Education Amendment Act 2018

The Education Amendment Act 2018 passed into law on 23 October 2018. It makes a number of key amendments to the Education Act 1989 and the Education (Update) Amendment Act 2017.

The Education Amendment Act 2018 removes the provisions relating to National Standards and the partnership school model from legislation, and includes transitional provisions relating to partnership school staff.  It provides greater protection for the different character of new designated character schools. 

The Education Amendment Act 2018 also makes improvements to the new strategic planning and reporting framework to ensure it is workable for schools and kura.

The integrity 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.

Key changes the Act makes

National Standards

What is the change?

National Standards and Ngā Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori were removed in December 2017.

The Education Amendment Act 2018 removes the empowering provision for National Standards and the associated references to National Standards from the Education Act 1989.

This means the Minister of Education can no longer set new National Standards and Ngā Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori in the future without further legislative change.

What do boards/schools need to do?

The Education Amendment Act 2018 does not make any changes to what schools and kura need to do.

Schools and kura continue to be required to report to parents, at least twice a year, on their child’s progress and achievement across the breadth of the curriculum.

When do these changes take effect?

These provisions are effective immediately.

How will parents and whānau know how learners are progressing?

Parents and whānau will continue to receive reporting on the progress of their children across the breadth of the curriculum.

This means parents and whānau can expect to know what progress their children are making across the whole curriculum – including key capabilities for success in life, learning and work – and how they can help their children to move on in their learning.

Are National Standards and Ngā Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori being replaced by anything?

The Minister has established a Curriculum, Progress and Achievement Ministerial Advisory Group to look at strengthening the use of the curricula to understand student progress and achievement. This is an expert group that includes educationalists and practitioners with expertise in the New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.

By focusing on progress and achievement across the curriculum, teachers and kaiako can ensure learners have the support and opportunities they need for their own learning.

The group will be reporting back to the Minister later this year with recommendations.

Curriculum, Progress and Achievement Ministerial Advisory Group

Partnership Schools Kura Hourua

What is the change?

The Education Amendment Act 2018 removes the partnership school model from the New Zealand education system.

The Education Amendment Act 2018 provides transitional arrangements for existing partnership schools. The legislation relating to partnership schools will continue to apply to the schools until their contract is terminated or expires. The Education Amendment Act 2018 also provides transitional arrangements for staff at a partnership school to assist them to transition to the new State school which replaces it. It provides for staff at a partnership school to have a preferential right of employment in an equivalent position in the new State school established to replace the partnership school.

What do the new State schools established to replace partnership schools need to do?

The Ministry is working with the establishment boards of trustees of the new State schools established to replace partnership schools to prepare for their opening. The Ministry will continue to work with and provide support to establishment boards of trustees ahead of the schools opening.

Transitional arrangements for staff

The transfer of staff provision is triggered by the Minister naming a partnership school and the State school that will replace it in a Gazette notice.

All former partnership schools and their replacement State schools named in the Gazette notice will need to comply with the staff transition provisions (for any outstanding recruitment processes) and assess if they have any equivalent positions.

The establishment boards of trustees will determine the staffing structure for their new State school.  They are not expected or required to carry over the partnership school staffing structure. However, all of the schools named in the Gazette notice will be required to go through a process of determining if they have any equivalent positions. The Ministry of Education and the New Zealand School Trustees Association will provide guidance to establishment boards of trustees about this process.

When do these changes take effect?

These provisions will take effect immediately, although the transitional arrangements for staff will be triggered by a Gazette notice.

Designated character schools: Ability to name a body responsible for character

What is the change?

Designated character schools are State schools with a particular character which sets them apart from other State schools and kura.

The Education Amendment Act 2018 enables the Minister to name a body that has a special affiliation with a designated character school or has responsibility for the different character of the school in a Gazette notice.

The Minister would be required to consult with the body on any proposed changes to the designated character. 

This provision can only be used by designated character schools that are not kura kaupapa Māori.

What do boards/schools need to do?

Designated character schools that wish to have a body with a special affiliation with the school or responsibility for the different character named by the Minister in a Gazette notice should contact the Ministry of Education.

The Ministry will provide assistance to schools that wish to make use of this provision.

When do these changes take effect?

These provisions are effective immediately.

Why does this only apply to non-kura kaupapa Māori designated character schools?

Te Rūnanga Nui o Ngā Kura Kaupapa Māori are already the kaitiaki or guardian of Te Aho Matua, the philosophy that all kura kaupapa Māori must operate under.

This provision enables other designated character schools to have a body named which has a special affiliation with the school or has responsibility for the different character of the school.

This provision will help to provide protection for the kaupapa of former partnership schools that become designated character schools and other designated character schools (eg. kura-a-iwi) if they apply to have a body with special affiliation or responsibility for the different character named in a Gazette notice.

