Education and Training Bill

The Education and Training Bill (the Bill) was introduced to Parliament on 2 December 2019. The Bill incorporates and replaces the Education Acts 1964 and 1989, and implements changes from the Education Work Programme.

Administrative changes

The Bill proposes to repeal and replace all major existing education and training legislation. The Bill is intended to be simpler, more user-friendly and less prescriptive than the current legislative framework.

Currently, the Education Act 1964, the Education Act 1989 and the Industry Training and Apprenticeships Act 1992 are the three main Acts that frame how our education system is run. These have been updated repeatedly over the last 55 years. This has made education legislation difficult to navigate, understand and apply.

The Bill

  • introduces a new structure that is intended to follow the journey of students through education, starting with early learning, moving to schooling and then tertiary and vocational training.
  • moves some prescriptive detail directly into regulations (so these provisions will not be found in the new Bill).
  • moves other detailed provisions into Schedules at the end of the Bill, with “sunset clauses”, meaning that they will expire after a set period of time and new regulations will need to be developed to replace them. Streamlining education legislation
  • retains large parts of the existing education legislation, which have been transferred into the new Bill unchanged. We’ve taken the opportunity to update some of the language throughout the Bill, where we can do so without changing the effect of the law itself.

A quick guide to the proposed policy changes in the Bill

In addition to being a consolidation and refresh of the education legislation, the Bill also implements a number of policy reforms. These are listed below:

Changes relating to early childhood education (ECE) me ngā Kōhanga reo

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New early learning licensing requirements

The Bill introduces additional requirements for new early learning service applications. The new requirements take into account the community’s need, the applicant’s character and licensing history, and the organisation’s financial position into account when deciding whether to approve or decline an application. Applicants whose applications are declined can re-apply.

Introducing additional licensing requirements for early childhood education services including Kōhanga reo

Police vetting

A clarification of the existing law makes it explicit that all adults who live in or are present in a home in which children are receiving ECE must be vetted.

Police vetting is required for all adults who live in a home where home-based early childhood education and care is being provided

Enabling the Education Review Office (ERO) to obtain information from early learning service parent entities

An early learning service provider can be either the organisation providing the service, or a company that is a subsidiary of a parent entity. 

Currently, however, ERO is only able to obtain information from service providers. The Bill enables ERO to enter and obtain governance and management information from parent entities where it relates to early learning services under their control.

Enabling the Education Review Office (ERO) to obtain information from early learning service parent entities

ERO can enter a home where home-based early learning is being provided

The Bill enables ERO to enter homes where early learning is taking place to review and evaluate curriculum delivery and health and safety performance, as part of their wider review of the home-based service provider.

Enabling the Education Review Office (ERO) to enter a home where home-based early learning is being provided

Read more about the changes relating to early childhood education (ECE) me ngā Kōhanga reo

Changes for New Zealand schools

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Right to attend school fulltime

The Bill explicitly states the right of all enrolled students to attend school whenever the school is open. Some students and their parents and whānau have found that schools only allow them to attend part time.

The Bill clarifies that all students, including students with learning support needs and disabilities, have the right to attend school for all of the hours that the school is open for instruction.

The Bill also locates the different aspects of the right to a free State education together in Part 3 to make it easier to find and understand these rights. 

Education and Training Bill: All students have the right to attend school fulltime

Transition attendance plan to vary attendance hours where in a student’s best interests

The Bill enables a student’s parents to request and agree with the principal and the Secretary for Education to vary hours as part of a transition attendance plan where the particular needs of the student require this.

The plan must be considered by all parties involved to be in the child’s best interests. 

Right to attend school fulltime

Transition attendance plan to vary attendance hours where in a student’s best interest

New complaint and dispute resolution panels

There is a lack of a free and accessible complaint and dispute resolution process in the current schooling system.

The Bill enables the establishment of new local complaint and dispute panels to hear serious school disputes where these cannot be resolved at the school level.

