Education Amendment Bill 2018

The Education Amendment Bill was introduced on 8 February 2018. It makes a number of key amendments to the Education Act 1989 and the Education (Update) Amendment Act 2017.

The Bill will remove the provisions relating to National Standards and the partnership school model from legislation. The Bill also makes improvements to the new strategic planning and reporting framework to ensure it is workable for schools and Kura.

The introduction of fees-free tertiary education is supported by the creation of a new offence of making a false representation in relation to an application for fees-free tertiary education. The governance of tertiary education institutions is improved with the restoration of guaranteed places for staff and students on their councils.

Overview of the key changes proposed by the Bill


Removing the empowering provision for National Standards

National Standards and Ngā Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori were removed from the National Administration Guidelines on 12 December 2017.

This means schools and Kura no longer need to report student achievement data against national standards and Ngā Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori. Instead they can focus on children’s progress and achievement across the full breadth of New Zealand’s curricula.

However, the Education Act 1989 still provides the Minister of Education with the power to set national standards. This Bill proposes removing this power.

Schools and Kura will continue to be required to report to parents, at least twice a year, on their child’s progress and achievement. To find out about the development of a system focused on progress across the curricula, go to our changes in education page.

Schools and kura will still need to complete their Analysis of Variance against those 2017 targets that referred to National Standards/Ngā Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori, by 1 March 2018.


Partnership Schools Kura Hourua (also known as charter schools)

The Bill will remove the partnership schools model from the New Zealand education system, with transitional provisions for existing partnership schools until their contract is terminated or it expires.

The partnership schools provisions removed as a result of this Bill will remain in place, for existing partnership schools while they remain operating.

The Bill also enables the Minister to approve an alternative constitution for the board of trustees when establishing a new State school. For example, the Minister could approve having a sponsor on the board, to support its particular character being retained in the new school.

For more information on changes for partnership schools visit the changes in education page 

Making improvements to the new strategic planning and reporting framework

Last year’s Education (Update) Amendment Act introduced a new planning and reporting framework for State and State integrated schools, due to commence on 1 January 2019. The Bill proposes extending the commencement date out until 1 January 2020.

Moving the commencement date out by 12 months will ensure there is sufficient time to develop the regulations for the new framework, and for schools and Kura to successfully implement the new system. 

The Bill also proposes a number of changes to make the new framework more workable for schools, including aligning strategic planning with board of trustee election cycles and clarifying the requirements for making amendments to strategic plans and annual implementation plans.

The Bill does this by:

  • requiring school boards to develop a strategic plan at least once every three years, or, if the Secretary determines, at more frequent intervals, rather than the current four years. A three year term better aligns with Board of Trustee election cycles.
  • enabling (after consultation) school boards to ask the Secretary to approve significant amendments to their strategic plan at any time
  • clarifying that boards are able to make minor amendments to their strategic plans without the Secretary’s approval.
  • The Bill makes other minor technical changes and clarifications to the new framework.

We will be engaging with the education sector, parents and students on the implementation of the new planning and reporting framework in 2019.


Restoring guaranteed places for staff and students on councils of tertiary education institutions

The Bill will restore guaranteed staff and student places on the councils of tertiary education providers.  This means that all universities, polytechnics and wānanga will be required to have staff and student representatives as full members of their councils.

Staff and student representatives will be appointed by the council, following an election by the groups they represent.

This will re-affirm the important role staff and students have in institutional decision making, and provides guaranteed staff and student representation on the councils of all tertiary education institutions.

Because polytechnics have a smaller total council size, the Bill increases the maximum number of their council members from eight to ten to allow for the additional staff and student places.

The Bill provides transitional arrangements to allow for the amendment of the constitutions of tertiary education institutions and the development of appointment and election processes.

A new offence provision to support fees free tertiary education

To support the success of the Government’s fees-free policy, the Government requires students whose fees-free eligibility is not easily verifiable to make a declaration that they are eligible to access fees-free tertiary education.

The Bill creates a new offence under the Education Act 1989 for students who make a false representation in an application to receive fees-free tertiary education.  The new offence provision is being introduced as part of reducing the compliance burden for students needing to confirm their eligibility for fees-free tertiary education.

The change means students will no longer need to access a Justice of the Peace or other authorised person to witness their declaration, but will instead be able to submit an unwitnessed declaration.

Under the new offence provision, if someone is found to have made a false declaration, without a reasonable excuse, this could result in a criminal conviction and a fine of up to $5,000.  If students are not eligible for fees-free tertiary education, they will need to pay the fees that tertiary education providers require.

This ensures that there is an explicit deterrent for students who may consider making a false declaration to access fees-free tertiary education.

This Bill also contains a number of minor and technical amendments to the Education Act 1989 and the Education (Update) Amendment Act 2017

Further information


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