The International Education Agenda, A Strategy for 2007-2012 [1]sets out the Government’s vision and strategy to support the continued development of sustainable, high quality, innovative international education in New Zealand.

International education is socially and economically important to New Zealand. The education of international students in New Zealand benefits the economy and New Zealand’s relationships with other countries. In the school sector, international students add to the cultural diversity of New Zealand schools and provide a source of revenue.

During the first four months of 2011, there were 11,107 international students enrolled in 578 New Zealand schools. Eighty-five percent of these students were enrolled in secondary schools. The largest groups of secondary school students came from South Korea, China and Japan, while three-quarters of primary school students were from South Korea. 

Goal 2 of The International Education Agenda, A Strategy for 2007-2012[2]states the Government’s expectation that international students should be welcomed and receive orientation guidance, pastoral care and learning support so that they succeed academically and are well-integrated into schools and communities.

To enrol international students, education providers must be signatories to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students.[3] The Code provides a framework of regulatory guidance and requires that Signatories review their own performance, at least annually, and record the outcomes of the review.

ERO’s evaluation of the provisions for international students is based on 51 schools that had education reviews in Terms 3 and 4, 2011. ERO evaluated six aspects of international education:

  • schools’ self review
  • overall approach
  • pastoral care
  • education programme
  • progress and achievement
  • social integration.

ERO found that most of these schools were reflecting the Government’s expectations in relation to the aspects reviewed. All but four schools demonstrated a clear rationale and systematic approach to enrolling international students. They understood their obligations and responsibilities, had developed sound systems, and provided professional learning and development for the staff involved.

These schools were effectively providing pastoral care for international students. They provided orientation programmes and strategies to encourage students to mix with other students, monitored homestay accommodation, communicated regularly with parents, and monitored student wellbeing.

Education programmes for international students were effective in 90 percent of the schools. Effective schools found out about the aspirations and interests of the students or their parents, accurately assessed students on entry, and designed targeted programmes that responded to student interests and needs. All schools were effectively integrating international students into the school and local community. Schools encouraged students to take part in sporting and cultural opportunities they provided, either in the school or the local community.

School self review and the use of information about outcomes for international students was variable. Three-quarters of the schools could show that international students were progressing and achieving well. In one-quarter of schools, students were progressing to some or a limited extent but schools lacked information to show progress for all their international students.

Seventy-two percent of schools were effectively reviewing their provisions and outcomes for international students. Self review in the remaining 28 percent of schools was partially effective or had limited effectiveness. Where self review was partially effective or limited, it was usually because of the processes involved, the information gathered and/or the response to the findings. These schools gathered information informally, did not collate or analyse information, or did not document or report their findings.

The small group of schools that were not effective with the other aspects (overall approach, pastoral care, education programme, progress and achievement) had limited self review or staff that required professional learning and development. These schools also lacked formal systems, documentation of roles, and comprehensive student files.

All but one of the 51 schools reviewed complied with the Code.