Board of trustees (the Board)

Governing body for schools; elected by parents and caregivers. Boards establish a charter, which sets out the aims and objectives of the school.


A qualification awarded after satisfactory completion of/and achievement in a programme of advanced study taught mainly by people engaged in research and which emphasises general principles and basic knowledge as the basis for self-directed work.

Domestic student

Persons who are:

  • New Zealand citizens (including those born in the Cook Islands, Tokelau and Niue)
  • New Zealand permanent residents
  • citizens of Australia residing in New Zealand
  • dependant children of:
    • diplomatic staff
    • refugees
    • persons with New Zealand work permits
    • persons with Commonwealth scholarships
    • international students who are enrolled in any Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programme at a New Zealand university.

See International Student and Student Types (School).


Early childhood education (ECE). Education and care for infants and young children before they begin school. The majority of children in ECE services are under five years; however, children may attend ECE services up to their sixth birthday, when schooling becomes compulsory. ECE services can be provided and organised in a range of ways (See early childhood education service type).

Early childhood education service types

Licensed ECE services: Teacher-led ECE services

  • Casual childcare
  • The Correspondence School - ECE services
  • Education and Care services
  • Kindergarten
  • Home-based childcare

Licensed ECE services: Parent/whānau-led ECE services

  • Playcentre
  • Te Kōhanga Reo

Licence-exempt ECE groups

  • Playgroup
  • Nga Puna Kohungahunga
  • Pacific Island ECE groups
  • Playcentre (licence-exempt)
  • Te Kōhanga Reo (licence-exempt)

Education and care services

These services provide sessional, all-day or flexible hour programmes for children from birth to school age. They may be privately owned, community-based or operated as an adjunct to a business or organisation. Individual education and care services may be known by many names, including crèches, private kindergartens, aoga, punanga reo, and childcare centres. These services are teacher-led and required to meet the teacher registration targets. (See ECE, early childhood education service types).


The ethnic group or groups to which an individual belongs. The concept of ethnicity adopted by the Ministry of Education is a social construct of group affiliation and identity. The Ministry of Education uses the definition of ethnicity used by Statistics New Zealand, namely:

A social group whose members have one or more of the following characteristics they:

  • share a sense of common origins
  • claim a common and distinctive history and destiny
  • possess one or more dimensions of collective cultural individuality
  • feel a sense of unique collective solidarity.

See Ethnicityunder technical notes for more information.


For very serious breaches of school rules, where a student has been suspended, the Board may exclude or expel the student. Exclusion and expulsion are both used for behaviour judged to be 'gross misconduct'.

When using an exclusion, a board may not allow a student to return to the school and the student must enrol in another school. Only students under the age of 16 (the legal leaving age) can be excluded (see Stand-down, Suspension and Expulsion).


For very serious breaches of school rules, where a student has been suspended, the Board may exclude or expel the student. Exclusion and expulsion are both used for behaviour judged to be 'gross misconduct'.

Students aged 16 and over can be expelled and are not required to re-enrol in another school but may choose to do so (see Stand-down, Suspension and Exclusion).

Foreign fee-paying student

See International fee-paying student.

International fee-paying student

An international student meets the full tuition costs on their own or from funds provided to them by sponsors other than the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Students can be studying at secondary or tertiary level. (See Student types (school).

International student

An overseas student who has come to New Zealand for the purpose of education and/or is currently studying on a student permit or domestic passport. This excludes students from overseas with New Zealand citizenship or permanent residence or with Australian citizenship. (See Domestic student and Student types (school).


International Standard of Classification of Education. A system designed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) so that statistics on education can be compiled and presented on an internationally comparable basis.

ISCED-1997 levels of education are:

  • Level 0 - Pre-primary education
  • Level 1 - Primary schooling up to Year 6
  • Level 2 - Years 7-10
  • Level 3 - Years 11-15 and post-secondary formal programmes that do not go beyond Year 15 level
  • Level 4 - Education beyond school level leading to an award not equivalent to a diploma
  • Level 5 - Includes diplomas, degrees and postgraduate programmes
  • Level 6 - Includes doctorates.


National Certificate of Educational Achievement. NCEA is a qualification on the National Qualifications Framework based on credits from all unit and achievement standards. NCEAs are registered between levels 1 and 3 and are open to anyone assessed through an accredited provider.

Importantly, NCEA is the national secondary school qualification for students in Years 11 to 13. NCEA can be gained in three levels; students usually work towards NCEA Level 1 in Year 11, level 2 in Year 12 and level 3 in Year 13. However, NCEA is very flexible and students may study at a mix of levels during a year.

