The Education and Training Bill: Information for Boards of Trustees

The Education and Training Bill aims to give all learners a more high-quality, culturally responsive, seamless and inclusive education, from early learning, through schooling, and on into tertiary education, vocational training and employment. The Bill is not yet law.

Introduction

The Bill is the biggest rewrite of education legislation in decades. Much of its content gives effect to the Government’s plans to transform the education system, following the Kōrero Mātauranga | Education Conversation and the Tomorrow’s Schools Taskforce report.

The Bill incorporates and replaces the Education Acts of 1964 and 1989, and also incorporates the Education (Pastoral Care) Amendment Bill and the Education (Vocational Education and Training Reform) Amendment Bill which is currently before Parliament.

The Bill has been referred to the Education and Workforce Committee for public submissions. These close on 14 February 2020.

Education and Workforce Committee – New Zealand Parliament  (external link)

Proposed changes

The Bill proposes new objectives for Boards so that educational achievement is 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.

Other changes encourage the more active involvement of students, parents, families and whānau in education decisions affecting them. These proposals are intended to strengthen school governance and refocus schools on what matters most for learners and their whānau.

Key proposed changes for Boards of Trustees 

Amending school board objectives

The Bill proposes four primary objectives for boards. These are ensuring that every student at the school is able to attain their highest possible standard of educational achievement, ensuring the physical and emotional safety of students and staff, ensuring that schools are inclusive and cater for students with differing needs, and giving effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. It also makes it clear what boards have to do to meet the revised objectives.

Giving effect to Tiriti o Waitangi

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

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

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 developed 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.

 

Code of conduct

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.

New disputes resolution panels

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. Decisions made by Boards on these matters can be referred by students, parents, families and whānau for resolution.

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.

Requiring boards to consult on rules/bylaws

The Bill proposes 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.

 

Updating 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 a board must notify its school community and any other affected parties in the wider local community of the vacancy.

An update to the way physical force is regulated

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 when physical force can be used (as a last resort), to keep people safe from harm. Seclusion remains prohibited.

 

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”. This change ensures that children only attend religious instruction with their parent or caregiver’s consent.

Development and consultation on school enrolment schemes

Responsibility for the development of, and consultation on, enrolment schemes will be transferred to the Ministry of Education. It will administer schemes from a regional perspective, based on community need. The Ministry will be required to consult boards when developing an enrolment scheme and must take all reasonable steps to consult he relevant school community and affected parties in the wider local community on the scheme.

Supporting Boards of Trustees

The Government will further support Boards, at regional level, through a new Education Service Agency (ESA).

The ESA will deliver more responsive and accessible frontline local support to school boards, around governance, leadership, the selection of principals, curriculum, and teaching and learning practice. Specialist Leadership Advisor positions will be created to assist Boards with school governance.

The ESA is part of the Government’s response to feedback, from participants in the Korero Mātauranga | Education Conversation, and the report of the Tomorrow’s Schools taskforce, on what needs to change in education.

More information on this response can be found on the Kōrero Mātauranga | Education Conversation website.

Tomorrow's Schools Review – Kōrero Mātauranga | Education Conversation  (external link)

Further information

More information on all the changes proposed in the Bill can be found at Education and Training Bill details.

Education and Training Bill details  (external link)

The Bill will be referred to the Education and Workforce Committee for public submissions through the New Zealand Parliament website.  

Education and Workforce Committee – NZ Parliament  (external link)  

 

 

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