for parental information
Ministry of Education - Special Education Services

Hope this helps, but contact me if I can get any more info for you. Promise to try my best!

Jen


Last edited by jenswaters; 23rd October 2010 at 05:33 AM.
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Old 22nd October 2010, 10:04 PM
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Smile Thanks Jen,

Thanks Jen,

Very interesting. I guess it will be a case of finding the right school by visiting them and then finding somewhere to live in the area.

Good to know I stand a chance of finding a mainstream school for both boys rather than splitting them up.

Many thanks

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Old 11th November 2010, 06:07 PM
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Smile where do we go from here

Jen,
hello
Myself and my family are moving over next year. My daughter will be 16 and completed her GCSE's where will she slot into the education system out there and will her GCSE's be recognized.
Rgds
Neil

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