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Secondary Schools

Preparing young people for the future

Secondary education is for children in Years 9 to 13, which is usually when they are between 13 and 19 years old.


There are a range of secondary schools available in New Zealand.

This section provides an overview of secondary schooling available and career development for students from Years 9 to 13 in the Whangarei district.

Secondary schools

Secondary education is offered at:

  • Secondary school (sometimes called college or high school) for years 9 - 13

  • Composite school for years 1 - 13

  • Middle school for years 7 – 10

Within the state school system there are options for different language and cultures, life stages, values and religious beliefs.

  • Te kura kaupapa Māori are state schools where the teaching is in te reo Māori and is based on Māori culture and values. These schools follow the curriculum for Māori-medium teaching, learning and assessment, Te Marautanga o Aotearoa. For students from years 1 to 8 or years 1 to 13.

  • Wharekura are schools that generally cater for students above year 8. However, some wharekura cater for years 1 to 10 and others cater for years 1 to 13. 

  • Designated character schools are state schools that teach the New Zealand Curriculum but have developed their own sets of aims, purposes and objectives to reflect their own particular values, for example religious beliefs or culture.


  • Te Kura (formerly The Correspondence School) provides distance learning for students who are unable to attend their local school.  To find out if your child is eligible to enrol at Te Kura 

  • Regional health schools are for students with ongoing or serious health issues who can’t attend their local school because they are in hospital, recovering at home, or gradually returning to school. 

  • Special schools provide education for students with particular needs, arising from special talents, learning or behavioural issues. They use the New Zealand Curriculum. 

  • Teen parent units are facilities attached to a state secondary school that provides education for teenage students who are pregnant or are raising a child and want to continue their education.


  • Other secondary schooling options include private schools and home education (homeschooling).

Career education in secondary schools

Secondary schools offer core subjects and an increased range of subjects, including languages, arts and special technical classes.  These subjects offer opportunities to explore ideas about future options beyond school.  In senior secondary school, there are opportunities to explore future career, education and training options.


The National Administration Guidelines provide a legislative framework for the provision of education within New Zealand schools.  This includes career development and guidance as per NAG 1(f)

NAG 1(f): ‘provide appropriate career education and guidance for all students in year 7 and above, with a particular emphasis on specific career guidance for those students who have been identified by the school as being at risk of leaving school unprepared for the transition to the workplace or further education/training.’

The ‘Secondary Career Development Benchmarks’ are a tool to support provision of career education and guidance in secondary schools.

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