Primary schools changing to Year 1-10 schools

When a school is established, it has a particular range of classes for which it may provide. Primary schools cater for Year 1-8 or classes within that range. Secondary schools are for Year 7-13 or Year 9-13 students. Composite schools include primary and secondary classes.

With the permission of the Minister of Education, a school may change its class levels.

A primary school may change to a composite school so that it can provide for both primary and secondary students. This is called a change of class and it would take place under section 153 (1A) of the Education Act 1989 (the Act), following an application submitted by the school to the Ministry of Education. Consultation is also required under section 157 of the Act.

What to think about

  • What are the educational benefits for students?
  • What would we want to achieve with this change?
  • Would parents and the community be likely to support this change?
  • How many students would want to receive secondary education at our school?
  • Would the numbers be enough to generate sufficient resources in staffing and funding to provide a secondary curriculum for the Year 9 and 10 students?

What you should do

  • Contact your local Ministry of Education office for an application form and information about the process.
  • Consult the school community about the possible change and its implications for students.
  • Consult the staff of the school about the proposal and what it would mean for students and for employees of the board of trustees.
  • Inform any other schools where the roll might be affected by the change and invite comment from them.
  • Keep documentation of all of your consultation actions and responses.

Local Ministry office

Other relevant information

If your most recent Education Review Office (ERO) report is more than 24 months old you'll need to ask ERO for a new report to include with the application. You may also need to take the following actions.

  • Seek advice on staff employment issues from the New Zealand School Trustees Association (or the board of trustees’ employment advisor).
  • Inform the relevant employees’ unions about your proposal.
  • Think about the property implications.
  • Check whether any changes will be required to existing school transport services. (Note that your change of class levels could impact on transport provision for other schools.) For information about this, contact your Ministry of Education School Transport Agent or read our section on school transport.

School transport contacts

School transport

The process of change

You need to have an application sent to the Ministry by 1 April of the year before you wish to implement the change. This is to ensure that all the necessary processes can be completed in time for the start of the new school year.

The Ministry will:

  • undertake consultation, which is required by section 157 of the Act, and
  • prepare a report for the Minister of Education seeking a decision about the proposed change of class.

The board will receive a letter from the Minister announcing the decision and if it's approved, giving a date from which the change becomes effective.

When the Minister of Education has approved the school becoming Year 1-10 and a notice has been published in the New Zealand Gazette, the change becomes legal. The implementation date will be stated in the New Zealand Gazette notice and will be at least a full school term after the publication of the notice.

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