New Zealand Education System

New Zealand’s education system is first class and its NCEA qualifications are recognised by universities around the world. Rangi Ruru students are actively sought after by top universities in New Zealand and other countries.

  • The New Zealand school year is divided into four terms, beginning at the end of January and finishing early/mid December.
  • Rangi Ruru has a three week break at the end of Terms 1 and 2, and a two week break at the end of Term 3.
  • Students in Years 11, 12 and 13 who wish to gain a national NCEA qualification in that year will need to begin at Rangi Ruru in Term 1 of that year or earlier.

Beginning study in New Zealand in Year 9 or Year 10 is highly recommended if students want to achieve well in senior examinations.

New Zealand Year Level USA & Australian Grade Level equivalent Native Speaker Ages* National Examinations / Qualifications
Primary School (Years 1 – 6) 5-10 years
Intermediate School – Year 7 6 11 years
Intermediate School – Year 8 7 12 years
Secondary School – Year 9 8 13 years
Secondary School – Year 10 9 14 years
Secondary School – Year 11 10 15 years Level 1 NCEA
Secondary School – Year 12 11 16 years Level 2 NCEA
Secondary School – Year 13 12 17 years Level 3 NCEA
* International Students who do not have English as their first language can expect to be one to two years older than New Zealand students.

Rangi Ruru follows the New Zealand Curriculum but, because it is an independent school, it is able to adapt programmes to suit student needs.

For more information on the New Zealand curriculum, go to the New Zealand Curriculum website.

For more information on the New Zealand Education system visit the Ministry of Education site at