More information on setting term dates, opening hours and when schools can close
State and integrated schools and kura must be closed at weekends and public holidays. They can also close for reasons, like teacher only days, gala or show days and in-service training days or in an emergency, such as a flood or fire.
Setting terms and holidays for state and integrated schools and kura
For state and integrated schools and kura, the shool year is divided into 4 terms. There is a 2 week break between each of the first 3 Terms and a summer holiday at the end of Term 4 of about 6 weeks.
The Minister of Education sets the terms and holidays for these types of schools several years in advance. This model has been developed over time with sector representatives.
The school year is measured in half days - a half day is a minimum of 2 hours teaching time and a full school day is a minimum of 4 hours - 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours after noon.
The number of prescribed half days per year (the number of half days schools have to be open for teaching) differs for primary and intermediate and secondary schools. A secondary school year is always 380 half days but primary and intermediate schools vary between 384 half days and 390 half days. This variation is because Easter falls on a different date each year.
A school is open for instruction (teaching) when organised teaching is taking place. This can include school trips and teaching outside the traditional classroom environment.
Private and Partnership schools
Private and Parnership schools | Kura Hourua, have greater legislative freedom than other types of schools and kura. This means they can set their own term dates, school hours and school holidays.
Starting date in Term 1 and finishing date in Term 4
Although the terms and holidays are set by the Minister of Education, schools have some leeway when setting the start date of Term 1 and last day of Term 4.
Schools can choose to start any day between Auckland Anniversay Day (the Monday closest to the 25 January) and the day after Waitangi day (7 February).
Schools in the same community should work together to set a common start date.
Schools can choose when they finish for the school year as long as:
- they have completed the prescribed number of half days and holidays
- and their end date is not later than the last day of Term 4 as set by the Minister of Education for that year.
In Term 4, schools are also encouraged to tell their bus operators the term dates for the following year.
Easter Tuesday - a school holiday
Easter Tuesday is a school (but not public) holiday. In most years the first school holiday is a timed to include the Easter break. When Easter is particularly early, the Easter holiday including the Easter Tuesday school holiday, falls within Term 1.
Varying school hours - state and integrated schools and kura
School boards are now able to vary their hours of instruction without having to get prior approval from the Minister of Education first. This means schools still need to be open for 2 half days to make a full school day of a 4 minimum of hours, but can now choose when these hours are taken. Before they do this, they must onsult with parents, staff and the community as well as give a written notice.
Previously, schools had to get the Minister of Education's approval before they could vary the standard school day (open for teaching and learning for a minimum of 4 hours a daya minimum 2 hours in the morning (a “half-day”) and another minimum 2 hours in the afternoon).
For any queries and further information go to the NZSTA website.
Days your school or kura must close
Your school must be closed on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays . It is possible for your school to apply for an exemption to this. Contact the Director of Education at the nearest Ministry of Education office to help you with this application.
If Waitangi Day or Anzac Day falls on a weekend, the next Monday is the public holiday. If the local Anniversary Day holiday falls within school term dates, your school will need to stay open for an extra day to ensure that it is open for the required number of half days.
When you may close your school or kura
Your school may also close from time to time for the following reasons:
Teacher preparation, teacher only days and local events
Your school may close for teacher only days, local gala or show days, and in-service training days. As your school is not open for teaching children on those days, you must ensure that you make up these days to meet the required total number of half days for the year.
Closing your school in an emergency
Your school may need to close at any time because of an epidemic, flood, fire, earthquake or other emergency. You do not need to get permission from the Ministry of Education to close a school in an emergency, but please tell your local Ministry office of the closure. If the emergency means that your school will not be open for the required number of half days, you will need to apply for approval to reduce the number of half days. Contact the Director of Education at your nearest Ministry of Education office to help you with this application.
Emergencies do not include paid union meetings or strikes.
Paid Union meetings
Members of the Post Primary Teacher’s Association (PPTA) and the New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) are entitled to attend at least 2 paid union meetings per year.
During these meetings, the board must make arrangements to ensure that the school remains open for instruction.
Go to the NZSTA website for more information on union and board responsibilities.
Paid union meetings or strikes cannot be counted as emergencies. However, you do not need to reduce the number of half-days for the year if your school is closed due to a strike or lockout because your school is considered to be open, under the Education Act 1989.
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