Legislation that governs New Zealand's education system and legislative changes affecting schools, kura and early learning services.
We work to make sure that everyone in the New Zealand education system is aware of, and meets their legal responsibilities under, the education legislation.
The Education Act 1989 establishes the legal framework for our education system, including early childhood education, compulsory schooling, international education and tertiary education.
Education Act 1964
A few key provisions relating to the education system remain in the Education Act 1964, including the legal framework for:
- secular education
- religious instruction
- establishment and disestablishment of special schools.
Education (Vocational Education and Training Reform) Amendment Act 2020
The Education (Vocational Education and Training Reform) Amendment Act 2020 came into effect on 1 April 2020. It amends the Education Act 1989 and is part of the reform of vocational education announced on 1 August 2019. It repeals the Industry Training and Apprenticeship Act 1992 and the Education (Polytechnics) Amendment Act 2009. The Act:
- establishes a new regulatory framework for vocational education and training
- enables workforce development councils to be established
- establishes the New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology
- provides transitional arrangements to enable a smooth transfer of functions and responsibilities from the current to the new system.
Education (Pastoral Care) Amendment Act 2019
The Education (Pastoral Care) Amendment Act 2019 came into effect on 20 December 2019. It amends the Education Act 1989 and enables the Minister of Education to issue a code of practice for the pastoral care of domestic tertiary students. The Act:
- enables an interim code to be put in place for the 2020 academic year
- brings together a new regulatory regime for the pastoral care of domestic tertiary students with the existing regime for the pastoral care of international students
- sets out arrangements relating to code administration, monitoring, compliance and enforcement, offences and penalties, and dispute resolution.
Education (School Donations) Amendment Act 2019
The Education (School Donations) Amendment Act came into effect on 22 October 2019. It amends the Education Act 1989 in order to support the school donations scheme announced as part of Budget 2019.
- creates a new category of grants called discretionary grants
- provides that the Minister of Education may pay discretionary grants to boards subject to the condition that a board does not solicit voluntary payments from parents, and any other condition as determined by the Minister
- enables funding provided as discretionary grants to be effectively recovered from boards that have failed to comply with the conditions of that funding.
Education Amendment Act 2019
The Education Amendment Act 2019 came into force on 14 May 2019. It amends the Education Act 1989, Education Act 1964 and the Education (Update) Amendment Act 2017. Most provisions in the Act take effect from that date. Provisions relating to cohort entry policies take effect from 1 January 2020.
Education Amendment Act 2018
The Education Amendment Act 2018 came into effect on 24 October 2018. It amends the Education Act 1989 and the Education (Update) Amendment Act 2017.
- removes the provisions relating to national standards and the partnership school model from legislation
- improves the governance of tertiary education institutions by restoring places for elected staff and students on their councils
- supports the introduction of Fees-Free tertiary education by making it an offence to make a false representation about an application for Fees-Free tertiary education
- improves the new strategic planning and reporting framework for State and State-integrated schools and enables a smooth transition to the new regime. This includes changing the duration of a strategic plan from 4 years to 3 years or a shorter time period determined by the Secretary, and delaying the commencement of the framework.
Education (Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand) Amendment Act 2018
The Education (Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand) Amendment Act came into effect on 29 September 2018. The Act changes the name of the Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand to the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand.
It also increases the number of council members from 9 to 13, with 7 registered teachers — including early childhood sector leaders and principals — to be directly elected by their peers and 6 members appointed by the Minister of Education.
The Education (Tertiary Education and Other Matters) Amendment Act came into effect on 30 March 2018. The public policy objectives of the Act are to:
- increase provider accountability and strengthen monitoring and compliance
- support fair treatment of tertiary education provider
- broaden student protection arrangements.
The Education (Update) Amendment Act 2017 (the Update Act) came into effect on 19 May 2017. It amends the Education Act 1989 to make the achievement and learning of children and young people central to the early childhood education and compulsory schooling Parts of the Act.
Note: some provisions of the (Update) Act are yet to come into force, including commencement of the planning and reporting framework for schools and kura.
Bills are drafts of proposed new laws. Once a bill passes through the House of Representatives, and receives the Royal assent, it becomes an Act.
Education and Training Bill
The Education and Training Bill (the Bill) was introduced on 2 December. The Bill incorporates and replaces the Education Acts of 1964 and 1989. It also incorporates the Education (Pastoral Care) Amendment Bill and the Education (Vocational Education and Training Reform) Amendment Bill, both of which are currently going through Parliament.
The Bill is intended to make education legislation simpler and more user-friendly than the current framework.
In addition to being a consolidation and refresh of education legislation, the Bill also progresses some of the government’s major education reforms including:
- key aspects of the Tomorrow’s Schools reforms
- improving oversight and leadership of schools
- amending the roles, responsibilities, and duties of school boards
- ensuring schools give better effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi
- enabling independent dispute resolution panels to help students, parents and whānau resolve serious disputes with schools
- moving responsibility for enrolment zone development and consultation to the Ministry of Education
- stating the right of students to attend school fulltime
- introducing additional licensing requirements for early learning services
- amending the law regarding the use of physical restraint in schools
- shifting participation in religious instruction for state primary and intermediate schools from an opt-out process to an opt-in process.
The Bill is currently being considered by the Education and Workforce Committee.
Regulatory Impact Assessments and Supplementary Analysis
A number of amendments in the Education and Training Bill 2019 required the preparation of a Regulatory Impact Assessment or a Supplementary Analysis.
Two regulations cover the care and wellbeing of international students studying in New Zealand. These are the:
- Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code Of Practice 2016
- International Student Contract Dispute Resolution Scheme (DRS).
There is also legislation that outlines the definition of a domestic student for schools and tertiary education.
Disclosure statements provide development and content information about legislation that is being proposed by Government.
Disclosure statements relating to education bills since 2013 are available on the New Zealand Legislation website.
Regulatory Impact Statements
Regulatory impact statements (RIS) support all bills that are being introduced to House of Representatives. They also support all proposed regulations.
- a high-level summary of the issue that is being addressed
- the options and associated costs and benefits of each option
- details of consultation regarding the issue
- proposed arrangements for implementing and reviewing the legislation.
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