The panels will have mediation, recommendation and decision-making functions, and will hear disputes relating to:

  • rights to education (including enrolment and attendance);
  • stand-downs, suspensions, exclusions and expulsions;
  • learning support, racism and other types of discrimination;
  • physical and emotional safety; and
  • physical force on a student by a teacher or other authorised employee.

Enabling a new dispute resolution panel to hear complaints about school board decisions

Allowing teachers without satisfactory recent teaching experience to have their certificates renewed if they agree to a refresh process

Currently, teachers are unable to renew their practising certificates if they cannot demonstrate satisfactory teaching experience in the five years prior to their application.

The Bill allows teachers to renew their practising certificates without meeting this criterion if they agree to a refresh process, such as a return to teaching plan or pathway approved by the Teaching Council, to ensure their knowledge and practice is up to date.

Allowing teachers without satisfactory recent teaching experience to have their certificates renewed if they agree to a refresh process

Removing the requirement for the Teaching Council to audit teacher performance appraisals

The Government, PPTA and NZEI, along with the NZ School Trustees Association and the Teaching Council, have agreed to remove the requirement for teacher performance appraisals. Therefore the requirement for the appraisals to be audited by the Teaching Council is no longer needed.

Allowing teachers without satisfactory recent teaching experience to have their certificates renewed if they agree to a refresh process

Removing the requirement for the Teaching Council to audit teacher performance appraisals

Renaming “special schools” to be “specialist schools”

Renaming “special schools” as “specialist schools” seeks to more accurately reflect the role and importance of these schools in our education system. This reflects the shift in focus from the school itself to the specialist nature of the services provided to support students with learning support needs and disabilities.

Renaming “special schools” as “specialist schools”

Updating the physical restraint framework

Teachers have raised concerns that the existing framework is confusing and makes them feel unable to intervene in potentially harmful situations.

The changes make it clear that physical force can be used, as a last resort, to keep people safe from harm. Seclusion remains prohibited.

Updating the physical restraint framework

School principal appointment criteria

The Bill enables new eligibility criteria for appointment as a school principal to be set by the Minister of Education (or delegated authority). The criteria are to be in consultation with a range of relevant national bodies. The new criteria will assist in ensuring consistency in the skills, competencies, knowledge and expertise of principals.

School principal appointment criteria

Amending school board objectives

The Bill revises the objectives for school boards of trustees to:

  • ensure school governance is underpinned by Te Tiriti o Waitangi and relevant student rights
  • refocus boards on a wider range of objectives so that educational achievement is no longer the only primary objective. It is instead one of four primary objectives, alongside objectives for schools to ensure the physical and emotional safety of students and staff, that they are inclusive and cater for students with differing needs and that they give effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi
  • make it clear what boards have to do to meet the revised objectives.

These changes are intended to strengthen school governance and refocus schools on what matters most for learners and their whānau.

Amending school board objectives

School boards to give effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi

One of the primary objectives for boards will be to give effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi by:

  • working to ensure that their plans, policies and local curriculum reflect local tikanga, mātauranga Māori and te ao Māori;
  • taking all reasonable steps to make instruction available in tikanga and te reo Māori; and
  • by achieving equitable outcomes for Māori students.

It is proposed that this objective take effect on 1 January 2021 rather than on the day after the Bill receives Royal assent. This will provide schools with more time to prepare for the changes and give effect to them.

Amending school board objectives

School boards to give effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi

Code of conduct for school Board of Trustees members

The Bill enables the Minister of Education to issue a mandatory national code of conduct for board members. This would set minimum standards of behaviour, address concerns of self-interest and bring boards into line with other education sector governing bodies.

A code of conduct for school Board of Trustees members

Requiring boards to consult on rules/bylaws

The Bill provides that boards must consult their students (where appropriate), staff and school community when making rules (bylaws). This is to ensure that a school’s rules are appropriate for, and supported by, its community.

