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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We're lucky to live in a great school district here.
Just wondering about the education in NZ in terms of quality, support for slower learners, resources, sports activities. I read positive articles online, but wanted some real life feedback.

Thanks in advance.
 

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We're lucky to live in a great school district here.
Just wondering about the education in NZ in terms of quality, support for slower learners, resources, sports activities. I read positive articles online, but wanted some real life feedback.

Thanks in advance.
I've got one step-daughter in high school (first year) and one with one year left in junior high (btw, not the way they are identified here... one is finishing year 9 (will be going into 'sophomore' year, the other is finishing year 7--going into '8th grade junior high').

Part of the success of a school is dependent on its decile rating, the higher the decile rating the higher the resources the school typically has. Lower decile schools get more financial assistance from the central govt, but often lack the facilities for innovative teaching, and parental involvement can be detrimentally low. You'll want to look for a school with a high decile rating if possible, they range from low (1, 2, 3); mid range (4, 5, 6, 7); to high (8, 9, 10). My suggestion may catch flack as implying that low decile schools aren't good, but what I've noted (from personal experience) is that the low decile school/s (at least the one my youngest started at), while it had able and fine teachers, there was a definite lack of good behavior in the classroom that affected my daughters learning experience. So, while the low decile school and staff may be fully able to deliver the academic goods, these schools are generally in lower socio-economic/deprived areas where parents may not be as inclined to support the academic success of their kids, or even pass on basic "best behavior" that teaches their kids how to act during school. When I first arrived, our daughter attended a decile 4 school, which was fine, but the teachers definitely seemed burnt out and grumpy.

I have found the education system a little behind when compared to the average CA high school. My junior high school-er isn't yet fully nimble with basic math (multiplication, division, and fractions), because of how the school curriculum is, while I remember very vividly starting fractions at 5th grade and pre-algebra in 7th! So, your kids may well be ahead in some of the basics, or they may be right in the same spot--it's pretty impossible to do a true comparison because every school is going to have its own curriculum and agenda...

I can't comment on resources for learning disabilities personally, only from what I've read, in that NZ is just now coming up to speed on LD's and how to deal with them. I can say that I have not read one single thing in our kids' newsletters about any type of resource available for challenged students... I don't know if this invisibility is endemic of NZ educational institutions, or just their schools, or this city...

Sports activities are a big deal here, there is usually two sports seasons a year, winter and summer, they can also be done as a separate activity with a local league. They're a great way to socialize, exercise, and network! I don't foresee any problems with your kids finding stuff to do!

Just be aware that there are people within the NZ academic establishment (and within NZ itself) who fundamentally believe that *everything* in NZ is better, even if the facts don't always support that. The most premier rated college in NZ (University of Auckland) is ranked #94 out of the top 200 worldwide. That's not bad given how small the country is, but, NZ is (slightly) bigger than the UK (size wise) and they (UK) had 4 in the top 10 (US had 6--7 if you count the tie at #10)... so, essentially, the best here is roughly mid-range compared to the rest of the world. Given that the lifestyle and pace here is slower and more simple, I don't find that incongruent or needing change, but it does show how academics stack up, comparatively, when a direct comparison is made.

What I do love about the schools here are that they definitely concentrate on "doing things" activities more than what I was exposed to in California. At least here in Chch most of the schools remain small enough that class trips and extra curricular activities are done with regularity. My 12 y.o. is going next week to school camp for 4 days, not science camp or anything, just an "end of year" fun camp. So, "fun" stuff here is definitely encouraged and celebrated, in addition to the academics. It is not as stuffy and achievement driven as it is in the US, and I'm totally fine and comfortable with that as a parent. My opinion is that what my kids might miss from school will be my assignment to bring them up to speed on during "real world" teachable moments ...

This is just *my* experience, of course, and others may find theirs to be completely different to mine. In any case, I hope it all helps!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks a load for that. You so should have your own blog! :)

If all is successful after ITA lodging,
My kids will be in grades 10 (sophomore ) and 11 next year, so I guess by this age whatever academic levels they have achieved has been set. In fact my current grade 10 kid is taking a couple honours classes and even precalc so he'll have the knowledge base no matter where he goes.


The decile levels is applicable to USA too I guess , I mean you also have those schools with ambitious teachers but no resources , kids with bad behaviour etc.. my main aim at this stage is a healthy social enviroment. So wishful thinking.

Now with high hopes that ITA will be lodged by no later than nov 25, with higher hopes that we'll get an interview by February 2014 and sky high hopes we will gain RV by Sept so kids can merge into the academic year there.