Does the body get paid for this role?

The legislation provides for this role in order for the body to help maintain and sustain the designated character. It is not a funded role.

Alternative Constitutions from Establishment

What is the change?

All State schools are required to have a board of trustees. The standard constitution for a board of trustees is set out in the Education Act 1989. The standard constitution does not always meet the needs of all schools and their communities.

The Education Act 1989 already enables the Minister of Education to approve an alternative constitution in certain circumstances.

An alternative constitution allows boards of trustees to have a different constitution to the standard constitution. This provides a lot of flexibility around the governance structure of a school.

Previously it was not possible for a board of trustees to have an alternative constitution from the date a new State school was established. Instead all new schools were governed by an establishment board of trustees which is made up of the principal of the school and 5 people either appointed by the Minister or elected by parents.  This establishment board of trustees can co-opt up to four more people onto the board.

The Education Amendment Act 2018 enables the Minister to approve an alternative constitution for the board of trustees when establishing a new State school. This means there is no longer a need to wait until post-establishment to request an alternative constitution.

What do boards/schools need to do?

During the establishment process for a new State school, those people or groups involved with setting up the school will be given the option of requesting an alternative constitution from establishment.

The team from the Ministry assisting with the establishment process will be able to provide support and facilitate this.

When do these changes take effect?

These provisions are effective immediately.

Can schools which have already been established get an alternative constitution? 

Yes. An establishment board of trustees or an ongoing board of trustees can request an alternative constitution under section 98A of the Education Act 1989.

Strategic Planning and Reporting

What is the change?

Last year’s Education (Update) Amendment Act 2017 introduced a new planning and reporting framework for State and State integrated schools, due to commence on 1 January 2019. The Education Amendment Act 2018 extends 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. 

Along with delaying the commencement, the Education Amendment Act 2018 includes a number of transition arrangements to ensure the shift to the new framework is straightforward and smooth for schools and kura. From 1 January 2020, a board’s 2019 charter will become its transitional strategic plan. How long the transitional strategic plan will remain in place will be determined in regulations.

The combined effect of the Education Amendment Act 2018 and the Education Update Act 2017 (which introduced the new framework) will be that, from 1 January 2020, school boards will need to prepare:

  • a three-year strategic plan which sets out the board’s strategy for achieving its objectives (to be submitted to the Secretary for Education for approval every three years)
  • an annual implementation plan giving effect to the strategic plan which does not need to be submitted to the Secretary, and
  • an annual report which includes the board’s statement of variance and annual financial statements.

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

The key changes include:

  • 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.
  • Providing that a school's or kura’s 2019 charter will become its transitional strategic plan. The date that the first three-year strategic plan is required to be in place by will be set in regulations.
  • Clarifying that a board must continue to update the annually updated section of its 2019 charter, which will be its transitional strategic plan, until the first annual implementation plan is required under regulations.
  • 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.
  • Providing for the expiry of strategic plans.
  • Reinstating a requirement that the Secretary consult with the Auditor-General on the form of the annual financial statements in annual reports. This requirement was inadvertently omitted in the Education (Update) Amendment Act 2017.

What do boards/schools need to do?

The current planning and reporting framework remains in place until 1 January 2020. This means that in 2019 schools will still be required to:

  • have updated their charter for the 2019 year by 1 March 2019, and
  • submit their analysis of variance and annual report on the 2018 year according the current NAG requirements.

As the 2019 charter will become the transitional strategic plan until the first three-year plan is required under regulations, boards should take the opportunity to ensure it is strategic and focused beyond the 2019 year. 

The Ministry has prepared guidance for boards to help them to develop their planning and reporting documents.

While high-level planning and reporting requirements are now included in the Education Act 1989, the requirements for the content of strategic plans, timing of the first three-year strategic plan and annual implementation plan, and timing and content of statements of variance will be included in planning and reporting regulations. 

Likely timeframes for the development of the regulations are available on the Ministry’s website.

The Ministry will be consulting on the draft regulations for the implementation of the new planning and reporting framework in early 2019.

We will support boards and provide guidance on the development of the first three-year strategic plans, and how to implement the new framework.

When do these changes take effect?

These provisions will commence on 1 January 2020.

The timing of the first three-year strategic plan and annual implementation plan, and timing and content of statements of variance, will be included in planning and reporting regulations.

The likely timeframes (which are currently indicative only) are available on the Ministry’s website.

When will boards need to develop and submit their first three-year strategic plan?

New boards will be elected in 2019. A board’s 2019 charter (which will be its last) will be treated as its transitional strategic plan. This will give new boards time to develop their first three-year strategic plan.

