A glossary is always helpful. Here in our education glossary you can find explanations for all those education terms and anagrams you have heard and read.

Board of Trustees (BOT)

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

Cambridge Exams

The University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) is the world’s biggest provider of international qualifications for students between the ages of 14 and 19. CIE qualifications are recognised for admission by UK universities, as well as universities in the US, Canada, India, New Zealand and around the world.


A charter is a document outlining the principles, functions, and organization of the service. A schools’ charter declares and describes the obligation of that school to provide quality education.


A co-educational (co-ed) school is one which is attended by both female and male students. Students at a co-ed school attend classes in which both genders learn side by side.

Composite School (see also ‘School types’)

Schools offering education to students at both the primary and secondary levels (Years 1 – 13, previously Primer 1 to Form 7)

Contributing School (see also ‘School types’)

A school that caters for children aged 5-10 years of age or year level 0 through to and including year 6 (previously Primer 1 to Standard 4).

The Correspondence School

The Correspondence School offers long distance learning programmes to

more than 18,000 New Zealand students from three years of age and up.


A daycare is a centre where you send your child to be cared for and educated before they reach school age. Daycares can be run by private owners as a business, may be established by a workplace that has a large workforces, may be run by either a community or church group.

Decile Ratings

(also known as Socio-Economic Decile Bands)

All schools are given a decile rating, depending on the socio-economic status of the area they serve. Schools in the lowest deciles (1-3) draw their students from communities with the highest degree of socio-economic disadvantage, while those in the highest deciles (8-10) draw from the wealthiest communities.

Designated Character School

A Designated Character School is a State school with a particular character, but different from integrated schools and Kura Kaupapa Maori.  These schools usually have a certain religious or cultural belief/philosophy underpinning the education and management of the school.

Early Childhood Education (ECE)

Early Childhood Education is the term used to refer to education and care

provided to children before they reach primary school level.

Education Review Office (ERO)

The Education Review Office is the government department which reports publicly on the quality of education in all New Zealand schools and early childhood centres, including private schools, kura kaupapa Māori (Māori language immersion schools), special schools and kōhanga reo (Māori language early childhood education centres).

Enrolment Scheme

An enrolment scheme is a means of limiting a school’s roll to prevent overcrowding. It also enables the Ministry of Education to make best use of the current accommodation at schools in the surrounding area.


Exemplars are pieces of student work which are deemed to be good examples of a certain level of achievement. They show what students are learning in particular subjects or at particular levels of the curriculum. Teachers use these pieces of work to measure their own students work against and to help students understand what they need to do in order to achieve.


(Also known as ‘excluded’). A student over the age of 16 years may be expelled from a school for an offence that is deemed to be dangerous to his/her self and those around him/her. To be expelled means the student is unable to return to the school he/she was expelled from. There is a formal procedure that must be followed when expelling a student. Refer to the school or Ministry of Education for more information about this procedure.

External Assessment

External assessment is assessment done by an organisation other than the school. It doesn’t have to take the form of a traditional written exam, though this is the most common form for NCEA. An external assessment could also be an oral exam or portfolio of art work.

Full Primary School (see also ‘School types’)

A school that provides for children ages 5-12 years or year levels 0 through to and including year 8 (previously Primer 1 to Form 2).

Home-based childcare

Home-based childcare is a care and education service for children provided in their own home or the home of another adult caregiver and is another ECE option for your child before they reach school age. It is also sometimes referred to as family daycare.

Home schooling

Home schooling is educating children at their home rather than in a school environment. Home schooling is also referred to as Home Education.

Independent Schools

Independent schools are also called Private Schools. They are governed by independent boards but must meet certain standards in order to be registered.

They do not have to follow the New Zealand Curriculum but must follow a

learning programme of at least the same quality. Independent Schools charge fees but also receive some limited subsidy funding from the government. These are the most expensive schools for your child to attend.

Integrated Schools

Integrated schools are schools that used to be private and have now become part of the state system. They teach the New Zealand curriculum but keep their own special character (usually a philosophical or religious belief) as part of their school programme. Integrated schools receive the same Government funding for each student as state schools but their buildings and land are privately owned so they charge attendance fees to meet their property costs. Due to their level of government funding, their fees are more moderate than those charged by Private (Independent) Schools.

Internal Assessment

Internal assessment is where the student’s work is assessed by a teacher or trainer, and moderated by an awarding body. The awarding body in New Zealand for the majority of qualifications is NZQA.

Kohanga Reo

Kohanga Reo is an early childhood education and care (ECE) centre where all education and instruction is delivered in te reo maori (Maori language). At Kohanga Reo, mokopuna (children) are totally immersed in Maori language and tikanga (culture) from birth through to the age of six. This means that the only language spoken at Kohanga Reo is Maori.

Kura Kaupapa Maori

Kura Kaupapa Maori is a State school where teaching is in the Maori language and the school’s aims, purposes and objectives reflect the Te Aho Matua philosophy.

