New pupils love lessons but keen for Santa’s visit.

It's a big step in a small person's life - going to school. For some it's traumatic, for others just overwhelmingly exciting.

But one thing's for sure, when they get there, the kids are on a sharp learning curve. We went to Gladstone Primary School to find out just what the kids had learned from their first year in the classroom - and if they'd done enough to deserve a present from Santa.

At Gladstone, the new entrant classes, rooms 6 and 7, work together. They'd just completed a segment on New Zealand birds, which was evident from the 5-year-olds' answers to the question: "What have you learned about this year?"

"New Zealand birds," said Piet Dainty, 5. He liked the kiwi best. Bijou Akel also answered. "New Zealand birds. We learned they don't exist and that they're endangered," she said. Bijou's favourite was the tui, "because they sing."

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"What else did you learn this year," we asked. Aaliyah Teuu said she'd learned her alphabet, and Metzger Tupou said he'd learned to write his name. Ruby Colegrave couldn't think of anything specific but said she "loved, loved, loved, loved learning."

There was all-round confidence in a gift from Santa. Piet wanted a rocket. Ruby wanted a doll that could eat. "You get some food, put it in its mouth and it eats it and goes into its nappy," she said.

However, the present of choice this year was "a puppy" (sorry, parents). Bijou was very specific, and said she wanted a chihuahua. It would be white. Aaliyah wanted a "little dog".

The school year ended this week and starts again on February 1 (at the earliest) next year. A total of 776,815 children were enrolled this year.