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Choosing a Secondary School

Which School?

The transition from primary/intermediate school is another important step in the education of your child.

Choosing the right secondary school to suit your child's individual educational needs and future career plans is important.

The New Zealand education system encourages students to attend their local secondary school but provides for parents and students to choose a school outside local boundaries if that school has sufficient space to take extra students.

The flexibility in the system does allow you to choose a school most suited to your needs.

To assist you in choosing a school, Onslow College has developed a series of questions which may help you make a decision.

You and Your Child

  • What aims and values would you like your child's secondary school to have?
  • What are your child's interests, feelings, and future ambitions? Will the school you are considering meet them?
  • How important is it for your child to go to the same school that her/his friends are going to?
  • Has your child's primary/intermediate school teacher offered any advice?
  • What are your family's future plans (eg, changing job, moving house)?
  • Is school transport available? Will your child have to travel by public transport? What will the cost be, and what is the travelling time?
  • Have you visited the schools you are considering?

The Curriculum of the School

  • What subjects are compulsory?
  • Are there option subjects? When are they offered?
  • What subjects are taught from Years 9 - 13?
  • How is work experience and career education catered for?
  • What extra-curricular activities does the school run, eg, camps, drama, music, sports, debating, Kapa Haka, enviroschool?
  • What help is given to students where English is not their first language?
  • How does the school cater for individual differences in students?
  • How does the school help children having difficulty learning?
  • What is the school's policy on homework?
  • How is technological change being catered for?
  • How often and in what way will the school inform me of my child's progress

The School

When visiting the school you may consider –

  • How do the school's priorities match yours and those of your child?
  • How much importance do you and the school place on:
    • academic achievement?
    • practical skills and experience?
    • the development of social responsibility?
    • the arts (music, visual arts, drama)?
    • technology (computers, science, workshop technology etc)?
    • development of the child's ability to make decisions and think for herself/himself?
    • encouragement of the child to contribute to the school community?
    • standards of discipline?
    • caring for the individual?

Parent and Student Participation

  • How do parents have a say about school policies, eg, welfare and discipline, curriculum, homework?
  • How do the students participate in school affairs?
  • How do parents participate in the school?
  • What is the school's welfare and discipline policy? What part does the parent play in the procedure?
  • What system of reward and encouragement does the school have?
  • How does the school communicate with parents?
  • Is the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) active? Does it keep the school community informed?
  • Is the Board of Trustees active? Does it keep the school community informed?

The Ministry of Education parents section ( also has information on the transition to Year 9.

The Education Review Office has produced a series of guides for parents -