Private school

Schools owned by private proprietors, governed by an independent board, State registered as meeting specific standards, and receiving some State funding but charging tuition fees (see State school and State-integrated school).


An official award given in recognition of the successful completion of a programme of study, which has been quality assured by a recognised quality assurance agency, see NCEA and degree.

Regional council

The regional council each institution is located in. Regions are defined by Statistics New Zealand based on 1995 boundaries. In 2006, there were regions consisting of 16 cities, 57 districts and the Chatham Islands country.

School types


  • Full primary school (Years 1-8)
  • Contributing school (Years 1-6)
  • Intermediate school (Years 7-8)
  • Kura Kaupapa Māori (primary)
  • Kura Teina (primary)


  • Composite school (Years 1-5)
  • Restricted composite school (Years 7-10) also known as middle school)
  • Kura Kaupapa Māori (composite)
    (see also Wharekura) 
  • The Correspondence School
  • Kura Teina (composite)


  • Secondary school (Years 7-15)
  • Secondary school (Years 9-15)
  • Secondary school (Years 11-15)


  • Special school
  • Home-school

Socio-economic decile band

Students from low socio-economic communities face more barriers to learning than students from high socio-economic communities. Schools that draw their rolls from these low socio-economic communities are given greater funding to combat these barriers. The mechanism used to calculate and allocate this additional funding is most often known as school deciles.

Schools are assigned a socio-economic score based on five census-derived socio-economic factors. Schools are then ranked in order of this score and divided into 10 even groups called deciles. The 10% of schools with the lowest scores are considered decile 1 schools, the next 10% of schools are considered decile 2 schools and so on. Decile 1 schools have the highest proportion of students from low socio-economic backgrounds, decile 10 schools have the least (note: this does not mean students from decile 10 schools are 'rich').

Deciles are also used in some analysis as a proxy for socio-economic status.

State-integrated school

Also known as integrated school. A school which has previously been a private school and is now integrated into the State-funded system (see State school and Private school).

State school

Fully State-funded school which is co-educational at the primary level and offers single-sex or co-educational options at the secondary level (see State-integrated school and Private school).

Student types (School)

International Student

  • Foreign fee-paying student
  • NZAID-funded student

Domestic Student

  • Foreign exchange student
  • Regular student (includes returning students)
  • Kura Teina student
  • Alternative education student
  • Adult student
  • Returning adult student
  • External student
  • Satellite class student
  • Teen parent unit student


The formal removal of a student from a State school or State-integrated school until the board of trustees decides the outcome at a suspension meeting (see Stand-down, Exclusion and Expulsion).

Teacher-led early childhood education services

Early childhood services that are required to have a person responsible (or home-based care coordinator) who is a registered ECE-qualified teacher and they must meet the teacher registration targets for registered teacher staff. For funding purposes, teacher-led services include: kindergartens, education and care services and home-based care services.

Teen parent unit

A unit, attached to a host secondary school, providing educational programmes for teenagers who are pregnant or who have prime responsibility for their children's care: and who have enrolled within the age range to receive free education (ie, up to age 19 years).

Tertiary education institutions (TEIs)

Publicly owned tertiary education providers. These consist of university, college of education, polytechnic or Wānanga as defined by the Education Act 1989. The term excludes other post-secondary institutions, such as private training establishments.

Tertiary education provider types

Post-compulsory educational institutions that provide formal programmes of study. These can be divided into private tertiary education (PTE) providers and public tertiary education institutions (TEIs).

  • Tertiary education institutions (TEIs)
    • university
    • college of education
    • institutes of technology and polytechnics
  • Wānanga
  • Government training establishments
  • Private Tertiary Education (PTE) providers
  • Other training education providers (OETPs).


A public tertiary education institution (TEI) that is primarily concerned with advanced learning and knowledge, research and teaching to a postgraduate level. (See Tertiary education provider types).

University entrance

A prerequisite for entrance to university for people who have not attained the age of 20 years. Since 2014, University entrance now requires that students meet the following:

  • NCEA level 3 with 14 credits in 3 approved subjects.
  • 5 credits in reading and writing at Level 2 or above.
  • 10 credits in numeracy at Level 1 or above


A public tertiary education institution (TEI) that provides programmes with an emphasis on the application of knowledge regarding ahuatanga Māori (Māori tradition) according to tikanga Māori (Māori custom). (See Tertiary education provider types.)