Boards to consult on rules/bylaws

Updating school board of trustees elections

The Bill provides the Minister of Education with the option of directing the Secretary for Education to appoint a commissioner, when a board of trustee election is declared invalid (to govern the school until a new board takes office). This is in addition to the Minister’s current power to reinstate the previous board in the same circumstances.

It also removes the requirement that casual vacancies be advertised in a local newspaper. Instead, the Bill provides that a board must notify its school community and any other affected parties in the wider local community of the vacancy.

Electing school boards of trustees

Religious instruction to become opt-in

The Bill provides that if the board of a State primary or intermediate school chooses to close their school for religious instruction to take place, they must have students “opt-in” and ensure that the other conditions currently in the Education Act 1964 are met.

This change ensures that children are only attending religious instruction with their parent or caregiver’s consent. Currently, parents and caregivers need to write to the principal if they do not wish their child to attend religious instruction.

Requiring an “opt-in” process for religious instruction in state primary and intermediate schools

Development and consultation of school enrolment schemes

The Ministry of Education will take over the development of, and consultation on, enrolment schemes. It will administer each school’s enrolment scheme from a regional perspective, based on community need.

The Ministry will be required to consult schools boards when developing an enrolment scheme and must take all reasonable steps to consult the relevant school community and affected parties in the wider local community on the developed enrolment scheme.

Development and consultation of school enrolment schemes

Tertiary and International education

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Increased period for laying charges against institutions and private training establishments for certain student loan and allowances offences

The Bill extends the limitation period for offences relating to student loan and allowance offences to up to 12 months after MSD becomes aware of offending. This is to ensure consistency with the limitation period for prosecuting other student loans and allowances offences, and to allow sufficient time for offences to be detected, investigated and prosecuted.

These offences relate to the failure, by institutions and private training establishments, to provide information or who are providing false or misleading information in response to requests.

Increased period for laying charges against institutions and private training establishments for certain student loan and allowances offences

Student loan and allowance information

The Bill allows MSD to hold social housing information in the same database as student loan and allowances information and social security benefit information.

Allowing student loan and allowance information to be kept with social housing information

Read more about the updates relating to Tertiary and International Education

Other changes

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Te Tiriti o Waitangi – National level commitments

The Bill makes it easier for those in the education sector to understand their rights and obligations under Te Tiriti by locating in one place the key provisions in the Bill that recognise and respect the Crown’s responsibility to give effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

The Bill also enables the Ministers of Education and Māori-Crown relations: Te Arawhiti, after consultation with Māori, to jointly issue a statement specifying what education agencies must do to give effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi expectations in the Public Service Legislation Bill.

Giving better effect to te Tiriti o Waitangi at the national level

Prohibiting offshore National Certificate of Education Achievement (NCEA) provision

To ensure the integrity of NCEA, the Bill proposes to prohibit the awarding of NCEA offshore, except in certain circumstances, and makes it an offence to breach the prohibition.

Prohibiting the provision of NCEA offshore

Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu, the Correspondence School, (Te Kura) Governance Arrangements

The Bill requires the Minister of Education to appoint a staff member to be a representative on the Board of Te Kura.

Strengthening Te Kura’s Governance Arrangements

Teaching Council’s Governance Arrangements

The Bill enables the Minister of Education to appoint a deputy chair to the Teaching Council.

Strengthening the Teaching Council’s Governance Arrangements

This Bill will be referred to the Education and Workforce Committee for its consideration. You can make a submission on the Bill.

Education and Workforce Committee homepage - NZ Parliament (external link)

Education and Training Bill - Legislation website (external link)

Regulatory Impact Assessments and Supplementary Analysis Report

A number of amendments in the Education and Training Bill required a Regulatory Impact Assessment or a Supplementary Analysis Report to be prepared.

Education and Training Bill Regulatory Impact Assessments and Supplementary Analysis Report

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