Again thanks
It's great to hear your views, because as Americans we do really over compare at times and always need reassurance that it's gonna be like home (but it's not ;) )

I can't wait to begin a new chapter in NZ and look at the positives.
 

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Thanks a load for that. You so should have your own blog! :)

If all is successful after ITA lodging,
My kids will be in grades 10 (sophomore ) and 11 next year, so I guess by this age whatever academic levels they have achieved has been set. In fact my current grade 10 kid is taking a couple honours classes and even precalc so he'll have the knowledge base no matter where he goes.


The decile levels is applicable to USA too I guess , I mean you also have those schools with ambitious teachers but no resources , kids with bad behaviour etc.. my main aim at this stage is a healthy social enviroment. So wishful thinking.

Now with high hopes that ITA will be lodged by no later than nov 25, with higher hopes that we'll get an interview by February 2014 and sky high hopes we will gain RV by Sept so kids can merge into the academic year there.

Again thanks
It's great to hear your views, because as Americans we do really over compare at times and always need reassurance that it's gonna be like home (but it's not ;) )

I can't wait to begin a new chapter in NZ and look at the positives.
Yes, I'd say the system is similar in that depending on the area the school is in, altho more money might be pumped into it, you can't always change the culture at home enough to elevate the school status. One thing you can do here (at least in Christchurch, anyway), is even if you are in a lower decile school zone, you can apply for an out of zone placement into a school of your liking. It doesn't mean your child will be accepted, but it does mean they MIGHT be. While my husband and I were prepping to sell our old house, we knew we wanted to move our youngest into a more progressive, higher decile school. I'm a big believer in marketing, so I completed applications for the two "best" intermediate schools in Chch (both of which we lived out of zone from), I included a letter of introduction from we, the parents, and briefly summarized her academic standings, highlighting that her achievements were accomplished while living in a severely damaged home (earthquake damage), on the outer fringes of a red zoned area. I didn't realize that there was a time frame that school applications have to be in by (why would I, right?); in doing my research into local schools I made this discovery, and got the applications in during the last two days you could submit them. Despite my tardiness, she was accepted at both schools, which gave us the option of picking which one suited us best. I think the cover letter helped make her applications stand out.

Just be aware that as the application deadline has passed for new term students, your kids *might* be relegated to whichever school they are zoned in, wherever you move to. I don't know this for sure, but you might consider doing some research on schools you think would be a good fit, and contact the administration to see if they could still enroll even if you aren't able to find accommodations within the school zone (this is if it's really important to you). You can find the schools and their decile rankings on wikipedia, I'm pretty sure that's how I found a comprehensive list of Chch schools.

Hopefully your kids will find a nice niche they'll fall into. My only real complaint about NZ youths (and NZ in general) is that drinking is too much a part of the culture for me to be happy with (altho with time I've gotten "used" to it). :( Binge drinking is the bane of the culture here, and I can't figure out why that is. I'm pretty much a non-drinker (occasional social drink, but rarely), so the constant reinforced image of alcohol as a social lubricant is tiresome. You won't be able to escape it, and the legal "independent" age to drink alcohol here is 18, while you can go into a restaurant with parents or guardians at even younger ages and be served alcohol with their permission. If alcoholism wasn't such a big issue here, I wouldn't bat an eye, but it is a serious problem here that is hard for kiwis to address... Case in point, when I went to my kiwi doctor to get my physical done, I was talking to him about adjusting to life here, and mentioned how much alcohol played a part in society here, and how shocked I was ... they even do random breath test stops in the mornings and noon-time--check point spots and all! Anyway, I was expecting to hear him commiserate (being in the medical profession himself), instead he said, "we don't drink much at all compared to the Australians!"). Uh, WTF!? Anywho. Just a heads up on that. There are some very big cultural differences, at least compared to where I came from.

So, be aware that your kids may be pulled into that sort of socialization (drinking/drinking parties). If you're relaxed about that sort of stuff, no biggie. Me, coming from a nursing background, I'm not relaxed about it at all, much to the exasperation of the 13.5 year old. The younger one is thankfully like me and dad, high on life. The other lives over 50% of the time with her mom, who has a much more casual attitude about alcohol.

Also, NZ is a nation of mj smokers as well. I haven't encountered this as an issue as we simply don't associate with people who would whip it out in front of us, but from what I've read in the media, and what our friends/family have shared with me personally, lots of people smoke it. Again, if your kids aren't prone to this sort of stuff because of their rearing, probably going to be a non-issue. And, there are certainly plenty of people who don't drink or smoke pot. So, don't let me scare you, mostly I just want your family to be prepared for the alcohol related media stories and messages you'll hear and read about. Even the opinion piece writers in the local rags write about their alcohol fueled escapades... weird stuff (to me).

