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New Entrant FAQs

When will my child start school?

In New Zealand children can start school on their fifth birthday. However, children are not legally required to start school until they are six years old as some children, for many reasons, may benefit from additional time in ECE. Once your child has been enrolled and started school it is important that they attend everyday. At Birkenhead Primary School children start school after their fifth birthday as part of a small cohort.

What is cohort entry?

Cohort entry means that children who have recently turned five begin school together in small groups. At Birkenhead Primary School there are two cohort entries per term, one at the beginning of term, the other midway through the term. Children can remain at ECE until their intake just after their fifth birthday - they will continue to receive funding to attend ECE until they start school. Details of your child’s start date/cohort will be provided when you complete the enrolment process.

Why does Birkenhead Primary School use cohort entry?

Research has shown that starting school in a small group rather than individually helps children build relationships with their peers, reducing any anxiety children may face when joining a bigger pre-established group.
The system is also less disruptive for the teacher and for all children. This system means we do not have children entering school in an adhoc fashion throughout the year, allowing groups of children to settle into school and establish routines collectively. At Birkenhead Primary School each cohort of children begin school in the Reception Room.

What is the Reception Room?

The Reception Room is a classroom where each cohort of children begin their schooling. The teacher, Jill Raines, works closely with each cohort of children and whanau to support them to settle into school, establish routines, develop relationships and begin their learning journey. The Reception classroom allows children time to transition into the school environment with the introduction of reading, writing and maths being supported through Learning Through Play which is a familiar style of learning for young children.

What year level will my child be when they first start school?

Ministry guidelines suggest children born before 31st June can be classified as Year 1 when they start school and anyone born after this date would be classified as Year 0. At Birkenhead Primary School we classify children born before 30th April as Year 1 and any child born after this date are classified as Year 0. If a child is born before 30th April and their cohort entry date is after this date, or a parent chooses to start their child at a later date, they are still classified as Year 1.

In special circumstances we may consider altering a child's classified year level. Decisions regarding year levels in these circumstances are discussed with whanau to ensure the best decision is made for the child.

What is Learning Through Provocations?

Learning through provocations allows children opportunities to explore, experiment, discover and solve problems in an imaginative and collaborative manner. This approach allows learners to develop student agency and feel empowered and in control of their learning journey. As children engage in provocations they refine many intellectual skills, they develop their thinking and language skills, along with their social and emotional skills.

Can my child and I visit the school prior to their start date?

All New Entrant children who are enrolled at Birkenhead Primary School are invited to three morning visits, from 9-10 am with the Reception Room teacher, Jill Raines. During these visits the children get to meet the other children in their cohort, begin to familiarise themselves with the classroom, morning routines and their teacher, supporting a smooth transition into school. On the third visit Samantha Knowles the Junior School Deputy Principal will meet with all parents to discuss routines and general school information. This is also a time for you to ask any questions you may have. Prior to any visits you will have an opportunity to meet with Principal Bevan Verryt to discuss the school vision and welcome you into the community.

The outline for the visits are as follows:
- ​First visit: parents are welcome to stay with their child.
- Second visit: parents are encouraged to leave their child in the classroom.
- Third visit: parents meet with Junior School Deputy Principal and children spend time in the classroom.
On any visit, parents are welcome to stay in the classroom to support their child.

Can I meet my child's class teacher?

You will be able to meet your child’s class teacher during the Thursday visit sessions. Once your child has started you are welcome to bring your child into the classroom every day and chat with the teacher. If you require a more formal or longer meeting, please speak to the teacher to make a time that suits you both.

What happens on my child’s first day of school?

On your child’s first day of school you are encouraged to bring them to their classroom between 8:30am and 8:50am to help them settle into their new space and to meet the teacher. On this day we will hold a whakatau at 9.00am to welcome new children and families into the school. The whakatau is a traditional Maori welcome, which is less formal than a powhiri. This is generally held in the school hall and is followed by light refreshments before the children return to their classroom. The whakatau usually runs for 15 minutes and we welcome any family members who would like the opportunity to speak.

What are the standard school hours?

8.50am School starts
10.00am FAVE (fresh fruit and veggie snack)
11.00am Play time
11.20-11.30am Morning tea eating (supervised)
12.45pm Lunch play
1.25-1.35pm Lunch eating (supervised)
3.00pm Hometime

Does the school offer before and after school care?

Sorry but there is no before or after school care for the remainder of 2021.

How will I receive feedback on how my child is progressing?

After four/five weeks in school you will receive a short report explaining how your child has settled into school as well as detailing key skills linked to reading, writing and maths. The Reception Room teacher, Jill Raines is also available to talk about your child’s learning and transition into school. When your child transitions from the Reception Room into one of the Year 0/1 classes the teachers will also be available to discuss progress.
All children have an online learning journal through the Seesaw app. When your child starts school you will receive an email inviting you to join your child's journal, this can be shared with family members. This is a great way to keep up to date with your child's learning.
Depending on when your child starts school we have termly opportunities to meet with your child’s class teacher and / or be informed about your child’s learning:

Term 1: Meet the Teacher - group session to meet your child’s teacher and learn about classroom learning and routines.
Term 2: Parent Teacher conferences - these are held after school between the teacher and whanau.
Term 3: ‘Open House’ session - whanau are invited into the classroom to talk about their child’s learning, this is a time for your child to share their learning with you.
Term 4: Formal End of Year Report - written report explaining how your child’s learning has progressed over the year.
All assessment data can be found at Login details will be emailed to you after your child has started school.

​Will my child have homework?

For young children we do not set specific homework, however we ask that you read with or to your children every evening. Language is incredibly important so we encourage you to share stories, play games together and engage in conversation. ​

What should I give my child for lunch?

It is important your child has enough energy to last the day. We promote healthy food and drink options in school. Sandwiches, fruit and vegetables are all great brain food for your child. If your child brings big pieces of fruit in for morning tea or ‘FAVE’ it is helpful if it is peeled/cut up. ​We also encourage your children to bring a water bottle that is refilled daily with fresh water.

Does my child need a uniform?

Uniform is not currently compulsory at Birkenhead Primary School but with the recent launch of our brand new logo and uniform options, we will be consulting with the community in early 2022 as to whether we move to a compulsory uniform or continue with optional.

When and where should I buy my child's stationery?

Pre-packed stationery is available from Paper Plus, Birkenhead. The stationery your child will need will depend on the time of year your child starts school. During your child’s visit sessions you will be informed of the stationery requirements for your child.

Will my child have swimming lessons?

The focus for New Entrants is on building confidence in the water. The school pool is open for school lessons during Terms 1 and 4 and, although the pool is heated, swimming is very much dependent on the weather.

What should I do if my child has health issues?

Please ensure that you have informed us of any issues when you complete the enrolment form and provide any information you have to the school office. Please talk about medications/implications with the teacher, and bring any medications to the office so that they can be stored safely. If, at any time throughout the year, your contact details change or medical issues require updating, please contact the office immediately.

​How can I become involved in the school?

Keep in contact with your child’s teacher and read the fortnightly newsletter. ​Regularly view your child’s Seesaw learning journal. ​You may like to be a parent helper in class. This shows your child that you think school is a great place to be and that you value what happens there. Join our active and enthusiastic PTA. For further information please visit