New Zealand VS America

Hey everyone,

So today I thought I'd just let you know how school works in New Zealand.  I had a couple comments on my June Currently post about the differences, so instead of emailing them I thought it would be easier to just write a post!

I would do a fun Venn diagram, but I'm not sure how to do that and make it look pretty.

I'm going to let you know what a school day/term/year/planning cycle/terminology looks like for me.  I'd love you to let me know how different  it is from what you are used to!

School day
MOST schools in New Zealand start at 9am.  Every school is different, but my current school has instruction from 9-3
9-1030 - instructional time (oral language/maths in my room)
1030-1040 - fruit eating/brain break (we are a low income school so every child gets a free piece of fruit every day, and I use go noodle.  Gotta love it!)
1040-11am - recess (there are 3-4 teachers "on duty" who roam the playground and sports courts.  The rest of us get to have a break)
11-1230 - Instructional time (reading and writing in my room)
1230-1245 - lunch eating.  In the room, supervised by me.
1245-130 - lunch time.  Again, 3-4 teachers roam supervising.  There are a few organised activities going.
130-3pm - Instructional time.  This means EVERY thing else.  I hate this time.  The kids are tired and hot.  It's just a hard 1.5 hours.

School year
The school year is broken up into 4 terms. We have to be open for 386 half days a year.  This year my school started instruction on the 3rd of February.  We will be finished for the year on December 17th at 12pm.  Our year is broken up into four terms that average 10 weeks each.  It all depends on when Easter falls as to how many weeks are in a term.  This year term 1 was 12 weeks, but this current term is only 9.
In between the terms we have two weeks break.  So rather than having all our holidays over summer, we have only 6-7 weeks then and then a further 6 weeks spread out over the year.

Thankfully there are NO end of year tests/exams that are nation wide standardised tests until the last 3 years of high school.  We are expected to assess our students year round, and use that data to teach from (which I assume is pretty much a global thing?)
We teach to need, not to just an expectation for a year level.  It makes it easier to teach multilevel classes (which are the norm in New Zealand).  With the exception of my first two years teaching, I have always had a multilevel class.
We integrate as much as possible, so my reading/writing programme has all my science and social studies front loading in it, then we do the "activities" and "experiments" in the afternoons.
I have to have plans for the following things
Reading - weekly
Writing - weekly
Numeracy - weekly
Timetable - weekly
Integrated Curriculum - termly
And then long term (year) plans for the whole year

Terminology (my word, then what I think it means in America)
Preschool/Kindergarten (3-5 years old) - PreK
Primary school (5-11 ish years old) years 1-6 - Elementary school (K-5)
Intermediate (12-13 years) years 7 and 8 - Middle school (6-8)
High school/college (13-18years) years 9-13 - high school 9-12
University - College (our degrees are different again though, most of our degrees are only 3 years long)
So our middle school is a year less (but is actually still part of primary school, as in the qualifications are no different from primary to intermediate.
To teach high school here you must have a degree in your subject and then a teaching qualification on top of that.  To teach primary/intermediate you need a teaching degree.

Literacy - reading, writing, and oral language
Numeracy - everything to do with number.  We call statistics, geometry and measurement "strand"
Morning tea - recess
Year level - grade level

I think that is all?  If there is anything else just let me know!

OH I almost forgot - there are no school districts here in New Zealand.  You are hired by individual schools. They are basically independent entities, with the exception that there are certain things that the government requires.

Wow, lots of information.  So what - if anything - is the same in your school?


  1. You really don't have a lot of time in school during the school day, but it seems like you have more school days! Hmm . . . kind of awesome! You're in school about 45 minutes less than us, and you have longer break times. Interesting!

    What I Have Learned

  2. It is so cool seeing all the differences between the two countries! You said that there are no school districts there?! If you are hired by an individual school, how do they regulate salaries? Is it just up to the school? Or is there some kind of country wide standard? Thanks for sharing all of this info! :)

    Surprisingly Seventh


Share the love, leave a comment, have a great day!
I love replying via email, so that you actually get my reply!! Make sure you are not a no-reply blogger so you hear from me.

Back to Top