The date the transitional plan will expire, and when the first three-year strategic plan will take effect, will be included in the regulations. We will be consulting on these regulations in early 2019.  We currently anticipate that a school board’s first strategic plan required to be developed under the new framework, will likely need to be developed in the 2020 year and be effective from 1 January 2021.

We will provide guidance and support to boards on the development of the first three-year strategic plans.

TEI governance changes

What are the changes?

The Education Amendment Act 2018 makes a number of key changes to tertiary education institution (TEI) governance arrangements.

It restores guaranteed elected staff and student places on the councils of universities and polytechnics. This means that universities and polytechnics 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 change re-affirms the important role staff and students have in institutional decision making, and provides guaranteed staff and student representation on the councils of universities and polytechnics.

Because polytechnics have a smaller total council size, the Education Amendment Act 2018 has increased the maximum number of their council members from eight to 10 to allow for the additional staff and student places.

The Education Amendment Act 2018 exempts wānanga from the requirement to have elected staff and student council members. This means that wānanga governance arrangements are unchanged from the provisions that are currently enacted.

It also now requires the Minister of Education to seek nominations from a TEI council before making a Ministerial appointment. This change seeks to affirm the relationship between the Crown and TEI councils. The Minister is not required to appoint a nomination made by a TEI council.

Why are wānanga exempt from the requirement to have elected staff and student council members?

The Government is in discussions with wānanga about the relationship they seek with the Crown under the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.  Wānanga expressed concern that using two places for staff and student members would affect their ability to include council members competent in tikanga and te reo Māori or who represent groups, such as the founding iwi of a wānanga.

The Government is committed to ensuring wānanga governance arrangements are consistent with the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and promote the active protection of mātauranga Māori.

Will the elected staff member be a member of the teaching staff or general staff?

Councils will have the option to either appoint:

  • one member of the teaching or general staff of the institution, who has been elected by the teaching and general staff of the institution, or
  • one member of the teaching staff of the institution who has been elected by the teaching staff of the institution; and one member of the general staff who has been elected by the general staff of the institution.

This provides councils with the ability to have elected teaching and general staff members, elected by their peers rather than the whole staff body.  This is consistent with some TEI councils’ existing practices.

Will councils have any say over who is elected by staff and students?

To support the implementation of guaranteed elected staff and student council members, the Education Amendment Act 2018:

  • states that councils cannot use council statutes to specify who may stand for an election amongst the staff and students of an institution, and
  • states that councils cannot refuse to appoint a staff member or student who has been elected by their peers to be a council member.

Councils will not be able to control the candidate selection process or veto the appointment of the successful candidate. The Education Amendment Act 2018 ensures that staff and student council members are democratically elected, and that all staff and students of an institution can be involved in electing their representatives.   

The Education Amendment Act 2018 makes no changes to the provisions in section 171A and 222AA of the Education Act 1989 that outline the circumstances in which a person is disqualified from appointment as a council member. For example, a person cannot be appointed to a TEI council if they are bankrupt.   

What change is being made to the size of polytechnic councils?

Individual polytechnic councils can now have eight, nine or 10 members (including four, five and six council-appointed members).  Combined councils can appoint up to 60 per cent of their members (instead of an even balance of council and Ministerial appointments).

Polytechnic councils also now have the flexibility to amend the council size in their constitutions.

These changes support the implementation of the Government’s policy to restore staff and student council members.  They provide individual polytechnic councils with the flexibility to choose how to incorporate staff and student places (either through increasing council size or removing existing members).  It means that combined councils do not need to include additional Ministerial appointments to add more staff and student members.

What do councils need to do?

Each council will still be responsible for administering the elections for staff and student council members, and for appointing the successful candidate(s) to the council.  Universities and polytechnic councils are required to create council statutes establishing the relevant election and appointment processes, in line with the changes in the Education Amendment Act 2018  

Each council needs to specify in its constitution whether it will have one staff council member, or one teaching staff council member and one general staff council member.

Polytechnic councils need to specify their council size in their constitution in line with the legislative requirements.

While wānanga do not have a legislative requirement to have staff and student representatives as council members, they still have the option to appoint staff and student council members.

When did these changes take effect and how long do councils have to make changes?

These provisions take effect immediately.  

The Education Amendment Act 2018 provides transitional arrangements to allow for the amendment of the constitutions of tertiary education institutions and the development of appointment and election processes.

University and polytechnic councils have 12 months to update their constitutions following Royal Assent.  Councils then have another six months to run an election and appoint student and staff council members.

A new offence provision to support Fees-Free tertiary education

What is the change?

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 Education Amendment Act 2018 has created 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.

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.

Education Amendment Bill Regulatory Impact Statements

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