I'm glad my posts are helpful, this is a beautiful country with many wonderful things to offer! But, like any place, it has dark sides to it that potential immigrants should know about, not because anyone is keeping score, but instead so that you come prepared and with eyes wide open--much harder to be "let down" that way. I think some people have this idea that it is utopia here, and when they arrive, it's not what they "imagined" or what the immigration/job recruiters said it would be.

It is not utopia, it has its own problems which deeply affect the nation, just like in the US, it's just that the problems are different. Your life here may never be touched by any of the "dark underbelly" ... mine hasn't been, much, except for my first two years here dealing with earthquake/eqc/insurance issues.
Just like in the US, where my comfortable middle class life there was never directly affected by crime, guns, corruption, etc., so to here I have managed to navigate around the chaos/drama/disappointment that some people find themselves stuck in. Hopefully you get what I'm saying... be the master of your ship, guide your life into the port you want to settle it in, do good research, make good decisions, don't be afraid to change your mind when new information comes available... remember to not make yourself a victim of circumstance, if you don't like the way things are going: leave the situation, change the situation, or accept the situation. It's just as possible to have a wonderful life here as it is in the US if you have the motivation and drive to hammer things out the way you want them.

I've found that the best way to shape a successful future is to make it yourself!
Best of luck as always, and feel free to PM me if you ever have more specific or private questions/comments!

Cheers,

Kim
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Kimbella said:
Yes, I'd say the system is similar in that depending on the area the school is in, altho more money might be pumped into it, you can't always change the culture at home enough to elevate the school status. One thing you can do here (at least in Christchurch, anyway), is even if you are in a lower decile school zone, you can apply for an out of zone placement into a school of your liking. It doesn't mean your child will be accepted, but it does mean they MIGHT be. While my husband and I were prepping to sell our old house, we knew we wanted to move our youngest into a more progressive, higher decile school. I'm a big believer in marketing, so I completed applications for the two "best" intermediate schools in Chch (both of which we lived out of zone from), I included a letter of introduction from we, the parents, and briefly summarized her academic standings, highlighting that her achievements were accomplished while living in a severely damaged home (earthquake damage), on the outer fringes of a red zoned area. I didn't realize that there was a time frame that school applications have to be in by (why would I, right?); in doing my research into local schools I made this discovery, and got the applications in during the last two days you could submit them. Despite my tardiness, she was accepted at both schools, which gave us the option of picking which one suited us best. I think the cover letter helped make her applications stand out.

Just be aware that as the application deadline has passed for new term students, your kids *might* be relegated to whichever school they are zoned in, wherever you move to. I don't know this for sure, but you might consider doing some research on schools you think would be a good fit, and contact the administration to see if they could still enroll even if you aren't able to find accommodations within the school zone (this is if it's really important to you). You can find the schools and their decile rankings on wikipedia, I'm pretty sure that's how I found a comprehensive list of Chch schools.

Hopefully your kids will find a nice niche they'll fall into. My only real complaint about NZ youths (and NZ in general) is that drinking is too much a part of the culture for me to be happy with (altho with time I've gotten "used" to it). :( Binge drinking is the bane of the culture here, and I can't figure out why that is. I'm pretty much a non-drinker (occasional social drink, but rarely), so the constant reinforced image of alcohol as a social lubricant is tiresome. You won't be able to escape it, and the legal "independent" age to drink alcohol here is 18, while you can go into a restaurant with parents or guardians at even younger ages and be served alcohol with their permission. If alcoholism wasn't such a big issue here, I wouldn't bat an eye, but it is a serious problem here that is hard for kiwis to address... Case in point, when I went to my kiwi doctor to get my physical done, I was talking to him about adjusting to life here, and mentioned how much alcohol played a part in society here, and how shocked I was ... they even do random breath test stops in the mornings and noon-time--check point spots and all! Anyway, I was expecting to hear him commiserate (being in the medical profession himself), instead he said, "we don't drink much at all compared to the Australians!"). Uh, WTF!? Anywho. Just a heads up on that. There are some very big cultural differences, at least compared to where I came from.

So, be aware that your kids may be pulled into that sort of socialization (drinking/drinking parties). If you're relaxed about that sort of stuff, no biggie. Me, coming from a nursing background, I'm not relaxed about it at all, much to the exasperation of the 13.5 year old. The younger one is thankfully like me and dad, high on life. The other lives over 50% of the time with her mom, who has a much more casual attitude about alcohol.

