The Education (Update) Amendment Bill

The Education (Update) Amendment Bill (the Bill) amends the Education Act 1989 (the Act) to make the achievement and learning of children and young people central to the early childhood education and compulsory schooling Parts of the Act.

The Bill is one aspect of the Minister of Education’s Education Work Programme.  The Bill was introduced on 22 August. The Bill can be found here (external link) .

Updating the Education Act 1989 for young people

We want all children and young people to have their say about updating the Education Act 1989. Any child or young person can make a submission by 11 November. 

Download What do you want for education? [PDF, 4.4 MB] to find out more

Making a submission

or make a submission online on the Parliament website (external link)


In mid-2014 the Taskforce on Regulations Affecting School Performance (the Taskforce) reported to the Minister of Education. The Taskforce recommended change to create a greater focus on student outcomes in the Act, more explicit roles and objectives, and improved usability and clarity.

In late-2015 Cabinet approved public consultation on the Update. The Ministry received 1,854 submissions. In addition, hundreds of principals, members of boards of trustees, representatives of national organisations, students, parents, family and whānau members, and members of the public attended more than 120 meetings, workshops and presentations held throughout the country, where direct feedback was collected.

Throughout the wide range of views expressed, the common theme was the importance of education in providing better personal, economic and civic outcomes for our children and young people. A report on the feedback from consultation is available on the Ministry’s website here.

The Act is being updated to better support an evolving education system

The Act has been amended piecemeal over the past 27 years and needs to better fit a 21st century education system. It is timely to consider how a legislative framework can place learners at the centre of the education system, providing an enduring vision of success for all young New Zealanders, and certainty about what the education system is expected to achieve.

The Act needs to be updated to provide a more coherent framework that meets the needs of the early childhood and schooling environments now and into the future.

The current Act focuses on the administration of schooling. It is also focused on compliance and can get in the way of schools making the most of innovative ways to provide education. On administrative matters, it can create significant hurdles or provide no guidance at all.

The Update is consistent with the fundamental principles of self-management established by Tomorrow’s Schools, but the Act is being amended in a way that signals expectations of collaboration between providers for the benefit of children and young people.

Proposals included in the Bill

The following table outlines information on the proposals included in the Bill and provides links to further information on each.

This A3 provides an overview of the proposals [PDF, 72 KB].


Make the achievement and learning of children and young people central to the early childhood education and compulsory schooling Parts of the Act 


Provide for an enduring and visible strategic direction for early childhood services and schools. This will be achieved through the new objectives for education, which are part of the statement of National Education and Learning Priorities. The statement of National Education and Learning Priorities allow the government of the day to convey its priorities for education. Enable a strategic direction to be set that focuses on children and young people, and their educational outcomes.

Establishing enduring objectives for children and young people in education

National Education and Learning Priorities

Strengthen the efficiency, effectiveness and accountability of schools and the schooling network

Align the strategic direction-setting with strong accountability through defined roles and responsibilities for school boards of trustees, and meaningful planning and reporting. Emphasise the importance of collaboration for a sustainable, high performing education system.

Clarifying Boards of Trustees’ Roles and Responsibilities

Improving planning and reporting


Put in place additional interventions to enable faster, more tailored responses when a school is struggling to ensure the achievement of all its children and young people.

Creating a more graduated range of interventions

Enhance collaboration within the schooling network

Provide a voluntary, enabling framework for the evolution of CoL, including a statutory means of formalising agreements among members.

Communities of Learning

Increase flexibility in the enrolment and attendance requirements for the first years of learning

Enable schools to introduce cohort entry arrangements, after consultation with their community, so that children starting school for the first time can be enrolled in groups at the beginning of each term. Children would be able to start school from the beginning of the term closest to their fifth birthday.

Allowing schools to introduce cohort entry


Extending compulsory attendance upon starting school to children under the age of six who have started school. Provision for children with particular needs to attend in accordance with a transition plan.

Compulsory attendance upon starting school

Update aspects of the law that have become outmoded and inefficient


Allow the Secretary to develop and put in place an enrolment scheme when a school or kura has not done so within a reasonable period.

Changes to management of enrolment schemes


Updating Part 12 of the Education Act, these changes include:

  • Clarifying the reasons for decision making on education provision
  • Streamlining consultation requirements on closing or merging a school
  • Streamlined process for establishing designated character schools
  • Clarifying provisions for offsite Campuses
  • Creating a power for the Minister to require combined boards in certain circumstances

Streamlining consultation requirements on closing or merging a school

Establishing designated character schools

Off-site locations for schools

Requiring boards to combine in certain circumstances


Updating and streamlining the legislative framework for state-integrated schools:

  • Transferring and updating relevant provisions of the Private Schools Conditional Integration Act 1975 into the Act to bring education legislation into a single statute.
  • Introduce additional statutory provisions to improve the effectiveness of the management of the state-integrated school sector, including: criteria to guide decision-making by proprietors, a new power to require proprietors to provide information to the Crown, a clearer establishment process, and a streamlined merger process.

Updating and streamlining the legislative framework for State integrated schools

Establish a future focused regulatory framework for online learning


A new framework for correspondence education (modernised to refer to “online learning”) to future-proof the Act, and enable students to study online as an alternative to, or alongside, face-to-face education. The new framework enables new providers to enter the market, as accredited Communities of Online Learning (COOLs).

Establishing a regulatory framework for online learning


The process and framework for COOL accreditation would be set up through regulation

Strengthen the legal framework for managing teacher competence issues

Establishing a Competence Authority in the Education Council to speed up the competence complaint resolution process, and to allow the governing council to focus on its strategic governance function.

Establishing a Competence Authority

Improve the provision of careers services by the government


Creating a refocused Careers Service within the TEC.

Careers Services

Next steps

The Education and Science Committee has called for submissions on the Bill. The closing date for submissions is Friday 11 November 2016. Further information can be found on the Parliamentary website (external link) .


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