Middle School

A school that provides for children ages 10-13 years or year level 7 through to and including year 10 (previously Form 1 to Form 4).

National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA)

NCEA is the most common form of assessing students in New Zealand in the senior years of secondary school – Years 11, 12 and 13 (previously Forms 5, 6, and 7).

National Administration Guidelines (NAGs)

The National Administration Guidelines for school administration set out statements of desirable principles of conduct or administration for specified personnel or bodies. The Board of Trustees governs the school by following the NAGS set down by the government.

National Curriculum Framework

The document which sets out the policy direction for the New Zealand curriculum.

National Education Guidelines (NEGs)

The National Education Guidelines have four components. These are:

1. National Education Guidelines,

2. Foundation curriculum policy statements,

3. National curriculum statements and

4. National Administration Guidelines

The Board of Trustees writes the charter for and governs a school based on the national education guidelines.

New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA)


NZQA is the independent body that quality-assures secondary and tertiary qualifications and education providers; evaluates overseas qualifications and administers the New Zealand Register of Quality Assured Qualifications and the National Qualifications Framework, including the NCEA.

Out of School Care and Recreation (OSCAR)

This is the term used by Government and related agencies, to refer to care for students before and after school if parents, care givers, whanau are working.

Parents as First Teachers (PAFT)

PAFT is a programme that has been run in New Zealand since 1991 aimed at supporting parents and families with young children. PAFT provides free, practical support and guidelines to encourage and support parents as their child’s first and most important teacher.

Parent Teacher Association (PTA)

PTA is the term used to refer to a group of parents and family that volunteer their time in order to support the school.


Playcentre is a service that promotes and encourages parents to be the first educators of their children. Playcentre believes that an early childhood education service run co-operatively by member families, provides a positive early childhood education experience for children.

Private Schools

See Independent schools.

Reading Recovery

Reading recovery is an early literacy intervention programme that provides children who are falling behind in reading and writing with a second chance.

School Types


Full Primary School (Year 1-8)

Contributing School (Year 1-6)

Intermediate School (Year 7-8)

Kura Kaupapa Māori (Primary)

Kura Teina (Primary)


Composite School (Year 1 – 13)

Restricted Composite School (Year 7-10)

Kura Kaupapa Māori (Composite) (See also Wharekura)

Correspondence School

Kura Teina (Composite)


Secondary School (Year 7-13)

Secondary School (Year 9-13)


Special School

Home School


A single sex school is one that caters to one gender or the other, i.e. all boys or all girls. Students learn in an environment in which they are surrounded by others of the same gender only. Some schools are single sex schools till Year 12 (Form 6) level, and then in the last year of school (Year 13 / Form 7) some single sex schools then accept both genders for enrolment.

Special School

A special school provides specialist education for students with special education needs. These may be specific physical, behaviour, sensory or intellectual support needs. Special schools are state schools that deliver the same curriculum as other state schools.


The formal removal of a student from a state school for a specified period. A stand-down of a student can total no more than five days in any term, or ten days in a school year. Following a stand-down, the student returns automatically to school.

State Integrated School

A State integrated school is a school with a special (religious) character, which has been integrated into the State system.  See Integrated Schools for more detail.

State Schools

A state school is one that is fully state funded and which is co-educational at the primary level, and which may offer single sex or co-educational options at the secondary level.


The formal removal of a student from school until the Board of Trustees decides the outcome of the student’s actions at a suspension meeting.

Teacher Aides

People who help teachers by supporting children and young people who have special education needs, also known as kaiawhina and paraprofessionals.

Teacher-Led ECE

Teacher-led ECE’s are services where teachers provide the education and care. A teacher-led ECE service is licensed and/or chartered.


A text is anything that is ‘read’ for information and/or meaning. A text can be visual, oral or written and so is not limited to books, articles and so on. A visual text may be a film or a website. These can be ‘read’ just as a book can.

University Entrance

People who are under 20 years of age need to fulfil a prerequisite for entrance to university. UE requires a minimum of 42 credits at NCEA level three or higher. Within these credits there must be at least 14 credits at level three or higher in two separate subjects from a list of `approved subjects’. There are also literacy and numeracy requirements. A student must gain at least 14 numeracy credits at level one or higher and eight literacy credits at level two or higher, four in reading and four in writing.

Year Structure

School years are ranked numerically from Year 0 (formerly Primer 1 or J1) to Year 13 (formerly Form 7). If your child starts school in the second half of the year, and is aged between five and six, they will be classed as Year 0. If they start school in the first half of the year, they will be classed as Year 1.


The term zoning comes from the boundaries which define a school’s ‘home zone’. Each enrolment scheme must contain a home zone with clearly defined boundaries. Students who live in the home zone of a particular school have an absolute right to enroll at that school.

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Kylie Valentine is a qualified secondary school teacher, trained journalist, and the mum of two fabulous children.

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