Also, NZ is a nation of mj smokers as well. I haven't encountered this as an issue as we simply don't associate with people who would whip it out in front of us, but from what I've read in the media, and what our friends/family have shared with me personally, lots of people smoke it. Again, if your kids aren't prone to this sort of stuff because of their rearing, probably going to be a non-issue. And, there are certainly plenty of people who don't drink or smoke pot. So, don't let me scare you, mostly I just want your family to be prepared for the alcohol related media stories and messages you'll hear and read about. Even the opinion piece writers in the local rags write about their alcohol fueled escapades... weird stuff (to me).

I'm glad my posts are helpful, this is a beautiful country with many wonderful things to offer! But, like any place, it has dark sides to it that potential immigrants should know about, not because anyone is keeping score, but instead so that you come prepared and with eyes wide open--much harder to be "let down" that way. I think some people have this idea that it is utopia here, and when they arrive, it's not what they "imagined" or what the immigration/job recruiters said it would be.

It is not utopia, it has its own problems which deeply affect the nation, just like in the US, it's just that the problems are different. Your life here may never be touched by any of the "dark underbelly" ... mine hasn't been, much, except for my first two years here dealing with earthquake/eqc/insurance issues.
Just like in the US, where my comfortable middle class life there was never directly affected by crime, guns, corruption, etc., so to here I have managed to navigate around the chaos/drama/disappointment that some people find themselves stuck in. Hopefully you get what I'm saying... be the master of your ship, guide your life into the port you want to settle it in, do good research, make good decisions, don't be afraid to change your mind when new information comes available... remember to not make yourself a victim of circumstance, if you don't like the way things are going: leave the situation, change the situation, or accept the situation. It's just as possible to have a wonderful life here as it is in the US if you have the motivation and drive to hammer things out the way you want them.

I've found that the best way to shape a successful future is to make it yourself!
Best of luck as always, and feel free to PM me if you ever have more specific or private questions/comments!

Cheers,

Kim
you're right. You make the enviroment positive or negative. We're not drinkers too. I've lived in the UK while my kids were in primary years and have an idea of the binge and young age drinking. I hope to always have my kids involved in something , because my moto is to never give a teenager, no matter where they live, idol time. My spouse and I always have our kids in check, lol. but kids are kids and I feel my kids have these other interests in sports and games more than wanting to fit in. Weird right?

The mj issue is here in the states too kids from all sorts of social backgrounds unfortunatley.


Now after constant googling and you tubing people holidays or documentaries of NZ, I have this more precise image in my mind. My hopes are Auckland or Wellington. I feel the easiest transitions will be in these cities. But it all depends on where the job is. :)

Hopefully once I actually lodge my application all will go well. We're two weeks behind our planned schedule of lodging it early November because my spouses police certificate was lost in post, so we issued another, hopefully any day now.


Thanks for taking time for the details it defiantly makes it more clear.
 
G

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A simple outlook you might want to take here is to consider your kids doing tertiary studies in NZ in which case high schools serve their purpose. NZ unis produce great doctors and scientists that can hold their own anywhere so that gives me confidence in the tertiary sciences which is less subjective than law and business although they also hold their own globally.
So really it is pointless to compare along the way unless you are concerned that after high school they have to return to US to study tertiary. I found the NZ educational system frustrating because it was not black and white ie. Pass / fail I was used to but I have 2 daughters and a wife who now hold excellent Uni degrees. I also had a learning challenged son who exited school with a sense of value. So if you can accept its differentness then the end result should not disappoint.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
gbimmigration said:
A simple outlook you might want to take here is to consider your kids doing tertiary studies in NZ in which case high schools serve their purpose. NZ unis produce great doctors and scientists that can hold their own anywhere so that gives me confidence in the tertiary sciences which is less subjective than law and business although they also hold their own globally.
So really it is pointless to compare along the way unless you are concerned that after high school they have to return to US to study tertiary. I found the NZ educational system frustrating because it was not black and white ie. Pass / fail I was used to but I have 2 daughters and a wife who now hold excellent Uni degrees. I also had a learning challenged son who exited school with a sense of value. So if you can accept its differentness then the end result should not disappoint.
Thanks.
Hopefully if we hold good jobs and healthy lifestyles we wouldn't mind having our kids attend NZ universities at all :)

Please if you can, tell me more about your son who is challenged. How is he coping in university? I have a son with very mild Asperges he's in grade 9 now. I hope the NZ education system can accommodate. Since spouse and I will most likely seek jobs in universities wed like our kids with us if possible. The whole purpose is to stay close as family until the kids are set for independence.
 
G

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No my sons have not gone to Uni but I have heard of challenged kids going and doing well. They can apply for assistance if they are challenged like readers etc. But my son didn't leave school feeling disadvantaged and holds a good job whereas in some places he would have started life feeling not as good as more academic kids. So we've found NZ good in that respect.
 
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