School Network

Ensuring all students at their school are doing well underpins the work of all Boards of Trustees. A balanced network that makes the best use of space, resources and infrastructure means there are opportunities for everyone to learn and achieve.

As well as the principal, staff representatives and (in some cases) student representative on a Board of Trustees, members are elected from within their school communities and the Board can also co-opt members. State integrated schools can also have up to four proprietor representatives.

It’s up to each board to determine how it organises itself to undertake their governance responsibilities.

Board members bring different perspectives, strengths and areas of expertise to the work of the Board. This allows them to allocate portfolios or specific responsibilities to individual trustees, or rotate or share responsibilities.

However a Board of Trustees decides to arrange itself or assigns tasks, the Education Act specifies accountabilities that provide the Ministry and the Minister with assurances that every school offers quality learning opportunities for its students and uses its resources (staff, finance and property) effectively and efficiently.

General responsibilities of Boards of Trustees

The general functions, powers, roles and responsibilities of Boards of Trustees are outlined in Schedule 6 of the Education Act 1989.

Boards of Trustees and the school network

Student learning and wellbeing are influenced by a number of factors but the uneven distribution of students across schools in a particular area can impact progress because access to opportunities, resources and facilities is unbalanced.

Monitoring their school rolls and managing access to their schools (and community expectations about access) is helped by Boards of Trustees considering the benefits to all students when they are undertaking their roles.

To get the balance right, Boards of Trustees should:

  1. Have regular community conversations or provide information in their newsletters or online so everyone understands the current state of the local network of schools.
  2. Monitor their school roll so changes in growth are identified early and don’t impact student achievement or disrupt the rest of the network.
  3. Consider impacts not just on their own school but on neighbouring schools and the rest of the network when prioritising and making decisions about enrolments at their school.
  4. Where growth issues are identified, engage with the community, including other Boards of Trustees, where possible.
  5. Implement the solution to manage growth once it’s approved by us (if it relates to an enrolment scheme or school property) or the Minister (if it relates to a new school opening, or schools merging, co-locating or closing).

A typical response to a growth issue in the network is an enrolment scheme or school property solution and Boards of Trustees have specific network responsibilities in relation to these two options. Developing options should be carried out with the Ministry and the views of their school communities gathered through consultation.

Enrolment schemes

Where an enrolment scheme is in place, Boards of Trustees are responsible for managing enrolments to avoid overcrowding at their school. Section 11H of the Education Act 1989 and our guidelines cover the responsibilities of Boards of Trustees in relation to enrolment schemes.

Boards of Trustees must:

  1. Monitor their school rolls and capacity to identify and manage the risk of overcrowding.
  2. On being directed to do so, develop or amend an enrolment scheme to manage overcrowding.
  3. Ensure the development and operation of their enrolment schemes complies with the requirements of the Education Act 1989, and that formal consultation processes and pre-enrolment procedures such as balloting are fair, transparent and consistent.
  4. Consider the type, roll size, capacity and location of other schools in the local network when developing an enrolment scheme proposal, and work with Boards of Trustees of neighbouring schools to ensure a whole-of-network approach.
  5. Ensure the community is aware of any enrolment scheme or change proposal so that everyone understands what the implications will mean for them, the school and the wider community, and has the opportunity to have their views heard and considered.

School property

As well as managing and maintaining school property on a day-to-day basis, Boards of Trustees are responsible for ensuring good use of space, resources and investment based on the current and future needs of their school communities.

Boards should consider whether any projected growth will be ongoing or sustainable, whether there is capacity in other nearby schools to accommodate surplus students, and any implications for other schools, when they’re making property decisions.

Boards of Trustees should:

  1. Be open to all options when considering roll growth solutions – including converting unused or underutilised space into teaching areas, using temporary teaching spaces to manage temporary roll increases, or implementing an enrolment scheme.
  2.  Monitor their enrolments and what’s happening in the network and work with us to ensure the physical size and condition of their school is right for the number of students it needs to accommodate.
  3. Ensure their school has enough space to accommodate every local student (if they have an enrolment scheme).
  4. Ensure their obligations under agreements such as Property Occupancy Documents (PODs) are met, and decisions in relation to 5 Year (Property) Agreement (5YA) capital funding, 10 Year Property Plans (10YPPs) and capital intentions funding for expansion projects consider whether any planned changes to their school property, buildings and facilities accurately reflect current and projected growth in student numbers.
  5. Take a long term view and be deliberate and responsive when they’re considering curriculum delivery at their school, and the ways they use available space to support that.
  6. Consider how teaching and learning will take place in their buildings and spaces, how those areas will need to be fitted out, and how teaching and learning practices in new or upgraded spaces align with spatial plans.
  7. Undertake accessibility modifications where required to ensure every student can access the educational opportunities they’re entitled to access.
  8. Consider the implications of leaving it too late to identify and manage a roll growth issue – for student wellbeing and achievement, and for other schools nearby.

The visual appeal of a school, or a school with recently upgraded or constructed buildings or facilities, can lead to it being the preferred option for parents and caregivers. Evidence shows it’s the quality of teaching that’s the most important for student learning, and we consider current and future roll levels at each school in a local network when making property decisions.

Formal community consultation

As well as providing information to their community about what’s happening in their school, Boards of Trustees should formally consult with their communities in certain situations.

For example, section 11H of the Act requires any Boards of Trustees who have been directed to develop an enrolment scheme to formally consult on the development and adoption of the scheme, and it specifies who must be consulted:

  1. The parents of students at the school.
  2. The people living in the area for which the school is a reasonably convenient school.
  3. The students and prospective students of the school, where appropriate (the Act isn’t specific about the age of students but schools with Year 9 students and above are expected to provide us with evidence that they’ve been consulted).
  4. Boards of other schools that could be affected by the scheme.

When Boards of Trustees are consulting with their communities, they must:

  1. Consider the needs and availability of all stakeholders
  2. Understand and appreciate community expectations.
  3. Consider appropriate timeframes.
  4. Provide useful information that’s factual, accurate and timely.
  5. Provide the right tools for people to provide feedback.
  6. Provide regular updates to everyone involved or affected.
  7. Collect and record all feedback received, including how it was used.
  8. Provide evidence to us that they have followed a fair and transparent process.
  9. Monitor the wellbeing of those involved or affected and provide support.

Support for Boards of Trustees

Supporting Boards of Trustees in their school governance and management role helps them to help their students to learn and achieve.

The New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA)

NZSTA is contracted by us to support Boards of Trustees in the undertaking of their roles and responsibilities. NZSTA provides practical support, advice, resources and professional development opportunities to help Boards govern and manage their schools.

For more on the support available for Boards of Trustees, visit NZSTA (external link)
For more on becoming a trustee and Board elections, visit NZSTA’s School Trustee Elections site (external link)  

NZSTA and ERO have produced useful guidance for Boards:

Download NZSTA’s Trusteeship – A guide for school trustees 2018

Download ERO’s School Trustees Booklet – Helping you ask the right questions

Tools for Schools

You’ll also find our resources for Boards of Trustees at Tools for schools – templates, guidance and forms to help schools with their day-to-day running of school network processes and procedures.

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