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Your Rights

Getting Enrolled at a School

Getting Enrolled at a School

This section gives you some information about how to get enrolled at a school.

Do I need to go to school?

If you are between the ages of 6 – 15, and is living in NZ as a citizen or hold a residence class visa, you must go to school. To enrol in a school, you should visit your local public school.

Can I enrol at my local public school?

Yes, if the school has capacity to take you and you meet the following criteria:

  1. Residence: (either a New Zealand Citizen or Residence class visa holder), AND
  2. Age: (between 5 and 19) AND
  3. Zoning requirements: (you must be in zone -if the school you want to enrol at, has a school zone)

There are sometimes extra requirements to be able to enrol at other public schools, such as integrated schools or special character schools: where the school must be satisfied you accept the special character of the school before they will allow you to enrol.

Are there any times when any school can refuse to enrol me?

Yes, if any of the following apply to you:

  • You have been excluded or expelled from your last school; OR
  • The school you want to enrol at is a private or integrated school or special character school and you do not meet their criteria; OR
  • The school has been established for a specific purpose which does not apply to you (for instance, attending a boys’ school when you are a girl); OR
  • You do not live within the school zone of the public school; OR
  • You’re 20 years old or older.

Remember, the right to education doesn’t apply to early childhood or tertiary courses either, but shouldn’t discriminate your enrolment on illegal grounds.

Can a school refuse to enrol me because I have special needs?

No, a school cannot refuse to enrol you because you have special needs. Under the Human Rights Act 1993, it is unlawful for any school to refuse to enrol you on the basis of special needs or any other grounds of discrimination.

Can my school review or annul my enrolment?

Yes, your school can review or annul your enrolment if you:

  • got into the school because you were ‘in zone’ and the school reasonably believes you were using a temporary address to get into the school (e.g. living somewhere in zone for a short time just to get into the school, then moving out of zone); OR
  • You provided false information (e.g. gave a different address to get into the school).

If you feel you are being treated unfairly, give YouthLaw a call and we can talk over your rights with you.

Can I attend school on a part-time basis?

Generally, you aren’t allowed to attend school on a part-time basis. If you’re between 6 and 16 years of age and are enrolled at a registered school, you must go to the school whenever it is open. It is unlawful for you to only go to school some of the time. If you’re sick or have to be away from school for any other reason, your carer(s) need to write a note to the school explaining why you’re absent. Some students with special needs do attend on a part-time basis but those are in exceptional circumstances.

If you’re 16 and over, you may arrange part-time attendance with your school, but that is generally not recommended unless there is good reason to not attending full-time.

Your school can’t force you to attend school only part-time if you want to attend full-time.

Can I still attend school if I’m pregnant or have a baby?

Yes, if you’re pregnant or have a baby, you can still attend a mainstream school or do correspondence. You can’t be refused enrolment simply because you are or will be a parent. Some schools may provide special units for pregnant students, and young mothers and fathers.

Can I enrol in an out of zone school?

Generally, you won’t automatically be accepted into a public school if you live outside of that school’s zone.

You may be able to apply to enrol in an out of zone school as an out of zone student. Schools that accept out of zone students hold ballots for out of zone applications in the second half of the year, in anticipation of enrolment for the upcoming year. Under the law, they will have to prioritise the ballots, which is dependent on the relationship of the applicant’s family to the school.

To find out more about applying out of zone, you should contact the out of zone school you wish to apply for.

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